There are two ways to leave a job: on good terms or on bad terms. Sometimes co-workers make it easy to leave on a positive note. They'll even bid a departing colleague farewell with lunch or a party. In other cases, a two-week notice is met with a negative reception and leads to tension or hostility in the workplace. Either way, it's important you do your part to ensure a smooth exit by maintaining a professional demeanor.
Looking Ahead Professionally
Be polite when managers and co-workers ask about your future plans, but don't provide unnecessary details, such as who helped you get your new job or how much more money you'll be making there. You never know people's motives for wanting that information. Displaying a positive attitude about your future prospects is fine, but don't spend your final days rubbing your excitement in co-workers' faces or stressing to management how happy you are to be leaving.
No Need for Negativity
Avoid fighting fire with fire. Your superiors or co-workers may be bitter or disappointed that you're leaving and give you the cold shoulder. No matter how your colleagues act toward you, or how excited you are about getting started on your new opportunity, remain amicable and stay focused on doing a good job. This is not only the right thing to do, it's also important for your career. Even if you've already found another job, there's always a chance the offer could fall through or otherwise not work out. Making a negative impression in your final days could come back to haunt you if you need a reference from your old job or want to return.
Reach out to Your Allies
Don't feel like an outcast or blacklist all your co-workers. Gather contact details for individuals you want to keep in your network and let them know you intend to keep in touch. Ask for references before you leave. If you're in a senior position, try to oblige others' requests for references, recommendations or performance evaluations.
Try to finish up projects and avoid leaving a massive workload for others. If your co-workers will assume your duties until your position is filled, realize they might be unfamiliar with the work. Take the time to answer their questions and offer helpful tips, such as how to deal with pending issues that might come up after you're gone. At the same time, don't let your employer take advantage of you by demanding more work or longer hours than normal.
Hit HR ASAP
Request any assistance you need from human resources well before your last day. Complete and get copies of all the documents involving important matters such as health insurance and retirement accounts. Make sure you fully understand the benefits you're entitled to and what, if any, limitations you have in future dealings with current clients or employment with competitors.
Two Weeks, Says Who?
Make sure your finances are in order, just in case management decides not to keep you around for the full two weeks. In positions where confidentiality and trade secrets are a concern, there's an especially high risk of early termination. Some companies will pay for the full period regardless of your last day, but not all will.
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