Leave your job like a boss

Sometimes, leaving a job is thrilling!

Other times, it’s decidedly less so.

It’s estimated that over 100,000 tech workers lost their jobs in the last year. I’ve known several people who were laid off, often with very little warning. It sucks. It’s scary and frantic and can be hard to know what to do.

Inspired by a moment like this a couple years ago, some friends and I put our heads together to make a gameplan so we could support one of our colleagues through one of these hectic, stressful moments.

What we ended up creating became a resource that we would turn to again and again, as we transitioned roles, whatever the circumstances. I’ve shared this checklist (along with my favorite resume writing guide) with teammates, colleagues, and family members, and I've adapted it over time based on feedback.

Below, you’ll find the How you leave a job like a boss checklist, but you can also save a copy of your own as a GDoc including some extra templates for writing your out-of-office, LinkedIn, and goodbye email messages.

Even though this particular job may be over, you likely will continue to have relationships (and potentially promises) to keep, connected to your old employer. Keep in mind any agreements (nondisclosure, nondisparagement, noncompete, etc) that you may have entered into. If you have questions or doubts about whether you have ongoing obligations, check with an employment-law attorney to make sure you don't unintentionally create friction between yourself and your former employer down the road.

Huge thank you to Anamita, Kevin, Rachel, Susannah, and all the friends who helped make this list such a useful resource for so many people!

How you leave a job like a boss

  • First step: take a breath
  • Contacts
    • Personal thank you email to everyone who you might want to stay in touch with in the future (CC yourself)
      • If you cannot export contacts: DO NOT BCC and do not use listservs/groups; these need to be individual emails you can reach from an outside address
      • If you can export contacts: do that, check that you have them accurately, then you can BCC if needed
    • Turn on Vacation Reply with your new contact information (allow external people, if that’s a setting you need to check)
      • You can do this before you actually leave (last three days or so)
    • Back-up any phone contacts you might need to access
    • Save copy of any org charts/lists you need to make sure you can reach out to people on LinkedIn
    • Post in your Slack/chat channel(s) with your contact info
  • Emails
    • Forward any emails you may need to reference from your work inbox to yourself
      • Look for: positive feedback from clients/managers, significant dates, etc.
      • Be careful as to not forward any confidential information (and note that forwarding emails can trigger flags in the system if your email and communications are monitored)
    • If there are any significant success stories you will want to reference for writing resume, make a record
  • Files
    • Save what you want and can - FWD or PDF
    • Be sure that you have transferred any personal files/photos/documents
  • Hardware
    • Do you have to return your phone? Check
    • Do you have to return your computer? Check
    • If you are not keeping your devices, wipe them in case there was any personal data
  • HR
    • Get record of severance/lay off for unemployment benefits
    • Review severance if applicable and make note of any significant dates or deadlines
    • Review healthcare if applicable and make note of any significant dates or deadlines
    • Confirm how and when you will be sent your final paycheck
    • Make sure your address on record is up-to-date
  • Manager close-out call
    • If you are being laid off: Ask to schedule not on the day of the news, but instead “next Friday” or something (so you can both be in a better headspace)
    • Lead with empathy: “I have had a hard week, but I bet it’s been a real rough one for you, too”
    • When you have your call, ask for three things:
      1. Logistics
        • Establish contact for go-to person for questions about HR (if you don’t already have one)
      2. Personal Feedback
        • Radical candor feedback
        • 3 places to improve
        • 3 places I shine
      3. Future Support
        • Ask them to be a reference
        • Ask for a recommendation on LinkedIn
  • LinkedIn
    • Ask teammates to endorse/recommend you on LinkedIn
      • Include clarity on the specific skills you want to be recognized for in your future pursuits
    • Immediately update your LinkedIn headline to reflect your openness to opportunities (be available early to extend your runway)
    • Update LinkedIn job searching status to “looking”
    • Add all your teammates on LinkedIn
      • You can personalize a copy/paste message if you're feeling overwhelmed
    • Goodbye post on LinkedIn (“thanks for the memories”)
    • LinkedIn Skills
      • find three roles you like on LinkedIn
      • look up those roles and skills required and identify which you have
      • add those skills to your profile
      • get five people to upvote each one (preferably not the same five)
  • File for unemployment (if applicable)
  • Dance Party 🎉

Want your own copy of the How you leave a job like a boss checklist? Use this template including resources for writing your out-of-office, LinkedIn, and goodbye email messages.

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