Making a Successful Job Transition
Don’t neglect the details when making a job transition. Even when you initiate your departure, there will be paperwork to complete. This can include:
- An exit interview. Many companies conduct a brief interview with departing employees to see if they can identify trends or areas of improvement to help them retain more employees.
- Health insurance benefits. You may need to take advantage of COBRA coverage to extend your health insurance benefits until you start your new position. Make sure you have this information from your company’s HR representative.
- 401(k) or pension rollover, or stock sellback. If you have participated in the company’s retirement program or stock purchase program, you may need to take action to secure these investments once you leave the company.
The Etiquette of Departure
Don’t tell your boss — or your coworkers — that you are even thinking of looking for a new position. If you can’t afford to be unemployed for any length of time, don’t give your employer a reason to let you go before you’ve had a chance to find a new position. Sometimes, even the idea that you’re seeking a new position is enough for you to jeopardize your current job. For example, your boss might not assign you to a new project because “you’re not going to be here long enough to see it through anyway.”
Don’t tell your coworkers you’re leaving before you inform your boss. Even if you have a friend or confidant in the office, don’t let him or her know you are interviewing for another position, or that you’ve landed a new role. You need to tell your boss first.
Don’t share — or dwell on — your reasons for seeking a new position. Don’t try to justify why you are leaving. If you are leaving to escape a toxic work environment, there’s nothing to be gained by pointing that out. It’s fine to say that you are leaving to explore new opportunities.
Make a good impression all the way to the end. Remember, “Often, the last thing people remember about you is your last days on the job, not your first.” What should you be doing in your last few days and weeks on the job? Whatever your boss wants you to. Have a conversation with your supervisor. What does he or she want you to work on? Will you be training your replacement? Are there any major projects to complete? Can you document processes and procedures in enough detail that someone else could complete the tasks?
Ask your supervisor for a reference — either a letter or a LinkedIn Recommendation. You can also ask what information will be provided in the future when someone contacts the company for information to verify your employment, or for a reference. Some companies have a policy that they only provide dates of employment, and that all reference checks must go through the Human Resources department — so your supervisor may not be able to provide a reference.
Don’t neglect your colleagues. Although the formal resignation letter is for your immediate supervisor, consider writing separate notes to co-workers to let them know you appreciated working with them. Take steps to keep your connections with your current (soon-to-be former) colleagues. Collect personal contact information for valued contacts and assure them their professional calls and inquiries will be welcome in the future. Connect with them on LinkedIn — you can further solidify your connection with them by providing a Recommendation for them on their LinkedIn profile.