What is Two Weeks' Notice?

Tips for giving two weeks notice: tell your boss first, document or formalize resignation in a letter, prepare a transition plan, be respectful, make plans to keep in touch

Image by Bailey Mariner © The Balance 2019

Giving your employer two weeks' notice is a standard practice when resigning from a job. If you have an employment contract or union agreement that states how much notice you should give, abide by it. If not, two weeks' notice is appropriate, but not required.

If your employer asks you stay longer than two weeks (or the time period in your contract) you can choose to do so, but you have no obligation to stay unless you have an employment contract that stipulates otherwise.

Also, your employer does not have to accept your two weeks' notice (unless it's in your contract) and can end your employment immediately. This does happen, so be prepared to leave your job as soon as you give notice. Make sure that you have all the information you need from your work computer and any other information you want to take with you, ready to go.

How Should You Give Notice?

Not sure how to tell your supervisor you are leaving? Here's what to say when you quit your job. Leaving a position can feel uncomfortable, but if you follow a few simple rules, the process should go smoothly:

  • Tell your boss first: Start by providing your notice to your boss. It may be tempting to avoid a face-to-face conversation, but whenever possible, it's best to give notice in person. It's up to you how many details you want to share about why you're leaving. At the end of the conversation, it's appropriate to shake hands. Next, you will likely want to tell mentors, people you work with closely, and co-worker friends. At a certain point, your manager will tell your whole team.
  • Prepare a transition plan: While it is possible that when you give your notice, the company will immediately terminate your employment, it's also quite likely you'll wind up working for two more weeks. Managers and co-workers will likely be eager to get caught up on your various projects. Have a transition plan prepared to make your departure seamless.
  • Be respectful: Even if you despised your job or co-workers, or didn't believe in the company's product, now is not the time to share negative opinions. When you're giving notice, try to focus on the positive things about your time working together, or how much you've learned from being at the company. If you cannot sincerely say anything nice, follow the old adage and don't say anything at all. Read more: 10 Things Not to Say When You Quit
  • Make plans to keep in touch: Use your two weeks' notice to add people on LinkedIn and other social media accounts, and make certain that co-workers have your personal email. You want to make future communications easy—that way, if you ever need a recommendation or referral, you won't have to do a ton of research to get in touch.

In many cases, employees want to document or formalize their resignation in a letter. For examples of resignation letters, read Resignation Letter - Two Weeks Notice and Resignation Email - Two Weeks Notice.

What Happens After You Give Your Notice?

Generally, the two-week period is one of transition. You may have lots of meeting with co-workers to review the status of projects and walk through your day-to-day routine and tasks.

You may be asked to prepare documents, email clients to introduce a new contact at the company, or share where you keep important files.

Do your part to ensure that everyone who should know that you're departing the company is properly informed.

It can be very tempting to slack off during this period. Resist the temptation: Just as you worked hard to make a good first impression during interviews, it's also important to make a strong last impression on your way out of the job. This will help ensure that colleagues and managers think of you positively, which will come in handy if you ever need a recommendation or work together in the future.

When You Need to Resign Right Away

Under normal circumstances, providing two weeks' notice is standard practice. However, there may be times when you just can't stay that long.

Whether it's because of issues at work or personal circumstance, you may need to move on immediately. Here are some acceptable reasons for resigning without a two-week notice, along with advice on how to quit.

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