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How to Quit Your Job

Deciding to leave your job can be an anxiety-inducing choice surrounded with confusion about professional courtesy and proper etiquette. Do you need to give two weeks’ notice? Do you need to tell your boss in person? Do you need to give specifics? These are some of the big questions you may have, and we are here to help.

Do you need to give two weeks’ notice? Giving two weeks’ notice is certainly the norm when it comes to resigning from permanent positions, however, is it always required? Is it time to rethink this somewhat arbitrary benchmark? Well, there is a great place to start when determining if you should give leave: review your employment agreement and company handbook. Those documents may give you a clear-cut and definitive answer. If there is no requirement in your contract or handbook, consider your resignation from your company’s point of view; Are you a crucial member of an on-going project? Will it take a long time to find your replacement? Does your company tend to dismiss people as soon as they turn in their resignation? It is also important to consider your own priorities. If your new job opportunity requires you to start quickly, you should you stay in a job you’re unhappy with out of courtesy? Job search strategist, Jenny Foss, suggested “you don’t need to live or die by the two weeks, but just use your best judgment and gracefully use a strategy that gets you where you need to be.”

Many contemporary career advisors advocate for transparency and ample notice. Dan Schawbal, author of “Promote Yourself: The New Rules for Career Success”, points out that many workers could leave a company to pursue a few different opportunities, only to end up in a higher position in the company where they began. With this in mind, preserving respectful relationships that leave a door open for your return should be a priority. Giving generous notice shows respect for your employer and gives them time to transition more smoothly.

Ultimately, if you’re still unsure and looking for a hard and fast rule: for permanent employees transitioning to a new permanent role: two weeks’ notice is the safest way to go. While it’s true it is an arbitrary time frame, it is a respectful and time-honored benchmark. However, if you are a contractor, especially if you are on a short-term assignment, you can generally get away with giving fewer than two weeks.

In any case, it is of the upmost importance to finish out your time with a company by performing well and setting them up for success. It is so easy to check out once you have a new position lined up and your resignation has been submitted. However, keep performing at a high level and making a concerted effort to leave the company and your successor in a position where they can thrive.

Do you need to talk to your boss in person? This question has a simple answer 99% of the time: yes. Few people look forward to difficult or awkward conversations and depending on your relationship with your boss, submitting your resignation in person can cause some nerves, to say the least. However, this conversation is an important one to have in person. Having the conversation in person shows respect, courtesy, and interpersonal skills. That said, consider your workplace first, every supervisor has their unique way of communicating, so if you know a respectful email or letter is the way to go, it is perfectly okay to follow that culture.

How much do you need to say? Communication is always key in the workplace. You should communicate your decision and your timeline to your supervisor, keep your colleagues up-to-speed with the information that affects them, and make sure the appropriate people understand your plan to wrap up loose ends and set up the transition. That said, barring non-compete clauses in your contract or vying for a counter-offer, you do not need to disclose your reasons for leaving.

The key to leaving a job is to consider their expectations, follow some respectful rules of etiquette, and communicate your plan to set your company up for success. All said, the most important step you can take in quitting your job is to express gratitude for the opportunities and experiences you had with your company. Leave on a positive and grateful note and try to leave with as many connections and relationships in tact as you can. Your network will always be one of your greatest assets.

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