What is a Notice Period?

So, you were offered a better job opportunity – congratulations! You’re on to bigger and better opportunities that will tap into your passions, and elevate your financial trajectory for years to come. But before you allow yourself to get too carried away, you still need to dissolve your current contract. Despite your reason for departure, leaving a company is bittersweet.

While you’ll probably celebrate your final day with your colleagues, however, every day before then will be filled with responsibilities to supplement the transition period, and fill out the necessary exit-interviews or paperwork. 

When urged to withdraw yourself from your workspace, it’s professional to send your employer a letter of resignation that allows the current employer an adequate time-period to prepare for your departure. This is also referred to as a notice period. A notice period begins the moment you submit a letter of resignation and ends on your last working day.

Related Reading: How to Give Two Weeks Notice

Why is a notice so important?

Once you’ve decided to resign, regardless of the degree of negativity pertained in your current workspace, it’s important to do so professionally and courteously. Failure to do so results in causing tremendous chaos for your current workspace. It’s unprofessional and apathetic.

In contrast, a notice alludes to common courtesy and more importantly, respect for your coworkers. Here are more reasons as to why it is pivotal that you do leave an adequate notice period

Adequate notice periods enable a smooth transition for the organization and the team.

It’s important to give a notice period to your workspace because the process of recruitment is often lengthy. Your notice prompts the transition of your team and organization to begin the process of the job posting, perusing applicants, beginning the interview procedure, and finally hiring an employee replacement.

In the interim, it allows space for your current employer to delegate the duties entailed in your position to others.

If you spontaneously opted for a breach of contract, your team would undergo serious distress to fill-in on your end which isn’t fair to anyone.

This will also burn bridges, possible lawsuits, and a hopeless chance of any form of recommendation or references. 

A notice period is important if you intend on leaving your workspace on a positive note.

It’s important to leave your workspace on a positive note. Giving a notice period is a good way to do so. It allows your team to be prepared rather than irritated. It is another way to maintain a thriving professional network and connections which will always serve you when you require a reference. 

A notice period is necessary if you intend to abide by the terms and conditions of employment contract. 

You have previously signed an employment contract with terms and conditions during your probationary period. The terms of employment instated a notice period to be given at the end of your employment contract. Therefore, if you do consider a breach of conduct, you would be performing misconduct. 

How long do you need for a notice period? 

The average notice period is about two weeks. The time does vary in respect to your degree of seniority. The higher up the hierarchy, the longer your notice period is expected to be. However, there are a few factors to keep in mind when trying to determine the length of your notice period, such as: 

You must understand the exit-policy in your employment contract or employee manual.

Each work environment is different, and each contract is different too. It is important to do your due diligence to identify the clause or condition that is in your contract (or employee manual) that depicts the minimum notice period of a resignation process.

Use the details of your employment contract or the employee manual as your guide. Keep in mind that your current employer may ask you to prolong your notice period due to specific hindrances, if possible, allow it. 

How long did you spend with the company? 

Depending on the time you spent with the company, you need to allow a notice period to undergo that. The average notice period is two weeks, but it could last for a month. It could, of course, extend too much longer if you are higher up in the hierarchy. 

Is it vacation time in your department?

Be transparent. If you plan to have your previously booked vacation and never return, it’s important to communicate that. Set a meeting to communicate your plans of discontinuing post-vacation. Be considerate of the situation at hand, and understand that your employer may or may not honor your leave. 

Do you work in a team? 

Be considerate of your coworkers and organizations. If many are on vacation or parental leave, this will hinder the company’s efforts to meet their deadlines. Be flexible and allow some additional time so that you do not cause further inconvenience. This will work in your favor when you need a reference. 

Are you in the midst of a major project for your company?

Another aspect that affects a notice period is your quality of work and particular specialization. Consider the time required to mentor and train others to carry-on positions and to assume unfinished tasks.

If you are working on a large project, you need someone with a specialized set of skills to execute it in your absence. However, it would be the best if you would complete the project at hand before the end of your working period, or your notice period. 

Is it the end of the financial year?

Companies often work around the fiscal calendar. Toward the end of it, they are working to complete projects and set new goals and challenges for the upcoming year. Therefore, it’s important to keep that in mind when planning for a notice period. 

Why are you resigning? What are your goals? 

Be sure that you’re moving for a purpose and alignment with your current goals. It’s important to make a shift to what’s in your best interest. At this point, you’re probably set to carefully articulate your reason for quitting your job.

It’s important to provide constructive input about the new job opportunity that tailors to your skill-set and allows you to bloom into your highest potential. Your professional goals should also help you determine the length of your notice period. 

Overall, you need to use your judgment and opt for strategic timing. There is no such thing as a perfect time to quit your job or to have a hard conversation.

However if you could allow for more time to override the inconveniences, the process will be smoother and your reputation will be inspired. Considering these many factors will elevate your trajectory and self-image when you’re ready to move on to bigger and better things. 

Is it the right time to have this conversation? 

A two weeks’ notice makes your resignation period more fluid, but it needs to come down to whether or not this is the right time to quit. If you’re in the process of an unfinished major project or assignment, hold off a bit on submitting your resignation to maintain stability. If you choose not to, you will unnecessarily burden your colleagues. 

That said, if the culture of your current workspace is truly toxic, then you have to focus on your best interests. 

How can you bring up the process of resignation clearly and effectively?

