Leaving a Job? 5 Keys to Leaving a Positive Last Impression

I’ve spent the past year as Marketing Coordinator at ProductPlan learning new skills, developing friendships, and working closely with a small team that achieves A LOT. It truly has been an invaluable experience for which I’m very grateful.

Deciding to leave this company has not been easy. But it’s time for my next adventure. I’ve decided to act on a long-time desire to move to New York City, where I will continue my marketing career and pursue my passion for music and song-writing.

As the countdown to my last day ticks on, I’ve thought a lot about how I’d like to end my time here. A recent post from ProductPlan co-founder Jim Semick really hit home for me throughout this reflection process.

“People always talk about the importance of first impressions. They’re important, no doubt. But what about last impressions? To me, a good last impression is even more important. A first impression isn’t permanent. How many times has your opinion of someone changed after an initial impression? Last impressions, however, are established and maintained indefinitely.”

Jim raises a great point. And since members of the millennial generation bounce from job to job more than any generation prior, I’d like to offer my thoughts on how to leave a company on a high note.

5 Ways to Leave a Company with a Positive Last Impression

1. Give yourself time to connect with coworkers one on one.

Seeing the same group of people every day is interesting. We form our own habits. We talk with some more than others. We do what makes us comfortable.

But we sometimes forget that routine daily interaction carries a lot of weight—even for some of our weaker relationships. When the news broke of my scheduled departure from ProductPlan, I found solace in connecting with just about everyone in the company.

I wasn’t surprised to be the beneficiary of outpouring support from coworkers. What got me is the realization that a little bit of friendship goes a long way. Whether it was grabbing coffee or taking a quick walk, I touched base with quite a few people—many of whom were not central to my daily routines. They all offered unique perspectives both on life and career related topics.

Connecting individually with co-workers gave me closure I needed. I opened up about my situation, and made clear that I had nothing but appreciation for everything I’ve learned at ProductPlan. In the process, I realized how appreciative others were of my own contributions to the team.

2. Be honest and transparent with your supervisor(s).

Whatever your situation, honesty is the best policy. Be up front with your boss as to what you’re thinking and why you’re making the decision to leave. If you’ve established good rapport with your supervisor, chances are they will understand the circumstances. Just make sure to approach the conversation with a clear and open mind and remain professional.

Remember there are two sides to any departure. While the transition to your next life or career chapter might be smooth and exciting, the company you’re leaving now has to fill a roster spot. That means hiring, onboarding, training, etc. Just as you’d appreciate empathy from your supervisor when explaining your decision, do your best to return the favor. Part of what makes leaving difficult might simply be the knowledge that your departure creates friction for the company. If so, make it known.

Depending on your situation, you might be tempted to offer constructive feedback when explaining your reasons for departing. While this is generally healthy and beneficial to the company, avoid biting off more than you can chew in that first discussion. You’ll likely have follow up discussions and exit interviews in which providing constructive criticism makes more sense.

3. Recognize this might not be the end of your professional relationship.

Moving on from a role certainly doesn’t mean leaving everything behind, especially in the B2B arena. Championing your former company, referring others, and offering product feedback are all ways in which you might stay closely connected for years to come.

ProductPlan, for example, offers a solution used by thousands of marketers, product managers, and IT managers. Chances are, at some point in my career I’ll have the opportunity to champion the service and advocate for its usage in a new organization. Maybe I’ll even use it myself. In either event, working directly with former ProductPlan co-workers (i.e. customer success managers or account executives) is entirely within the realm of possibility.

And finally, age-old wisdom recommends we “never say never.” Although unlikely, it’s possible your career might eventually lead you back to the company you’re currently leaving. It’s no secret that the future is unpredictable—all the more reason not to burn any bridges on the way out.

4. Tie up loose ends before your last day.

Before you leave, consider what your future self might want from soon-to-be-former coworkers or bosses. Maybe it’s swapping LinkedIn recommendations with a handful of employees. Or maybe it’s a letter of recommendation from your supervisor. Whatever the case, don’t wait too long to hold these discussions.

It’s not that your coworkers will forget you the moment you leave. It’s just easier to tie up these loose ends while you still have in-person contact. If your team has a replacement lined up for your role, their focus will soon shift to onboarding and training. This is guaranteed to be a busy time for the team. And whether or not they realize it, getting formalities out of the way before you leave is likely doing them a service.

5. Spend time with coworkers outside of the office.

My final recommendation is light but important. If possible, wrap up your last couple weeks by spending time with coworkers outside of the office. Grab drinks or a bite to eat. The office is where you spend time with coworkers. The bar across the street is where you remember that life goes far beyond the office.

Tweet This:
“The office is where you spend time with coworkers. The bar across the street is where you remember that life goes far beyond the office.”

You probably don’t need a reminder that many of your co-workers double as friends. But if you do, a final send-off at a local gathering spot will do the trick. And while it might be sad to say your final goodbyes, don’t forget that a) this might not be the end of your professional relationship, and b) it’s pretty cool to have made such great connections with great people.

For any of those with ties to marketing, product, music, Santa Barbara, NYC, etc. feel free to connect on LinkedIn!