Quitting your job is never easy, particularly if you have a good relationship with your boss and colleagues, or you feel they've invested time and energy into your professional development.
It might feel like there's no good way to give your two weeks' notice, but that's not true. There are particular actions you can take to ensure you leave a good final impression with your current employer.
Leaving your current company respectfully and thoughtfully can ensure better long-term connections and references -- and, even if you're switching industries, you never know who could help you down the road. Plus, it's the courteous thing to do.
Here, we'll explore the best way to give your two weeks' notice to maintain a positive relationship with your old employer, while ensuring a seamless transition into your next role.
How to write your two weeks' notice
Begin your resignation letter with your name, job title, current organization, company address, email, and date of resignation. Since this letter is for official company records, you want to be as formal as possible.
In the first paragraph, write, "I would like to inform you that I am resigning from my position as X for Company A, effective December 21."
In the second paragraph, emphasize your appreciation for any growth opportunities or guidance you've been provided by your current employer. If you'd like, you can include where you're headed next, particularly if you're switching industries or returning to school. If you're leaving for a competitor, however, it might be better to omit.
In the third paragraph, offer specific details regarding how you're going to assist in the transition or help find a replacement.
If you want to keep in touch, include your personal email at the bottom, with a short sentence like, "I wish you all the best and look forward to staying in touch."
Step One: Organize an In-Person Meeting With Your Boss.
Once you've officially signed a contract with your new employer and know your start date, you're ready to give your two weeks' notice. The first thing you'll want to do is write a resignation letter (templates and samples can be found here).
Once you have the letter in-hand, email or slack your boss and set up a time to meet. Say something like, "Hi, I have something I'd like to discuss with you. Do you have thirty minutes over the next couple of days to meet?"
You want to meet with your boss in-person. Similarly to a break-up with a girlfriend or boyfriend, it's rarely appropriate to end a professional relationship via email.
Avoid telling colleagues until you've spoken to your boss. Even if you have a best friend at work, it's critical your boss hears the news from you. If she hears the news from other employees first, it signals a lack of trust and respect, and could harm a relationship you put a lot of effort into building.
Step Two: During the Meeting, Offer a Transition Strategy.
When you sit down with your boss, be succinct and clear. Rambling or offering a long speech will only make the conversation more awkward.
Say something like, "I wanted to meet with you today to let you know I've been offered a position at another company, and it's an opportunity I can't pass up. I am giving my two weeks' notice. I want you to know this wasn't an easy decision to make, and I'm so grateful for the guidance and growth opportunities you've given me."
It's important you don't focus on the exciting opportunities of your new role. During this meeting, your primary goal should be to express a level of appreciation and gratitude for everything your boss has done to help you grow.
Additionally, it will help alleviate your boss's stress over losing you if you come prepared with tangible actions you plan to implement to help with the transition. For instance, you might say something like, "During my final two weeks, I plan to help you search for a replacement," or "I will create a guidebook to help the next person take over my current projects."
Finally, hand over your resignation letter. The letter will make your two weeks' notice official.
Step Three: Be Prepared for a Counter-Offer.
You don't want to be caught off guard if your boss suddenly tells you she will boost your salary, or move you to another role on another team, if you agree to stay. Before you meet with your boss, consider how you'll respond if your boss provides a counter-offer.
Take some time to consider why you're leaving your current role, and what your next role is providing. If there are certain circumstances in which you'd stay at your current company, make them clear to your boss, and only stay if you can get those specific promises in writing.
Of course, this might be impossible if you've already signed a contract with the new employer. And, even if you've only verbally accepted the offer, changing your mind will likely burn bridges with your new company, so you'll want to think carefully about your reputation before doing so.
Ideally, if there are certain circumstances that could greatly improve your satisfaction in your current role, it's better if you approach your boss with those requirements before you sign another contract. You can make it clear that if those needs aren't met, you'll begin considering other opportunities.
Step Four: Know The Details Regarding Benefits.
It's critical you know your options regarding benefits, health insurance, pension, and 401(K). It can be confusing to transfer benefits or healthcare from one company to another, and additionally, your new company might not be ready to offer new coverage immediately.
If this is true, you have alternative options -- for instance, if you're facing a gap in health coverage, COBRA allows you to continue your current health insurance for 18 months, at your own expense.
Step Five: Don't Check Out -- Work Just as Hard in Your Last Two Weeks.
It will be impossible to maintain a positive relationship with your employer after you leave if you check out during your last two weeks and put in minimal effort. First off, your employer is still paying you, so they deserve your utmost effort. Secondly, the effort you put into your role now will go a long way towards sustaining better connections down the road.
Coworkers will remember what you were like at the end. Give them something good to remember. You never know how your positive reputation can help you network in the long-run.
You'll want to work hard to tie up loose ends and make it easy for the next person to take your place. For instance, perhaps you'll create a document so your team members know where certain files are, or where you left off on a project.
Additionally, you'll still want to arrive on time (if not early), leave at an appropriate time, and remain a team player. If the rest of your team is staying late to finish a project before a deadline, you should, too.
Step Six: Offer Warm and Heartfelt Goodbyes.
In today's business world, it's all about who you know. You never know if a colleague on your team will end up helping your younger brother get a job, or become a freelancer for your new company a few years later. Nurturing those relationships is critical to ensuring success throughout your entire career.
When the day comes for you to say goodbye, you should take the time to send thoughtful goodbye messages to your colleagues. Perhaps you'll send out a mass email to the team. Alternatively, you could consider writing a handwritten note or personalized email to members of your team to whom you feel particularly close. Warmly wish them well, and provide contact information like an email or LinkedIn account, so you can stay in touch.
Originally published Nov 7, 2018 6:00:00 AM, updated May 13 2022