An effective way to communicate a resignation in a scheduled professional meeting – even if there is an available open-door policy. This avoids the bombardment during the hurdles of day-to-day tasks. It is important to note that the very first person who should know about your plans to move on professionally should be your supervisor.

Although you will also need to eventually communicate this to your HR department, your supervisor should be the first to know. Otherwise, it may be perceived as offensive as this is already a very sensitive topic.

In this meeting, tell your supervisor why you’re leaving, share a plan of transition, and thank them for this experience. This meeting is sheer discussion and collaboration so be prepared for various outcomes on either side of the spectrum. Either way, don’t take it personally.

This discussion could even spur into a counter offer. If it comes to it, then you have to make a decision. If you’re looking to smooth an uncomfortable conversation, then you just need to stay strong, positive, and professional.  

The next step is to put it in writing which ultimately means providing your current employer with a formal letter of resignation. The best practices to submit the most effective and professional resignation letter yet are:

  • Be clear and consistent with the information you pertain to.
  • State the position you are resigning from.
  • Be clear as to when your final working day will be
  • Include your (positive) reason for resignation as well as your last working day. 
  • Be gracious for the opportunity, the support, and the management services. 
  • Avoid negativity at all costs. This is not the place to rant about your inconveniences at work or petty debates. Being emotionally reactive will only burn bridges. It isn’t worth it. 
  • Offer flexibility to support the transition phase, but do not promise anything you cannot deliver. 

It’s worth mentioning that the company will keep your resignation letter for documentation, as well as future references. Here’s a sample letter to guide you in the process of serving a letter of resignation to your current employer: 


Dear Mr./Mrs. [Supervisor’s last name],

This is my formal resignation from my current position at [Company Name] as an [position] effective on [final working day], [notice period] weeks from today. 

I am so gracious for the opportunity to work with your thriving community. I truly appreciate all of your support and experiences that were made working and progressing with the [department]. 

I will readily and proactively do everything I can to help during this transition period. I am willing to train anyone who will fill my position anytime between now and [final working day]. 

Thank you for being so understanding of my effort to pursue [career goal]. May you have a continued legacy of success in all of your future endeavors.  


[Your Name]

What are the most common mistakes made when attempting a resignation?

These are the most common mistakes that people make during the resignation process. You need to avoid these measures at all costs. 

  • It’s always a bad idea when an employee does not dare to resign in person.
  • It lacks serious professionalism when an employee resigns without giving notice.
  • It is not advisable to resign without a formal resignation letter.
  • It shows that you are emotionally reactive and immature when you choose to resign on impulse. 
  • It is not intelligent to cause a scene or drama in a professional atmosphere.
  • It is a sign of severe immaturity if you resort to damaging records. 
  • It is a sign of a lack of integrity when you resort to slacking off during your notice period. 
  • Bragging about your upcoming job opportunity is always a bad idea in a professional environment. 
  • Ranting about your current company on your social platform indicates that you are not trustworthy. 
  • Telling colleagues of your plans to resign before your supervisor is offensive. 
  • Bad-mouthing about your supervisor or colleagues will only make you look bad. 
  • Not saying goodbye displays indifference and will sever the bonds you’ve made at the workplace

Here are some graceful exit strategies: 

Remain positive

Do not badmouth your employer when explaining your reason for departure. You should either reform that sentence into a positive form about your pursuit of a different trajectory of work or avoid having that conversation altogether. It won’t result in friendship, but rather it’ll result in alienated colleagues and a tainted reputation. A better choice is to end your working period with dignity, grace, and professionalism.

Limit your talk about your new opportunity

Although you are excited, try to limit talk of your new job opportunity. Try not to flaunt it, but instead be humble and brief. Instead, focus on your current hurdle and get through this phase while fulfilling all the notice period requirements.

Offer to stay longer, if possible

Be flexible and willing to extend your notice period if your employer asks. This will make your current employer think highly of you. If you absolutely cannot, it is understandable. However, be apologetic and do your best to supplement the situation while you can. 

Prepare handover notes for your successor

These notes should include the following: 

  • A holistic briefing of your current role, and all the tasks that you should be attending to.
  • A detailed list of unfinished or pending tasks.
  • A clear list of all deadlines, upcoming projects, and events.
  • A description of how to perform or troubleshoot critical tasks. 
  • A clear indication of the whereabouts of important documents, resources, organization system, etc.
  • A compiled list of all of the important people that your replacement will need to collaborate with. 
  • A document with the contact information for important stakeholders. 
  • A reminder of recurring meetings
  • All passwords, usernames, and access codes.
  • A policy handbook (especially if there is a specialist version).
  • Reminders or hacks of how to do the job efficiently.
  • Links for locations of files on the internal network.

As an additional step, you could include a detailed outline to train your replacement. 

What now?

You’ll probably have to undergo exit interviews. During your exit interview, they will ask you about your experiences working at the company, and with your team. This career guide wouldn’t encourage you to lie.

However, it is not worth ruining your exit interview by bad-mouthing, complaining, or ranting about anyone. This will not affect them in any way, but rather it will only make you seem untrustworthy and possibly like a burden. It also expends an unnecessary amount of energy to foster that anger. At all costs, remain objective and brief. It’s merely standard procedure. 

Nonetheless, you can breathe easily now because the challenging part is over. You are free to start fantasizing about and preparing for your new job opportunity.