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Advice on How to Give Notice Professionally While Staying in Control

Published: 2006
Author: Jeff Skrentny

Dotted Rule

Giving your notice of resignation should be a simple, thoughtful and a carefully planned event that reduces your stress and focuses on the one and only thing that is really critical: making the transition of your departure as smooth as possible for the employer you are leaving. With that singular focus, you can get done what you must for your old job while leaving your current employer in the best position you can while you mentally begin to focus on your new employer.

So what must be considered?

First, remember that giving notice means you are crossing a point of no return. It is almost never a good idea to give notice without a new job first, and depending on how far up the executive ranks you have gone, for many notice should not be given until an offer letter is received, reviewed, signed and given back to your new employer. Let’s assume that this has been done or a firm mutual verbal agreement has confirmed your position, salary and start date.

Next, we must consider when to give notice. The first bit of advice we have is as soon as you can immediately after an official acceptance of a new offer of employment has been tendered. That said, I would recommend, almost unequivocally, never on a Friday, and for sure never on a Friday afternoon. Would you want your weekend ruined in that manner through the loss of a key top performer? Ideally, it is best to give notice on Monday or Tuesday in the later part of the day.

Remember, also, that no matter how close you are to some of your co-workers, peers, or even subordinates, never tell anyone else about your resignation before the boss. It is your bosses responsibility, and right, to tell the rest of the team or company about your resignation as they see most appropriate. Don’t blow a reference or leave a bad impression by ignoring this rule.

Your next important issue is a written letter of resignation. Having seen hundreds of these over my 20 years, I can tell you that less is more. I suggest a simple four sentence, two paragraph letter that offers little in the way of an explanation, it just states to obvious, you’re resigning:

Dear Boss,

Please accept this letter as my official notice of resignation. I appreciate the work we have been able to accomplish together at (company name), but I have now made a commitment to another organization and will begin with them in two weeks.

Know that it is my intention to work diligently with you to wrap up as much as possible in the next two weeks to make my resignation as smooth as possible. If you have any suggestions on how we can best accomplish that goal, I hope you will share your thoughts with me, as I am eager to leave on the most positive note possible.