Of course you know it’s important to create a good impression during the first week at a new job.
But did you know that the same thing is true for the last week?
After all, former co-workers often move on and get jobs at companies you may someday seek to work for. You will surely need to ask previous managers for references or recommendations. The time may even come when you’re looking to return to that old employer.
Which is why it’s always a smart idea to leave a fabulous final impression.
First, get your projects completed or at least in a place where they can be easily passed on to the next person. Put as much as you can in writing. Ask your managers how they plan to handle the transition, making it clear you’re eager to cooperate.
You should also get your workspace ready for your successor, removing family photos, spare pairs of shoes, your snack stash, and so on. If you use a company computer, permanently delete all personal emails and files.
A nice touch is to write personal goodbye notes to your co-workers, thanking them for all the ways they helped you out. If your employer is throwing you a farewell party, do remember to treat it like the work function it is. Limit your alcohol intake to one drink (or less), and be as diplomatic and gracious as you know how to be.
You’ll want to refrain from bragging about the great new job you’re headed to, or mentioning how overjoyed you are to be leaving your old one, but that last week you can definitely put a little extra care into your personal appearance. That final impression is going to linger long after you’ve moved on. Plus it can help you to maintain a professional attitude at a time you might otherwise feel tempted to slack off.
Finally, set up an exit interview with your boss. Start off by saying how much you enjoyed working with him or her, or — if you can’t honestly say you enjoyed it — emphasize how much you learned. Then ask for feedback and advice. It could be illuminating. Resist the urge to vent or air dirty laundry. If you’re asked to make suggestions for improving your soon-to-be-former position, do so in a positive and professional manner.