It’s your last day of work. Since giving your two weeks’ notice, you’ve sent HR your formal letter of resignation, cleaned out your desk, tied up loose ends, and said your goodbyes.
Your departure seems to be going smoothly, and you’re happy to be ending your tenure on a high note.
But then, just hours before you walk out the office doors for the last time, you say the wrong thing.
“Exiting employees have said the dumbest things on their way out the door,” says Dana Manciagli, a career expert and author of “Cut the Crap, Get a Job!” “Some do it because they feel entitled to say whatever stupid things are on their mind, while others, like those who lost their jobs, are just bitter. Some just do it because they’re emotional or have held grudges for too long.”
No matter what the reason, it’s a bad move. You always want to leave your company on the best terms possible, without burning any bridges, she says.
“Just treat your last day like any other,” says Lynn Taylor, a national workplace expert and the author of “Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant: How to Manage Childish Boss Behaviour and Thrive in Your Job.” “It’s not the time to gossip or have a pity-party. You’re here to wrap up loose ends and mitigate the amount of follow-up necessary after you leave. Professionalism should be top of mind.”
Here are 15 things you should never say on your last day of work:
1. ‘This place is a sinking ship’
“Why do people feel compelled to make remaining employees feel badly just because you are moving on? I don’t get it. But stop it,” says Manciagli.
Instead, you could say: “I wish you all the best of luck, and I enjoyed my time here.”
2. ‘I’ll be unreachable for a couple weeks’
In most cases, there are a few loose ends to tie up after you leave a company, even if administrative.
“Most employers appreciate the idea that you are available to help if something comes up,” Taylor says. “Of course if this is abused by a new employee, you can draw boundaries later, but it’s an appropriate offer to make before you leave.”
3. ‘Let’s stay in touch’
“The reason why this one is dumb is because it’s a phony proposition,” Manciagli says. “It’s up there with, ‘let’s do lunch,’ yet nobody is accountable for making that happen.”
It’s fine to say this to those who you’re close with and the people you do intend to stay in touch with — but don’t say it to colleagues who you barely spoke to during the five years you worked together.
Try something like this, instead: “I will make sure we’re connected on LinkedIn so we can stay in touch.”
4. ‘One thing I really hated about working here was … ‘
This is not the appropriate time to do this.
Don’t use strong, hurtful words like “hate” on your last day. Keep thing positives and leave on a high note. If you do choose to give some constructive criticism to your soon-to-be former boss or coworkers, be polite and diplomatic about it.
5. ‘My new job is going to be amazing!’
If you’re resigning, your boss may make conversation and ask when you start your new job. This is a good time to tone it down and avoid gloating, Taylor suggests. “And, you never know if you’re leaving the frying pan for the fire. Keep your bridges intact.”
6. ‘I’ll be making way more money’
Again, it’s unprofessional to talk about all the perks or benefits of your new job and rub them in everyone’s face.
7. ‘You don’t know how to manage people’
Again, you don’t want to burn bridges on your way out.
Direct insults to your manager are likely to be the biggest regret of your departure. “When a future company does their due-diligence, who do you think they will call? Or if, later, you decide to return to the company, who will your future manager call for a reference? Oh, yeah, the person you just insulted,” says Manciagli.
The only solution is to say nothing negative at all to your manager. Take the high road.
8. ‘You should consider leaving, too’
Many people feel, on their last day, that they should send out the warning signal to others.
“Why? To validate their own departure; to give them self-confidence that leaving is the right move,” Manciagli explains. “Unfortunately, it’s just rude and disrespectful. The remaining workers may enjoy their role and will be picking up the workload from the downsizing. Leave them alone!”
Taylor agrees. “You may have the temptation to be vindicated about your departure by checking in with others, or worse, trying to feed into any dissatisfaction — but that’s a high-risk endeavour. The workplace can be cutthroat and not all your colleagues may be trustworthy confidantes. Some may want to ensure that you won’t be back to compete with their trajectory up the food chain. You’re better off venting with friends or family outside the office.”
9. ‘I want to hire you at my new company’
It’s no secret that poaching is a common practice in the corporate world. But at least wait until your gone before you start trying to take the best talent with you.
10. ‘No, thanks. I don’t need any help’
Whether you’re leaving to pursue another job or you’ve just been fired, your colleagues or bosses may offer to help with you transition or job search. Don’t turn down their offers!
“You don’t know who they know at other companies. You don’t know if they are someone you want to review your résumé or cover letter,” Manciagli says. “Say, ‘Yes, I greatly appreciate that offer. May I connect with you on LinkedIn, and then contact you for help in my career move?'”
11. ‘How are you handling this position in the future?’
“Most managers are still figuring that out unless your termination was in the works for a while, and even if they have a plan, there’s no particular reason for them to divulge it,” Taylor explains.
“Your curiosity may loom large, but the question will be viewed as brazen and inappropriate. Simply stated, if it doesn’t project you as being a polite, helpful, and professional employee, don’t do it or say it on your last day.”
12. ‘I never really liked working with you’
For the same reasons you should never offend your boss or talk about all the things you hated about this company, you don’t want to insult your colleagues or subordinates. You never know — maybe one day they will be on the hiring committee for your dream job.
13. ‘Good luck running this place without me!’
The time to boast a bit may have been on the way in, not on the way out.
“It’s fair to say that you felt like your talents weren’t being used fully and to offer examples, but it’s not wise to tell them you were the greatest thing since sliced bread and they’re going to be sorry after you’re gone,” he explains.
14. ‘I wasn’t the problem’
“You may be tempted to drop a few bombs if you’re suddenly being terminated, and list all the problems and people you feel have created the nightmare of a job you had,” Taylor says. “But this won’t win points with your boss, and may get back to your colleagues. Keep in mind that some employers ask for references from peers, and you want to maintain positive relationships with them, too.”
15. ‘I’d never work here again’
“If it was so miserable for you while you were earning a paycheck and benefits, then why did you stay?” Manciagli asks. “Every employee has choices to make. I don’t see bars on the windows and doors or your feet chained to the floor. Yet now, because you are on your way out, you disclose it was that bad. A little dramatic for my taste and makes you look totally unaccountable for your own career.”
Also, never say “never.”
“Your last day is rarely the last affiliation with your employer,” Taylor says. “You may well run into your boss or colleagues at functions, through social media, or even at future jobs. Your industry is a tightly woven fabric of people, and you want your brand to be consistently professional now and in the future for optimal career success.”
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