You hate your job and you’re already plotting your escape. You’ve tried making the most of it, but it’s time to move on. You have your resume all spruced up and after hours you’re at home hunting for leads and sending out applications, responding to emails to schedule interviews. So how do you while away the days at your old job while your exit strategy solidifies?Photo by Jeremy Botter.
- Keep Working. First and foremost, if you haven’t officially landed a new job yet or you haven’t given your current employer the news that you’ll be leaving, carry on like normal. Make notes to yourself about how you would transition your work if you had to — because you will have to soon, hopefully — but keep working like you’re not looking for other employment. It’ll partially give you room to breathe in case the new offer falls through, but it’ll also make sure the day to day is easier when you do have to leave. Don’t tip your hand by slacking.
Keep Quiet. Until you have a job offer in your hands, you’ve weighed it, and you’ve decided to take it, don’t go mouthing off to your friends and colleagues that you’re “so out of here”. There’s something to be said for talking to your manager about why you’re dissatisfied if you think there’s a way to improve your current job, but if you know it’s a lost cause and you’re looking for a new gig, don’t let it slip until you’re ready to make your move. I’ve seen a number of people who have ruined good relationships because they eagerly talk about why they’re happy they’re leaving and where they’re going before they get even get an offer, or before they hand in their resignation. Photo by Ting Ting Photography.
- Pack Up (Slowly). Slowly but surely, start taking your personal items home from your office. Making your office space more comfortable is a great way to make a job more bearable, but when it comes time to go, the last thing you’ll want to do on your last day is carry boxes upon boxes of items from your desk to your car, or on the subway home. Start now and take home some of the items that are most important to you — your favourite mug, some personal photos, things that you would be unhappy to lose if you were shuffled out the door the same day you give notice.
- Network. There’s no better time to make sure you stick close to your friends at your current job than now, when you’re thinking about leaving. You could be pragmatic and hope for future references and professional referrals, or you could just be personal and interested in maintaining the relationships you’ve cultivated in your tenure at your current job, but whatever the reason, if you know you’re on the way out but no one else does, it’s a good time to make sure you’re close to the people you want to stay in touch with after you make your break.
Back Up (or Delete) Your Data. Another task you don’t want to be stuck with the day before your exit interview is backing up your email, personal contacts, and any files that you want to make sure you take with you or add to your portfolio of work or projects. If you’re also the type who’s used your work computer to purchase music or install applications for personal use, now’s the time to back that stuff up and uninstall those applications. Make sure you’re familiar with your employer’s data retention policies though-you don’t want to take home or delete files from a project you worked on only to find out that your employer forbids leaving the company with that information. Photo by Jacek Becela.
- Familiarise Yourself With the Leave Policy. Most employers will reimburse you for leave you haven’t taken up to a certain amount. Now’s the time — before your employer knows that you’re planning an exit — to make sure you’re familiar with that policy and how much leave you have. If you have more leave than you’ll be paid out for, you may want to take a couple of days off before the deal is done. If you’re in the red, you may want to prolong your departure so any negative leave balance you have isn’t deducted from your last check. Either way, you want to look into this before you hand in your two or four weeks, not afterward.
Get Your Finances in Order. On a more personal level, make sure your finances are in order before you head out from one job and into another. If you’re taking some time off between jobs, now’s the time to make sure your emergency fund is well stocked. Photo by Dave Dugdale.
- Brush Up On Your Skills. Making a transition from one job to another might seem like a bad time to make sure you’re up to speed on the skills that you advertise on your resume, but it’s actually one of the best. First, your new employer may expect you to be more proficient than you are at something you used to do at a job years prior. Second, you want to make sure that, while you have a little time between jobs, that your skills are honed, your certifications are up to date, and your portfolio is fresh in case your new job doesn’t work out. You’ve updated your resume to find the new job, now make sure to update yourself so you hit the ground running.
- Learn as Much as Possible About Your New Employer Even if you haven’t landed a new job just yet, now is a great time to learn as much as possible about the companies you’re interviewing with. If you do have a job offer, hopefully you already know a good deal about the company already (you did interview with them, after all,) but now is a great time to familiarise yourself with the corporate culture, the dress code, find and follow people who work at the company on Twitter or LinkedIn, reach out to your future employer’s HR department to ask about benefits, pay dates, and other information you may not learn on day one, and make a fully educated decision whether this company is right for you, even if the job seems right for you.
Make a Clean Break. When it’s time to go, make it quick and make it clean. Make sure you give your notice and stick to it, transition your work completely and cleanly, and give your current employer and coworkers no reason to reach out to you after you’ve departed whatsoever unless it’s for personal reasons. The last thing you’ll need when you’re trying to make a great impression at a new job and learn everything you can is your old colleagues calling you asking how to do your old job.Photo by Bill Abbott.
Jobs are difficult enough to come by, but the fact that they’re scarce doesn’t mean you should stop looking for better ones, or a job that’s a better match for your skills, passion, and career goals. When you find it, hopefully these tips will help you make the transition smooth before you make the official break with your employer.