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What Is Two Weeks' Notice and Why It Matters for Your Career

By The ZipRecruiter Editors

People have an average of 12 jobs in a lifetime, which means at some point, you will have to let one employer know you are leaving for another opportunity. Some people wonder if it matters if you give two weeks' notice or not. The short answer is yes, it does matter. This article outlines the many advantages of giving proper notice of leaving your job.

What Is Two Weeks' Notice

When you are ready to leave a job, giving two weeks' notice is a courtesy to your employer. It means informing them you'll be leaving two weeks before your last day on the job. Depending on your position and circumstances, you may opt to give more than two weeks' notice.

If your employment contract specifies a notice period, it's important to honor that. Many employment contracts are at will, which means notice isn't legally required. But even if your employment contract doesn't require you to give notice, it paves the way for a smooth transition and avoids burning bridges.

Benefits of Giving Two Weeks' Notice

There are many benefits to giving at least two weeks' notice to your employer, both now and in the future.

Giving Notice Gives You Time to Wrap Things Up

Two weeks' notice gives you time to finish or pass on projects, organize your work for the next person, and possibly help train a new hire. You have time to gather your personal belongings and say a proper goodbye to work friends.

Supports Your Coworkers

You wouldn't want one of your coworkers to disappear and leave you scrambling to cover them. Two weeks' notice makes the transition easier for other employees. You never know when you might run into one again down the road. It's smart to leave on good terms.

Can Benefit the Development of Your Career

Not every employer is a great reference or will be able to support your career down the road, but solid professional relationships can benefit you in many ways now and in the future.

Giving two weeks' notice maintains your reputation and preserves good references for future job searches. You maintain a favorable relationship with your current employer. If you ever want another position with that company, leaving on good terms makes it more likely for them to hire you again.

Helps Your Employer Find a Replacement

Giving enough notice before you leave helps your employer find a replacement. Depending on your industry and position, two weeks may not be enough for them to find, interview, and hire someone. However, it at least gives them enough time to make arrangements to cover your job until a replacement can be hired.

While it may not have much impact on your immediate life, making the transition easier for your employer helps you leave on good terms.

Your Future Employer Probably Prefers an Employee Who Gives Two-Weeks' Notice

If you're leaving one job for another, you may be tempted to tell them you can start sooner, giving less notice to your current employer. That's a bad idea because your new employer also wants an employee who won't leave them in the lurch.

Any good employer will expect you to leave your past company on good terms. Skimping on your notice to start right away won't make the impression you want. It may make them worry about their choice in hiring you.

If your new employer is pressuring you to quit your current job immediately, this may be a red flag. Giving two weeks' notice is your choice and not something your new employer should dictate.

Are There Any Circumstances Where You Shouldn't Give Notice?

There are a few instances where you shouldn't give notice. For example:

  • You're in danger

  • Your employer is abusive

  • You've been asked to do something unethical or illegal

  • You're working in unsafe conditions

  • You have an urgent health or family emergency

Under those circumstances, you should prioritize your safety and well-being over giving notice.

What to Do After You Give Notice

After you speak with your boss and hand in your letter of resignation, you can do a few things to build bridges rather than burn them. Don't give in to the temptation to treat your final two weeks like a vacation. Working hard to the end makes a lasting and positive impression.

Finish Your Existing Work

Complete or pass on any ongoing projects and make sure that your work is up to date and accessible to the new person. To make the transition easier, you can create a checklist of everything you want to wrap up before you leave.

Help Train Your Replacement

Whether a colleague or a new hire is taking over your responsibilities, help them by getting them oriented and trained. If you can't spend time with your replacement, create a document that leads them through the steps and includes all essential information. This shows you go above and beyond and remain committed to doing a good job.

Say Goodbye to Your Coworkers

Let the people you worked with know you appreciate them. Say goodbye to your coworkers in person or with a gracious email, depending on your relationship and comfort level. It's better to wish everyone well than just disappear.

Where it makes sense, add people to your social media accounts. You can also ask your current coworkers to leave you a recommendation online. The last two weeks at your job is a perfect time to do that. If you want to keep in touch with any coworkers, make sure they have a way to contact you.

Be Respectful

Even if you've been lying awake at night desperate for the day you could leave your current company, don't share any negative opinions on your way out. It will leave a bad impression.

As you give notice and work your last two weeks, do your best to focus on the positive things about the company, your job, and your coworkers. Silence is better than negativity.

Some employers will not want you to work your last two weeks and will ask you to leave the day you give notice. This is rare, but it can happen.

It's Worth Leaving on Good Terms

In work and business, your reputation is one of your most important assets. Even if your current job has nothing to do with your future career, you never know how and when positive professional relationships will help you with a reference, opportunity, or connection.

You may not be legally required to give two weeks' notice, but it is worth your time and effort to create as smooth of a transition as possible. If nothing else, you'll leave knowing you did the right thing.

The ZipRecruiter Editors

At ZipRecruiter, our mission is to connect employers and job seekers with their next great opportunity. On the ZipRecruiter blog, we use insider experience and data derived from our AI-driven jobs marketplace to provide advice and insights on topics such as the job search process, interviewing, and labor market trends. Start your job search or post a job today and connect with us on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn!

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