How to Professionally Give Your Notice

By Joe Stein

Since you are using WNYJOBS.com for your job search, you most likely will be accepting a new position in the not-so-distant future. Once you have given your verbal OK or signed an official written offer letter, you will begin the process that people either eagerly anticipate or dread… giving notice.
 
For employees who are frustrated in their current situation, been reassigned, or are just generally unhappy, giving notice may be a welcome duty. For individuals who are leaving a company for more money, better career opportunities, or just more stability, giving notice can often be a bittersweet experience. Regardless of your reason for leaving, the notice period should always be professional and without negative outward emotion. 
 
The following are some “rules of thumb” to follow during the notice process.
 
·         Why Is Notice Important:
 
Closing Relationships - For the associate, it provides a means to say goodbye to fellow associates, inform outside relationships of your move, and remove any belongings from the work setting. 
 
Personal Satisfaction - Any professional associate should desire the personal satisfaction of knowing they left their position in a manner that will allow their replacement to step right in. 
 
The Employer Needs It - For the employer, it allows time for replacement, training, and the completion of any projects or “loose ends” that may be able to be resolved in a short period of time. In some foreign areas (like the United Kingdom), giving a minimum month-notice is customary for many positions. There may be some rare occasions (for example, a bitter employer) where the employer will not want you to fulfill your notice period; they are not obligated to do so (unless you have a contract that requires it). In the U.S., for most non-exempt (hourly and overtime eligible) positions, 1-2 weeks are desired and should be provided. This will allow you to fulfill your schedule obligations while providing some replacement time, usually by internal posting. For exempt (non-overtime eligible) associates, a period of two weeks is considered the professional norm. Your new employer may pressure you to give no notice, or a shorter period than 1-2 weeks. Reflect on a new employer who is not willing for you to give notice, and determine whether that is a good sign for your future relationship with them. A new employer that does not insist you give proper notice is probably a company lacking in associate relations expertise and decorum. 
 
  • Communicating To Your Manager: 
Scheduling the Meeting - If possible, notice should be communicated directly to your supervisor. You should orally communicate the notice and follow-up (at the same time, if possible) with a written resignation. Sometimes, a person is nervous of their supervisor’s reaction and will try to provide notice via e-mail or letter. This is especially true if the Boss is someone who is not easily accessible. Do not let yourself communicate in this manner. Unless you were a poorly performing employee, no supervisor will be thrilled of hearing your impending departure from the company. It is professionally necessary for notice to be given in-person and orally communicated.
 
The Actual Meeting – Prepare your message prior to the actual meeting. Practice delivering your announcement, so that you can become comfortable with the message. Quickly get to the core of the message, no need for a lot of time-stalling small talk with the meeting. Your announcement message should be short, thanking your Supervisor for the opportunity, stating you enjoyed your time there, and informing him/her that you have accepted a new position and need to give notice. At the end of your short announcement message, try to stay quiet, allowing time for your Supervisor to absorb and prepare any questions for you. There are generally four main questions that may be asked: 1) Why?, 2) Can We Counter?, 3) Where Are You Going To?, and 4) When Is Your Last Day? It is up to you if you want to answer #1 and #3. Regarding the “why”, generally speaking you don’t want to “burn bridges”, so place a positive spin on your answer.  If this does not feel like the right moment, reference an Exit Interview before you depart (if you decide to speak openly). With the “where are you going to”, unless it is a bitter competitor, there is usually little downside to answering. I am typically not a fan of accepting counter-offers because your current employer will still have the memory of you trying to leave, and you torched the bridge with the company you were thinking about joining.
 
Post-Meeting Communication – Discuss with your Supervisor, how the news of your departure will be communicated to your co-workers, customers, etc. Volunteer to have a role in drafting any messaging in order to maintain some editorial control.
 
Your Resignation Letter – A written Letter of Resignation will generally be required by your employer. It is important that you draft this document carefully, as it will probably be stored in your personnel file. Keep your letter very simple, by stating that you are resigning, inserting your last day worked, and thanking your employer for the opportunity. There is usually little upside to including a reason for your departure, so you should keep it off, unless it is purely positive or outside your control (for example, following your spouse out-of-town). 
 

The Notice Period: 

Stay Professional - Be professional during your notice period. Do not use this time to speak negatively regarding your soon to be ex-employer, nor should you boast about your new job. The two weeks of notice can be a wonderful time to conclude relationships and move to an exciting, fresh, new period of your life. If your employer has a replacement, embrace this individual and use the notice period to transfer your knowledge. Work diligently to conclude any projects that can be completed during your notice period.
 
Do Your Clean-Up Work – Leave your work area spotless for your successor. Ensure that key items are filed and locatable, if needed. Return any property that is owned by the company such as your mobile phone or laptop. Take the time to delete any personal items you may have on your computer, and take home anything that is yours from your work area.
 
The Exit Interview - During the notice period, you probably will be asked to participate in a formal exit interview - travel this road with caution. A disgruntled associate speaking negatively regarding the company will serve little purpose. Typically, the person conducting the exit interview is a HR person who did nothing to harm your relationship with the company. Also, any disgruntled associate who speaks very negatively at the exit interview, will have their information forever flagged as a personal vendetta against the company. Take the high road in this situation because you never know if, later in life, things may change and you may wish to work for this company again. Give yourself the opportunity by staying professional. Also, you never know where you and other players at the company may land years down the road. You may all end up at the same company later in life. Never burn any bridges you may need to travel.
 
Farewell Letter - If your company allows, you may also prepare (at the end of your notice period) a note (generally an e-mail) for your co-workers thanking them for their support and friendship. You may also include your contact information, so they can stay in-touch. This can serve to build your network base for the future, while easing the sense of loss you may feel from leaving your current job. 
Giving notice and professionally fulfilling that notice is the right thing for any employee to do. In the long-run, your employer will most likely come to appreciate the steps you took to leave professionally. Prepare yourself mentally for the notice period as soon as you say “yes” to your new job.