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How to Respectfully Put in Your Two Weeks Notice

Craig Stevens

Copywriter, Digital Asset Manager, and Business Analyst

The best reason for leaving a job is finding a new one. Whether you hate your job and can’t cope, you’ve found someone who pays more, or you’ve found a way of advancing your career, it just may be time to leave. But how should you do it? Do you need to write a two weeks notice letter? If so, what are you supposed to write?

Let’s run through the key points you need to consider.

Giving notice

First things first. Yes, you should formally resign. Just not turning up to work one day and ghosting your last boss isn’t classy, and you should be classy. You never know when you might need to rely on someone for a reference. You never know when you might meet someone again down the road. It’d be pretty embarrassing to go for an interview in a few years and discover that the person interviewing you was the boss you walked out on!

Also, if you worked with a team and you don’t show up one day, you’re making their lives very difficult because they’ve got to pick up the slack. If you had resigned, then your manager could have hired someone to replace you and it would have been fine. Now everyone’s got to work harder to cover for you because you didn’t have the decency to put in a two weeks notice.

How do I Know How to Give a Two Weeks Notice?

Your employee handbook can help you create a proper two weeks notice

Take a look at your contract or employee handbook to see what it says about the resignation process. Remember: it’s a contract, and contracts are legally binding once signed. Typically, you’ll have to give a two weeks notice, but check that out to make sure because it could be longer. It’s way better to do your research instead of having to find out the hard way that your notice was supposed to be more than a two weeks notice. Your contract should even outline

  • if you’re expected to leave as soon as you resign
  • if you have a non-compete clause that blocks you from working for another employer in the sector

It may also specify whether you need to resign in writing or not. If in doubt, put it in writing. Once that’s done, get a meeting arranged with your boss specifically for this purpose. Don’t try to tack it on to another meeting.

The Two Weeks Notice Letter

What should you say in the two weeks notice letter? How should you structure it?

First, if the word processor you’re using has templates, look for a business or formal template. This is a business matter after all. If there’s a two weeks notice template, don’t assume that it’s going to prompt you to fill in all the information that you’ll need to cover. It’s up to you to make sure that all the bases are covered. Be led by your contract or employee handbook.

Put the Proper Headings on the 2 Week Notice Letter

At the top of the two weeks notice letter, put both your address/contact details and that of your employer. I know this might seem out of date, but we’re in business letter mode.

Follow this with the date. It’s critical that you put the date on the letter because this is will help prevent any confusion later about when you resigned. Also, make sure that this date matches the date of the meeting with your manager. You won’t be able to date this letter a few days before that meeting, then resign and expect to leave on the date on your letter.

The Body

Once you start the body of your letter, try to keep things brief. There’s no need to write a lengthy exposition here. Just keep it simple, polite and professional. You can start with a simple statement that you’re resigning because you’re moving on to a new opportunity and follow this with confirmation of when your last day will be.

That done, it’s a good idea to thank them for the opportunity that they gave you. If you’re struggling with this bit, think about why you wanted this job back when you started. You can also think about what you’ve learned in the role. If you’ve gained new skills in this role or had the opportunity to lead projects, no matter their scale, then express gratitude for that. If nothing else, you’ve probably put these experiences on your resumé or leveraged them in the interview for your new job. Be grateful.

Finally, offer to help with the transition. Will your replacement be in role before you leave? If so, offer to help train them, as that is also something that you’ll be able to add to your resumé. If not, is there something else like documentation that’ll help smooth things over? This is another classy step, as it illustrates that you understand this will have a negative impact on your employer and you want to minimize that.

Close Strong

Then, close the letter formally. ‘Sincerely’, ‘Yours truly’, ‘Regards’, ‘Best regards’ followed by your name on the next line are all viable options.

RELATED CONTENT: Here are some simple examples, including reason specific options.

Meeting your Manager

Meet with your manager to discuss your two weeks notice

At the meeting with your manager, they may push back against your resignation. If they’re disagreeable about it, don’t rise to the bait. Instead, keep yourself calm and keep the high ground. If you find it stressful, keep your breathing even as that will help you keep control.

They may even ask you if you’d be willing to consider a counter-offer. Make up your mind before you go into that meeting whether you are or not. But bear in mind that your boss could have given you a raise at any point after you proved yourself. If you’ve previously asked them for a raise and they refused, what’s your motivation to stay?

It’s normal to be nervous or anxious when it comes to leaving a job, but a fear of change isn’t a good reason to stay. If you decided to resign for the best of reasons, like a promotion, more pay or more interesting opportunities, then none of that has changed.

Now that you’ve had the meeting with your manager and given your 2 week notice letter, (hopefully it went well!) does anyone else need to see your letter? Now is the time to consult your contract or employee handbook again. You may also need to send it on to HR. If so, take care of that straight away.

A 2 Weeks Notice Email

If you’re not able to meet in person, you can still resign by email. Use ‘Resignation’ as the subject line. You won’t need to put the address or date headings in an email. However, still open your email in a formal manner. Then, you can write the rest of the email exactly as you did the letter.

If you’re sure that you’re leaving and that you’re not open to counter-offers, then you can cc HR in the email so that they’re properly informed as well. Don’t forget that they’ll need to process any outstanding pay before you go, so it’s in your best interest to keep them informed.

It is also important to note that leaving by email is not the first and most respectable option. Try your best to put in your two weeks notice letter and meet with your manager first. If all else fails, then you can resign via email.

Moving on

There, you’ve done it. The hardest part is probably done. Be prepared for an emotional last day whether you enjoyed your job or not. Even if you’re happy to leave, you probably had at least one person you enjoyed working with. If some kind of leaving drinks are organized, then again, it’d be classy to go, even if only for a couple of drinks. It’s also helpful to create a symbolic line between your old job and your new one.

Once you’ve taken that step, there’s just one thing left to do: pat yourself on the back and look forward to your new job! Happy Job Searching!

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