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By Gina Belli / PayScale
July 27, 2016
Mixed race businesswoman holding tablet computer that reads 'I quit!!
Mixed race
Blend Images/Ariel Skelley—Getty Images

Quitting a job isn’t always easy. Regardless of whether you were happy or miserable with the company, anticipating the conversation you need to have with your boss can make you feel pretty nervous and uncomfortable, especially if the announcement will come as a big surprise. But, you’ve made up your mind and this is what you’re going to do. The only question now is, how much notice should you give? Here are some things to keep in mind to help you determine the best course of action.

  1. Is there a special calendar or fiscal year consideration?

Some job positions, like teaching, are tied fundamentally to a certain schedule. In these cases, it makes the most sense to time your exit for the end of the “year” to ensure an easy transition for the organization and the new person who will step in to fill your shoes. Not that some teachers (or other professionals tied similarly to a unique calendar) don’t leave at other times, but it’s probably not what’s best for the organization, and there is no need to burn bridges on your way out the door.

  1. At least two weeks’ notice is almost always best.

Tradition, and etiquette, dictate that you ought to give at least two weeks’ notice when quitting a job. Walking away with less warning than that puts your employer in a difficult situation, and doesn’t do anything for strengthening your bond with your manager either. Keep in mind that you’ll likely want to use these folks as a reference in the future. You want to do right by this organization right up until your very last day, which shouldn’t be the same day that you announce that you’re leaving.

  1. But, you don’t want to hang around too long either.

Once you’ve announced that you’re leaving a job, things could get a little uncomfortable around your workplace; people immediately begin to treat you differently. Coworkers respond in a variety of ways to this kind of transition, but once you’re seen as having one foot out the door, folks around the office might start to treat you like you’ve already left. So, it might be best to not stick around for too long, either; sticking around for three months or longer is a bad idea, for example. Plus, there’s no reason to drag out the transition period much longer than that.

  1. More workers are quitting on the spot…

…but that doesn’t make it right. Still, quitting in the heat of the moment is happening more these days, according to a recent article in The Wall Street Journal. Perhaps this increase is a result of economic factors; for example, maybe workers feel they’ve been “overworked and undervalued” for far too long. And, perhaps others aren’t aware of the traditional two weeks’ notice rule. Whatever the case may be, quitting a job with no notice could burn the bridges you’ve worked so hard to build. However, if you’re in a situation where a manager is abusive, or the working conditions are simply untenable, this price might, understandably, seem worth it to you.

When you decide to move on from your job, take the time to carefully consider how and when to let your manager know about your plans. It’s always better to make decisions with a cool and level head rather than in the heat of the moment.