When it comes to quitting etiquette, giving two weeks’ notice—rather than dramatically sweeping everything off your desk and running out yelling about your newfound freedom—is one of the basic rules.
But the reality is, it’s not always so cut and dried.
Often, two weeks is plenty to tie up loose ends, plan your transition, and say your goodbyes. Other times, staying even two weeks is just prolonging the awkwardness. But occasionally, two weeks is a laughably short time to settle your affairs, and adding another week or so might be a good idea—not only for keeping you in good graces with your colleagues, but also for your own peace of mind.
Here are a few reasons it might make sense for you to give more than two weeks’ notice—and bring yourself one step closer to landing those coveted LinkedIn recommendations after you leave.
1. Your contract requires a longer notice period.
While the other reasons on this list are ultimately up to your discretion, this one is not. Check your employee handbook and any initial paperwork you signed when you started your job (like a contract or offer letter). Do they mention any rules about giving more than two weeks’ notice? If so, you likely need to serve out the full notice period you agreed to.
2. Your to-do list can’t reasonably be completed in 10 business days.
How many emails are in your inbox—more specifically, how many emails that need follow-up? I’m not suggesting that you need to reply to every single email before you pack up your desk, but the number of emails, requests in your queue, or notifications on your team’s project management software that you have hanging is a great gauge of how much tying up you’ll have to do before you leave.
Before you give notice, scan through your outstanding tasks. Do a quick calculation of how much time it would take you to resolve each of the requests or how long it would take you to responsibly pass them off to someone else. If the work will take you more than one full week, then it’s probably a good idea to tack on another few days to your two weeks, given the business of quitting itself will likely eat up at least a week of your remaining time with this company.
3. You leaving in two weeks would jeopardize important projects—and relationships.
Apart from the smaller day-to-day tasks, think about any bigger-picture initiatives you’re working on and how your departure might affect them. For example, if you’re helping with a major deal-clinching presentation coming up in three weeks or a conference next month that’s been in the works for the past year, cutting out in two weeks will probably throw off those projects—and possibly damage your company’s reputation and your relationships with coworkers in the process.
No matter what you do, you’ll no doubt have developed some important professional connections at your company. Part of leaving gracefully means making sure those relationships are left on the best terms possible before you clock out for the last time. And part of leaving on the best terms possible means not leaving people in the lurch.
As soon as you suspect you might be out the door, start taking the temperature of all your projects. Try to anticipate how your departure might impact them and the people you work with, and make sure your exit date gives you and your colleagues a workable cushion.
4. Your quick departure will upend your team.
Whether you manage a team or you’re part of one, there’s no doubt your departure will most impact those who might depend on you to get their jobs done. And even if you think you’ve cleared the two-week check so far, don’t overlook how your team will feel if you check out in 10 business days.
If you have direct reports, spend some time going through each individual’s file and make notes of where they are with their career progression plans, goals, and any special projects. If you have an employee taking an important certification exam in a month, for example, leaving in two weeks might wreak havoc on their study plans, not to mention their confidence. If you’re part of a team, the same applies. Consider any unique job duties you perform, for example—how long will it take to train a coworker (or multiple coworkers) to cover you?
Leave too soon, and you’ll risk losing the respect you’ve worked hard to earn. Give your team enough time to get into position (OK, but not too much), and they’ll appreciate the extra effort.
5. It would be helpful if you hired or started the search for your replacement.
If your job requires specialized knowledge or experience and it may take a while to help find a replacement—whether temporary or permanent—you may want to offer to help your employer at least start the process. Ask yourself if you’re uniquely suited to help them move to hire someone for your role, whether by writing up a job description, reaching out to your network for potential candidates, conducting initial interviews, or doing something else. If the help you’re able to provide would take longer than two weeks—and you have that extra time to spare—you might want to consider giving more than two weeks’ notice.
How to give more than two weeks’ notice
The process for giving more than two weeks’ notice is very similar to giving the standard two weeks’ notice. You’ll want to:
- Tell your boss first—and discuss your last day. Give your notice face-to-face if possible. You should go into your conversation with your end date in mind, but also let your boss know if it can be flexible. They may ask you to stay even longer than the three or so weeks you had in mind. But know your limits, and don’t agree to stay beyond them.
- Write a formal resignation letter (if needed) and don’t forget to include your last day of work.
- Tell close coworkers and direct reports personally. Hop on a quick call or have a short chat with the people you work with most and fill them in on your departure plans. If possible, do this before word gets out otherwise, so they don’t worry about what’s going to happen when you’re gone.
- Prepare a transition document. Write out all of your current job duties as well as who you recommend to take them over until your replacement is hired. Include any processes or information that other people might not know and share it with everyone your departure might affect.
- Tie up loose ends. Remember all the reasons you decided to stay longer? Now’s the time to address them. If you offered to help jump start the process to find your replacement, be sure to stick to your word. Train anyone who will be taking over tasks or projects for you once you leave and tackle that to-do list!
Yes, convention has us believing that all we “have” to give is two weeks, but there are definitely times when that just isn’t enough. Take a look at these considerations before making the decision, and you’ll help maintain your good reputation for all the jobs you’ll have in the future.
Regina Borsellino contributed writing, reporting, and/or advice to this article.