While you often spend a lot of time focused on getting
a new job or landing that next client, all good things must come to
an end at some point. It is important to remember that how you leave
a job is just as important has how you start one. If you have problems
at the end of a relationship, it can damage your reputation and your
entire high-tech career.
A client grows up
As I write, I am in the midst of departing from a major client. We have
worked together, on and off, for almost 10 years. For the last 2 years,
I have been operating as a part-time internal IT person as the company
has grown larger. I have been working on-site 2 days a week while also
on-call via phone or email on my off days. It has been a very lucrative
and rewarding relationship, but the time has come for the company to
handle more of their internal IT.
When I did my “end-of year” review for this client in December,
I made it clear that to best serve their company and their clients,
they needed someone in-house to handle the day-to-day IT troubles that
accompany any company, large or small. It has taken these last 6 months
to finally put the plan in action, but I think they will be better for
it, even if it means less hours for me.
Over the next several weeks I will be dedicating a lot of time to preparing
the way for the new in-house IT tech. I am documenting procedures, cleaning
up files, gathering software and anything else I can think of to allow
this new person to get down to work immediately. My guide in all this
work is to treat this person, as I would like to be treated in the same
situation. I have been involved in several job changes where this has
certainly not been the case. I have faced missing software and hardware,
no documented procedures, and even outright sabotage. Thankfully the
good has outweighed the bad, but problems do occur.
Make sure the new person has all the password, addresses, keys, etc.
that they need on the first day. Work with your client to insure they
have a computer and a desk ready for them when they arrive. Nothing
says “welcome” more than a place to hang your hat and put
down your bags on your first day on a new job.
The more comfortable the new person is in the environment, the easier
the transition will be. In some cases, the new arrival will want access
to you for a few days after they start. Others may want to fly solo
as soon as possible. Be sensitive to this. Listen closely and plan your
Good for you/Good for them
The advantages of leaving a job or a client on a good note should be
obvious. I will still be available to this client for work when they
need an extra hand or need some specialized services I can provide.
It also leaves open the possibility of the client recommending you to
some other person or company. Long relationships, when they are good,
often lead to other long relationships.
There is also the slight chance that perhaps the new person will not
work out. I would never wish this upon a company, but it does occur.
You want to leave the door open for your return should something like
this occur. In my case, I didn’t really want the full-time position
at the company, but life changes and your job needs might change down
the road. This position might be just what you need in a few months.
While it may be a little stressful for you, leaving a client can be
an excellent opportunity to show exactly what you stand for, personally
and professionally. You may only get to make one first impression, but
the impression you make when you leave is sure to be even more long
lasting. It says much about who you are and bears greatly on the opportunities
this client may bring to you in the future. No matter what your relationship
with the client, good or bad, there is no reason to burn bridges. Leaving
on a good note can turn one ending into a new beginning.
Comments, Questions, Reviews?