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Everything You Need to Know About Putting in Two Weeks’ Notice

There comes a time in most people’s lives when they will need to move on to another job opportunity. This can be for a wide variety of reasons, and there is no point in spending time discussing what they might be.

However, I should mention that there is nothing ‘glamorous’ about being a ‘job-hopper.’ Employers will see that on your CV, they are not stupid. If they are recruiting for an important position, your lack of apparent stability in a work environment will count against you.

But, after careful consideration, and regardless of the possible consequences, you have decided to leave your present employment. Your biggest priority at this stage will be making sure you know everything you need to know about putting in two weeks’ notice.

everything you need to know about putting in two weeks notice

Leaving In The Correct Way

There are some priorities and niceties that need to be observed. Leaving correctly is one of them. You acted in a professional way when you were interviewed. So, why not also behave in a professional way when you leave. Ensuring that you leave correctly could be important later in your career. Especially if you happen to come across someone you are dealing with now in another work environment elsewhere.

So let’s take a look at how you can correctly handle this situation.

everything you need to know about putting in two weeks notice

First Things First

It is always a good idea to take a look at your contract of employment. It is interesting how many employees sign their contracts without actually knowing the content. It will contain information you might need to be aware of.

The notice period

This is the amount of notice you must legally give your employer when you inform them you’re leaving. It will depend on various parameters but is usually one, two, or four weeks. For this guide, we are going to assume it is two weeks.

‘At-Will’ employment

This is a status only really applicable in America. It is a situation where an employer can terminate employment without having to establish what might be seen as ‘just cause.’ Laws still have to be followed through regarding race, religion, or sexuality.

This concept is alien to countries like the UK and most of Europe. There, employees are fully protected by law from this happening. So if you are on an ‘at will’ contract, you could be terminated immediately once you discuss leaving with your boss.

everything you need to know about the putting in two weeks notice

Non-Solicitation Clause

Be aware that there is such a thing as a non-solicitation clause. This simply means that you would not be allowed to undertake a similar job in the same industry. This will be for a set period of time. This could be anything from one to five years.

So if you are leaving an investment bank to work for another investment bank, be very careful that clause isn’t in your contract. You could end up with no job and in a court of law.

Be Prepared

Good advice is to ensure you are prepared for the worst possible outcome when you talk to your boss. This applies particularly if you are going to work for a competitor, which you may be going to do. If you have a private email account on a work computer, transfer it or close it and create a new one.

If the computer actually belongs to you but is used for work, be prepared for it to be taken from you. It will be returned, but it could come back devoid of any application software. You need to go into the meeting prepared for the worst. And that could entail being immediately escorted from the premises, especially if there is a competitor company involved.

Who Do You Tell First?

Have you really decided you want to leave? Are you very sure? If that is your decision, the first few weeks after you have made it are fraught with potential problems. It is a difficult situation because you may want to ‘test the water’ about getting a new job. Bad idea to just leave and hope. But you have to be careful and very diplomatic.

Your Boss Needs to Know first

Yes, and that is a tricky one. If you have started doing interviews, he could find out, and that could create a problem. You might need to start doing preliminary meetings and interviews before you tell him or her. That is not unreasonable in most cases. But there needs to be some ‘common sense’ rules applied.

  • Don’t tell your work associates yet; whatever you think, someone will say something to someone.
  • And please do not go plastering it on the world’s curse, or Social media as it is known.

You will have to hope that a new potential employer isn’t going to call up your present company. They might decide they want an advance opinion on you before making an offer. So, Boss first. Just ask to see them and inform them of your decision. In the vast majority of cases, it will be fine, and you will leave and shake hands. But being prepared for an alternative outcome is advisable.

everything you need to know about the putting in two week notice

Face to Face

Uncomfortable and even nerve-wracking, it might be, but it is always best. In today’s ‘high-tech’ world, in some cases, this could be problematic. There are situations where you might be working remotely. You might see your boss once a month or less and interact over video. That was never a problem twenty years ago. But it can be today.

In that case, you will need to plan a time when you can sit down with them. If that is just not possible, then video it will have to be. But that is an absolute last resort.

