As the saying goes, all good things come to an end — and often times that’s true for awful things too. If that good or awful thing is a job or career phase, having it end typically means planning an exit strategy, bowing out gracefully and telling your manager you’re quitting.
Quitting a job isn’t always a bad thing. Sure, you have your situations in which you’re miserable and ready to run out of there right now, but leaving a job may also mean you’re ready for bigger and better things. Or at least a raise and a promotion at another firm.
People quit their jobs all the time, and they do so in any number of ways. Some people storm out, stealing or breaking things along the way. Others make it known well in advance that they’re planning to quit, retire or otherwise move on. Some seemingly fade away — they stop showing up, and their colleagues forget all about them. There is a right way and wrong way, traditionally speaking, to go about quitting a job. How you do it, though, is ultimately dependent upon you and your circumstances.
But what if you’re just a prototypical employee who’s ready to move on, or has accepted a job somewhere else? You’re not angry or spiteful, for example, and just want to make the quitting process as smooth as possible. Well, you’re probably familiar with the general “two week’s notice” rule of thumb. That’s a good place to start.
A Two-Week Notice
The idea of giving your employer two week’s notice is that you’re doing them a professional courtesy by cluing them in to your plans. They’re going to have to replace you, in most circumstances, and by giving them a buffer to work with, that transition can be easier. It’s the same logic if you’re being fired or laid off — though that often doesn’t come with the courtesy of notifying you before it happens.
That’s the gist of the “two-week” rule. Though you’re not legally bound to or obligated to follow it, in most cases (you may want to review your contract for any exit regulations to see what rules may apply to you).
What’s the proper etiquette, though? Who better to quote than the folks at the Emily Post Institute, the keepers of all things etiquette-related?
Peggy Post, of the Post family and Post Institute, wrote a five-step plan for quitting in Good Housekeeping. The basic rundown is to tell your immediate supervisor, keep working hard, take care of your responsibilities and don’t burn bridges. Essentially, you’ll just want to handle it like an adult.
Remember, though: You can leave anytime you want, and never come back. Just remember: There are consequences for doing that.
Consider Your Overall Strategy
Professional courtesies aside, you’ll really need to take stock of your individual situation to know how and when to announce your resignation. While you might not like your boss or employer and spitefully want to walk out when it would hurt them the most, it may not be in your best interest to do so.
Basically, what you want to do is ensure you’re not doing any damage to your long-term career goals or strategy. This is why you want to be courteous — leaving on a bad note might cost you references or relationships down the road. If a potential employer calls the place you left and you didn’t go on good terms? That won’t help you land the new gig you’re hoping for. That’s why it’s a good idea to avoid these types of grudges and stop short of all out bridge-burning.
To sum it all up, consider your individual situation. In most cases, giving your boss a heads up two weeks out is appropriate. Most people expect it, and it’ll save you from ruffling too many feathers.
[Editor’s Note: Remember, many employers look at a version of your credit report as part of the application process. Because of this, it’s a good idea to know where your credit stands. You can see your free credit report snapshot, updated every 14 days, on Credit.com.]
This article originally appeared on The Cheat Sheet.