Giving your two weeks’ notice can be the most exhilarating feeling of your life, but it can also be the most terrifying. With any luck, you are moving on to bigger and better things, or at the very least, getting away from a job that you couldn’t take anymore. Either way, you have to figure out the best way to deliver the news to your boss and colleagues. While not required under the law most of the time, two weeks is seen as a professional courtesy, giving the company a chance to prepare for your departure. There are several steps you can take to make sure this transition is clean, positive, and respectful.
Review Your Contract or Employee Handbook
While most states are considered at will, meaning you are not legally required to give notice when quitting or firing someone, some companies still require at least a two-week notice in their employment agreements. A careful review of your contract will keep you on the right side of the legal process, and keep you from getting sued if you break with it. While not legally binding, following the etiquette of your employee handbook is sure to make a more positive impression on your manager than deciding to walk out the door without notice. Plus, it’s best to not burn bridges, you never know when you’ll encounter your former colleagues and company again.
Verify the Start Date of Your New Position
Receiving a new job offer can be exciting, but don’t jump the gun and give your notice as soon as you have accepted the offer. Make sure your references, background checks, and any other contingent items have cleared with your new future employer and you have confirmed your new start date.
Schedule a Face-to-Face Meeting With Your Boss
It is always better to deliver serious news in person and you should always share it with your boss first. Arrange a time to speak in person at the office or over team conferencing software. Make sure you keep your good news to yourself until after your notice has been given. That means not sharing it with your colleagues and keeping the announcement off of social media. You don’t want your boss to find out you are leaving from someone or somewhere else.
Plan Out What You Are Going To Say and Prepare For Questions
It’s important to go in knowing exactly what you are going to say. Make sure you keep the tone of your resignation respectful and positive, indicating that you’ve made the decision to accept a beneficial opportunity or start a new chapter. This is not the time to air any grievances you have (if any). Keep it short and to the point.
Be prepared for the variety of responses that could be awaiting you. Are you prepared for your boss to fire you on the spot? Make sure all your affairs are in order before letting them know in case you don’t have the opportunity to gain access to your email or documents.
Are you willing to accept a counteroffer? Sometimes, your skills are simply too good to let go, and your boss will be willing to do what is necessary to get you to stay. Do not expect that this will occur, but decide if you are willing to consider a counteroffer if it is given. If a counteroffer is presented, it’s also important to ask yourself “if they can give me a raise, why didn’t they do it before now?”
When are you leaving? Make sure you give them an exact date for your final day. Although, in many cases, companies will make the day that you resign your final day.
Writing a Resignation Letter
It is always a good idea to write a formal resignation letter to give to your boss and HR. Sending an email is generally advisable as it keeps a solid paper trail with clear intentions. If you print it off and hand it over in person, you should still email a copy as an attachment. You can find ready-made templates online if formal writing isn’t your gift or utilize our template here.
Break the News to Your Colleagues
Your boss may be the first person that has to know your intentions, but it is equally as important to personally inform your colleagues, especially those who are closest to you. These relationships will often outlast your employment with the company and can be a huge benefit to you in the future if you require references or other opportunities. Have your story sorted out for when they ask why you are leaving. Remember to keep things positive and respectful and don’t participate in any office gossip.
Help With the Transition
Do what you can to make the next two weeks as easy as possible for yourself and others. Work on transferring projects and training people to take over your tasks. Abstain from sharing negative opinions and doing the bare minimum. Make sure to set realistic expectations for what you are able to accomplish before you leave. The key is to always show gratitude and be professional – leave a positive impression in the minds of your former boss and colleagues.
There are no guarantees in life, but if you are mindful about how you quit, you increase your chances of receiving positive references and leaving the door open to possibly returning one day or joining a colleague at another company. Being considerate of your former employer is the best way to avoid burning bridges and to make sure you continue to build your professional network.