Going out in Style: Preparing for Your Last Day at Work

You’ve just given your two weeks’ notice at work. As much as you would like to simply kick up your shoes and wait for your last day to arrive, you need to stay productive and continue to perform the duties expected of you. Not just to close the door, but to keep a window open for future opportunities. You owe it to the company and to yourself to keep giving it your best.

How so, you may ask? First, remember that you are still being paid until your last minute. Second, you never know when you’ll be meeting your bosses and colleagues again down the road. One of them could very well become a manager at a company that you may want to work for in the future. Leave a good impression now, and you may find your old colleagues looking up down the road, asking for your talents. And so with an eye toward the future, here are the dos and don’t’s of prepping for you final workday as you gear up for the next chapter in your life.

Dos

1. Clean out your workspace

Put your personal items in a box and store them in your car before saying your goodbyes. Leave your table neat and tidy when you go. If you know that someone else is waiting to use your desk, show your thoughtfulness by leaving a tray of paper clips, some pens, and other handy office supplies. Your soon-to-be-former co-workers will surely to appreciate it.

If you use a computer at work, copy your personal files to your own hard drive, including those that could be potentially useful for your future. If you have documents that other co-workers may need, migrate them to a shared drive, and inform your co-workers about their location. Once you have everything you need, clean out your computer of any sensitive data. Clear your browsing history, and erase any passwords that may still be stored in the system.

2. Say your farewell to your colleagues

If you have a good rapport with your teammates, saying goodbye will be bittersweet. Pay everyone a personal farewell so that your stay with the company ends on a good note. Do this even to teammates you barely know, and even the ones you’ve butted heads with in the past. Remember that you should avoid any resentment no matter how justified it feels. Treat your goodbyes as a networking opportunity. You want people in your company to remember you as someone who treated everyone with respect, did your job to the best of your abilities, and made your team as well as the company better.

It can help to craft a thoughtful email where you can respectfully thank your friends, co-workers and bosses in writing. You don’t have to send it to everyone—just the people who meant something to during your time with the company.

3. Use your exit interview as an opportunity to say thank you

Leaving employees are often asked to have a one-on-one exit interview with their manager, HR, or both. During your exit interview, you will likely be asked for feedback regarding your thoughts about the company and its operations. Though it’s important to be honest with your answers, it’s also imperative that you be positive with your responses as possible. The raise they didn’t give you, the promotions that bypassed you, and so on, are best left unmentioned. Your answers will likely be put on record, so stay neutral with your responses, and thank them for accommodating you while you were working there. If you feel negative feedback is necessary, try to frame it in the form of constructive criticism.

Don’ts

1. Leave without a proper turnover

Make sure to double-check your work, and if you have any existing tasks that may be impossible to complete before the big day. Inform your manager and colleagues about them so they can be handed over and handled properly after you’ve gone. Likewise, let them know that you’re willing to help out with issues that may crop up after you’ve left, especially if your replacement is still learning the ropes of your job. If you have clients, customers, and third-party partners that you serve on behalf of the company, make sure they all know the right person to contact when you leave.

2. Burn your bridges

Things have a way of going in circles, and the negative things you say or do in the heat of the moment can come back to bite you. No matter how much you hate your work, putting down your boss, colleagues, or the position itself now that you’re going away is utterly uncalled for. Unless you’re dealing with toxic individuals, avoid burning any bridges, because you could still meet many of your colleagues down the line, especially if you work in the same industry. Avoid the temptation to say or do things you’ll regret, and do your best to leave with grace and poise.

3. Brag about your new job

Even if you landed a much better position at a much better company, don’t rub it in the face of people. Aside from being unwarranted, it just serves to undo any relationships you may have nurtured at work. Is there a good reason to make your soon-to-be-ex-colleagues despise you now that you’re leaving? You’ve already got better opportunities waiting for you, so enjoy this new chapter in your life without belittling others or making them feel uneasy.

4. Leave a mess

You’ll probably feel like taking it easy on your last day since you have to go through the motions of saying goodbye to everyone. However, that doesn’t mean you can leave your workspace in the haphazard state. Aside from cleaning your desk, make sure the drawers and cabinets that you’re responsible for are organized and devoid of any old bits of paper, half-used office supplies, and junk food that you forgot to eat.

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