They Will Talk About You When You're Gone

How to leave a positive legacy at work.

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His name echoes throughout the hallway at work, spoken as if he were a celebrity, royalty, infamous. Even though he put his two weeks' notice in two years ago, he is spoken about as if he were still part of the team. Yes, it's fair to say that Ant, a former programmer at my current gig, sewed himself into the fabric of my corporation.

Since Ant had the unique opportunity to code an entire website on his own—and not explain to anyone what he did—he certainly left his mark.

As certain as you'll pay taxes and eventually die, there's another inescapable fact of life—one that is rarely talked about.

THEY WILL TALK ABOUT YOU WHEN YOU'RE GONE.

We're not talking about the afterlife. Rather, bolting from a gig.

When you leave a job, most people will write you off. But somewhere down the road, it is a safe bet that your name will come up in conversation. It's easy to say: Who cares what they say about me when I'm gone? But I beg to differ. Each person you leave behind is a potential future gateway to a new opportunity. Even people hired after you leave might form an opinion about you. And you'll most likely never get a chance to defend yourself.

This is why it's important to write your own legacy at work. Every job moves on without you, no matter how good you are at what you do or how entrenched you are in the organization. But fear not, there are some things within your control that can help you write your own legacy:

  • Be consistent.
  • Go out with class.
  • Complete all projects.
  • Show others what you did and how you did it.
  • Get involved in extracurricular activities.
  • Put your stamp on unique projects.
  • You still might be the punch line of jokes, and people will still blame you for things that were never your fault, but writing your own legacy is still a good idea.

    How will you write yours?

    After holding down various media jobs, including stops at MTV Networks and Fox News, Andrew G.R. was completely discouraged—not only about his own career but about the lack of job resources that truly spoke to him. Enter Jobacle.com, the employment blog and podcast designed to Make Work Better.

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