How To Create The Ultimate Transition Guide When Leaving Your Job

You've signed your offer letter and survived the awkwardness of giving notice. Now you can coast through your last two weeks, right? Not so fast. The surest way to be remembered fondly by your former colleagues is to leave a comprehensive transition guide for your replacement. After all, you're leaving the job—they'll be training the new hire. The more detailed the instructions you leave, the better.

transition guide leaving job

Prepare For A Smooth Transition Before You Give Notice

When you give notice—in addition to a professional resignation letter for your personnel file—you'll want to walk into your manager’s office with a list of current projects and their statuses. Once the initial shock wears off, your boss will want to know where everything stands and what loose ends you'll be able to tie up. Be ready to give a complete report—and make sure she understands your top priority during your notice period is to leave everything in good shape for your replacement.

What To Include In Your Transition Guide

If you've been planning to leave your job for a while, you might have already started working on a transition guide under the guise of creating documentation for your position. It's a good idea to have the contents of a transition guide written down in case of emergency, anyway. Here are important items to consider including:

  • A list of regular ongoing duties and responsibilities along with their corresponding timelines. For example: check office supply inventory weekly and order replenishments monthly. These are the type of smaller responsibilities that might fly under your boss' radar.​
  • A calendar of annual or quarterly tasks. For example: run first-quarter sales report April 1, and send to director. Again, if it's not something that happens every week, your colleagues might forget you take on these duties.
  • Upcoming project and department deadlines.
  • The names and companies of key contacts and their email addresses and phone numbers, along with context for the business relationship. In other words, explain why your replacement might want to get in touch with a certain person.
  • A list of usernames and passwords for software and cloud-based applications. Your company might choose to change the passwords before the new hire starts, but IT or your hiring manager will need your passwords to make the change.
  • Instructions for complex or business-specific processes. It helps to write down the instructions step-by-step (including screen shots, if applicable) as you perform each specific task.
  • An inventory of your physical and digital files.

As you list your current uncompleted projects, include the following:

  •  A description of the project
  •  A list of the other colleagues who are involved
  •  Deadlines
  •  A list of relevant files, possibly linking to file paths on the company server.

As you create the transition guide, think about what would have been helpful to you during your first few weeks in the position. Perhaps you struggled to find prior-year documentation, and a file list would have been helpful. Maybe you had trouble using a proprietary system and needed better instructions. Make it your goal to leave the new hire in better shape than you were on your start date.

One More Thing To Include: Your Contact Info

It's a nice touch to include your personal contact information at the end of the transition guide and offer to answer a few questions if need be. Just be sure to set boundaries. One or two questions during the first couple of weeks is one thing, but if it goes beyond that, you might need to discuss a consulting contract with your old boss. Remember: You chose to leave the job when you were being paid for it. No need to do it now for free!

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