The Right Way to Give Your Two Weeks Notice

There’s a right way to give your two weeks notice. Find it, and you’ll enjoy professional relationships to build on for years to come. Unfortunately, the pitfalls strewed across the path to a proper resignation are numerous, and stumbling can damage your chances for that stellar reference.
two weeks notice

Don’t want to burn your reputation along with the bridge? Then consider these handy guidelines when it’s time for you and your employer to part ways.

Give the Proper Amount of Notice

Two weeks is the standard amount of time to give. However, some contracts require that additional time must be provided. Before giving your notice, double-check your contract to see what is stipulated.

Prepare Questions in Advance

While your paperwork is out, you should take some time to prepare questions to ask your supervisor. Is there a limit to how much PTO you can cash out? Can you roll over your 401K? Is continuing your insurance post-employment an option? Are you going to ask for a letter of recommendation?

Preparing questions in advance will ensure you get the information you need, and give your supervisor time to suss out any tricky answers.

Prepare Your Answers

Your supervisor may have some questions of her own: Can you stay longer than two weeks to help with the transition? Would you accept a counteroffer and stay on? Why are you leaving exactly?

Before giving your two weeks notice, imagine what questions she may ask, and consider your answers in an emotionally neutral state. Even if she doesn’t have any questions, it's better to be prepared so you don’t say something you’ll regret later on.

In the Know

No one likes to feel excluded—least of all bosses—when it comes to important office happenings. Tell your supervisor you plan to leave before you tell anyone else. Once it's official, you can let your coworkers start planning your farewell party.

Schedule Face Time

Don’t give your two weeks notice over the phone or through email. You and your supervisor have a professional relationship, and she deserves the same courtesy you would give any relationship when it comes time to move on.

With that said, don’t unexpectedly announce your resignation to her while she’s making tea in the breakroom. Schedule a meeting and block out enough time to discuss your resignation and go through each other’s questions. This will ensure you have your supervisor’s undivided attention.

How you schedule this meeting will depend largely on the company’s culture. If your supervisor has an open-door policy, you may be able to simply walk in and set up a time. Otherwise, you can send an email or instant message. Either way, it is best to get the meeting on both of your calendars in advance.

Like a Pro

Even if you're leaving a bad environment, keep it professional and resist the urge to lay into your boss (no matter how horrible). If the most you can manage with an even tone is to give your notice and hand in your letter of resignation, then that’s fine.

This extends to social media. The Internet may be ever-changing, but its memory is deep, and your posts live forever. Yes, even if you delete them before your next job search. As such, don’t think venting to your friends online won’t come back to haunt you. Best not to chance it.

Write a Letter of Resignation

You don’t want your plans upended because your supervisor can’t remember whether you gave your two weeks notice on the 21st or 25th of last month. A letter of resignation will provide a paper trail you can rely on should memories grow hazy.

Don’t overthink the letter. Simply announce your intention to resign, specify the time frame, thank the employer for the experience, and wish her the best. Keep the tone and format professional so you'll be remembered as such if the letter is referenced down the road.

Some Words of Warning

If you are leaving to work for a competing company, there are special considerations beyond what we’ve mentioned above.

First, reread your contract to see if it contains either a non-compete or non-disclosure agreement. If it does, make sure you will not be violating either should you accept the position with the competitor.  If you’re unsure, you may want to seek the advice of a legal counsel.

You should also be aware that you may be asked to leave your job immediately. Some companies maintain this policy to prevent employees from collecting clients or sensitive information on their way out the door.

Prepare for this possibility. You should have everything in order before announcing your resignation: contacts saved, files backed up, personal items gather, and projects completed or at a stage where they can be handed off easily.

It is best to fortify yourself emotionally, as well. Remember this policy was designed to protect the company against all sorts of possibilities and was likely put in place well before you decided to resign. It is not an affront aimed at your trustworthiness or value as an employee, so don’t take it personally or be embarrassed.

The Countdown

Of course, even with your notice given, there are still pitfalls that can undo your hard work. Remember that you're still an employee for two weeks. Be focused and do your job until the very last day. Oh, and you are officially committed to whatever time frame you offered, two weeks or more. No going back on your word.

People typically judge an experience based on how it ended, and supervisors are no exception to this rule. But if you follow these guidelines and finish strong, you’ll successfully navigate the right way to give your two weeks notice and be remembered well for your efforts.

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