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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 September 18, 2019

    How to Take Notes Effectively: Powerful Note-Taking Techniques

    How to Take Notes Effectively: Powerful Note-Taking Techniques

    Note-taking is one of those skills that rarely gets taught. Almost everyone assumes either that taking good notes comes naturally or, that someone else must have already taught about how to take notes. Then, we sit around and complain that our colleagues don’t know how to take notes.

    I figure it’s about time to do something about that. Whether you’re a student or a mid-level professional, the ability to take effective, meaningful notes is a crucial skill. Not only do good notes help us recall facts and ideas we may have forgotten, the act of writing things down helps many of us to remember them better in the first place.

    One of the reasons people have trouble taking effective notes is that they’re not really sure what notes are for. I think a lot of people, students and professionals alike, attempt to capture a complete record of a lecture, book, or meeting in their notes — to create, in effect, minutes. This is a recipe for failure.

    Trying to get every last fact and figure down like that leaves no room for thinking about what you’re writing and how it fits together. If you have a personal assistant, by all means, ask him or her to write minutes; if you’re on your own, though, your notes have a different purpose to fulfill.

    The purpose of note-taking is simple: to help you work better and more quickly. This means your notes don’t have to contain everything, they have to contain the most important things.

    And if you’re focused on capturing everything, you won’t have the spare mental “cycles” to recognize what’s truly important. Which means that later, when you’re studying for a big test or preparing a term paper, you’ll have to wade through all that extra garbage to uncover the few nuggets of important information?

    What to Write Down

    Your focus while taking notes should be two-fold. First, what’s new to you? There’s no point in writing down facts you already know. If you already know the Declaration of Independence was written and signed in 1776, there’s no reason to write that down. Anything you know you know, you can leave out of your notes.

    Second, what’s relevant? What information is most likely to be of use later, whether on a test, in an essay, or in completing a project? Focus on points that directly relate to or illustrate your reading (which means you’ll have to have actually done the reading…). The kinds of information to pay special attention to are:

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    Dates of Events

    Dates allow you to create a chronology, putting things in order according to when they happened, and understand the context of an event.

    For instance, knowing Isaac Newton was born in 1643 allows you to situate his work in relation to that of other physicists who came before and after him, as well as in relation to other trends of the 17th century.

    Names of People

    Being able to associate names with key ideas also helps remember ideas better and, when names come up again, to recognize ties between different ideas whether proposed by the same individuals or by people related in some way.

    Theories or Frameworks

    Any statement of a theory or frameworks should be recorded — they are the main points most of the time.

    Definitions

    Like theories, these are the main points and, unless you are positive you already know the definition of a term, should be written down.

    Keep in mind that many fields use everyday words in ways that are unfamiliar to us.

    Arguments and Debates

    Any list of pros and cons, any critique of a key idea, both sides of any debate or your reading should be recorded.

    This is the stuff that advancement in every discipline emerges from, and will help you understand both how ideas have changed (and why) but also the process of thought and development of the matter of subject.

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    Images

    Whenever an image is used to illustrate a point, a few words are in order to record the experience.

    Obviously it’s overkill to describe every tiny detail, but a short description of a painting or a short statement about what the class, session or meeting did should be enough to remind you and help reconstruct the experience.

    Other Stuff

    Just about anything a professor writes on a board should probably be written down, unless it’s either self-evident or something you already know. Titles of books, movies, TV series, and other media are usually useful, though they may be irrelevant to the topic at hand.

    I usually put this sort of stuff in the margin to look up later (it’s often useful for research papers, for example). Pay attention to other’s comments, too — try to capture at least the gist of comments that add to your understanding.

    Your Own Questions

    Make sure to record your own questions about the material as they occur to you. This will help you remember to ask the professor or look something up later, as well as prompt you to think through the gaps in your understanding.

    3 Powerful Note-Taking Techniques

    You don’t have to be super-fancy in your note-taking to be effective, but there are a few techniques that seem to work best for most people.

    1. Outlining

    Whether you use Roman numerals or bullet points, outlining is an effective way to capture the hierarchical relationships between ideas and data. For example, in a history class, you might write the name of an important leader, and under it the key events that he or she was involved in. Under each of them, a short description. And so on.

    Outlining is a great way to take notes from books, because the author has usually organized the material in a fairly effective way, and you can go from start to end of a chapter and simply reproduce that structure in your notes.

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    For lectures, however, outlining has limitations. The relationship between ideas isn’t always hierarchical, and the instructor might jump around a lot. A point later in the lecture might relate better to information earlier in the lecture, leaving you to either flip back and forth to find where the information goes best (and hope there’s still room to write it in), or risk losing the relationship between what the professor just said and what she said before.

    2. Mind-Mapping

    For lectures, a mind-map might be a more appropriate way of keeping track of the relationships between ideas. Now, I’m not the biggest fan of mind-mapping, but it might just fit the bill.

    Here’s the idea:

    In the center of a blank sheet of paper, you write the lecture’s main topic. As new sub-topics are introduced (the kind of thing you’d create a new heading for in an outline), you draw a branch outward from the center and write the sub-topic along the branch. Then each point under that heading gets its own, smaller branch off the main one. When another new sub-topic is mentioned, you draw a new main branch from the center. And so on.

    The thing is, if a point should go under the first heading but you’re on the fourth heading, you can easily just draw it in on the first branch. Likewise, if a point connects to two different ideas, you can connect it to two different branches.

    If you want to neaten things up later, you can re-draw the map or type it up using a program like FreeMind, a free mind-mapping program (some wikis even have plug-ins for FreeMind mind-maps, in case you’re using a wiki to keep track of your notes).

    You can learn more about mind-mapping here: How to Mind Map: Visualize Your Cluttered Thoughts in 3 Simple Steps

    3. The Cornell System

    The Cornell System is a simple but powerful system for increasing your recall and the usefulness of your notes.

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    About a quarter of the way from the bottom of a sheet of paper, draw a line across the width of the page. Draw another line from that line to the top, about 2 inches (5 cm) from the right-hand edge of the sheet.

    You’ve divided your page into three sections. In the largest section, you take notes normally — you can outline or mind-map or whatever. After the lecture, write a series of “cues” into the skinny column on the right, questions about the material you’ve just taken notes on. This will help you process the information from the lecture or reading, as well as providing a handy study tool when exams come along: simply cover the main section and try to answer the questions.

    In the bottom section, you write a short, 2-3 line summary in your own words of the material you’ve covered. Again, this helps you process the information by forcing you to use it in a new way; it also provides a useful reference when you’re trying to find something in your notes later.

    You can download instructions and templates from American Digest, though the beauty of the system is you can dash off a template “on the fly”.

    The Bottom Line

    I’m sure I’m only scratching the surface of the variety of techniques and strategies people have come up with to take good notes. Some people use highlighters or colored pens; others a baroque system of post-it notes.

    I’ve tried to keep it simple and general, but the bottom line is that your system has to reflect the way you think. The problem is, most haven’t given much thought to the way they think, leaving them scattered and at loose ends — and their notes reflect this.

    More About Note-Taking

    Featured photo credit: Kaleidico via unsplash.com

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