What To Take With You from a Job

The other day I heard this story from a friend who manages a lot of “Millennials”:


Bright young man finds great opportunity working with youth-oriented brands at ad agency…and resigns. Following conversation ensues:

Highly connected head of department: I need a resignation letter with confirmation of last day and formal resignation.

Bright young man: “Um, I need an actual formal resignation? Can I get a template for that?”

Head of department: “I try not to make those handy for my people.”

As bright as this young man may be, he’s not left much of a lasting impression on his former boss. Or rather he has left a decidedly negative impression. So that’s one reference he is not going to get. Of course I don’t know his story but it reminded me of the importance of work relationships. There’s a lot you’re allowed not to know in your 20s. You don’t need all the right answers at work. But you do need to know how to do the basics: not just the interview but also the exit interview. You should take something away from each job you have – something that you have learned and a good reference. And  beyond a good reference, the relationships you build at work can benefit you well after you’ve left the actual company where the relationship began. This is a great piece of advice I recently received from a 40-something executive and working mom about the value of cultivating work relationships:

“It’s super important to think through what relationships really matter to you and to cultivate those relationships. At the end of the day, quality of work is somewhat subjective and will only get you so far. It goes beyond politics to your growth. Cultivate relationships with people that you can help or who can help you. Keep in touch if you leave or they leave and help each other.  Make as much or more time to do that. That’s work. Value that work as much as delivering something on time. That’s something I’ve learned overtime.

The relationships both in your company and outside will make you more successful and make you happier much more than any single project.  So I can talk about successful projects, sales increases and other things and at the end of the day, that’s all important, but it’s not enough.”

Don’t think the job ends with the last day. Think through who you want to take with you.

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