Leaving a job and what to prepare

“Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.”

So you’ve decided to move on, and take that lavish job offer. Your manager sets you a couple of handovers tasks to do, and what’s left is backing up your personal files before returning your laptop to the IT Department. So you pull up your portable hard drive and backup all of your work conveniently. Easy, right?

Wrong. Your files would most probably be scattered here and there because you mixed them up during the four years of work, so you need to scout through tons of folders to ensure there’s nothing personal left. Before you realize it, time is almost over and you need to stay up late for a couple of nights to ensure everything has been backed up. Sounds familiar?

You could also be in a situation where you keep a somewhat organized record of your stuff, but the early morning meeting with the HRD indicates that this is goodbye and they will revoke your access immediately. Puff! All those insightful notes that you put aside for years, thinking you’ll get to it once you have time in between your crazy schedule, are all gone. Hasta la vista Data!

The truth is, in many cases, the terms of work separation is somewhat outside of your control sphere. Just like any relationship, it could end smoothly, or abruptly, so it’s best to prepare for the worst-case scenario. How? I’m thinking three things, here they are:

01. Make a habit of creating regular back-ups

What should you backup? Think about your “what’s next?” So you can decide what to backup, for example:

  • If you’re a digital product or service designer, and your next job relies heavily on your design portfolio, then create a habit of taking screenshots of your work in progress, including shots of meetings, workshops, which helps to explain the thought process behind your work, will be very helpful (*)
  • If your next role will be somewhat similar to your current one, in terms of challenges and job responsibilities, you want to ensure that learnings from your current work are well recorded so you don’t have to start everything from zero again. Therefore, pieces of notes you took in meetings, workshops, coaching, will be your treasure, make sure to keep those (*)
  • As you learn more about yourself and want to improve, feedback from your colleagues could serve as a reflection of what you did right, and what you need to improve. Some even reveal your blank spots, the things that you don’t know you don’t know. Therefore, the records of your quarterly performance review are something you want to keep as well

02. Taking Notes and Pictures

While most records are available as project deliverables, i.e. presentation slides, final artwork, wireframes, research insights, some you need to produce deliberately, i.e. photo documentations, personal notes, so you need to create a habit of taking pictures and taking notes.

03. Maintain a positive relationship

Last but not least, ensure you maintain a positive relationship with your direct supervisor, e.g. Manager(s), so that they will be there to back you up when your future employer needing a reference.

Got other tips? What usually works the best for you? (byms)


(1) Be mindful of NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement) that could get you in trouble if you’re sharing something deemed as sensitive, like a roadmap or business strategy. It’s usually okay though, to keep screenshots and blur out the sensitive details, especially of products that have been launched for public access. When in doubt, check with your supervisor.