The ultimate checklist for your last day at a company

There’s something nostalgic — yet bittersweet — about leaving a job that has fundamentally changed your career for the better. We often tie our identities to our careers, so when your last day at a company comes around, it’s possible to feel like you’re losing part of who you’ve become.

But leaving on a high note really comes down to staying organized in the weeks leading up to your end date.

So in the spirit of my last day here as a Ladders News reporter, I wanted to share a checklist with you that might be useful for your final day at a company.

Start by making sure you’re well rested

This can make all the difference, especially when you have a lot on your plate.

Instead of overcompensating for exhaustion by getting just enough sleep the night before your final day, aim to get a solid eight hours for several nights in a row.

You’ll enjoy feeling more alert than usual.

Wear something you adore

This will give you the extra confidence you need to get through your last day. It’ll also feel like more of an occasion.

Wearing something you love can also impact how you’re feeling and how well you perform at work, so why not set yourself up for success?

Give yourself more than enough time to get to the office

There’s nothing worse than rushing to work before the day even begins.

So give yourself the gift of time — and lots of it. You’ll feel a whole lot better on your commute if delays pop up, but you’re already running early. Having an external charger, water, and a snack in your bag can also be a big help.

Begin clearing out your desk in advance

Your last day at a company should be all about sailing through your remaining workload and leaving on great terms with your team — not shoving books, folders, and papers into an extra bag at high speed.

If you start clearing your desk the week before your last day, you’ll give yourself more time to tote fewer things home over a multi-day period. This way, you’ll also be less mentally and physically weighed down on your commute, and can carry a lighter, smaller bag to work on your last day.

If possible, set a goal of totally clearing out your workspace by the day before your exit.

Save your work!!

Whatever you do, save … your … work.

After all, the internet might not actually be forever:  Work hosted online can evaporate into thin air, leaving you without anything to show for the time you put in at work.

If you have to bring in your hard drive to save a bunch of files, do it. If you’d rather save digital copies on the Google Drive linked to your personal Gmail account, do it. You’ll quickly find out that PDFs are your best friend.

Trust me, it’s worth the effort — even if you have to start well before your last few days.

Make sure you’ve already spoken to HR about tying up loose ends

Maybe you have questions about your existing 401(K) plan, or how long you have until your company insurance plan cuts off. It’s super important to have HR fill you in on specifics like these before you’re out the door for the last time.

Also, hold onto any important documents you might need in the future.

Pay attention to the feedback you get in your exit interview

Whether it’s good or bad, you can use it as a springboard for the next chapter in your career.

As you continue to develop your strengths, really hone in on your weaknesses and see how much you grow professionally over time.

Your manager might even be willing to give you a recommendation down the line, so don’t burn any bridges with them at the end of your time working together.

Let your colleagues know how they can reach you

Whether you make your general announcement to the company via email, on Slack, or using another method, saying goodbye to your coworkers makes it clear that you appreciate the time you spent working with them.

It’s also a reminder that even after you’re gone, you’ll still be someone who they can reach out to. So be sure to save the contact information of coworkers you’ve become close with.

Celebrating with your team over an in-office treat or going out for drinks with them can also help create positive, lasting memories.  

Hand in your work ID card and other materials

Depending on where you work, you might have to hand in your ID badge, and/or laptop if you use one. Be sure to follow any instructions you receive from your manager, or from your HR department.

Wishing you the best of luck in the next stage in your career!