How To Survive Your Two Weeks Notice

The door shuts behind you, you exhale with relief and think, “In two weeks I’ll be out of here,” as you blow a wisp of hair out of your face in disbelief. The words came easier than you imagined when you let your boss down easy, and now it’s time to move on to bigger and better things. There’s just one problem: oh yeah, you still have two weeks.

And, to many who have experienced the awkward, sometimes ulcer-inducing 10 business days that can feel more like two years due to coworker angst, manager revenge, client confusion, project hogging and colleague gossip, it’s a far cry from the fun you remember having the last few days of school.

If you’re lucky enough to enjoy your last two weeks, however, beware of the feeling of buyer’s remorse that can creep up, selfishly persuading you to fall back on your promise on taking the new job, and instead, fall into the comfort of your current position. We talked to some experts about how to make those last days go as smooth as possible.

Resign with a number in mind.

As CEO and Founder of Career Girl Network, Marcy Twete, learned first-hand when she resigned as a chief-level officer at a non-profit, don’t leave the length of your last days up to your manager. Have a solid timeframe in mind before giving your notice or you may find yourself on a month-long roller coaster ride with only loops, steep drops and the same crazy face captured in the Disney World Splash Mountain photo sitting on your desk.

“Huge mistake!” Twete said. “I asked my boss at the time what she wanted me to do – want me to give two weeks? She responded with a request of six weeks, so I naively agreed. Soon after, the relationship went sour when I began being blocked out of things like company databases because they thought I would take donor contact information and to my next non-profit employer, making it hard to complete projects – and trust my colleagues.”

Twete’s best advice: “Leave as quickly as you can.”

Focus on the golden goal

“During the last two weeks of employment there is one goal: leave well (or as well as possible),” recommends Marcia LaReau, president of the career services firm Forward Motion.

But, the act of leaving well is subjective. What defines leaving well? Is it well by your colleagues’ standards or well by yours? According to career adviser, founder of and author of The 73 Rules for Influencing the Interview Chris DeLaney, you have two options.

“Employees at this stage have two choices, either to have a two-week working holiday where you spend your time chatting with too-soon-to-be ex-colleagues about your past friendship and the mischief you got into at work, while spending twice as long as it should clearing your desk and deleting your e-mails, which in short, gets you paid for doing no work with a self-satisfying feeling of having the last one-up,” DeLaney said. “Or, the second choice is to make your old employer realize what a mistake they have made by watching you walk out of the door.”

Leaving on good terms. The easiest way to do this is to simply “be on time,” said Derrick Hayesis, the author of 1 WORD Is All It Takes.

Others are not so easy, especially when you’re leaving a company with a bad taste in your mouth. You may feel underappreciated and scathed by confrontations that may have led to your departure. Still, it’s essential to play it cool.

Resigning with sparkling references is a subject matter in which Andrew Schrange, is highly skilled.

As the founder of MoneyCrashers explained, “For every job I’ve ever had, including my last investment job, I left on good terms. You could find yourself in a position to return to a former organization one day. Or you might need a letter of reference. Maintaining good relationships with previous employers simply has too many upsides to do things any other way.”

Fair enough. Now you disgruntled employees know what type of ending you’re aiming for – now let’s go over the obstacles you’ll have to dodge in order to keep from cracking like the fed-up Jet Blue flight attendant who peaced out on the inflated emergency exit slide, double-fisting stolen beers from the aisle cart.

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    • Lastango

      There’s a lot of good advice here, and I think it covers the subject well. One disagreement: you DO NOT associate with your former employer’s clients once you are out the door. Never. Ever. The employer will react with extreme, justified suspicion, and you will have wrecked your relationship with everyone there forever, and quite possibly have tranished your reputation in ways you will regret. NFW. Don’t even think about it.
      One tip: clean out your office the night before you resign. A spiteful company may want to strike back by embarassingly supervising you while you put all your stuff into a box and then frog-marching you to the door. (The more stuff you have, the worse this is.)
      You see, when you decide to resign you are in control of the decision and the conversation. Many bosses instinctively move to retake power, and they’ll make sure it happens in ways others can watch. Even if your own boss is cool at first, there may be a change of mind, or other higher-ups may intervene. Even if they aren’t out to make themselves look powerful (and you weak), why allow an ungracious and perhaps humiliating scene to unfold?
      So, if possible, make sure there’s not even a purse, briefcase, or coat there. No one will notice you didn’t carry your briefcase in that morning. Have your access card, company credit card, and keys together in a separate envelope in your desk. That way, when someone calls you in and says “we have to ask you to leave right now, and John and Susan from security will accompany you while you get your belongings”, you can reply, “I don’t need to go back to my office. You’ll find my cards and keys in the desk drawer”… and you can just get up and go, on your own terms, with your head held high.

      • Allyson Diva

        I fully concur with that.

        It has never happened to me, but I have seen it happen to others.

        So before giving notice, I always strip things pretty bare.

        And the day I give notice, I bring a tote bag instea of a purse, so that when I go in to the supervisor, that tote bag full of my last minute pesonal items is with me.

        On the off chance they show me the door, I can reply, no need to go back to my desk, I have everything with me and I am ready to roll!!!!

        And after that, I live out of that tote bag and carry it with me all over

      • Heather

        YUP Pack it up before. Nobody knew what was happening, “are you moving”, it’s best to just pack it up after hours if you can. I’m really hope they call me in and say, we’ll pay you the two weeks to just go away. I wonder what I could do to get that?????

      • Bob Sheridan

        Easy. Insult the manager. If they feel threatened, they will ask you to leave and pay your two weeks. I did that at one of my jobs.

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    • Heather

      Um, I don’t feel my workplace treated me fairly and they denied my first and only tuition request after three years, I’m the ONLY person at my pharma company that has been denied. I’m not all that worried about what they think after my departure. I don’t need to prove to them what they’re missing…..who cares? I’ll know it and my next employer will know it. Don’t burn bridges is overrated. You can explain away a short departure if it’s not a habit for sure. I cleaned my desk out three days before I got my new offer. I had a feeling one way or another I was going to say I’ve had enough or I’d get a job. SO glad I did. I now am scarce to find and doing my homework at work – for the very graduate program they denied my tuition for. They hadn’t give me any real work in three years anyway. What a joke!

    • Bob Sheridan

      One thing I agree is that you leave as quickly as possible. Give your two weeks, but ask if you are really needed and if you can leave sooner.

      I just gave my two weeks, my direct manager was fine but above him were two disrespectful wenches. It’s funny how cowardly the “Huff and Puff” type managers avoid you and are not so quick for confrontation like when you were working there. I would put them in their place instantly, now that I’m leaving.