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Stephanie Reese

Stephanie Reese

December 18, 2014

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Giving Your Two Weeks Notice

When it comes to awkward conversations about your career, telling your boss you’re leaving tops the list. Giving notice is tricky—do it correctly and you leave with a reference you can count on; mess it up and you’ve burned a bridge that can trip you up months, even years, down the road. Follow these tips for a smooth (as possible) boss breakup.

Have something else lined up. No matter how badly you’re tempted to walk out, it’s never a good idea to resign without a written agreement from a new employer. Make sure it includes a clear description of your position so you can be sure that you’re making the right decision.

Don’t cut and run. You’re not obligated to give more than two weeks notice unless you’re under a contract that states otherwise. However, if you’re worried about leaving your team during crunch time you may want to give three or four. Or, consider arranging a temporary part-time schedule until the project is completed if your future employer has asked you to start as soon as possible. Help to find a replacement and make the transition as seamless and positive as possible for her (even if you’d like to warn her to run the other way).

Do it in person. Your boss should be the first one in the company to know you’re leaving, and he should be told face-to-face. Leave an official letter with him after you’ve said your piece. The letter should be brief—simply state that you’re resigning without listing any reasons why and include your end date. Finish with a positive statement about the company or your experience there.

Keep your grievances to yourself. If you’re not leaving on good terms or you’re going to a company that could be considered a competitor, a vague explanation (only if asked!) will suffice. Resist the urge to let ‘em have it, and don’t cave if they counteroffer. There’s a reason why you built up the courage to quit. A $10,000 salary increase won’t magically turn your boss into an angel, or your 12-hour workday into 8. In so many words say thanks, but no thanks. Also, be sure to inquire about health insurance, 401K, and unused vacation days.

End on a positive note. Inform colleagues as it comes up or let them find out on their own, but don’t automatically go strutting “Sayonara!” around the cubicles. Though you may be excited about your new opportunity, wait to update Facebook, LinkedIn, and other accounts until you’ve started your new job. Remain dedicated and professional to the end, and be willing to work overtime to fulfill obligations. How you handle yourself in the last few weeks will have a lasting impression. Painful as it may be, grin and bear any resentful behavior in order to preserve your reputation.