Almost everyone is faced with the prospect of leaving their job at some point. Whether you have decided to move, change fields, accepted a better offer, or just wanted to quit, the very idea of offering your ‘two weeks’ notice’ can drive fear into the most forthright employee. Even worse, many employees do not know the various options they have for leaving a job – especially when you leave for another, more lucrative, position. Deciding how much notice you should give when leaving a job is anything but easy.
Before even considering the alternative options available for leaving a job, you must first perform your due diligence. In some cases, an employment contract may exist which specifically details the conditions under which you are allowed to leave your position. These terms must be followed exactly. This information is typically easy to find. If you did not retain a copy of your employment agreement yourself and do not wish to tip off your employer that you may be leaving, you are entitled to a review of your employment file and can easily locate the information.
Next, you must consider the nature of your job. Those in unique positions that may be hard to fill or those in management positions may need to consider giving some additional notice. In some instances it can be helpful to discuss your move with a manager to determine what their expectations are. The general rule of thumb is two weeks and most employees tend to stick with these guidelines.
Unfortunately, in some cases it may be necessary to leave with less than the typical two week notice. This is especially true when an employee that is leaving to pursue another position which they need to start soon. While an employee has the ability to leave their current job immediately, unless otherwise prohibited, it is often not suggested. When determining how quickly you can leave your current position, always remember the old adage: Don’t burn your bridges. In the employment world, many times specific industries are very small and it is easy to get a bad reputation – especially if you leave a position with little or no warning to your employers.
Or, in other cases, the employer may ask you to leave immediately. This happened to me. Twice. In both cases, the reasons had to do with the competition and clients (even though I wasn’t going to a competitor either time). When that happens, you have no choice but to leave. I didn’t mind. That meant some much needed time off before the next job.
Like many facets of employment, how you handle your departure from a current position says a lot about you as a person. By handling an exit with grace and professionalism, you can easily begin to establish yourself as an employee with integrity. It is important to handle every aspect of your departure in a professional manner. From letters of resignation to the goodbye lunch, behaving in a professional way will make you stand out.
Knowing how much time to give your current employer is a complex issue. It is one that is best handled by following the guidelines set forth in your employment contract. If one does not exist, be sure to approach the issue professionally and to work as closely as possible to ensure a smooth transition.