You finally did it. You got out of your comfort zone, went after your dream job, and landed it. Now it’s your last day. You have one last test: the five people you’ll meet on your way out the door. Keep your eyes open; they can have more of an impact than you think.
The Whistle-Blower used to work for your new employer and is thoroughly enjoying telling you why you’re going to regret the move: the hours are long, the pay is low, the bosses are unfair, and the employees are jerks. But remember that The Whistle Blower left for a reason. His perceptions of your new employer are probably biased; so don’t let him make you start second-guessing yourself.
The Tagalong is already thinking about how he can benefit from your new opportunity. He’s calculating the odds that he can ride in on your coattails. Just remind him that you’ll be the new kid for a while. If he’s somebody you’d like to bring along (remember that anybody you recommend will reflect on you), tell him to check with you in about six months.
The Mentor shows up on your last day to outline all the plans he had for you. He’ll tell you what your next three positions would have been and laments the likelihood of your ever achieving such glory at your new job. Just remember that such promises at this point don’t really mean anything. If he really had such big plans for you, you wouldn’t just now be hearing about them.
The Exit Interviewer
The Exit Interviewer wants to know why you’re leaving. You can choose to share constructive criticism, or you can use the “a great career opportunity” line. If you do decide to go into detail, just be careful how you voice any complaints. Don’t talk about unreasonable expectations or lack of recognition. In other words, don’t say, “They expect us to work way too many hours.” Instead, say, “I wasn’t able to meet the time expectations, but I’m sure you can find somebody who’ll be eager to put in the hours.” If you can’t be positive, at least be neutral. You never know when you’ll cross paths with the interviewer again, and you don’t want to be seen as a whiner.
Old Boss/New Best Friend
So the boss who’s been riding your back for months is suddenly cozying up, telling you that he doesn’t know how he’ll manage without you and that you’re sure to go far with your new employer. What’s up with that? He’s likely trying to influence your exit interview. Negative comments from you reflect badly on him, so he wants to make sure you go into that interview thinking he’s the best boss you’ll ever have. Negative comments could come back and bite you down the road anyway if you end up working for him again someday, so go ahead and let him schmooze you for a few more hours.
The most important thing to remember about the people you meet on your last day is that you don’t want to burn any bridges. The chances are that you’ll be working with – if not for – some of these people again one day, and you want them to remember you as being positive and professional on your way out the door.