This is your step-by-step guide to giving two weeks notice the proper way without burning bridges or feeling awkward. Congratulations, by the way!
Tell Your Boss First
Even if you’re close with your other co-workers, you must tell your boss first. Others at work might know you were interviewing, especially if they were your references, but the professional thing to do when quitting a job is to tell your boss first, in-person.
It may be nerve-wracking to have this conversation but keep the tone simple, complimentary, and professional. Depending on your relationship with your boss, either set up time on the calendar or simply pop over to their desk and tell them you’d like to speak in private today. After some brief small talk, have your one sentence ready: “I’ve so enjoyed working with you here, but another opportunity has presented itself and I’ve made a decision to move on.”
He or she might ask you if you are interested in a counteroffer, so decide before the meeting whether that’s something you might entertain. Also, have the date in mind for your last day (two weeks from when you put in your notice is customary), so you can provide it when asked.
End the meeting by thanking your boss for his or her guidance and time. Figure out next steps (talking to HR? telling the team or clients?), and bring a letter of resignation with you to give to the appropriate party, usually either HR or your boss. Keep the letter brief and professional. If you need help, here’s a step-by-step resignation letter template to use –
Part 1: The Resignation Letter
Dear [Your Boss’ Name],
Please accept this letter as formal notification that I am resigning from my position as [position title] with [company name]. My last day will be [your last day—usually two weeks from the date you give notice].
Part 2: The Thank You
Thank you so much for the opportunity to work in this position for the past [amount of time you’ve been in the role]. I’ve greatly enjoyed and appreciated the opportunities I’ve had to [a few of your favorite job responsibilities], and I’ve learned [a few specific things you’ve learned on the job], all of which I will take with me throughout my career.
Part 3: The Hand-off
During my last two weeks, I’ll do everything possible to wrap up my duties and train other team members. Please let me know if there’s anything else I can do to aid during the transition.
I wish the company continued success, and I hope to stay in touch in the future.
Are You Willing to Stay Longer if Asked?
Your boss may ask you to stay on a week or two longer for more help in wrapping things up. Is this a possibility for you? Even if it is, is it something you’re willing to do? Again, make sure you think through this question beforehand, so you don’t get guilted into something in the moment. It’s time to think about you and your future.
Are You Ready to Go Home Today?
If your boss tells you that you need to leave immediately, are you going to be able to gather up all your personal belongings and get out of dodge, or is your stuff scattered all over the office? Once you pass through the exit doors, they may not let you back in to get something you forgot.
What Will You Do if They Make a Counteroffer?
You need to be prepared for your boss to entice you to stay on with promises of new benefits or responsibilities. Think through as many as these possibilities as you can before you talk to him or her, so you’re not caught flat-footed. Would you stay for an extra $5,000? $10,000? An additional week of vacation? Work-from-home? You don’t want to be flustered and find yourself saying yes because they’re being so nice and generous, and you have a tough time telling people no to their face. Simply tell your boss how much you appreciate the kind offer but that the new opportunity is something you just can’t pass up.
If you do find yourself seriously contemplating the counteroffer, IT Pros advises thinking over some important considerations:
If your current employer counters your new offer and wants to keep you, you need to go back and ask our first question again: Are you running to something or running from something? If they offer you more money in your current situation (which is easier to do for an employer than having the headache of finding your replacement), will that solve your complaint and how long will that satisfy you? Also, if you’ve already committed to your new employer, then you’d be dealing with rescinding an offer that you’ve presumably already accepted (which will spread like wildfire in the community and may hurt your chances of future employment). You need to consider your reputation carefully. In my experience, countering a current offer rarely works unless the situation radically changes, including job function, reporting structure, and/or increased compensation. And is it worth ruining your reputation with your would-be new employer, others who work there, IT Pros, etc. that are going to feel burned that you wasted their time and effort? This is a very delicate situation.
Consider your move very carefully here.
Tell Close Co-workers and Mentors Personally
Once you’ve met with your boss, you’ll want to tell your work friends, special co-workers, and mentors yourself, ideally face-to-face. You don’t want someone who has been influential or important in your growth to hear through the office grapevine that you’re leaving—these relationships will likely transcend your current employment, and you want to preserve them even as you move on to your next position. After that, you can tell other people as you see them.
Have a Transition Plan
Spend the next two weeks planning for your departure and tying up loose ends. Nobody knows better than you what projects need to be wrapped up and what responsibilities need to be taken over. Come into your boss’ office with a concrete transition plan that you can share, and with a pledge to take a hands-on role in smoothly passing over the reins. Work on a plan to lay out your responsibilities and provide suggestions for others who could assume these tasks once you’re gone. This will help your current boss to start the reassignment process, plus give you time to train others on your responsibilities. If it’s appropriate, offer to help find your replacement or write your job description.
Basically, be as helpful as possible. You can also offer to be available for questions via email after you leave if anything comes up, giving your current team reassurance you won’t leave them in a bind.
Have a Story for Why You Are Leaving
Once you put in your notice, be prepared to be asked by almost everyone, “Why are you leaving?” or “Where are you going?” So have a story prepared—something to the effect of “I have so enjoyed my time here, but this opportunity presented itself and will allow me to grow my skills in a new way” will help you paint your decision in a positive light.
Say Nice Things
Finally, remember that this is not the time to share war stories of working at your current company.
While you are leaving, everyone else is staying—and these are people you’ll likely cross paths with someday, especially if you work in a small industry. Remember to tell everyone how much you enjoyed working with them and how you hope to keep in touch in the future.
And then do! Make sure to add your colleagues on LinkedIn or save their contact info before you go.