How to Give Your Two-Week Notice the Right Way
Katelynn Weingart, a software engineer at LaunchPad Lab, began her career far away from the tech world, working for pharmaceutical companies designing medical devices. With a degree in biomedical engineering, it seemed like her career path was set in stone.
What changed? She simply realized it wasn’t her passion. “I had a great job working with great companies, but it just didn’t excite me the way I am excited about my job now,” she said. Transitioning into software engineering was tough, and sometimes scary — but today, she is confident she made the right decision.
What to Do Before Writing Your Two-Week Notice Letter
- Have a conversation with your manager.
- Explore other avenues at your current job.
- Delegate your responsibilities to your coworkers.
- Negotiate your resignation period.
Whether you’re looking to make the next logical step in your professional trajectory, or are switching careers entirely, there are few things more intimidating than putting in your two-week notice. “You have all this guilt going in, right? You went to college for something, or you’ve been working in this field for a while. It’s hard to say, ‘I don’t think this is for me,’” Weingart said. It’s easy to let that anxiety prevent you from asserting your needs, or to let the excitement of beginning a new job distract you from responsibly wrapping up your current obligations. But a well-planned resignation not only helps out your coworkers and managers — it establishes a strong foundation of people who can vouch for you. If you have the confidence to manage your transition and successfully jump into a new role, the people around you will have that same confidence in you.
Know When It’s Time to Move On
Sometimes it’s crystal clear when you need to resign from a job. “At every job, you’re going to have days where you’re not excited,” Weingart said. “But if you’re getting the Sunday scaries, and those bad days are bleeding into your time away from work, that’s a sign that it might be time to change.”
Being stuck in place for too long can take a professional and emotional toll. Burnout is very real, so first try seeking out other career avenues at your current company before abandoning it entirely. “One thing I always ask in exit interviews is, ‘Did you explore other opportunities within the company before you made the decision to leave?’” said Elles Skony, head of people at XSELL Technologies, a B2C sales software company. “And my heart always breaks when the answer’s no.”
“Never feel stuck. Always feel like you can explore what you’re passionate and excited about. Because that’s how you’re going to be successful.”
Make your needs clear to your managers, and let them know what your career goals are — they might be able to find a path within your company that gets you there. If you’ve taken these steps and still feel unsatisfied, be confident that you’re doing what’s best for you, even if the decision is scary.
“Never feel stuck,” Weingart said. “Always feel like you can explore what you’re passionate and excited about. Because that’s how you’re going to be successful.”
Resigning Properly Helps You Long-Term
Tying up loose ends at your current role before moving on to a future company is crucial for many reasons beyond closure. Leaving a position on good terms and maintaining positive relationships with your past coworkers can support your career progress far into the future.
“You don’t want to burn any bridges,” Weingart said. “Especially if you’re staying in a similar industry. You’d be surprised how many people show up at a different company that you worked with in the past.” While her current software development role feels worlds away from her past work in the medical field, Weingart explained that it’s still important for her to tend to those past connections, because she can’t be sure when they might come in handy. “At LaunchPad Lab, we work with some medical companies and do web development for them, so keeping those networks is important,” she said.
“You’d be surprised how many people show up at a different company that you worked with in the past.”
Don’t neglect your work relationships, those connections could bring you an exciting opportunity moving forward. XSELL Technologies is just one of many companies with an awareness of their alumni networks — “everyone that leaves our company becomes a referral, or a client, or some other kind of contact,” Skony said. Even if you can’t see their value today, you never know if you’ll have to rely on those connections later in life.
Resignation Periods Are Negotiable
Two weeks is the standard for most industries, but there is room for flexibility, especially in tech roles. If you’re a software engineer in the middle of a project, you’ll need to plot out a resignation plan that gives you ample time to finish your tasks, or to at least adequately pass them on to someone else.
“I do think it’s best practice to at least give a little warning,” Weingart said. “But in my case, I’ve sometimes given three weeks or four weeks when I’ve been in a tech-heavy role. It might take a little bit longer to transition.” Try to avoid giving less than a two-week notice when leaving a company, and, most importantly, create a realistic timeline for your departure, so you don’t leave anyone scrambling on unfinished projects you left behind.
“Try to think of what you will achieve if you give a two-week notice, and what you won’t, before you even put in your notice.”
Skony says that fully preparing the details of your transition plan and sharing that with your managers and teammates will reduce everyone’s stress. “Try to think of what you will achieve if you give a two-week notice, and what you won’t, before you even put in your notice,” she said. “That way you’ll come to that conversation really prepared, and won’t waste a few of those days, figuring your plan out.”
Delegate Your Responsibilities
For developers and engineers, leaving a job also means leaving behind a to-do list for your teammates to work on. It’s essential that you prepare your coworkers as best you can to take on your responsibilities when you’re gone, especially with code-heavy projects.
“You have to document the things you’ve been working on, and then meet with your managers to figure out who has the bandwidth to take them on,” Weingart said. “Then have separate meetings with those people, and walk them through the code, make sure they understand what you’ve been working on.” Technical projects often require more context and explanation that an email alone can’t provide — be sure to have detailed conversations so that you’re on the same page with coworkers.
Always Have a Conversation
A written notice is usually a requirement so that HR can finalize a date for your departure, but you should always pair it with a conversation, or multiple conversations, with your team leaders. “I see the written notice as a formality,” Skony said. “Definitely don’t send it as the first step of resigning.”
“Focus on your resume, instead of just the company you’re at. Talk about what you want to do in the future, and what skills you need to learn to do that.”
A conversation with your manager gives you the chance to explain your situation in a way that a written note can’t convey. You can also use this final meeting to ask your managers if they can send any opportunities your way that align with your needs. “Focus on your resume, instead of just the company you’re at. Talk about what you want to do in the future, and what skills you need to learn to do that,” Skony said. You can’t ask your manager to find you a new job — but you can ask them for support in building out a more well-rounded skill set.
Ultimately, keep your final meetings with your managers positive. Beginning a position with a new company is exciting, so don’t be afraid to let your excitement shine through.
“A two-week notice is daunting to bring it up to your manager,” Weingart said. “But you’ve obviously thought this through. Most people don’t take that lightly. Just be confident in your decision.”