How to make the most of your notice period at work

Written by: Georgina Bloomfield
Published on: 7 Jul 2017

People leave jobs every day. It’s not an uncommon recurrence, especially in today’s competitive job market world. Gone are the days where it’s the norm to stay at a job for twenty years straight out of university. So, when it comes to leaving your job and joining pastures new, you may feel a bit awkward in the gap between handing in your notice and actually leaving. Depending on the circumstances on which you’re leaving, there might be an atmosphere at work or even outright hostility. You may have days where you say to yourself ‘I’m leaving, why don’t I just call in sick?’ but it’s not always a good solution. Here are some top tips for making the most out of your notice period at work (all four weeks of it – if you’re in the UK).


Create your network

The world is a very small place. You never know who you may run into again in the future or who you might end up doing business with – maybe even years down the line or two or three jobs later. Networking has never been more important – and with social media sites at your disposal such as LinkedIn, it’s never been so easy to stay connected. Whilst you’re slogging away during the last month of your role, think about who you may want to stay in touch with professionally and get their details whilst you can. You never know – they may be looking for another job and you might be able to help them out once you’re settled in your new role. Alternatively, if you know someone who has a good (and relevant) network that you’d like to tap into, keep in touch with them too. It doesn’t take much work either; simply have a quick chat about how you’d ‘like to stay in touch on –insert name of social media platform here- ‘and get connected. It could be worth your while following up with your old contacts in the next couple of months too.

Keep your focus up

Try not to feel disengaged in your job whilst you’re seeing your notice through. It’s not easy, especially when you’re winding everything down – but it’s hugely important that you stay on top of your workload whilst you hand over what needs to be handed over. This is because you don’t want to leave your current company in the lurch but also you don’t want to spend the last four weeks at work doing nothing. All you’ll do by doing this is bringing attention to yourself – and not in a good way. Another reason why you need to stay awake during your notice period is because if you start picking up bad habits now, you may accidentally take them into your new company and that’s not a good way to start things!

Expect odd reactions

Even if it was heavily predicted that you were leaving for new opportunities, it’s not uncommon to find that some people don’t react in the way you imagined them to. It’s not because they’re not happy for you, it’s because they’re thinking of what knock-on effect it’s going to have on them – and people don’t like change. If your departure is unexpected, then you can definitely expect a strange response from people. Not only do people dislike change, they can’t stand it when it comes out of the blue. If you have some colleagues who are unhappy in their roles and are looking to leave themselves, they may not act very happy to you leaving because once again it’s made them think about their own situation with your employer. Perhaps they’ve been looking to leave for a while and they haven’t been getting anywhere. The last thing they want to hear is that their colleague is leaving before they are. Even if you have colleagues who you get on well with who are genuinely happy for you – some of them may react badly because you’re abandoning them!

Don’t leave loose ends

Make sure you have all of your paperwork in the right places and with the right people before you leave. This also includes any exclusive login details, websites and equipment. There’s no point going overboard in training new people in doing your job because your manager(s) may want to change the duties of your replacement. As well as this, if you’re not employed to train someone new or it’s not stipulated in your contract that you need to babysit any future replacements, then why should you? You’ll be doing your company a favour, sure – but be careful on telling the difference between doing them a favour/being a good employee and having the wool being pulled over your eyes.

Respect confidentiality

Have a look in your joining documents. Lots of employers ask prospective employees to sign an NDA (non-disclosure agreement) and you may have to look over this to check that when you leave, what are your restrictions when it comes to sharing information or contacting clients? Sometimes there’s a time limit (e.g. once you’ve left, you can’t contact a client of your old company for six months).

Contracts aside, it’s just disrespectful if you start spreading gossip and rumours that you heard in the office just because you’re leaving so you won’t be around to see the fallout. You don’t gain anything from it and you’ll get a bad reputation. Keep an eye on what you post on social media too. If you start slagging off your company on Facebook the day you leave, you’ll come across as bitter and negative. Not to mention if your new company sees it a few weeks later – not only will you have a bad reputation from your old company, you’ll be getting a bad one where you’re heading.

Don’t give too much away

If there’s particular information about your new company that your current employer doesn’t need to know, it might be a good idea to keep it to yourself. Talking about your new ventures too much in the workplace may create an air of negativity among your co-workers. Similarly, if your co-workers or managers start asking you questions don’t feel like you have to answer them or go into too much detail. It doesn’t affect the end result of you leaving and also you don’t know the motives behind those questions. Play it safe if you can. You don’t owe your current employer an explanation of any sort.

Isolation is normal

The world must carry on turning, so don’t get upset if you see your employer advertising your job already or if meetings you’d normally be included in go on without your attendance. However, there is a difference between being isolated for logical reasons and being outright ignored. If things start getting unprofessional, you have every right to complain about it.

Keep your attendance up

There’s no better time than during your notice period that you’ll start to feel that it’s pointless going into work. However, you don’t know if your references have been sent from your current employer to your new one so it’s not a good idea to take a week off work just because you can’t be bothered to go in. That’s just more sickness on your record and you’ll start your new job with a reputation for calling in sick. When it’s in the last month of your employment too, it’s really obvious that you were probably just faking it.

There are lots of changes in everyone’s notice period. Whether it’s people acting differently, or if you have the feeling that you simply can’t make it in to work in the mornings, your notice period is actually a crucial time in your employment. Just because you’ve handed your notice in doesn’t mean you can start slacking at your job. Keep it up and good luck!