How to make the most out of your last two weeks on the job

Ready to resign? Before you put in your two weeks' notice, follow these steps, so you leave on good terms with your boss.

How to make the most out of your last two weeks on the job

Don't leave co-workers hanging when you quit a job.

You’ve heard it before: You only get one chance to make a great first impression on your boss. The same can be said about leaving a great final impression. Knowing how to put in two weeks' notice without upending your workplace and burning bridges is a big part of that.

Unfortunately, “a lot of people think their final two weeks is a time to coast, go out to long lunches, or leave work early,” Kathy Robinson, founder of Boston career-coaching firm TurningPoint, laments. But slacking off during this period can have serious repercussions, including potentially tarnishing your relationship with your manager.

After all, “you’re going to need a reference if you ever decide to leave your next job,” Robinson says. “Moreover, as managers move on in their own careers, they often think of the superstars who worked for them in the past and try to recruit them for new roles.”

Parting on good terms will also help prevent any awkwardness if you cross paths in the future, like at a networking event or industry conference, says Courtney Templin, co-author of Manager 3.0: A Millennial’s Guide to Rewriting the Rules of Management. Take these steps to cut ties the right way.

How to put in two weeks' notice

1. Break the news delicately

If you’re close with your boss, resigning can sting like a bad breakup. Hopefully, you’ve had prior conversations with your manager about your potential departure, in which case, your boss won’t feel blindsided by the news.

It’s still OK if you didn’t do that, though. You can cushion the blow by reassuring your boss you’re going to make the transition as smooth as possible, saying something along the lines of, “I know this might be sudden, but I want you to know I’m going to make sure everything I’m working on is tied up before I leave.”

Work remotely? Don’t deliver your notice via email. “If you can’t travel to the office, an online hangout where you can see the person’s face is the best way to tell your boss you’re leaving,” Robinson says.

2. Be transparent

Robinson recommends being straightforward about why you’re leaving. “Managers appreciate honesty,” she says. Still, you have to know how to put in two weeks' notice tactfully. “Keep the conversation aligned to the fact that this next job is an opportunity you couldn’t pass up.”

The exception is if you’re leaving for a higher salary, but you would be willing to stay if your boss offers you a raise. If that’s the case, don’t submit a two weeks notice. Instead, have a conversation with your manager explaining why you’re thinking about leaving, and identify a specific pay bump that would persuade you to stay. “If you’re a top performer,” Templin says, “your boss will bend over backwards to get you a raise.”

3. Create a to-do list

Collaborate with your boss to determine what projects need to be finished before you leave and what will get passed on to your replacement. Present your manager with a written summary, and prioritize your boss’s pet projects at the top of the list, Robinson advises.

Just make sure you’re not simply leaving your boss with a laundry list of problems to solve. For example, you might suggest to your boss certain co-workers you feel would be best to take over specific tasks. Of course, “if your colleagues pick up the slack, thank them, and make sure they’re informed of what they need to do,” Robinson says.

4. Offer to train your replacement

Offer to bring your replacement up to speed on everything you’re working on. Los Angeles-based executive coach Libby Gill says that if you’re being replaced internally, this is relatively easy to do.

However, it might take your boss time to name your successor—particularly if your manager needs to hire someone from outside the company. In that case, offer to leave a parting memo—essentially, a “training manual,” Gill says—for your replacement, where you spell out vital information, such as where important files are located or what deadlines are approaching. Leave an email or phone number they can reach you at with any important questions. They most likely won’t take you up on the offer, but the gesture will be appreciated.

5. Write a handwritten thank-you note

There’s no need to give your manager a parting thank-you gift, Gill says, but take a few minutes to write your boss a handwritten thank-you letter. You could say, “Thank you for all of your mentoring and support. I really enjoyed my time working with you. I hope our paths cross again.” To show your appreciation, you could also mention key skills your boss helped you learn.

6. Take your boss out for coffee or lunch

Whether you should take your boss out for a cup of coffee or a meal will depend on how close you are with your manager, but either way, you should use the one-on-one time to express your gratitude by thanking your boss for their time, feedback, and mentorship. Having this conversation in a casual environment will help you cement the relationship and establish a friendly rapport that can pay off in the future.

Know your office etiquette

After you learn how to put in two weeks' notice, it helps to keep on the good side of your boss and co-workers, even if it wasn't an amicable parting and you can't wait to sprint from the office on your last day. The fact is, you never know when you're going to cross paths with those people again in the future. Plus, taking the high road is rarely a bad idea. Want to know more ways to be your best professional self? Join Monster for free today. As a member, you'll get career advice, job search tips, and workplace trends sent directly to your inbox. Your career will be full of transitions, both large and small. Let Monster help you take your next step.