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 EmploymentKing.com 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.