Deciding How Much Notice to Give

By Joe Stein

For a Job Seeker, this should be a good problem to have…the need to make a decision regarding how much notice to give your current employer.  Giving (and accepting) notice is a business courtesy that has occurred for generations.  It is usually a situation that is mutually beneficial, as it provides you the opportunity to tie up loose ends either at work or personally, while giving the company a chance to find and perhaps train a replacement for your spot.

You may be concerned about what your new employer will think about you wanting to give notice.  Although they should want you to start as soon as possible, almost all employers will fully understand your desire to give some type of notice.  The discussion with your new employer may be getting their buy-in on how much notice.  If your new company is pressuring you to not give any notice, then I would question their ethics and business morals.  If this company will not accept this common business courtesy, what other “shortcuts” will they take?  Personally, I question when a new hire claims they do not have to give notice (or only give a very minimum amount of time), as it causes me to think they will do the same type of thing to my company when they decide to leave.

There are several primary options to consider when determining how much notice to provide to your current employer.  Let’s examine some of your possibilities to consider.

 -  Giving No Notice – This one can be very tempting for a departing employee.  You may be considering doing this for some very legitimate reasons. If you are like many, you want to start your new job as quickly as possible, in particular if it pays you considerably more than you are currently making.  It also may feel pretty awkward (or even guilty) to give notice and have everyone know you are leaving them.  You may also be tempted to not give notice, knowing that your employer has a reputation for not accepting a notice period and ending your employment immediately.  For most people, however, the desire to not give any notice is tied to wanting to “stick it” to your current employer.  It may be because you feel they have not treated you well and you want to leave them shorthanded without your services or access to your knowledge for training.  I, however, always recommend at least offering notice, even if it is for a minimal time period such as one week.  If your employer does not want to take advantage of it and ends your employment, then it is their loss and you can start your new job earlier, knowing you tried to do the right thing.  The business world can be a small one and you don’t want your reputation to be how you left without any notice.

 -  Giving One Week Notice – It is the standard minimum amount of notice period to be offered.  This is the typical notice time for someone working in a retail or service type of role.  This may also be the notice offered if you were not with the company very long before deciding that the position (or the company) was not right for you.  I don’t think any new employer should be upset by your desire to provide a minimum amount of notice, such as one week.

 -  Giving Two Weeks of Notice – This is the overall standard amount of notice to be offered to your current employer, and what I would recommend in the vast majority of situations.  If you are in a professional or managerial type of role, this should be the minimum amount of notice that you would offer. I would not expect your pending new employer to have any concern by your desire to give two weeks of notice but if they do, then this may be a warning sign to you.

 -  Giving One Month Notice – This longer period of notice would be something to consider in more unique circumstances.  For example, if you have been with a company in your role for a very long time period (perhaps 10 years or more) and have specialized knowledge, this should be something to consider.  If you are in a senior leadership type of position (such as a Director or above), then providing a month of notice may be warranted.  You should be prepared to explain, to your pending new employer, the need to provide an extended notice period.

Outside of a very rare circumstance, giving notice is the right thing to do as you depart your current employer.  Determine how much notice is warranted based on a number of variables such as the work you do, the level you are at in the hierarchy of the organization, and how long you have been with the organization.  Don’t forget this is a good problem to have because it means you have a new job!

As always, best of luck in your job search.