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How to make the most of your notice period

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After months of endless searching, time-consuming applications and nerve-wracking interviews, you’ve finally landed your dream job – congratulations! It’s easy to get wrapped up in the feeling of euphoria that coincides with a new role and all of the possibilities it embodies.

However, before you throw caution to the wind, remember that how you behave during your notice period has a massive effect on your colleagues’ ongoing impression of you. Want to discover how to make the most of your last few weeks or months? Read on…

Negotiate your notice period

Depending on your contract your notice period could be anything from one week to three months. If you’re keen to get started on a new role, or to take a bit of time out, it may be possible to negotiate a shorter notice period. This will depend on your remaining annual leave and how flexible your employer is willing to be. If you want to leave your current job before your notice period, discuss your options with your boss when you formally hand in your notice – don’t wait and ask separately. Include details of the handover process to ease worries that your projects won’t be completed on time.

Reflect on your experience

Think long and hard about your time at the company – the highs, the lows, where you began and where you are now. Mapping your professional journey is a great way to understand the key skills you have developed and valuable experience you have had. It’s easy to lose sight of these factors while you’re in the thick of the job so now is a great time to look back. Make sure you update your CV and LinkedIn profile to reflect those developments.

Be nice

Be gracious and dignified throughout your notice period. The old saying ‘Be nice to people on your way up’ rings true – if you are continuing to work in the same field, you are very likely to cross paths with at least some of your colleagues again. Boasting about your awesome new salary or slagging off your current boss will do nothing for your professional reputation. In the digital age, personal branding has never been more important – just think of those LinkedIn recommendations!

Be committed

For the same reason, make sure you are as dedicated to your workload as before. Discuss who will be responsible for any outstanding projects with your employer and leave detailed handover notes. Meet with your replacement if possible and talk them through what their day-to-day tasks will be, answering any questions they may have.

Connect with colleagues

Take time to nurture the professional relationships you have developed. Personally thank all of those who have made your experience worthwhile and resist the urge to badmouth those who haven’t. A heartfelt email or small token might be all you need to make a long-lasting positive impact.

Think about references

Towards the end of your notice period, discuss reference letters with your manager, line manager and the HR department. Obtaining these straight away means that your colleagues won’t have forgotten that ground-breaking report you wrote or innovative workshop you led. Even if you have your next job lined up and are 100% happy with your decision, good references are the best recommendation you can have for a new employer and are a good long-term investment.

Sort out documentation and finances

From holiday pay to expenses, you’re likely to have several loose ends to tie up with your current employer. Arrange a meeting where you can discuss all of these in detail and make sure you are happy with and understand the terms – don’t leave until your last day. You will need to update your employer with your current address, email and contact number so they can send out your P45 and get in touch if there are any issues regarding this after you leave.

There’s no reason why your notice period has to be awkward or uncomfortable. Taking responsibility for your workload and maximising your time with your colleagues guarantees you leave on good terms and have nothing to regret in the future. Sort out all of the practicalities, such as your P45 and due income, before moving on to your big, bright future. 

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