The Right Way to Give Notice You're Leaving a Job

When Michael Strahan announced to his co-host Kelly Ripa that he was leaving "Live!" to join "Good Morning America" only 30 minutes before it became public, you could only imagine how quickly it ignited the Internet and became headline news.

It got me thinking, what is the right approach to announce you are leaving your job? Who should you tell first? How much notice should you give? And how honest should you be about your reasons for leaving?

With everything happening at "Live!", we are reminded of why it is so important to leave a job gracefully.  Here are some steps to help you formally resign without tarnishing your reputation and maintaining good mental health for you and your team.

 1. Notify your boss in-person

Once you’ve decided to resign, the first person you should tell is your manager - you don’t want your boss to hear the news from anyone else. Although, after you’ve revealed your plans,  you’re no longer in the driver’s seat. Decisions surrounding the nature and timing of your departure are best left up to your supervisor. You may, however, weigh in on how your resignation should be best communicated. Will the news be announced in a team meeting? In an email? Are you responsible for telling key people in the organization?

2. Give plenty of notice

Two weeks’ notice is considered the norm, however, be mindful of what your contract states. You might consider offering to work longer than two weeks if you haven’t committed to a start date at another organization. The higher up you are in an organization, the longer it will take to extricate yourself and possibly train the next person coming in, so you may need to give more notice.

3. Be transparent

While you have no obligation to reveal your next career move, it’s worthwhile to think about what you might say to your boss and co-workers. In this tech-connected world, the minute you update your LinkedIn profile, your former coworkers are going to know all about your new role and new company. When you’re honest and straightforward about your plans, you own the narrative. The more transparent you are, the more likely you are to preserve and build on the relationships you already have.

 4. Avoid emotional outbursts

Even though you may be tempted to tell your boss that you feel like your full potential was never realized, that you always felt the team was condescending towards you, that no one took your ideas seriously, and that you can’t wait to leave, this really won’t get you anywhere as you get ready to leave. Save your personal complaints for your friends and try to focus on the fact that you’re advancing your career, not settling a personal score. No matter how good it may feel to tell a co-worker or boss off, severing your relationships with people can have a lasting effect on your career.

5. Don't leave your employer in a bind

As you finish your last days at work, try to wrap up any unfinished business so that your boss and company have an easier time transitioning without you. You can work on wrapping up projects, helping other employees or new hires take them over, and tie up any loose ends that can't be completed without you. You should create a list of tasks that you need to complete before you leave your job so you don’t leave your boss stranded.

6. Maintain positive references

Even if you feel like you worked in a toxic environment where everyone was catty, you should take the high road and not tell people what you really think on your last days. Have a smile on your face as you finish out your final days and make sure that people remember you as a happy, hardworking person. Your boss could serve as a reference for you in the future, and you don’t want to undo all of the hard work you’ve done by coming off as ungrateful in the last few weeks at your company.

And finally,

7. Keep colleagues in the loop

Take the time to let your colleagues know that you’re leaving the company. You don’t have to tell each and every person that you’re leaving, and you can decide to notify people you don’t interact with frequently by email if it’s necessary. However, if there are people you’ve built connections with, or even just people you’ve been working with for years, then you may be surprised by how sad they will be to see you go. Make sure you collect contact information for the colleagues you want to stay in touch with!

What has your experience been like leaving a job? Let us know in the comments below, or contact us! 


Relevant References

Knight, R. (2014 December 04). How to Quit Your Job Without Burning Bridges. Retrieved May 17, 2016, from

Guerro, A. (2013 August 12). 8 Ways to Graciously Quit Your Job | Careers | US News. Retrieved May 18, 2016, from

How to Give Notice at Work (with Pictures) - wikiHow. (n.d.). Retrieved May 18, 2016, from