How To Leave A Job

Fridays are tip days at SimpleProductivity blog.

Photo by Peter Kaminski

Yesterday was my last day at a business I have worked at for over 6 years. I spent three as a contractor, and another three as an employee.

My decision to leave had a lot to do with the burnout I have written about (see Recognizing Burnout), but also that I realized my work, experience and opinions were no longer considered or valued. I tried everything I could to resolve the situation. I asked for an internal transfer three times; I wrote an email to my project manager pointing out how her behavior was making me feel; and I tried to make it work. The final straw came when my reporting manager was asked to reprimand me about something he felt was part of my job: raising red flags about a bad decision.

I quickly found a new job. I am going back to consulting, and I will be doing supplemental staffing at various businesses in my immediate vicinity. It’s work I am comfortable with, and good at, and my new employer values my skills and experience.

Even though the situation surrounding my leaving is not pleasant, I knew I had to act in a way that preserved my self-respect. So I had to wrap up at the old job. Here are my tips for making the transition:

Give Appropriate Notice

There were days I wanted to walk out without notice. But I also realized as the only person with the client knowledge, that losing me would impact their business if I didn’t make an effort to transition. I made sure that I gave two weeks notice so that the transition could take place. In addition, I also told my reporting manager (before I started the job search) that I was going to leave and that he needed to get a plan in place.

Know What Is Outstanding

I keep notes on everything I do. Every project I have worked on is tied to a tracking number, and for six years I have filed all my work by those tracking numbers. As projects are closed, those directories get moved to an archive, so I had a limited amount of open projects.

By knowing what was outstanding, I was able to pull together all the information I had been working on to pass on to the team.

Write Up A Summary

Many of the projects on my plate were things that were delegated to our offshore component. (We’ll save for another time why off-shoring doesn’t work) Many of these things were delegated and forgotten about. By listing these projects, the project manager now has a resource to find out what was done on these items (if anything) and move them forward.

For the projects that were more complex, I made a list of where all the code, database, notes and scripts were. I also listed where we were in the project and what other projects were dependent on the them.

Give The Information Early

I turned in my turnover document a week before my last day. This gave the remaining staff a chance to make sure they could locate everything and ask any questions about things they did not understand.

Clean Out The Files

I keep few paper files (most are electronic), but there were some reference documents in the filing cabinet that could be valuable. I scanned everything and sent it out in emails, then delivered the paper files to my reporting manager with notes on the outside of the folders about what they were for and when they would be used.

Clean Out The Hard Drive

Besides having my work files on the computer, I also had information about the morale-boosting committee I formed and planned activities for. I also had things like custom emoticons for my instant messenger, reference books and utilities that I had downloaded to make my job easier. I made sure to clean off these items so that the next person who gets my machine is not stuck un-doing my customization.

Making the transition was easier because I was able to wrap up my loose ends. I feel like I have done well during this transition, and the remaining team will not be crippled by my loss.

Have you ever made a job transition? What did you do to make it easier? Or harder? Share below.

Photo by Peter Kaminski



  1. MM says

    Psychologists equate job loss to losing a loved one. So going through the motions of leaving your job “the right way” is probably also a cleansing experience for the soul. This probably helps lessen any negative feelings, and to bring closure. Good job describing what should be done to leave in a civilized, grown-up way! (And good luck in your new position!)

    • LJ Earnest says

      I really had to focus and try to be the grownup here. Heaven knows my company wasn’t. I just realized I had to act in a way that would preserve my self-respect.