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5 Suggestions for Leaving With Style

5 Suggestions for Leaving With Style

    There’s something to be said for leaving a former employer with style. We’re in the middle of a time when more than a few employers are having to downsize and plenty of people who would otherwise be assured of a job are getting the axe. Just because a former employer may have directed you to the door, however, you can still walk out with your pride intact. The same holds true if you’re leaving an employer willingly. As long as you stay in the same industry, you’re guaranteed to run into people you’ve worked with in the past over and over. It’s not unheard of to return to the same company, or find a former coworker at a future employer.

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    No matter the reason you’re leaving your employer, do it with a little style and grace. You still need goodwill from your past employers — references, anyone? — and you are likely to have plenty of positive relationships at your old place of employment that are worth preserving. There are a few things you can do to make your transition a little better.

    1. Skip the theatrics

    The fact that you’re moving on to a new employer is not an excuse to engage in theatrics. I worked with one otherwise brilliant man who took the moment of his resignation as an opportunity to explain at length the faults of our employer. Aside from burning a few bridges, he ensured that the two weeks’ notice he gave turned into two weeks of sheer misery. Constructive criticism is not out of line, but there is a time and a place for it — an exit interview is usually the best choice. But theatrics can span a wide variety of actions. It seems like every employee bears some hard feelings towards a supervisor — but all in all, try to leave it at the statement that you and your former employer were not a good fit and move on. At the very least, your resume will be healthier in the long run.

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    2. Write a few thank you notes

    It’s not necessary to write a personal note to every person you worked with, but if you had a coworker or supervisor who particularly acted as a mentor or otherwise helped you along, take the time to thank them. People remember the little touches and if they’re dwelling on the thoughtful note you left, any small problems along the way will become so much water under the bridge.

    3. Tidy up your loose ends

    I’ve seen the greatest argument for leaving things organized for the next person while sitting in a waiting room: a new receptionist was obviously struggling with a mess left by her predecessor. A phone call came for that former employee and the new receptionist mentioned she had left the organization — managing to slip in a comment about how she had left the business in a difficult position. The person who comes after you will have a chance to discuss your abilities to clients, co-workers and anyone else who comes in the door. Even if you never meet your replacement, try to leave a good impression.

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    4. Network with your co-workers

    Before you leave the office for the last time, you should have the contact information of every co-worker you plan to stay in touch with. There’s nothing wrong with making sure you connect with all of those individuals online through LinkedIn or Facebook. Hopefully, you had a good relationship with your peers: these are people who you share a common interest in your industry, who will hear of new developments and job openings and generally can be good friends to have. Personally, I’m always in favor of the farewell party: it’s a clear opportunity to exchange contact information and make sure you stay in touch. And do stay in touch — this isn’t high school, when you promised to be friends forever and didn’t talk after senior year.

    5. Do something memorable on your last day

    Bake cookies. Hand out farewell cards. Do something to remind your co-workers that you will no longer be occupying the next cubicle over. For some people, this sort of action can be a matter of guaranteeing that you have that great business network or reference sealed up. It’s can be just as much a matter of saying goodbye to people who you’ve spent a lot of time with, shared stresses with and connected to. You may need that little bit of closure before moving on to your next job and it can’t hurt to have a little fun on your last day.

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    Your Exit

    The way you leave is likely to be the thing your supervisors and co-workers remember best about you. At the very least, it’s probably the most recent interaction you had with them. Make the effort to leave with a little style and you’ll find that not only do you have a number of unburned bridges in place, but you also have some pretty solid relationships worth maintaining. Don’t make your exit all about your resume, though. References and networks really aren’t everything. It’s equally important to make sure that you’re comfortable and happy about your transition. While making it absolutely clear to your boss what you think of him may feel good while you’re telling him off, but, honestly, it’s probably not a step you’ll be happy about when you finish.

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    Last Updated on January 21, 2020

    Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

    Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

    Most of the skills I use to make a living are skills I’ve learned on my own: Web design, desktop publishing, marketing, personal productivity skills, even teaching! And most of what I know about science, politics, computers, art, guitar-playing, world history, writing, and a dozen other topics, I’ve picked up outside of any formal education.

    This is not to toot my own horn at all; if you stop to think about it, much of what you know how to do you’ve picked up on your own. But we rarely think about the process of becoming self-taught. This is too bad, because often, we shy away from things we don’t know how to do without stopping to think about how we might learn it — in many cases, fairly easily.

    The way you approach the world around you dictates to a great degree whether you will find learning something new easy or hard.

    The Keys to Learning Anything Easily

    Learning comes easily to people who have developed:

    Curiosity

    Being curious means you look forward to learning new things and are troubled by gaps in your understanding of the world. New words and ideas are received as challenges and the work of understanding them is embraced.

    People who lack curiosity see learning new things as a chore — or worse, as beyond their capacities.

