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Two Weeks Notice Is For Sandwich Artists

Q: I’m about to quit my job. Is two weeks notice the right thing to do?

Yes. If you work at Subway.

There was a point in your life where giving two weeks notice was the right thing to do, and that moment passed the minute you got your first professional job. If you identify as a designer and you’re working as a designer then you have a professional job. Which means you have to quit like a professional. I’ll tell you how.

First off, unless your boss is an idiot, they already know you’re leaving. Everyone leaves. And a good boss starts preparing for you to leave the day you start your job. I’m a boss. And I see it as my job to prepare you for your next job. I know you’re going to leave someday. No matter how much energy I put into “company culture”, pay you, no matter what kind of work you are doing, or how much you originally claimed this was your “dream job” — at some point another job will come along that will spark your curiosity more than this one. This is normal and good. It shows you’re growing.

When I hire people I have no expectation they’ll be in this job forever. And I tell them that! I let them know that if they’re getting the urge to leave, I can help them line up their next job. Suggest places they might want to apply. Even make some phone calls to set up interviews. In turn, this also gives me more time to start finding their replacement. No one has yet to take me up on this. And I don’t expect they will any time soon. Probably because it conjures up images of Admiral Ackbar waving his little calamari flippers around like an anime sex muppet and screaming “it’s a trap!” I get it. I’ll keep saying it anyway.

But the minute you start lining up four dentist appointments a week I know you’re interviewing for jobs. It strikes me as odd that we’ve all decided it’s ok to start lying to each other when we start job hunting. But, again, I get it. Bosses can be weird and petty. It’s just weird. Plus, I already figured out you were leaving, so it’s not a good lie. Back to the two week notice thing…

You’re a professional. Your notice needs to be based on your workload, not a specific period of time. Tell your boss you’ll be leaving at the end of your current project, or a specific task that’s on your plate. And depending on how high up you are in the organization the amount of time between telling your boss you’re leaving and actually leaving is going to grow. But you don’t need to worry about that quite yet. Since you’re just starting out I’d aim to give your boss about a month’s notice. That gives them time to start looking for your replacement, and lets them know that you’re committed to getting the work done.

Also, if I’m about to hire you away from your old job there’s nothing more reassuring than hearing that you can’t start for a month because you need to finish your current work. Even if I was hoping to get you in sooner, that lets me know I hired a professional. And gives me hope that when they leave my shop they’ll behave the same way.

But what if you’re fed up and just want to leave? I’ve been there. Remember you’re a professional. And ask yourself how many bridges you want to burn on your way out. If the answer is “all of them” then go ahead and walk. Just don’t be surprised by the consequences of that act.

Here’s where it gets shitty. The minute you give notice, you need to be ready for your boss to just walk you out the door. (Especially if you work in an “at will” state like California.) I’ve done this myself. With employees who were being so disruptive and negative that I just wanted them out of the shop. And I ended up giving them severance even though they quit. I might be an idiot. But I felt bad about just kicking them out on their ass. It was the right thing for the shop though.

The important thing to remember is that you can only control your own behavior. And you want to walk out with your head held high. So quit the right way. Finish your work. Maybe even help train your replacement. But the two week notice thing? That’s for sandwich artists.