On July 4th we celebrated Independence Day which made me think about professional autonomy. What does it mean to have freedom in your career? How do you achieve it? Does it mean the same thing for everyone and once you achieve independence in your career, does it mean that you are happy?
I am going to follow the theme of Career Independence through this month and address some of the questions posed above.
Let’s just admit it, nothing makes us feel quite as free (or as good in some cases) as submitting a letter of resignation and leaving on your own terms. Notice I did not say quitting a job. There is a difference between resigning and quitting.
Here are a couple of quick tips for leaving the right way.
Know the difference between resigning and quitting
While it may be tempting to strike a match and toss it over your shoulder, don’t do it. Leaving a position or a company does not give you license to damage your reputation or jeopardize benefits that you may you be able to keep. Read your employee handbook (remember the one you shoved in a drawer on your first day) and understand your employer’s expectations BEFORE you submit that letter of resignation.
Have an executable exit strategy
Don’t make your manager beg you for an exit plan. Be proactive and put one together. What work is in progress and high priority and how do you plan to transition that work and those relationships to others? Your colleagues will thank you!
Don’t leave your network behind
Remember what I said about your reputation? When you a leave, your reputation goes with you. Leverage that reputation to maintain meaningful connections with colleagues that you worked with. Send out a farewell email and include your personal email address and LinkedIn URL.
Don’t forget your personal files
It is not shocking that we work on personal things during the course of our workday. Make sure you remove any personal correspondence or files that you have saved before your last day. More importantly, take the time to collect commendations and other items that should be a part of your professional portfolio and save those work samples to a personal drive.