Knock on the Door

In cases where it is possible, just knock on their door and ask if you can make time to see them. In an open-plan office, just a quick request for a private meeting somewhere will do. If in either scenario they say they are rather busy, “what’s the problem” ask them when would be a good time to meet.

Be Formal But Informal

Contradiction there, but what I mean is this. It is a formal occasion and needs to be handled formally. You are going to see them to tell them you are leaving. But at the same time, you can make some complimentary comments as you go along, which reduces the tension somewhat. That brings a certain informality to the proceedings.

To start, you can say something like:

  • You have enjoyed working here.
  • You have learned a lot, and it has been a good experience.
  • That you are sorry to leave in many ways, but an opportunity has presented itself.

Always keep your comments complimentary towards the company but also keep them relatively brief. Depending on your relationship with your boss, you could also:

  • Thank them for making your work enjoyable and rewarding.
  • Thank them for any assistance they may have given you.

Prepare For A Counter Offer

One thing you do need to be prepared for is a counter-offer. This could come in a variety of ways. It could be just a plain increase in salary, or it could be an internal promotion or something similar.

Decide in advance what you would say if that was the case. What would it take for you to stay? Be clear in your mind before the meeting. If it meets or exceeds your thoughts, then maybe you might want to stay. If it doesn’t get close, you can maintain your original position by politely declining.

A Termination Date

Assuming that you are not going to be escorted from the building immediately, you will need to agree on your last working day. These days this is quite often two weeks from a given day. There are no hard and fast rules. It will probably be just an agreed date that suits both parties.

It should ideally be on a Friday or the last working day of the week. But it hasn’t got to be the end of a month, or though that would be neat and tidy.

Leave on Good Terms

I find it is always best to try and leave on good terms if you can. The fact that you have told your boss first will carry some weight and demonstrate you have respect for them and their position. If you have developed a good working relationship with them, why ruin it at the last minute?

Informing Others

You can decide how to inform the relevant people. Personnel or Human Resources will need to be informed. As will your work colleagues. Your boss will give you some idea of how they see those formalities. In the main, it is best to go along with what they want. And if they decide they want to wait a few days before telling your coworkers, then you should agree to that.

In The Event Of A Request For A Delay?

You may come across a situation that could be awkward. You have a responsibility to your current employer. But if you have already signed a contract with a new company you also have a responsibility there. So what happens if they ask you to stay for a week or two.

This could be to tie up ‘loose ends’ or maybe to assist in preparing someone to take over your position in most circumstances, not an unreasonable request.

Your current contract

You will need to get back to them on this issue. You will first need to check your current employment contract to see if there is anything in there about such a situation whether you would be required by law to stay until a suitable replacement is identified and trained. This is probably unlikely but worth a look.

Consult with your new company

Then you would have to consult with your new company and see if what they have asked will interfere with their planning. It could be that they have arranged certain dates for your training and induction. Possibly arranged for certain members of staff to be available. It might even involve you visiting other company sites.

Your responsibility will lie with your new company primarily if no solution is possible. No specific reference to your leaving requirements in your existing contract means ‘sorry’ if it is not possible to stay on.

everything you need to know about the putting in two week notice tips

A Letter of Resignation

This is advisable, confirming the agreements made with your boss. That will include dates etc. You might need at least two copies, one for your boss and one for Human Resources. A lot of companies these days do not insist on formal letters of resignation as they used to. It will depend on your position in the company.

If, for example, you are a senior manager, then two weeks’ notice might become four, and there may be a need for a formal letter. However, even if it is not required, a simple, polite, to-the-point letter would not be a bad idea. If nothing else, it will state what agreements have been made and will thus avoid any potential confusion at a later date.

Informing Your Fellow Members Of Staff

As I have mentioned, you will have covered that with your boss, so as I say, stick with it. The delay may only be for a day or two, and there will probably be a good reason.

So stay away from the dreaded social media until the time comes. When it does, you can inform them either socially or casually. Word will soon spread. If you so decide, there may actually be an order that you tell people. These may fall into two categories.

