The last impression you make on someone is often the impression they will remember most vividly. In the context of the employment world, this means that when you and your employer go your separate ways, it is vital to keep yourself in good standing and avoid burning any unnecessary bridges. Even if leaving the organization is not your choice and you are furloughed or laid off, how you handle yourself in these final moments will withstand the test of time -especially if you are asked to provide feedback in an exit interview.
"Why", you may inquire? There are a few reasons it’s important to be professional in these final moments. Let’s break them down:
Employment Verification Checks
Even after you part ways with a company, an employer will retain your employee file. This is done for employment verification and reference checks and to see if you are eligible for rehire.
If your current prospective employer learns that you are not eligible for re-hire, this information could drastically hurt your chances of being offered a position.
Don’t Shoot the Messenger
If your employment ends and it is not your decision, keep in mind it is never an easy situation for the person delivering the news. Often the messenger is not wholly responsible for your employment coming to an end. In this moment, it’s important not to take the decision personally. It is natural to feel angry and upset; however, how you respond in tough situations will strengthen a professional bridge or light it with a match and set it to fire.
For example, after hearing unfortunate news on why you are being released, calling your boss a jerk, or speaking poorly of the organization on social media channels would burn a bridge. Social media postings can be easily shared, and once something is on the internet, it is there forever.
Hiring leaders look at prospective candidates’ social media pages. You want to ensure your social presence is always professional –even if it’s a personal page.
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You Are Not the Only One Working on Their Career
Another reason it’s important to remain professional throughout the entirety of your employment is that you never know where your professional career will take you, or when you will see a familiar face again. It is not uncommon for professionals to cross paths at multiple organizations –especially if you work in a niche industry.
You want to ensure you left a professional impression behind. Most professionals network at conferences, charity events, or online platforms such as LinkedIn. Keeping your personal brand professional is key since it might not always be apparent to whom your connections are connected.
Building a Strong Professional Bridge
If you were consistently late, partook in office gossip and/or office drama, there is a good chance you have put stress on a professional relationship. Of course, everyone is allowed to have bad days, but bad attitudes and inappropriate conduct are a choice.
Make sure to take a breath and think before you speak or act. My rule of thumb is, if it does not matter in five years, it’s not worth losing yourself for five minutes with actions or words that could be deemed grounds for termination or disciplinary action. Keep it professional and make sure to keep bridges that connect your professional network intact!