Congratulations are in order: you have been offered a new job. First, though, you need to give notice to leave your current role.
Leaving a job professionally and without burning your bridges is always a challenge. Read our advice to help you write a great two weeks’ notice email (assuming that's the notice period in question).
- Why You Should Write a Two Weeks' Notice Email
- When a Letter Might Be Better
- Always Give the News in Person First
- What to Say When Giving Two Weeks' Notice
- How Not to Do It
- A Two Weeks' Notice Template
- Final Thoughts
- Further Reading
Why You Should Write a Two Weeks' Notice Email
Even if you get on well with your current employer and are a little sad to be leaving, telling your manager that you are moving on is not only good manners; it also gives them the best chance of finding a quality replacement (and planning you a leaving party).
Most employment contracts stipulate that you must give your current employer formal notice if you are planning to leave. This is usually two weeks but can vary, so check your contract.
If you have been in your current role for a while you will have built up friendships, networks and contacts. These are all people you will want to keep in touch with because they might be useful in your future career.
How you leave your current job will affect how your former colleagues remember you. Taking the time to carefully hand over your workload and to say thank you will ensure you leave a positive impression.
When a Letter Might Be Better
You know your employer and what will work best for them – often this will be an email. These are especially useful if you need to give your two weeks' notice in a hurry or if the culture of your company favors email communication. They can also be useful if you are a remote worker, are on maternity leave or are just unable to hand in a letter in person.
However, even in this age of instant electronic communication, it is sometimes better to resign in person and then follow up with a formal letter. If you have plenty of time to issue your two weeks' notice then think about whether it is worth writing a formal letter.
Always Give the News in Person First
It is always best to find time to meet your boss face-to-face and tell them you are resigning, prior to sending your two weeks’ notice email or informing colleagues.
Again, if you are a remote worker, you can do this by phone or Skype but the proper etiquette is to meet in person. Look at this as a chance to have a personal conversation with your employer to thank them for the opportunities they gave you.
For most people, this should be a meeting with your direct line manager. However, some companies have specific procedures you should follow, which you will find in your contract of employment.
Resigning from a job is common practice and your manager will know this. It is important that they hear the news from you, and they will respect you for telling them before they get wind of your departure elsewhere; it means that you and your manager can agree on an exit plan together.
What to Say When Giving Two Weeks' Notice
Try to write your email before you meet your boss, not after. This way you can send your email straight after as a confirmation of what you have said.
Do not make your email complicated or verbose. Say what you need to say in as few words as you can and leave it at that. Keeping your email short also helps to avoid saying anything you might later regret.
A brief two weeks' notice email is always better, but there are some things you should always include:
- The date – Tell your employer exactly what date you will be leaving. This will be your last working day. Or state that your resignation will be effective two weeks from the date of your email.
- Say why you are leaving – The chances are that your manager will ask you anyway, so briefly explain why you are leaving in your notice email. Of course, be diplomatic. "I'm looking for a new challenge" is much better than, "This job is really boring and I can't leave quickly enough."
- Do what you can to help – Remember, you are trying to leave a positive impression. Offering to help out while you work your notice is never a bad idea. Little things such as handing over unfinished projects or assisting in training a replacement can go a long way.
- Ask any HR questions – This is also a chance to ask any questions you have about resigning. You might need to clarify, for example, when you will receive your final paycheck or information about benefits. If you are moving, it is also worth including a forwarding address.
- Say thank you – Everyone likes to receive a thank you, and your manager is no different.
Finally, this is not the time to make a silly typo, or have an ‘I forgot to attach the attachment’ moment so check it carefully. Once you have written your email, review spelling, grammar, punctuation, dates, names – everything. Make sure there are absolutely no errors.
How Not to Do It
The internet is stuffed full of examples of how – and how not – to resign from your job. Decorating your resignation onto the top of a cake may sound fun but it’s not an appropriate way to formally give your notice. Nor should you copy the efforts of a flight attendant who announced his resignation over the cabin intercom before activating the emergency slides and making a dramatic, and speedy, departure.
And if you are considering not handing in your notice at all, remember that your employer could take you to court for breach of contract.
No matter how much you may dislike your boss, no matter how tempting it might be, taking the time to do things properly and leave in a professional manner is always the right thing to do.
Your aim is to make a peaceful, positive and properly planned exit; no matter how eager you are to escape.
A Two Weeks' Notice Template
This is a template for a simple two weeks’ notice email. Make sure you adapt it for your own circumstances. This isn't a time for copy and paste.
Subject: Joe Bloggs – Notice of Resignation
Dear [Line Manager],
As we discussed earlier today, I am writing to tender my formal resignation from [XYZ Company] as my family is relocating. My last day at [XYZ] will be Friday 27 January 2023.
Please let me know if there is anything I can do to assist you with the transition. I will be glad to offer any support I can during my remaining time with the company.
[If you are moving, include a paragraph such as this:
As you know, I will be relocating to Newtown to start my new role. If you need to contact me, you will be able to reach me at [email protected], or on 01234567890.]
I have copied in HR for their information and will liaise with them further if necessary.
Thank you for the opportunities and support you have given me over the last [x] years; I wish both you and the company every success for the future.
Although following the steps we've outlined gives you a good chance of leaving on the best terms, nothing is perfect. No matter how your employer reacts to your resignation, take it in your stride. And remember, in 14 days’ time you will start your next adventure.
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