The day has finally arrived: Your two weeks’ notice is up, and you’re about to walk out the door of your current workplace for the last time. Whether you’re truly sad to leave this job behind or you’ve been counting the minutes until you clock out, chances are, you’re going to have to sit through an exit interview before you go.
If you’re leaving your current job due to management or other workplace issues, you may view this interview as an opportunity to air your grievances and have some choice words with the supervisors who made you miserable. But career expert Alexandra Levit advised keeping your negativity to a minimum in the hours and days leading up to your departure.
“When it comes to exit interviews, the general rule is, if you don’t have anything nice to say, lie,” said Levit, author of “They Don’t Teach Corporate In College” (Ed. 3, Career Press, 2014). “Stick to official business as much as possible, and if you must provide constructive criticism, proceed with tact and caution. It’s a smaller world than you think, and you never know when you’re going to need these people again. At the very least, you want to be able to count on one person at the company to serve as a reference for you in the future.”
To improve your chances of getting a great reference down the road, Levit advised following these 10 steps to “fireproof” your bridges with individuals at your soon-to-be-former job:
Tell your supervisor first. You want your boss to hear the news from you, not from someone else in the department.
Give two weeks’ notice. This is standard job exit etiquette, but some employees give less notice than this, leaving their employer scrambling to find a replacement. Stay for the entire two weeks, unless the company requests that you leave sooner.
Be modest. Don’t alienate your colleagues by bragging or chattering incessantly about your awesome new gig.
Don’t insult anyone or anything. Whether it’s true or not, show that you regret leaving such wonderful people behind.
Stay on top of your responsibilities. Remember that you’re accountable for your work until you walk out the door on your last day.
Continue to adhere to office protocol. You worked hard for that professional persona, so leave your boss and colleagues with the right impression.
Review the employee handbook. Understand what you’re entitled to in regard to benefits and compensation for unused sick or vacation days.
Organize your files. Make it easy for your colleagues to find materials, so that they can transition your workload seamlessly and won’t need to call you at your new job.
Train your replacement well. Your current organization has been paying your salary for as long as you’ve been there. You owe it to the company to leave your job in good hands.
Don’t take anything that doesn’t belong to you. This includes office supplies and work material that was not developed by you personally.
If your boss doesn’t offer to provide a professional reference in the future when you leave, Levit recommended giving it some time before you reach out and ask for one.
“You are more likely to get a good reference once your boss is over you leaving and can view your experience with him or her in a positive light,” she told Business News Daily. “Wait a few months, and then give your former boss a call or send an email reiterating how much you enjoyed working there, and ask about the possibility of a future reference.”