So you've quit your job. You've put in your formal resignation and are ready to move on, but you still have those last two weeks. You don't want to walk away without a proper goodbye or, worse, burn bridges for the future.
"If you leave a company on bad terms, [an unprofessional] reputation can haunt you for the rest of your career," said Michael Cooke, a partner and executive vice president at The Execu|Search Group.
So what can you do to make the most of your last two weeks? Below are four steps to follow to ensure you're leaving your employer on the best terms possible. [See Related Job: Ready to Move On? A Complete Guide to Quitting Your Job]
1. Prepare your manager for your resignation
Keep your manager up to date on all of your current work endeavors before leaving for good. If he or she has any questions, you'll want to help out as much as possible.
"After turning in your notice, check in regularly with your successor and manager and brief them on the status of the projects you are working on," said Cooke. "Make sure [your files] are completely organized … so your successor can easily find all the materials they need to proceed with your projects."
Cooke also advised working with the same drive and respect you've always had, if not more. You may even go out of your way to ready your boss for your departure. "Continue to come in on time, and prepare to stay late or even work weekends if you have extra work you need to do to ensure your successor is prepared to take on your workload," he said.
2. Keep your next steps private
Coworkers will question your next move, and it'll be tempting to tell your work friends about your new venture. However, it's unprofessional and even detrimental to share these intimate details before moving on.
"Your team will naturally be curious, but be firm and let them know that you can tell them about your new role and company once you are settled in," Cooke said. "If people know where you are headed, they can try to change your mind by criticizing your new company or your decision, and in the worst-case scenario, they could even reach out to your new employer to try to convince them not to hire you."
Instead, respectfully explain that you will stay in touch and keep them updated.
3. Don't let your boss take advantage of you
You may feel guilty for resigning, but you have to draw the line somewhere. Don't allow your conscience to shame you into risking your new role.
"In many instances, your boss will try to convince you to stay longer to give themselves more time to hire and train a replacement for you, but you must be friendly and firm," said Cooke. "When you accept a job offer, your loyalties must switch from your old job to your new one, and you need to keep in mind that your new company hired you to fill a need and wants you to get started as soon as possible."
Although you may want to help your boss choose a successor, remember that you are not responsible for recruiting a new employee or for accepting any counteroffers when you quit. According to Cooke, most people who accept counteroffers end up regretting it.
"If your employer makes a counteroffer, reflect on the reasons you decided to look for another job in the first place," he said. "In most cases, the reason for leaving has more to do with ... the role or the relationship between an employee and their manager than with salary."
Additionally, your manager may hold your intentions against you in the future during layoffs.
Sander Flaum, principal at Flaum Navigators and co-author of the forthcoming book, "Boost Your Career: How to Make an Impact, Get Recognized, and Build the Career You Want," (Allworth Press, 2017) added,"… you [can] tell your boss that you have committed to a starting date with the new company and you cannot go back on your word."
4. Leave on a positive note
Of course, despite your reasons for resigning, you'll want it to be on the best of terms, starting with your letter of resignation, which "should be exquisite, articulating all the wonderful things you have learned with the company, your colleagues and superiors," said Flaum.
Cooke also advised demonstrating the utmost respect for everyone involved and not criticizing other employees during your remaining time.
"Both the work itself and the perception of your work ethic are important to keep in mind here," he said. "You want your old colleagues to remember you as someone who worked hard up until your last day to ensure a smooth transition for everyone — not someone who left others in a tough position."