Ask Liz Ryan: How Do I Give Notice?

Dear Liz,

Hurrah for me! I got the job offer I’ve been waiting for, this morning. Granted, the process took over four months, but at least it’s all finalized now. I need to give notice soon, because I promised the new company I’d be starting the job two weeks from now.

Do I do it in writing, or face to face? What do I say? My boss has been good to me, but the 80-minute one-way commute was too much for me.



Dear Marina,

Hurrah for you, most definitely! That’s tremendous news. If you can manage it, a face-to-face resignation is the way to go. Talk to your boss first, before you tell your friends about your news. You don’t want your manager to hear about your departure through the grapevine!

When you spot your boss in his office alone (assuming your boss is a ‘he’ and assuming your boss has an office) walk in there and quickly close the door behind you. Even if he’s one the phone, stand there politely. Just that much activity will very likely let your boss know what you’re looking to talk with him about.

In the unlikely event that your boss (shocked to see you barge into his office while he’s on the phone, if he is) waves you out, then leave. He’ll look for you when he’s done on the phone, is my guess.

Now for the conversation. Either your boss will say “What’s up, Marina?” or you’ll say “Stan, I just need a moment.” Next, you’ll dive in. “Stan, I’m very grateful for your leadership while I’ve been here at XYZ Graphics. As it turns out, I need to give you my two weeks’ notice. I accepted a job closer to home.”

That’s it – short and sweet. You told Stan that you’re leaving, and you told him when, and you gave him a compliment in the process. You’re done.

He may have questions for you. He may want you to put a two-week transition plan together. All of that is great. The two of you should talk about who’ll be saying what to whom, when (he may ask you not to spill the beans just yet, even within the department), including what to say to customers, and when.

I know that you will spend your last two weeks on the job catching up on projects, training whomever you’ll be asked to train and generally leaving a wonderful impression of yourself in your colleagues’ and managers’ minds.

During this time, take a few moments to folks (there may be lots of them) who have helped you on this job, thanking them for their help and support. The more specific you can be, the better (“Jane, I would have been lost during the annual sales meeting planning process if it hadn’t been for you!”). Don’t forget to get email addresses and to connect to folks on LinkedIn before you leave. You and your ex-workmates may be sharing LinkedIn endorsements before long. And, a nice note to your boss, thanking him or her in some detail for the learning and support s/he provided, is always welcome.

Don’t forget to stop by HR and get squared away with any ‘outboarding’ processes they’ve got in place.

Hats off to you, Marina!



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