    Patience

    Depending on the complexity of a topic, learning something new can take a long time. And it’s bound to be frustrating as you grapple with new terminologies, new models, and apparently irrelevant information.

    When you are learning something by yourself, there is nobody to control the flow of information, to make sure you move from basic knowledge to intermediate and finally advanced concepts.

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    Patience with your topic, and more importantly with yourself is crucial — there’s no field of knowledge that someone in the world hasn’t managed to learn, starting from exactly where you are.

    A Feeling for Connectedness

    This is the hardest talent to cultivate, and is where most people flounder when approaching a new topic.

    A new body of knowledge is always easiest to learn if you can figure out the way it connects to what you already know. For years, I struggled with calculus in college until one day, my chemistry professor demonstrated how to do half-life calculations using integrals. From then on, calculus came much easier, because I had made a connection between a concept I understood well (the chemistry of half-lifes) and a field I had always struggled in (higher maths).

    The more you look for and pay attention to the connections between different fields, the more readily your mind will be able to latch onto new concepts.

    How to Self-Taught Effectively

    With a learning attitude in place, working your way into a new topic is simply a matter of research, practice, networking, and scheduling:

    1. Research

    Of course, the most important step in learning something new is actually finding out stuff about it. I tend to go through three distinct phases when I’m teaching myself a new topic:

    Learning the Basics

    Start as all things start today: Google it! Somehow people managed to learn before Google ( I learned HTML when Altavista was the best we got!) but nowadays a well-formed search on Google will get you a wealth of information on any topic in seconds.

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    Surfing Wikipedia articles is a great way to get a basic grounding in a new field, too — and usually the Wikipedia entry for your search term will be on the first page of your Google search.

    What I look for is basic information and then the work of experts — blogs by researchers in a field, forums about a topic, organizational websites, magazines. I subscribe to a bunch of RSS feeds to keep up with new material as it’s posted, I print out articles to read in-depth later, and I look for the names of top authors or top books in the field.

    Hitting the Books

    Once I have a good outline of a field of knowledge, I hit the library. I look up the key names and titles I came across online, and then scan the shelves around those titles for other books that look interesting.

    Then, I go to the children’s section of the library and look up the same call numbers — a good overview for teens is probably going to be clearer, more concise, and more geared towards learning than many adult books.

    Long-Term Reference

    While I’m reading my stack of books from the library, I start keeping my eyes out for books I will want to give a permanent place on my shelves. I check online and brick-and-mortar bookstores, but also search thrift stores, used bookstores, library book sales, garage sales, wherever I happen to find myself in the presence of books.

    My goal is a collection of reference manuals and top books that I will come back to either to answer thorny questions or to refresh my knowledge as I put new skills into practice. And to do this cheaply and quickly.

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    2. Practice

    Putting new knowledges into practice helps us develop better understandings now and remember more later. Although a lot of books offer exercises and self-tests, I prefer to jump right in and build something: a website, an essay, a desk, whatever.

    A great way to put any new body of knowledge into action is to start a blog on it — put it out there for the world to see and comment on.

    Just don’t lock your learning up in your head where nobody ever sees how much you know about something, and you never see how much you still don’t know.

    Check out this guide for useful techniques to help you practice efficiently: The Beginner’s Guide to Deliberate Practice

    3. Network

    One of the most powerful sources of knowledge and understanding in my life have been the social networks I have become embedded in over the years — the websites I write on, the LISTSERV I belong to, the people I talk with and present alongside at conferences, my colleagues in the department where I studied and the department where I now teach, and so on.

    These networks are crucial to extending my knowledge in areas I am already involved, and for referring me to contacts in areas where I have no prior experience. Joining an email list, emailing someone working in the field, asking colleagues for recommendations, all are useful ways of getting a foothold in a new field.

    Networking also allows you to test your newly-acquired knowledge against others’ understandings, giving you a chance to grow and further develop.

    Here find out How to Network So You’ll Get Way Ahead in Your Professional Life.

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    4. Schedule

    For anything more complex than a simple overview, it pays to schedule time to commit to learning. Having the books on the shelf, the top websites bookmarked, and a string of contacts does no good if you don’t give yourself time to focus on reading, digesting, and implementing your knowledge.

    Give yourself a deadline, even if there is no externally imposed time limit, and work out a schedule to reach that deadline.

    Final Thoughts

    In a sense, even formal education is a form of self-guided learning — in the end, a teacher can only suggest and encourage a path to learning, at best cutting out some of the work of finding reliable sources to learn from.

    If you’re already working, or have a range of interests beside the purely academic, formal instruction may be too inconvenient or too expensive to undertake. That doesn’t mean you have to set aside the possibility of learning, though; history is full of self-taught successes.

    At its best, even a formal education is meant to prepare you for a life of self-guided learning; with the power of the Internet and the mass media at our disposal, there’s really no reason not to follow your muse wherever it may lead.

    More About Self-Learning

    Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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