Leaving on good terms: what to do in your last weeks at work
What’s the best way to use your notice period?
If, like many Kiwis, you’ve taken advantage of the favourable conditions for job hunters in the current employment market, and are moving on from your current role, you might be wondering what to do with your last weeks at work.
Your new job is secure, your notice is handed in, so what’s the best way to spend your notice period? There’s a danger of mentally checking out, which might leave your colleagues and current manager with a poor lasting impression, so here are our tips for ensuring you use this time profitably.
What to do after you quit your job
1. Thank your manager
There will be a lot of thank-yous and goodbyes in the coming weeks, but at the time that you resign, it’s a classy move to explicitly thank your manager for the opportunity they’ve given you by hiring you. As well as being courteous, this is a smart move in that you should ask your manager for a reference before you leave, so you want them to remember you fondly.
2. Tie up the loose ends
When you go, the projects you’ve been working on will be handed onto someone else, so be a good egg and make sure it’s easy for them to pick up where you left off. Where possible, try and complete the projects you’ve been working on, but if this isn’t possible, make sure it’s easy for someone new to understand what you were up to, and what you were hoping to achieve.
For particularly complex pieces of work, it might be an idea to write a one-pager that explains everything in an easy-to-follow guide. As well as helping your replacement, this initiative will be noticed by your manager and help ensure you leave a good legacy.
3. Keep working
The above point means you’ll need to keep working hard right up until your last day. It’s crucial to remember that, no matter how excited you are about your new opportunity, the people around you will still be there after you go. This means that, if you check out and stop applying yourself, your soon-to-be former colleagues will be the ones who have to pick up the slack and cover what you didn’t get done.
Mentally checking out in your final weeks isn't a good look.
4. Don’t bad mouth your employer
One of the potential dangers to watch out for after you’ve handed in your notice is that you might start to feel freer to speak your mind about anything you didn’t like about the employer you’re leaving.
There’s no worse look than a soon to be ex-employee who starts downtalking their employer. This is particularly true if you feel tempted to discuss the employer’s shortcomings with your current colleagues, because they’ll continue to have to deal with these issues. This also will really play against you if word feeds back to your manager that you’ve been doing this, and they may feel less inclined to provide you with a reference in the future.
5. Prepare for an exit interview
Many organisations conduct exit interviews with outgoing staff to try and understand their experiences while working for the organisation and what motivated them to move on.
There’s no need to get nervous about this – it’s not about testing you or making you feel bad for leaving, good exit interviews should be all about the company learning how to make itself a better place to work.
That said, you still want to give a good account of yourself, and have something constructive to say that will help the business improve. Therefore, we recommend preparing your exit interview by having some good suggestions up your sleeve.
In addition, it’s a good idea to have a think about how you’re going to phrase your answer to the “why are you leaving?” question. It’s entirely your choice how much you want to say here, but it’s essential that you don’t use this as an opportunity to vent about your current employer. Even if you hated working there and can’t wait to leave, it’s only going to reflect badly on you if you launch into a ten minute monologue about everything that is wrong with the organisation. A few well-chosen, constructive suggestions about how the business might improve aspects of its employee experience, alongside an explanation of what this new role offers you, is the best way to go about answering this question.
Prepare for your exit interview so you can provide useful suggestions for how the business can improve.
4. Offer to help with recruitment and training
When your notice is in, it’s a good look to offer to help with the recruitment and/or training process for your replacement.
If your manager takes you up on this offer, it might involve any of the following:
- Writing the job description: as the person who’s been doing the job, you should have a pretty solid idea of the skills and experiences that would make someone a good candidate. Therefore, don’t be surprised if your manager asks you to write the job description that will feature in the online job advert.
- Reading CVs and cover letters: by the same token, you’ll be a good judge of applications once they start coming in, so your manager might be keen on you creating a shortlist of preferred candidates for them to decide between.
- Being part of the interview panel: if you’re still in the business when interviews start taking place, your manager might want you to be part of the panel. If this happens, you’ll want to think of some good questions to ask candidates, most likely about the technical aspects of your role that your manager might not think to ask about.
- Training the new hire: in some cases, you might still be in the business when the successful applicant starts. Depending on how long you’ve got before you leave, you’ll need to prioritise what you’re going to teach this person. Remember, they’re new to the company as well as the role, meaning they’ll be trying to absorb a lot of information very quickly, so think about how best to get this knowledge across.
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