How To Give Notice (The Right Way)
Career Growth

How To Give Notice (The Right Way)

by Jessica Howard
Photos Diana Zapata | March 03, 2016


It doesn’t mean you don’t appreciate everything your current company, manager, and mentors have done for you. It just means you’re ready for a new challenge, new responsibility, and a new (higher!) paycheck. But before you head off toward your career promised land, you need to give proper notice to your manager (and your employees, if you have them). 


Your new company will understand that you need to tell your current company you're leaving. Two weeks is the least amount of notice you should give, but more time is also an option. The more technical and finite your skill set is, the more notice you'll want to give them (so they can find your replacement). Feel out what’s right. Once you receive the go-ahead from your new opportunity, let your current company know. The worst thing you can do is leave your current company high and dry. By giving the proper time notice, they can start the hiring process on their schedule, and you won't burn any bridges.

Schedule a meeting with your immediate supervisor and let her know that while you have enjoyed your time there, you're ready to explore new opportunities. Always communicate your news face-to-face and plan what you’d like to say in advance so the meeting goes smoothly. 

Your boss might be shocked that you’re leaving, and she doesn’t want or need to hear all the negatives.


During your meeting with your boss, be as gracious and polite as possible. Start the conversation by thanking her for allowing you to work there and highlighting some positive moments or projects during your tenure.

Now is not the time to air all your grievances. Your boss might be shocked to hear you’re leaving, and she doesn’t want or need to hear all the negatives. By sharing your news in a positive way, you will leave a lasting impression that will certainly give you another reference to call down the line.

If you’re leaving due to extenuating circumstances—say, your husband’s company transferred him out of state or you’ve decided to go back to school—then feel free to share. There may be opportunities for you to work remotely or to come back once you’ve received your coveted M.B.A. Otherwise, don’t feel pressured to share your exact reasons for leaving, especially if they involve your boss.  


We spend the majority of our time in the office so we get to know our coworkers well. Some even become friends beyond the cubicle walls. After you’ve talked to your manager and any other higher-ups that need to know, start telling the people you work with. They’ll appreciate it coming directly from you and not via break room rumors.


You will most likely have an exit interview with HR in your final days. This is your chance to share your feedback on your position, company culture, and working conditions. Of course, as with your manager, only offer constructive feedback. But if you’ve had some unhappy experiences, don’t be afraid to outline them (as objectively as possible, please).

Companies can gain a lot of information from exit interviews and if you have ideas for how to improve something, feel free to share them. If you’ve always thought it would be nice to have food delivered for lunch once a week because everyone works through lunch, say so! If you wished there were times you could work from home but were told it was against the policy, mention this.

The more technical and finite your skill set is, the more time you'll want to give them (in order to find your replacement).

Answer all the questions thoroughly and honestly and don’t throw anyone under the bus. HR will be the last group you talk to, so make sure to end on a positive note.


Everyone will remember a handwritten note because they're so few and far between. {click to tweet} For the people you really like, those who mentored you or you worked with closely, write a thank you note on some nice stationary. Include what you like about that person, a specific situation that left a lasting impression, and your personal contact information so you can stay in touch in the future. Either leave it on their desk or mail it to them after you leave. They won't forget it.

You never know what will happen in the future. You might be interviewing for another job in a few years and find your old coworker is the hiring manager. Or you may realize this great opportunity isn’t so great after all. No matter what happens, leaving on a positive note is the best thing you can do. Keep those professional connections intact.

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What's been your professional exit strategy? What are the most important tasks to never leave out?