It can be tempting to quit your job by striding out of the office like a scene from a Hollywood movie. Indeed, generally you're under no legal obligation to give two weeks' notice before leaving a job. (Read the fine print of your contract, though -- you might be obligated to do so.) Yet, before you go slamming doors and calling the boss names, consider whether you need a nice job reference. Otherwise a hasty move could backfire badly.
Before accepting a dazzling new job on the other side of town, check your employment contract. Some employers include a minimum notice period before you can leave. Executive positions, for example, often have longer clauses of a month or more. After all, your role might be a hard one for the company to fill. If you're desperate to leave it helps to speak with your employer. Often, you can reach an agreement. Just don't start the discussions with "I'm desperate to leave this horrible place, can you help?"
Legally you can walk out of your job on the day, if your contract allows. However, etiquette still suggests offering two weeks' notice. This is generally what employers will expect from you. Anything less and you risk ruining your professional relationship with your current boss. That may mean bad references when you look for work in future. Equally, your employer is under no obligation to give you notice, unless stated in a work contract.
Some companies don't accept notice periods. So, although you might offer two weeks' notice, your employer could ask you to leave immediately. This is often a way to prevent you taking a few souvenirs with you. You know, like clients, office stationery or valuable trade secrets. In practice, most businesses don't behave with this level of paranoia. But, be prepared to leave right on the spot if you're asking to quit.
In some exceptional circumstances leaving a job without two weeks' notice may be essential. Sometimes, negative circumstances will push a person into this position. For example, cases of bullying or harassment might make your position untenable. If such a situation cannot be resolved by discussions with your manager, you could have no other option than to quit.
Based near London, U.K., Peter Mitchell has been a journalist and copywriter for over eight years. Credits include stories for "The Guardian" and the BBC. Mitchell is an experienced player and coach for basketball and soccer teams, and has written articles on nutrition, health and fitness. He has a First Class Bachelor of Arts (Hons.) from Bristol University.