How to Give Two Weeks Notice

All good — and not so good — things must come to an end, and now it’s your job’s turn. Whether you found a new position, decided to head back to school or switch industries, it’s time to move on.

All that’s left to do is to hand in your two weeks notice to your boss. Even though you’re ready to leave, this process can still be nerve-wracking — but it’s not an impossible task.

To make the whole to-do simpler, here is a step-by-step guide on how to give two weeks notice.

1. Let Your Boss Know First

Having friends at work makes you a better employee because you value your coworkers and want to do your best for them. No matter how close you are with your colleagues, though, it’s important you keep mum about your plans to leave until you’ve told your boss.

You never know what will happen when you share your news with someone else. They might unintentionally mention that you’re looking for work elsewhere, or someone might overhear your conversation and spread the word. You’d never want it to reach your boss before it came from you directly, leaving them angry or upset that everyone knew but them.

Plus, if you’re the one spreading the news, you can write the narrative. You get to say exactly why you’re leaving and when. Otherwise, the story could take on a life of its own that’s wholly untrue but too big to fix by the time you give your notice.

2. Write It Down

You’ll have to speak to your boss one-on-one about your departure, but you should have a written letter prepared, too, to make it more official. Writing a notice might seem complicated, but it’s a quick and straightforward process.

The best advice is to keep your message short and professional. Inform your boss that you’re leaving and when. If you want, you can provide a thank you to them or the company, depending on how close your relationship is. Once you’ve spoken to your manager, you can send the letter to HR and any other department that will need to know you’re leaving.

3. Handle the Conversation Professionally

No one will argue with you if you say giving your two weeks is scary. Even if you’re very ready to move on, the conversation can make you nervous — unless you’ve prepared well in advance.

Start by figuring out exactly when your last day will be, as your boss will ask you when you’re leaving. Also, consider whether or not you’d accept a counter-offer to stick around, as some companies will use this tactic, and you want to stay ready to negotiate or turn down any last-minute deals.

When it’s time to speak with your boss, head over to their office or request a meeting through your company’s scheduling calendar of choice. After a bit of small talk, inform your boss of your departure and when it’ll take place. Be sure to thank them after you’ve finished the conversation — no matter how excited you are to leave, your boss has helped shape your career in some way, and you should always express gratitude for that.

4. Stay Focused and Positive

As soon as you turn in your notice, it might be tempting to coast until your last day. But you’re still an employee, and you should be working throughout your two weeks.

Find ways to stay productive even when you may feel sluggish when you’re on your way out. You might try sneaking out of the office for fresh air or popping by a colleague’s office to chat for a few minutes. These little breaks can help you re-focus on the task at hand, which is finishing up your job and tying up any loose ends before you move on.

Another habit to avoid is talking negatively about your job, company or colleagues before you’ve hit the road. No matter how frustrating a task or customer is at the end of your tenure, don’t vent about it. You’re the only one leaving, so your colleagues probably don’t want to hear how terrible the job or business is. Stay civil and present only positivity in your last two weeks.

5. Come up With a Transition Plan

To that end, you might not be able to finish everything before you go, nor will you be able to bring your clients with you. Creating a transition plan will help your boss fill the gaps in your absence and, better yet, will show you want to maintain a good relationship with your soon-to-be-former employer.

So, outline all the projects you have in the pipeline and give tips on how you planned to finish all of them. You might provide recommendations as to who on the team is best prepared to complete your to-dos, too, if your boss isn’t directly replacing you. Taking that a step further, you could provide training or shadowing to show your colleague(s) how to handle the tasks you’re leaving behind.

Another way to make your transition easier is to rewrite the job description of your position. That way, your boss can more accurately present the job’s requirements and find the best replacement for you.

6. End on a High Note

Don’t slip up on your last day or the days that follow your departure. For one thing, your exit interview might feel like the right time to spill all your opinions about everyone and everything related to your job. But you can bet your views will get back to the person or people to whom they are applicable, even if they’re anonymous. You could burn a bridge by being brutally honest.

Again, no matter how ready you are to go, you don’t want to lose the contacts and friends you’ve made while on your current job. Even after you leave, then, try your best to maintain your relationships via LinkedIn or email so that you can rely on each other for references, tips and more. You never know who you’ll cross paths with in the future, so do your best to end on a high note — that way, everyone will think of you in a positive light.

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Sarah Landrum is the founder of Punched Clocks.

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