Strategy & Marketing

How To Leave Your Job Well

In past generations, people were employed for life, but statistics indicate that in today’s economy, you’ll have many jobs before retirement. In most areas – advertising and marketing, ministry, nonprofit work, entertainment, business, etc… the world is pretty small, so when it comes time to leave your job, you’d better leave it on good terms. After all, you never know in the future when you might want to work with that organization again. So even when you leave out of anger, duress, frustration, or most other reasons, I always encourage people not to burn bridges. But even when that’s your intention, most people don’t do it well, so here’s a few reminders you should keep tucked away for that day when it’s time to move on:

1. Finish the old job well.  Over the years. I’ve had a couple of departing employees leave our company completely in the lurch. I was thrilled for the opportunity they had with a new company, but when they departed, they left projects in mid-stream, and since they were the main person who knew the details, it made it very difficult for us to recover. I’ll think twice before I ever hire them back. Always button up projects, files, or relationships before you leave.

2. Don’t make the old company look bad to clients.  Even if you’re leaving over a disagreement, don’t vent to the company’s clients. Trust me – word always gets back. The relationship the client has with your company is almost always stronger than the relationship they have with you. So when you complain about your employer to a client, it will get back and leave a very bad taste with your old boss.

3. If your new opportunity requires that you start quickly, offer to follow up for a week or two with your old employer to help with the transition.  Be willing to make some calls on your own time, work a few evenings or weekends – even if you don’t get paid. This will help your previous employer recover and they’ll be grateful and remember.

4. Keep up the personal relationships – even beyond your job.  A former financial manager at our media company Cooke Media Group is now working in the film finance department at a major Hollywood movie studio. It was a great move for her, but since leaving, she’s always kept in touch. If I want to bring a client on a studio tour, she sets it up. She’s a wealth of information on new releases and contacts inside the studio. She comes back for our company’s special occasions. As a result, we’ll always be there for her, because she’s always been there for us.

Take new opportunities as they come, but in your excitement to leave your current employment, be careful to never burn bridges. You never know when you may need to come back.

What’s been your experience? Is there anything else you’d recommend for keeping old business relationships working?

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  1. What you’re saying is so true… I could not agree more. Once when I was needing work (jobless), I took a part time job at a large chain dept. store. Right about the time I was finishing up my training period and about to start in earnest, I got a call from another company offering me full-time work. I informed my employer, and even though I had not been there long, I worked hard, right up through my final day (a work ethic instilled in me by my folks… Col. 3:23). As I was clocking out and leaving for the last time, my boss pulled me aside and told me how much he appreciated my hard work – even though I was on my way out the door. The last thing he said to me was, “If you ever need another job, just come back and see me.” While a lot may be lost in the middle, people tend to remember how you start, and how you end.

  2. “Its all about how you end the show” my dept head wisely told me… Which is very true when it comes to working from show to show in the production world.

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