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Start Your New Job ASAP, or Give Two Weeks Notice?

By Kat Boogaard

You’ve just accepted an offer for a new job you’re excited about. You can’t wait to find your new desk, meet your new colleagues, and get started in your brand new role. But, first there’s one big thing you need to take care of: Quitting your current job.

Bidding adieu to your existing gig can be a little nerve-wracking. And, in those moments when you’re rehearsing exactly how you’re going to break the news to your boss in front of your bathroom mirror, you keep coming back to one main question: Should you get out right away, or should you give two weeks notice?

Well, this is another one of those scenarios that can vary based on your individual circumstances. But, when in doubt, it’s always your best bet to give two weeks notice to your existing job if you can. Here’s why.

1. It’s Common Courtesy

Technically speaking, there may not be a legal requirement for putting in your two weeks notice. But, just because it might not break any rules doesn’t mean it’s not frowned upon.

When you boil it down, giving notice and providing your company that small amount of buffer time is just common courtesy. It gives them a little breathing room to post your job description and begin figuring out next steps.

Yes, I know that you’re excited to dive headfirst into your new role. But, it’s still best to be conscientious of your current employer. Don’t worry—your brand new job will still be there for you when your two weeks are up.

2. Many Companies Have a Policy

When you’re debating whether or not to give notice to your existing employer, you’ll want to take a quick glance through your employee handbook.

Why? Well, many companies have policies that detail requirements for terminating your employment—and many actually require that you give adequate notice, in the form of two full weeks.

Of course, some organizations end up walking employees out before their two weeks are fulfilled (particularly if they’re heading to work for a competitor). But, if your company’s request for two weeks notice is in writing, you should definitely plan to obey that rule.

3. You Might Miss Out on Money

What’s also likely detailed in that policy about offering notice? Well, to put it simply, money. Along with that policy, you’ll usually find any information about getting your remaining sick or vacation days paid to you.

However, be forewarned that many companies require that you provide two weeks notice in order to actually get that money. Even if you don’t end up working the whole two weeks due to being walked out, providing the notice still entitles you to that unused paid time off.

So, unless you’re alright with missing out on what could be a pretty hefty chunk of change, you’ll want to make sure that you give your employer a heads up two weeks before you plan on jumping ship.

4. You Can Tie Up Loose Ends

Regardless of how excited you are to get started in your new job, you probably still have a few things you need to take care of in your existing role before you pack up your desk and leave.

There are typically some loose ends you need to take some time to tie up—aside from grabbing your favorite coffee mug and your leftover enchiladas out of the break room fridge.

Don’t think of offering two weeks notice as just a favor to your employer. It also gives you that often much-needed time to wrap up any projects, communicate with any necessary colleagues and clients, and just generally leave things in order.

5. You’ll Maintain a Good Relationship

You’ve heard the cliché career advice about not burning bridges. But, that metaphor is oft-repeated for a good reason: It’s true.

Even if you absolutely loathe the gig you’re leaving behind, you still should make your best effort to leave on good terms and maintain a decent relationship with that employer—and, giving adequate notice will definitely help with that.

If nothing else, knowing that you’re leaving on good terms will allow you to walk out with the peace of mind that you have someone you can turn to when you need a solid reference or recommendation.

Are there ever any exceptions?

When in doubt, I’d always recommend giving notice to your employer. But, of course, there are some situations where that isn’t your best course of action.

For example, if your circumstances are so dire at your current job—perhaps your boss has now decided to make your life a living hell as punishment for your leaving—then sometimes you need to just cut your losses and move on before your full two weeks is up.

Or, maybe your new job requires that you start immediately. If that’s the case, you’ll need to have a conversation with your existing boss and your future employer to see if you can reach a compromise that works best for everyone.

If you don’t fall into one of these situations? Well, then it’s always in your best interest to give notice. Yes, it very well might feel like the longest two weeks of your life. But, at least you can enter into your new gig with the knowledge that you’re truly a courteous professional.

Kat Boogaard

Kat is a Wisconsin-based freelance writer covering topics related to careers, self-development, and entrepreneurship. Her byline has appeared in numerous outlets and publications, including Forbes, Fast Company, The Muse, QuickBooks, Business Insider, and more. Find out more about her on her website, or connect with her on Twitter.

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