girl weighing pros and consA new friend of mine came to me over the weekend in a panic. She’d been interviewing for a new job and was “unofficially” offered the position. I say unofficially because, as of that date, she had yet to receive an offer letter.

My friend and the hiring manager had previously discussed a start date. And after a few weeks passed without receiving an official letter and confirmation of the start date, she was beginning to worry.

Now, it wasn’t so much that she figured the company had changed its mind (as I began to wonder after hearing her story) but because of her resignation letter.

She needed to put in her two week’s notice, but when? The discussed start date seemed to be getting closer and closer without a word from the employer, and as my friend explained, she did not want to run out of time to put in her resignation.

This led me to think about the proper way to resign; does such a thing truly exist?

A February 2014 CNBC article referenced the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, or JOLTS report, which revealed that roughly 2.4 million employees quit their jobs at the end of 2013.

And according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 4.5 million total separations— quits, layoffs and discharges, and other separations—in June 2014. With the quits rate at 1.8 percent, that means roughly 81,000 people resigned from their jobs last month.

With the number of employees voluntarily leaving on the rise, I’m sure many have asked themselves the question, “Is there a ‘best’ way to resign?”

What I (and most people I know) learned was to always put in a two week’s notice—so much so that I’ve been under the impression failing to do so was somehow illegal—or at least a sketchy business practice, like beginning a job without the employer first giving you a written job offer.

But according to findlaw.com, employees don’t necessarily have to give two week’s notices unless they’re employment agreement specifies a specific contract, which in that case it may help to do so.

The article explains:

Most workers in the United States are what’s called “at will” employees. That means their employment contract can be ended at any time and for any reason.

That right goes both ways. Just like your employer can fire you at any time, you can also walk in and quit at any time without giving any notice at all. Doing that wouldn’t violate your agreement.

Then again, there are also employees who are hired for a specific period of time. In that case, leaving early would likely break your contract. Depending on what your contract says, two weeks’ notice may not be enough [to] keep you out of trouble.

With the rise of telecommuting, remote working and the contingent workforce, it just may be a good habit for all types of workers to draw up a notice before resigning. But, before you do, here are four simple things to consider:

Don’t put in your notice before you have received an official offer letter. In my friend’s case, although she’d verbally been offered the job, she had yet to receive a written offer. Don’t run and tell your boss you’re quitting before you not only have a written offer for a new position but have accepted it. You don’t want to quit your job in a rush, and unfortunately, your “new” job fall through.

This, however, does not apply if you are not quitting your job because you have a new role lined up.

Determine the best way to deliver the news. Telling your boss face-to-face that you’re no longer going to be working for him/her seems like common sense, right? Yet, with how and where we work evolving, believe it or not, some people have never met their boss in person.

In a U.S. News & World Report article, “8 Ways to Graciously Quit Your Job,” Aaron Guerrero writes:

The type of organization you work for and position you hold may dictate a different approach to how you break the news, says Sue Fox, author of “Business Etiquette for Dummies.”

Fox went on to say, Guerrero writes, that it’s generally best to schedule a meeting and let your boss know in person. “It just makes a better impression,” Fox says, adding that it “shows respect, self-confidence and that you have strong interpersonal skills.”

If you’re a full-time remote worker or cannot meet in person with your boss or the company that has contracted you, at least schedule a Skype call with your boss before sending him/her the notice.

Calculate estimated time between paychecks to ensure you’re covered financially.

If you for sure have to start a new job by a certain date, this step may not apply. But, if your new employer has given you some flexibility, ensure you look at your finances before deciding when to put in a two week’s notice. There will most likely be a gap between your last paycheck and your first check from the new job; make sure you give yourself enough time to cover the costs.

Be prepared for a counter offer.

Also consider that your employer may present a counter offer once you put in your resignation. Are you certain nothing will keep you at your current job, or do you have a list of “demands” that, if granted, could change your mind about leaving? Consider a possible counter offer and how you would handle it before turning in your notice. Think about the reasons you’ve decided to quit and be firm in your decision to leave—or to still leave if XYZ isn’t included in a counter offer. You don’t want to jump on a bigger number from your current employer without considering your other initial reasons for resigning.



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