These days, it’s rare to spend your entire career with one company, so at some point, you’re going to move on. People leave for any number of reasons—new, challenging opportunities, changing fields, or due to family-related matters. The trick is to do it in a way that won’t “burn any bridges.” The key to this process is writing a good two-week notice letter. Remember, you want to leave your job as smoothly and professionally as possible, as endings can be just as important as beginnings.
In this article, we’ll discuss the importance of a two-week notice letter, including:
What is a two-week notice letter?
Do you have to give a two-week notice?
Can you resign via email?
How to write a two-week notice letter (plus a template)
What is a two-week notice letter?
A two-week notice letter is exactly what it sounds like—a letter that informs your current employer of your intent to leave your job. While it's called a "two-week" notice letter, it's actually 10 business days. And while you’re not (usually) legally required to give notice, it’s a considerate thing to do and helps your manager and team handle your workload until your replacement is hired and trained.
Not all positions require the standard two-week notice. Depending on your position, you may be required to give more notice, or you might be able to use vacation/PTO to end your tenure sooner. Make sure to refer to your employee handbook or employment contract to determine the exit requirements for your company, and if your notice should be given to your supervisor or Human Resources.
Do you have to give two weeks' notice before leaving your job?
If you’re leaving a toxic work environment or being asked to do something illegal, then no—you don’t. But in general, the answer is yes, even if you work in an "at will” state (which means you or the employer can end employment at any time). It’s considered common courtesy, is typically expected, and will help you avoid “burning bridges.” It will also give your manager and HR the heads up that they’ll need to find someone to fill your position. This will help ease the transition and demonstrate that working there has been important to you. This could be helpful, especially if you might want to return to the company at some point or need a reference for a job down the road. It will also aid in maintaining your professional network.
Can you resign with an email?
You can, but it’s much better to have a face-to-face conversation first, so your manager isn't blindsided. Even if they're aware that you're planning to leave (due to a family issue or to go back to school), it's best to do it in person first, then follow up with the two weeks’ notice letter so that there are no misunderstandings and HR has documentation.
How to write a two-week notice letter
It might feel a little awkward or intimidating to write a two-week notice letter, especially if it’s early in your career. But there’s no need to “stress out” about it—it’s actually a very simple, straightforward letter. But there are a few components that should be included:
The full name, title, and address of the person you’re writing to. This keeps the tone of your letter more formal and professional.
State the reason for the letter. There's no need to "break the ice." Just come right out and state why you're writing it.
Give the reason that you’re leaving. This is optional—you can if you want to, but you don’t owe the company a detailed explanation, especially if you’re leaving on less-than-perfect terms.
Articulate your appreciation for the job you’ve held. This will help you end things on a positive note.
Conclude your letter with an offer to assist with the transition or finish up any work that you have. This shows you don’t want to leave your team “holding the bag.”
Sign off. Use a professional closing, such as “sincerely,” or “best wishes,” and then write your name.
That’s it! You don’t have to go into intricate detail, and this certainly isn’t the time to vent any frustrations you might have—remember, you want to maintain your good reputation! Just be clear, concise, and truthful.
If you’re ready to write your two-week notice letter, here is a sample template you can use to get started. Obviously, you'll want to fill in the specifics with the appropriate information and make adjustments as necessary.
Mary Allen Sunshine Company, Inc. 123 First Street Mainville, IL 60111
September 1, 2023
Dear Ms. Allen:
This letter will serve as notice of my resignation from Sunshine Company, effective two weeks from the above date, with my last day being September 15, 2023.
Please know that I did not come to this decision easily. I have found the last five years at Sunshine extremely rewarding and productive. I have enjoyed working with you and the team, and I have learned a great deal. However, I have been accepted into the law program at North Central University, which will fulfill a life-long dream of mine. I hope you will let me know how I can be of assistance to you during these two weeks. Obviously, I would be more than willing to train my replacement or ease the transition in any way I can.
I appreciate all the opportunities I have been given here at Sunshine Company, and I intend to continue producing the same high-quality work until my last day. I wish you and the company continued good luck and much success.
The bottom line
Writing a two-week notice letter might not be the most comfortable thing to do, but if you're ready to move on, it’s definitely the right thing. It’s infinitely better than running out the door one day shouting, “See you never!” or doing some “quiet quitting” as retaliation for a not-so-amazing work experience. By writing and submitting a two-week notice letter, you'll keep your professional reputation and network intact to help your career now and in the future.
Ready to move on? Check out our interview prep tool to help you land your next position.
A two-week notice letter is a letter that informs your current employer of your intent to leave your job.
While a two-week notice letter is not mandatory, it’s considered common courtesy and gives your employer the opportunity to hire and train your replacement with a minimum of disruption.
Keep your letter concise, professional, and to the point. You can provide a reason for leaving if you wish, but it isn’t required.