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How to leave an organisation

Leaving an organisation - whether through choice or redundancy - can be a difficult time for everyone involved but there are things that you can do in the days, weeks or months leading up to your last day to make it a more positive time for you and your colleagues.

IMPORTANT: If you think you are being made redundant unfairly then you should talk to your HR department, trade union or an employment specialist.


Leaving a positive legacy

  • Write adequate notes: If some or all of your work is going to be carried on after you've gone it's vital to leave adequate handover notes. List each aspect of your work or different projects and for each, write; a brief summary of the work and where it's currently at, key people and their contact details, where your work is saved on the computer network, the top five questions that people ask about the work and your standard response, any passwords, next actions, deadlines, finances and funding requirements. Consider the person taking on your role and try not to leave lots of unfinished business or complex scenarios for them. In an ideal situation you will have time to go through these notes with the relevant people you're handing over to.
  • Pass on passwords: Don't forget to handover any passwords you have set up for the organisation on social network sites such as Flickr, YouTube or Twitter. Make sure these are documented in the appropriate ICT Registers. Check they are not linked to your personal email address. 
  • Have a clear-out: Your desk may be groaning under the weight of reports and minutes of meetings. Don't just hand these onto the next person to sort out, archive useful reports or shred / recycle out of date meeting notes. They will thank you for it!  
  • Leave your finances in order: Chase up any outstanding invoices for work you're paying for, submit your own expenses, pass on any invoices that need paying and for anything that's outstanding tell the relevant budget holder.
  • Turn on your out of office reply: Your IT department will almost certainly have a procedure for closing down email accounts. If you have an opportunity to leave your email open for a while then write an out of office reply telling people that you have left and who is the best person to contact in your place.
  • Have an exit interview: The organisation you're leaving can gain a lot from knowing about your experience of working there. Take up the opportunity of an exit interview and give constructive feedback. If you'd rather not do the interview with your line manager then talking to someone from HR is perfectly acceptable.

Managing your contacts

  • Tell people you're leaving: You don't want it to come as a surprise to your external contacts that you've gone. Send out an email to key contacts in plenty of time and/ or changing your email signature to give the date of your departure, new contact name and your new details. If you have any key clients or suppliers then try and fit in a face to face meeting with them before you leave, inviting the person taking over your work if possible.
  • Be aware of data protection: Whatever you do, don't be tempted to copy your contacts list or print out parts of your database. You will almost certainly be breaking data protection laws as the contact information was given to the organisation for a specific reason. If you want to keep in contact with people then think about adding them to your LinkedIn network – or other social network – before you go.
  • Ask for LinkedIn recommendations: If you've had particularly positive experiences with colleagues, clients and suppliers then why not ask if they can write a LinkedIn recommendation for you. It's easier to ask for it when you're still working together and the experience is fresh in their minds than later on.

Thinking about your next move

  • Make a portfolio of your work: In agreement with your organisation and depending on IP rights make a USB stick portfolio of your work such as documents you've written, briefings, newsletters, event slides or publications. Ask if you can have a hard copy of resources to show future employers.
  • Update your contact details on mailings and websites: Unless you're very careful about keeping your home and work life separate you probably don't realise just how much your email address is out there, whether as a sign in to websites or recipient for an e-newsletter. Unless you update your contact address before you leave you will stop receiving newsletters and may find yourself locked out of sites if you forget your password (as password reminder emails will go to your old work account). Start to update these details as soon as you know you're leaving.
  • Take up any training you're entitled to: If you're being made redundant then your redundancy policy might state you are entitled to training to help you move on in the job market. If this is the case make sure you take time to fit it in before you leave, you won't be able to take it retrospectively.
  • Consider your social media profiles: Does your Twitter profile refer to your organisation name or current job title? Have you updated your LinkedIn profile with a summary of what you have achieved? Think about which (if any) of your social media profiles are linked to your work persona and how you're going to deal with them. Prepare a short paragraph of your new contact details to paste into each social network you are a member of. 
  • Once you leave, make sure that's it: Whatever you do, don't try and check your emails after you've left, delete all references to the web mail URL if you need to. Leave your replacement to get on with their job and look forward to your next challenge.

Your final day checklist

  • Double check that HR have got your up-to-date contact details so they can send you any pay or tax paperwork.
  • Hand back any door passes, phones, laptops, keys or credit cards.
  • Clear out your desk of personal items.
  • Give your handover notes to someone.
  • Go for a well deserved drink with colleagues.


Page last edited Jul 24, 2013 History

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