Quitting Time: How Long Should You Stay After You’ve Resigned?

By Chelsea Babin

When you’ve found a new career opportunity and you’ve accepted the job offer, you’re on cloud 9! Nothing could bring you down from this 24/7 celebration! But wait—what about the job you still have? Resigning can be a tricky business, whether you like your current job or not, and it’s easy to be blind sighted by a potentially negative experience because you weren’t prepared.

Once the resignation process is behind you, celebrations can really kick into full gear, so you’ll want to get it over with as soon as possible. But how long should you stay after you’ve resigned? Here are a few ways you can determine the length of time you need before leaving one job behind and jumping into your awesome new opportunity:

> Company Policy is Key: Most companies should have a written policy about the amount of notice you’re required to give when resigning. Although two weeks is common, some companies require as little as no notice or as much as one full month’s notice. Knowing the official policy your company has on this will help you determine how long you need to stay, so make sure you find a copy of the company policy and let that dictate your resignation timeline.

> Unused Paid Time Off: Some organizations will simply compensate you for your unused paid time off while others will insert that paid time off into your required notice time. This should also be clearly listed in your company’s policy but, if it isn’t, you may inquire about this in your exit interview.

> Wrap up What You Can: Even if you’re in the middle of a huge project that you’re spearheading, you don’t owe it to your current employer to stay beyond the allotted resignation period. The best thing to do is to wrap up what you can and make sure your coworkers are up to speed on what you’ve been doing. Documentation is often incredibly helpful in these situations, as your replacement may not be found until well after you’ve left. Leave behind detailed notes of your processes and your progress on unfinished projects but don’t stick around waiting for the company to hire a replacement. You’ve got a shiny new job to start!

> Don’t Let Guilt Keep You for Too Long: There’s a difference between caring enough about your coworkers, projects, and your boss to give them your undivided attention in the period after you’ve resigned and letting guilt trick you into staying for too long. Just remember, the company policy is laid out with intention and it is their responsibility to make sure that period is long enough, not yours. Staying behind for extra time not only keeps you from moving on to your great new opportunity, it also lets your current company take advantage of the fact that you care. This is business and your bosses will understand your insistence on sticking to the company policy and only staying for the required amount of time.

> Let Your New Company Know Your Start Date ASAP: When you’ve finally resigned and determined the appropriate amount of time you need to stay, contact your new employer and let them know your start date as soon as possible. They’ll be thrilled to hear from you and you can start counting down the days until you move into your exciting new position. It’s the best part about resignation!

Now that you know how long you need to stay after you’ve resigned, it’s time to have an in-person resignation conversation with your boss. Then, write your resignation letter to HR. Using the proper procedure to determine how long you need to stay after you quit takes a lot of weight and guilt off of your shoulders so you can get back to the fun part of this whole experience—celebrating your great new job. Congratulations and best wishes!