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Give two weeks’ notice without burning bridges: Here's how

January 21, 2022 - 18 min read

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What is two weeks’ notice?

Do you legally have to give two weeks’ notice?

Can you verbally put in two weeks’ notice?

Is a two-week notice 10 or 14 days?

Why should you give two weeks’ notice?

How to give two weeks’ notice

Two weeks’ notice letter format

Leaving a job is a natural part of everyone’s career. In fact, the average person will have 12 jobs during their lifetime. This means that, on average, employees leave their jobs at least a dozen times.

Informing your manager or supervisor that you’re leaving an organization can be daunting. This is especially true if you believe they are oblivious to your plans and your upcoming departure will be a surprise. 

The reality is that most managers have had team members leave before. They may be well aware that you are on your way out even if you think you've been subtle. We often blow these moments up larger in anticipation, but the main courtesy you can give your manager is clear and direct communication.

If you plan on leaving your current job but have no idea how to break the news, we’ve got you covered.

Here’s how to give two weeks’ notice the right way so that you maintain a positive, professional relationship with your soon-to-be former employer.

What is two weeks’ notice?

Giving two weeks’ notice means formally letting your current employer know two weeks in advance that you will be resigning from the company. 

Handing in your notice is a standard method of resignation for an employee, regardless of your profession. In the US, the time frame of two weeks has become the norm.

While it is a fairly straightforward process, not everyone knows how to give two weeks’ notice professionally and respectfully.

managers-listening-to-employee-how-to-give-two-weeks-notice

Without intending to, some employees might give their two weeks’ notice without considering its implications on the company. This can cause frustration or conflict in the workplace.

It doesn’t matter if you’re leaving because of an exciting new job offer, you need a break from work, or you've decided to start a business. Learning and understanding how to give two weeks’ notice can affect your current and future career path

We’ll break down each of these steps in more detail later. First, let’s answer some crucial questions.

Do you legally have to give two weeks’ notice?

There are no federal or state laws that require you to give two weeks’ notice before leaving your job. Therefore, you are not legally obliged to provide two weeks’ notice.

However, some employment contracts include procedures for terminating the contract. If the contract terms require two weeks’ notice or any specified time, the employee has a binding legal obligation to give the notice.

Beyond legal reasons, giving your employer two weeks’ notice is a professional courtesy and a respectful thing to do. Some companies will mark an employee as not eligible for rehire if they do not provide enough notice.

Can you verbally put in two weeks’ notice?

Unless it is stipulated in their contract, employees do not have to resign in writing legally. You can verbally put in your two weeks’ notice.

If you choose to resign verbally, it's best to confirm the resignation by putting it in writing. A two-week notice letter ensures clear communication and that you and your employer are on the same page. In our digital age, it’s always best to have a virtual paper trail. So even if you print the letter out and hand it to your boss, it’s good to also include it in the body of an email or as an attachment. 

Is a two-week notice 10 or 14 days?

Typically two weeks' notice means 10 business days or two working weeks. You can give it any time during the week that you want. 

But since there is no two-week notice law, you can define when your notice period is. Make sure you are aware of any notice requirements within your contract.

Why should you give two weeks’ notice?

Giving notice before you leave a company has become the expected thing to do. Your employer deserves to know when you are leaving well in advance. This way, both you and your employer can prepare for the upcoming transition in a practical and fair manner. Though, it is worth noting that circumstances vary and this is not always an option. 

Let’s look at some more reasons why giving at least two weeks of notice before leaving a company might be a good idea. 

  • It is a professional thing to do. All hired professionals should hand in a notice before leaving. It displays a level of respect for your current employer to communicate your decision within a timely manner.
  • It avoids burning bridges. Leaving on good terms is important for your career development. Your employer’s opinion of your temperament and work ethic may come into play with future job opportunities at other companies.

If you want to use your employer as a reference later on, not giving enough notice can after what they include in their reference letter or it could come up during a reference call. The value of a positive reference from a former employer is not to be underestimated when seeking new employment.

It's a small world, and industries are closely linked. These days, it is easy for new employers to find out more about your reputation in a few simple clicks.

  • Some companies require it, but some don’t. Even if you are not legally bound to hand in a two-week notice, it is a respectful way to leave and shows integrity

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  • It gives employers time to find someone new. Your employer deserves some time to find a replacement employee for your position. If you just left suddenly, everyone else would have to pick up your slack until a replacement was found. Though two weeks is not always enough time to fill a position, it gives your employer the time to jumpstart the recruiting process.
  • You won’t jeopardize your benefits (if you have them). Some companies have employee resignation policies in place that protect them from sudden resignations. One of them is the jeopardization of benefits should an employee leave without handing in two weeks’ notice. 

How to give two weeks’ notice

Now that you understand the importance of why you should give two weeks’ notice before leaving a company, let’s get into the how. 

While it might sound like a straightforward process, there are some techniques you can implement to make it smoother. 

Bearing these eight tips in mind, you can professionally communicate your decision to leave in a way that is the least disruptive to both you and your employer. 

1. Review your employee contract or handbook

Your employee contract or handbook will most likely have information about going forward with a resignation plan. Many organizations have specific guidelines or company policies around giving notice, which is why you need to do your research before sending that letter or sitting down with your supervisor. 

2. Be prepared, and have a plan

You should take the time to prepare and plan for your future before making any official statements about your decision. 

Weigh out the pros and cons well before you hand in your notice. Make sure you understand what motivates your decision in the first place. Draw up a five-year plan to assess where you are and where you want to go. 