Special Colleagues

There may be people who have helped you along the way. People you have formed a special working relationship with. I would tell them first. They might feel a little let down if they hear through the grapevine that you are going.

Special Friends

We quite often make friends with some colleagues we have a lot in common with. Maybe you go for lunch together, or the occasional evening out after work. They may well be disappointed you are leaving. Telling them before it becomes common knowledge might be a nice idea.

If you will still be working locally, you can still meet up. Once those who are closest to you have been told, then you can make the information public.

everything you need to know about the putting in two week notice guide

Why Are You Leaving?

You are bound to be asked that on more than one occasion. You don’t need to prepare a story. Just tell them the truth. But you only need to tell them what you want them to know.

Some comments to avoid are:

  • That’s one thing I won’t miss when I leave here.
  • My new place is so much more professional.
  • The salaries are better there.
  • The prospects are better there.
  • That is one person I won’t miss at all.

In other words, avoid any negative or disparaging comment. You might be going, but the others are staying.

Better to Say:

  • I’ve really enjoyed it here.
  • I enjoyed the work, but it’s time to move on.
  • I’ve met so many great people.

Simple comments but all positive.

The Leaving Makes The Goodbye Harder Still

And it can be emotional when you finally go. It’s not a bad thing to show feelings amongst friends. Just make sure the transition is smooth and without any ill-feeling.

Leave as much relevant information as possible for your replacement. And if it is an internal promotion, see if they need any help. Act professionally and with integrity, and you will leave the company with an impressive departure. You never know when you may meet some of them again.

You may want to leave a gift for your ex-colleagues, such as the Chance Made Us Colleagues 12 OZ Wine Glasses. Or treat yourself to something nice before starting your new job, like this Parker IM Fountain Pen. And a quality attached case always looks the part; I recommend the Tassia Luxury Leather Executive Case Attache Briefcase.

Need Info And Advice On Job Hunting?

Firstly, we’ve found additional reading on how to resign, just check out The Art Of Resigning: How To Quit A Job And Pursue Your Dream Career, Quit Your Job and Follow Your Dreams, the Rich Dad’s Before You Quit Your Job book, QUIT YOUR JOB OR DIE: Discover the Importance of Self-Employment, and why not I Hate My Job: How to Quit Your Job available online in 2021.

Additionally, we found Quit Your F**king Job: Escape the Great American Hoax and Live Free, the How to Quit Your Day Job and Live Out Your Dreams, as well as the Managing Job Offers online books.

For tips on an amazing resume, take a look at my Motivation Letter Writing Guide, How To List Education On A Resume, my Hobbies Interests To Put On Resume, Best Cover Letter Format, How To List References On A Resume, and the Most Important Skills To Put On A Resume.

We’ve also got some great online recommendations with the Resume Formats book, Optimize Your Resume: DOs and DON’Ts the SamNova Way, Land Your Dream Job: Join the 2% Who Make it Past Resumé Screening, Resume Writing: 10 Ridiculously Simple Tips, English for Academic CVs, Resumes, and Online Profiles, the Resume Format Guide and the How to Write an Amazing IT Resume to really blow them away!

For your online profile, check out the Expert Resumes and Linkedin Profiles for Managers & Executives, CVs, Resumes online book.

Final Thoughts

Leaving a company is hopefully a positive step up in your career. But it can also be a chance to cement friendships and work associations. Leaving a company in a professional, thoughtful way will do your future no harm at all.

Now that you’ve read through my article, I hope you have better insight into the best steps to take when resigning. And don’t forget, as mentioned above, timing is everything!

All the very best getting what you want!

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About Wendy Young

Wendy runs an employment agency with her husband, Ian, in Rochester, New York.

She loves nothing more than hosting a good dinner party and spends weeks intricately planning her next 'event.' She often uses these to introduce clients to potential employers in a relaxed, informal fashion. The food must be delicious, the cocktails and wine must be a perfect match, and the decor needs to impress without being over the top. With all that going on, it's amazing that she gets any time to write about her thoughts on securing the dream job.

They live on the outskirts of New York with their poodle, Princess.

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