Giving Notice and Leaving a Job: 6 Tips

Leaving a Job

Even if you love the work you do, you will leave your job. It may not be due to being let go, but it may be due to a move, your retirement, or even death. While not pleasant to think about, it should provide some perspective for us all: our jobs will not last forever.

Maybe you are thinking of leaving your job, but that always leads to a question: When should you tell your current employer that you are leaving?

Before sharing some tips later, let me start by sharing this obvious tip: If you can get wording in your contract about how much warning you should give, that will solve many problems. For example, where I preach, I must give 90-days warning if I ever decided to leave. Most jobs require less time, but sometimes this can be negotiated. Just remember, if you negotiate for a very short amount of time, it may look like you are only using this job as some type of launching pad and your employer may question your dedication.

If, however, you do not have such an agreement, how much notice should you give? Here are some suggestions.

1. If something unethical is occurring with the business, you should leave as quickly as you possibly can.

While you obviously need to consider providing for your family, you cannot stay where something unethical is occurring and stay true to your convictions. If I may add here, though, you still need to leave with grace.

2. If you are looking to leave, you need to be honest.

This is a very touchy subject, but if you are asked about leaving and you are actively looking for another job, you should never lie. We have probably all shaken our head at people in the world of sports who have said they are staying somewhere, only to sign a contract in the next day or two with another team or school. This type of activity speaks directly to your morals.

3. Be honest about your search.

This may sound repetitive, but if you are only looking at one job or area, you can be honest about that, too. If you are not actively looking, there is no reason to make it sound like you are.

4. Give notice at least two weeks in advance.

Honestly, I do not know why this has become the norm in leaving among many jobs, but it has, so it is a good rule of thumb. But notice I said at least two weeks. If you have a good relationship with your employer, it might be wise to give notice one month in advance. The reason is that you are showing your company or employer a sign of respect. You are allowing them time to begin the process of reviewing your position. Your respect for them may also earn you a kind recommendation from your boss.

5. Leave with grace.

You may be leaving under very difficult circumstances, but you can still be gracious. That place of employment gave you a job and paycheck (and maybe even more). It helped you build experience and provided for your family. You may have very little good to say about it, but find something good. It may be quite difficult, but do not be a jerk as you walk out the door.

6. Keep working right up to the end.

Once you have given notice, it is easy to slack off and have the mindset that says, “What are they going to do, fire me?” Instead, remember that you are to “work heartily, as unto the Lord” (Colossians 3:23). That verse does not give an “out” when you are in the final days of employment. Continue to work right up to the final moment at your job, then enjoy transitioning to your new workplace.

Remember that there are many reasons to leave your job on good terms!

What other tips do you have? How much notice do you think one should give? How should one leave their job? Drop your thoughts in the comments section!

  1. Bob

    Just be aware that if you are up front with your employer about leaving because you want to be honest with them that they may decide to find your replacement and then terminate you without notice. This happened to me with a large fortune 500 company, the position was not a good fit, I had been with the company for over 3 years and told them when I found something else that I would give them at least two weeks notice and wanted to leave under the best circumstances for myself and the company. Well I guess the company did not see it that way so about two months latter HR called me into their office and mentioned my email I sent them about leaving the company. They said your replacement has been hired, they start tomorrow and we are escorting you out of the building. This was at the end of the month so my health insurance would terminate in just a few day, married with two kids in college and at age 58 I knew this was not going to be a good situation for my family financially. My advice is don’t ever let your employer know about your intentions of looking for another job, just find one and give your two weeks notice. The company’s number one priority is looking out for their business and your number one priority should be looking out for yourself and your family.

  2. Dave

    Having worked for a number of different companies during my career I think your number 6 is one of the most important. I’ve said many times over the years that you really know what someone is made of AFTER they’ve given their notice. I’ve seen many people that suddenly got “short timer’s disease” and became next to worthless. I had one occasion where I was the one leaving and moving to another town but was back on the weekends until my family moved. After my 30 days notice was up I “volunteered” on Saturday mornings there to try and keep things going until a replacement arrived. I really expected nothing in return but when all was said and done they sent me another paycheck in the mail as a thank you. That was nice and I had a great feeling that I had gone above and beyond for some great folks. Probably would have been different if I was leaving under different circumstances. I’ve also been escorted to the door like I was a criminal or something while the locks were being changed on my way out. All depends on the situation and who you work for. Those were some hard folks to work for but I still worked out my notice in that case nonetheless. Keep working till the end and do it well!

  3. China Newz

    Leaving with grace should always be focus. No matter what the situation may be – if you are unhappy with your co-workers, don’t like your boss, or just need a higher paying job. Always stay positive and this karma will come back to you. The power of positive thinking will create a ripple effect through your life and lead to good things.

  4. Karl

    Great topic to discuss!

    I would add to this article: it’s always easier to find a new job when you currently have one. I’m an accountant. In this job market, employers get to be picky, and if you’re on the open market, they wonder why they should hire you if no one else apparently wants you. So try to line up your next job while you’re in your current one.

    I heartily agree with the comments above. As important as it is to be honest, it can be greatly to your detriment to volunteer too much information about your future intentions. Wait until you have a written offer in hand from your next boss. Working hard until the end (#6) should negate the surprise from not disclosing your intentions early (#2 and #3).

    Finally, you have to be able to let go of the desire to be seen in a positive light. I worked hard to leave things in a good position for my coworkers and bosses when I left my last job. However, one boss framed the situation differently in her mind, and made a big deal of me abandoning the team, etc. She tried to get me to stay longer by even calling my then-future boss to ask about deferring my start date with him (she knew him professionally, but still, way inappropriate). I was hurt that my efforts to leave and finish well were overturned by her knee-jerk reactions. I just had to be able to move on past it.