Also, it’s always best to make sure you’ve signed on the dotted line before giving notice at your current job. It’s not common, but it does happen, where a verbal offer might fall through before getting to the offer letter stage.

Finally, you should be prepared for your manager to tell you to leave sooner than two weeks. People on their way out the door can be a distraction. And dissatisfaction or disgruntlement can be contagious — many managers, even if you've had a good relationship, will be happy to have you leave as soon as you can wrap up any loose ends. In some instances, they may ask you to leave immediately so make sure you've collected any personal effects from the office or photos that may have landed on the company laptop. 

3. Break the news in person

By now, you're ready to tell your boss you're quitting. As tends to be the case with so many difficult conversations, speaking face-to-face often helps. Not only does it demonstrate respect for your employer, but it also provides both of you with a space in which communication can flow more freely. It also gives you the opportunity to thank your superior and let them know how appreciative you are of the opportunity they gave you. 

two-women-talking-across-a-table-how-to-give-two-weeks-notice

4. Tell your boss before others

Once you’ve decided to resign, be smart and conservative about who you share that information with. Your boss doesn't want to hear this information from anyone else. If they do, they might find it disappointing or in poor taste that you did not come to them first. Of course, you might have friends at work and maybe you’ve even used one or two as references for your new job, but the fewer people who know before your boss, the better. 

5. Write an official two weeks’ notice letter

Some employment contracts will require you to resign in writing. Even if they don’t, it is always best to put your words onto paper with an official two-week notice letter. Putting your resignation in writing will avoid any disputes or confusion. 

6. Keep it simple

Though you might feel the urge to spill the beans on every little reason for your departure, keeping things simple is the best approach. Your boss doesn’t need to know everything about why you’re leaving – just the main points of interest that pertain to the company itself. Also, you’re not required to give a reason at all. It’s completely up to you.

7. Make the transition smooth

A smooth transition will ease tensions and make your resignation a simpler affair. You can achieve this by abstaining from office politics and gossip about your leaving.

8. Be respectful and show gratitude

Your company probably doesn’t want to see you go. However, you can soften the blow by being respectful and showing gratitude for the experiences you’ve had there.

Your boss will be much more receptive and understanding about your resignation if you show a clear intent for mutual happiness and satisfaction. 

Two weeks’ notice letter format

If you’ve never written a formal resignation letter, you might feel uncertain about how to go about it. They might seem intimidating at first, but there is a simple format that you can follow that works for most situations. 

Knowing how to give two weeks’ notice will give you the confidence you need to carry this decision through with ease. And it will convey a further sense of professionalism to your employer.

Let’s break down some of the core elements of a standard resignation letter. Then, we’ll apply them to a format you can use for any of your future career changes

  • Start with your recipient’s name and address. As with any formal letter or email, start with the company name, as well as the recipient’s professional name, title, and work address. This validates your message and indicates a formal tone, which is the best tone for a resignation letter.
  • State your decision, and inform your recipient of the relevant dates. Don’t beat around the bush. Start your message off with a straightforward statement about your decision to resign. Provide information about the dates relevant to your official departure from the company.
  • Provide a brief reason for why you are resigning. Providing a brief explanation for your resignation is a practical and kind addition to your letter. It helps your employer understand your perspective better. If the reason is work-related, it gives them insight into what they can change for the better once a replacement comes in.
  • Express gratitude for your experience with the company. Conveying gratitude for your time at the company can help you leave on a good note and keep your track record clean. Now is not the time to burn bridges – remember, you are still going to be there for two weeks.
  • Wrap it up, and outline the next steps. Now that you’ve provided all the relevant information, it’s time to wrap up your letter and outline any next steps that might come into play. 
  • Perhaps you are working on a project that will not be complete within the next two weeks, and someone else will need to take it over. Offering any additional support to tie up loose ends is a nice touch.
  • End with your signature. That’s it — you’ve reached the end of your letter of resignation. End it all off with your best wishes and a signature to further validate your message. 

employee-at-his-desk-how-to-give-two-weeks-notice

Two weeks’ notice template

Now that we’ve gone through the major elements of a strong resignation letter, take a look at this template for further input on how to structure and format your message.

Eliza Johnson
186 Melrose Street
Washington DC, 9890

7th June 20XX 

Sarah Smith
OC Logistics
12 Doe Street
Washington DC, 9890

Dear Ms. Smith, 

This letter officially gives you two weeks’ notice of my resignation from OC Logistics. My final day as a sales representative will be 21st June 20XX. 

While I have thoroughly enjoyed my time as an employee of OC Logistics, I have decided to move into a different field. I have been accepted into a graphic design course at Stanford University in California and would like to pursue a visual branding and marketing career. 

It has been a pleasure working at OC Logistics for the past three years, and I appreciate the time and commitment this company has shown me. I will continue to be grateful for the skills and experience I gained from working at OC Logistics throughout the rest of my career. 

I intend to continue delivering the same high-quality work from today until my last day of work. If there is anything else I can do to assist during this transition period, please let me know. 

Best wishes, 

Eliza Johnson 

Learn how to give two weeks’ notice to leave gracefully

Knowing how to give two weeks’ notice is an invaluable skill that every employee should familiarize themselves with. A two-week notice letter is an opportunity to leave your current job on a positive note and in a professional manner.

In a day and age where resignation is becoming increasingly common, this is a tool you need in your professional toolbox. 

As the world continues to go through massive social, cultural, and technological changes, BetterUp is here to help. We help both employees and employers unite for better communication and collaboration.

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Published January 21, 2022

Maggie Wooll

Managing Editor

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