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How Much Notice Should You Give Your Employer Before Quitting Your Job?

by Chenell Tull | Updated: November 3, 2017

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You’ve worked your butt off to be in a place where you can quit your job and take that side hustle full-time. But how early should you hand in your resignation letter?

Is 2 Weeks Notice Enough When Quitting Your Job?

I went back and forth on this one. The decision on how much notice to give my bosses before I quit my day job was a huge source of anxiety for me. I wasn’t sure much notice was too much and what was too little that would leave a bad taste in their mouth.

I had been saving up money to quit my job for a while, about a year and change. When the time came and I had no more excuses to not quit my job, I came up with a date I was going to hand in my notice. It was a month and a half before I was going to leave my day job: May 31st.

I typed up a resignation letter and it sat on the desktop of my work computer for a few weeks. (Probably not the smartest place to leave it either, whoops).

I was freaking out. Every day I would think, maybe this is the day I’ll tell them. I had never been so nervous about this kind of thing before. It just made this whole entrepreneurship thing I’d been working towards SO REAL. Of course, that’s what I wanted, but it was still terrifying.

April 1st came around. I did nothing. “Maybe I was giving them too much notice.”

My family and friends kept asking if I’d told my boss I was quitting yet. A few months ago I had confidently told them the date I was going to tell them, and here I was a week after that date having done nothing.

It was about 35 days before I left that I ended up telling my boss. The only reason I picked that day was that I had found out someone in our department was getting let go. It wasn’t because he was a bad worker, but our company as going through a merger and there just weren’t enough spots available.

I felt AWFUL.

Here I was voluntarily giving up my job, and he was losing it so people like me could stay. UGH.

To make matters worse, they told me his last day would be:  May 31st. :O

I felt like it was a sign.

I printed out my resignation letter that Thursday – and on Friday I had enough cajones to hand it in. I asked my boss to meet me in a nearby conference room and I told her I was leaving.

That was a tough day. And while it was tough to stick it out for 35 days after the cat was out of the bag, I knew they needed time to fill my job, and MAYBE I could save this other person from losing their job.

I would have regretted it if I hadn’t told them when I did.

How Early Should You Hand in Your Resignation Letter?

So how much time should you give your boss before you head out onto the path of full-time entrepreneurship? Honestly, I think the answer if different for every person, in every organization.

Of course, the standard answer is to give two weeks notice. And just because you’re leaving to go out on your own doesn’t mean you need to give them more than this.

However, because you are going out to do your own thing, you typically have more flexibility and can ultimately give your boss more notice.

But should you?

Here are 5 things to consider before deciding when you should hand boss your resignation letter.

1. Your Relationship With Your Boss

While the old saying “business is business” is true, I’d be lying if I said this didn’t impact my decision. I had a great relationship with my supervisor, coworkers, and upper management in my department. I felt that giving them 2 weeks would almost be too little time.

After all, while I worked there for a total of 7 years, I did leave for about 3 months previously, and this was only about a year or so before I was now leaving for good.

They were trusting enough in me to give me a “second chance” and let me reclaim my old position because it had yet to be filled. I think the move was great for both parties, but I also felt bad because I had just left them not long before, and they were going to go through it again.

This heavily weighed on my decision, because I loved these people, and after all, I was gone for 3 months and they still hadn’t filled the role. I knew it would take them a while to fill it this time as well.

2. The Type of Work You Do

I kind of touched on this above, but I think it deserves more of a callout.

Are you doing work that your department can easily find another person to do, or have you been there a very long time and have extensive knowledge in the department that would take a while to fill?

If you are an easily replaceable position (this shouldn’t make you feel bad), then you may not need to give them as much of a heads up before you leave. Two weeks might actually be sufficient.

If you are doing a job that was essentially created for you or you’ve been there for a long period of time, it might be a good idea to give your boss more notice so they can find another specialized person to fill your role.

3. The Level of Your Position

The level of your role matters as much as the kind of work you do. If you’ve been with the company a short time and are doing entry-level work, the standard two weeks might be enough for you.

If you are a crucial part of management or hold a more upper-level title, you’ll probably want to offer up more notice.

Be careful with this one though, as you get closer to the CEO, if they find out you have an inkling of leaving or are interviewing with other companies, they might give you the boot that same day.

While I was never that high up in the company, I’d seen this happen before. Once the boss knows you’re looking around, the level of information you have access to might be to crucial to risk having it go with you, so they’ll cut ties quickly.

4. How Do You Feel?

Ultimately, this is your decision and you’re going to have to make the right one for you.

Will you regret giving only two weeks when you knew it could take 6 months to fill your role? For some, this won’t impact their psyche one bit. For others, you might have a sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach that up and leaving just isn’t the right thing to do.

I think this is the most important aspect to keep in mind when deciding. Are you going to regret anything, are you going to have a bad taste in your mouth when you leave?

On the same token, if you give too much time but know very well you won’t be working 100% that last month or two, then you might be doing the company a disservice.

5. Be Smart and CYA

Not only does this apply to upper-level employees, but you have to protect yourself if you’re planning on leaving your job no matter what job you have. This is especially trueif you’re looking to start your own company or take your side hustle full-time.

You have to keep in mind that when you hand in your two weeks notice, your boss may ask you to leave that day. You need to be aware of the impact that would have on your savings account, and especially on your runway if you’re currently saving for one. If you needed those last 2-3 paychecks, you’re going to be out of luck.

My tip would be to save up enough money, and once that day comes where you physically have the money in your savings account, then put in your notice, however long you decide it should be.

Did I follow this advice?

No. I felt comfortable knowing that the bosses would want me to put together processes and train other folks on the team how to do my job before letting me walk out.

I also had 7 months of savings in the bank already, so if they did let me go that day, and I didn’t have 8 months of savings, I was ready for that consequence.

What do you think is the ideal amount of notice to give your employer before you walk out the door? Is 2 weeks enough, or is that an old formality?

Chenell Tull helps course creators with paid traffic campaigns. She quit her day job in June of 2017 and has been learning the wild world of entrepreneurship ever since. She's sharing what she's learned while building her own business from side hustle to full-time, and the software and marketing tools she can't live without.
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