Exiting Gracefully Now Can Land You a Job Later

Sometimes you and a client must part ways, maybe even before your projects are completed. If you’ve decided that you’re leaving, what do you do? How do you leave gracefully?

First and foremost, you want to make sure that your reputation—a good one, if you’ve managed it right—will stay intact. This means you need to ensure that you depart on a positive note and remain a positive influence even after you’re gone.

Here are some things that I do in order to manage the relationship, especially for projects not completed.

Clean Up Your Documentation

Make sure that you are up to date on all your required documentation and statuses. This will be the start of conversation as you bring the next person up to speed, or for someone else to pick up from when you are gone. If there are required items that the project team has decided not to complete, make sure that they’re identified in a single place. That will help your successor as he or she begins to research the project and resume driving it forward.

Complete Budgeting

Do a last-minute check on the budget. I currently manage a monthly communication to all stakeholders, but typically review the budget weekly, or  even daily, depending on which phase the project’s in and what issues are open. Before your last day, run a quick budget and update your managers so they don’t get any nasty surprises when you leave.

Report Current Status

Pull together a status report for all projects still in flight. This will typically be provided to the client and management team to give a snapshot of the work at the point you leave. This is also useful for providing the new project manager with all open items, issues, dependencies and potential risks. It’s another way to provide a head start for the next person in line.

Stay in Touch

Even though you may be leaving, keep up your communication with the client’s team. They’ll remember this. It shouldn’t matter where you work, continue to act as if remaining in contact is important to you. It should be. Doing so will help with your networking efforts and may also provide visibility to other opportunities within the same company or group.

Say Goodbye

Don’t ever leave a company without saying goodbye. It’s always a good idea to do this in person for those you work with on a daily or frequent basis. For those you don’t know as well, an e-mail will suffice.

What’s your exit strategy?

Image:Neon Green Exit Sign [Bigstock]

4 Responses to “Exiting Gracefully Now Can Land You a Job Later”

  1. Albatross

    I don’t make a habit of it, but when I’ve done it I have never regretted it.

    My first “professional” job I waited six months past my anniversary to get my annual review, upon which raises were dependent. Finally my boss got tired of me asking (politely) for my annual review, led me into a private part of a server room, and said “Here’s your annual review: you’re not getting a raise.” To which I immediately responded “Fine, I quit.”

    I walked back to my desk, shoved my belongings into a box, and walked out.

    Leaving the parking lot, I saw my boss’s boss, a guy no better than my now-former boss. My plan was, pull up in front of him, flip him the bird, and tear off in a cloud of burning rubber. Unfortunately he started to scamper to cross in front of me just as I pulled right to try to pull in front of him, and we ended up doing that dance you do when you come face-to-face with someone in the hallway, except I was in a car and he wasn’t. Finally he just dashed across and I drove away.

    A couple years later I ran into a former coworker. He slapped me on the back and bought me a drink, saying “You’re a legend! You quit and tried to run over [Boss’s boss] out in the parking lot!”

  2. I got hired into an IT company with a revolving door.
    It took me 3 days to realize that the senior core engineering
    Group (of 7) left. Complete confusion followed. The boss had
    a double degree from MIT. I left the company, the same way I
    found it. The corporate building still has a big for sale sign
    in front, 13 years. Nobody wants the property either.

  3. For the most part, I follow Cathlynn’s guidelines. I’m very task-oriented and wrap up as much as best I can. Of course, that is contingent upon the degree of notice about the departure. I’ve worked since I was 14 and have been laid off twice. The first time was a couple of weeks into a contract. I’d negotiated starting the position, then attending a professional conference a couple of weeks later. I’m a tech writer and was sitting in a fishbowl-style area with QA. I returned to work after the conference and found myself alone. This had happened before during major deployments – QA holed up in some meeting. Around lunchtime, someone poked their head in and said “No one told you!?” They’d laid off all the contractors the Friday before. Talk about a failure to communicate!
    On a positive note, I’ve also worked for the same employer at three points in my career. The first time was an internship, the two remaining times were full time positions where I eventually left by choice. I believe the manner in which I left had everything to do with my support in returning when I discovered the other grass wasn’t as green as I’d anticipated.