5 ways to make the most of your notice period

Monique Ellis our consultant managing the role
Posting date: 08/12/2016

Notice periods are often a difficult but necessary phase that you must endure before embarking on a new professional challenge. In life sciences jobs, they can range from 2 weeks to 3 months, so knowing how best to conduct yourself during this transitionary period is vital, especially if the notice period is at the longer end of the scale. Proclinical has composed some tips on how best to manage the time you have left at your current employer.

  1. Stay focused until the end.

Possibly the most common symptom experienced by those on their notice period is feeling disengaged from the role. It’s all too easy to slip into a state of detachment, safe in the knowledge that you either have another job lined up or soon will. However, it’s important to remember that you are still being paid to do the job in hand, and your employer will expect you to fulfil your duties until you leave. Displaying a lackadaisical attitude and doing a slack job will leave you with a bad reputation, which will stick long after you’ve left the company. You also run the risk of taking bad habits with you to your next role.

  1. Solidify your network and ensure you leave behind the best possible impression.

This is a very useful way to get the most out of your notice period. It’s your chance to solidify relationships with colleagues and create future business contacts within the life science industry. Connect with the right people on LinkedIn to be able to demonstrate your professional network online to recruiters and prospective employers in the future. People frequently move from one life science company to another, so you never know when it will be useful to call on a previous colleague to give you a recommendation or help you to get an interview.

Indeed, you can use your notice period as an opportunity to ensure that you leave your employers with the best possible impression of you. This is significant for many reasons; the most obvious are that you might need a reference from them in future, or you may interview at a company, later on in your career, where an ex-colleague works. Prospective employers may be heavily influenced by their testimonies so it’s worth leaving on a positive note to ensure that you don’t hinder future opportunities.

We’ve all heard of an employee who used to work for the company who you’ve never met, but yet you have a negative impression of them due to bad-mouthing from other colleagues. You may not mind what your current employer or colleagues think of you, but there is the possibility that harmful details about you will be passed on by word of mouth, potentially to clients or future employers.

  1. Tie up loose ends and transfer responsibility as smoothly as possible.

Leaving things in a mess without comprehensive direction for the person filling your position is a sure way to leave a bitter taste behind you. It’s all too easy to disregard old projects, dismissing them as ‘no longer your problem’. The truth is, the new employee will be frustrated and your employers may be resentful that you have hindered the smooth operation of the job role until the new person can resolve the issue. To avoid this, ensure that you tie up as many loose ends as possible and leave a thorough set of handover notes detailing project or client details. To go the extra mile, offer to help to find a replacement for the role and if possible, help to train the new employee whilst you are still working out your notice.

  1. Maintain professionalism.

Notice periods can often be awkward and emotionally charged, especially if the decision to leave your job was due a breakdown of relationships with colleagues or management. Unfortunately, however difficult the situation, it’s important to maintain the highest level of professionalism possible.  You may encounter adverse reactions from colleagues, such as resentment, jealousy and distrust, but do your best to shake it off. Lashing out or bad-mouthing others will only serve to damage your reputation. Remember to keep references and future career opportunities in mind.

Also, you may have difficulty with being ‘phased out’ of your role. Being given lighter duties and ad-hoc tasks, or not being included in meetings may feel a little insulting at first, but try not to take this personally. This is merely the employer adjusting and preparing for when you are no longer working there. Make the most of carrying out different duties, this may help you to build skills and diversify.

  1. Ensure confidentiality.

In some cases, you may be asked to leave very quickly after resigning; this is called gardening leave. In the pharmaceutical industry, this may happen if you are in a particularly senior role such as a senior director, or if you are in a client-facing position such as sales or account management. The reason for this is to ensure that you are not unnecessarily exposed to new clients and projects, enabling you to share information with your new employer. Some may have a non-compete clause in their contracts, meaning that they cannot work for competitors for a specific period. Even if you do not have any such restrictions, it is paramount that you maintain confidentiality even after you have left the company.

Whatever the length of your notice period, or the circumstances, keeping these points in mind will help you to make the most of this uncertain period. It is an opportunity to turn a potentially awkward or difficult time into an advantage that will help with your future career.