How Much Notice Should You Give When Leaving a Job?

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Almost everyone is faced with the prospect of leaving their job at some point. Whether you have decided to move, change fields, accepted a better offer, or just wanted to quit, the very idea of offering your ‘two weeks’ notice’ can drive fear into the most forthright employee. Even worse, many employees do not know the various options they have for leaving a job – especially when you leave for another, more lucrative, position. Deciding how much notice you should give when leaving a job is anything but easy.

Before even considering the alternative options available for leaving a job, you must first perform your due diligence. In some cases, an employment contract may exist which specifically details the conditions under which you are allowed to leave your position. These terms must be followed exactly. This information is typically easy to find. If you did not retain a copy of your employment agreement yourself and do not wish to tip off your employer that you may be leaving, you are entitled to a review of your employment file and can easily locate the information.

Next, you must consider the nature of your job. Those in unique positions that may be hard to fill or those in management positions may need to consider giving some additional notice. In some instances it can be helpful to discuss your move with a manager to determine what their expectations are. The general rule of thumb is two weeks and most employees tend to stick with these guidelines.

Unfortunately, in some cases it may be necessary to leave with less than the typical two week notice. This is especially true when an employee that is leaving to pursue another position which they need to start soon. While an employee has the ability to leave their current job immediately, unless otherwise prohibited, it is often not suggested. When determining how quickly you can leave your current position, always remember the old adage: Don’t burn your bridges. In the employment world, many times specific industries are very small and it is easy to get a bad reputation – especially if you leave a position with little or no warning to your employers.

Or, in other cases, the employer may ask you to leave immediately. This happened to me. Twice. In both cases, the reasons had to do with the competition and clients (even though I wasn’t going to a competitor either time).  When that happens, you have no choice but to leave. I didn’t mind. That meant some much needed time off before the next job.

Like many facets of employment, how you handle your departure from a current position says a lot about you as a person. By handling an exit with grace and professionalism, you can easily begin to establish yourself as an employee with integrity. It is important to handle every aspect of your departure in a professional manner. From letters of resignation to the goodbye lunch, behaving in a professional way will make you stand out.

Knowing how much time to give your current employer is a complex issue. It is one that is best handled by following the guidelines set forth in your employment contract. If one does not exist, be sure to approach the issue professionally and to work as closely as possible to ensure a smooth transition.





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Written by Erin Kennedy, MCD, CMRW, CPRW - Visit the website to hire executive resume writer Erin Kennedy, CERW, CPRW

Erin is an internationally renowned certified resume writer specializing in professional and executive level resumes and career services.

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11 Responses to “How Much Notice Should You Give When Leaving a Job?”
  1. asics shoes says:

    This information is typically easy to find. If you did not retain a copy of your employment agreement yourself and do not wish to tip off your employer that you may be leaving, you are entitled to a review of your employment file and can easily locate the information
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  2. asics shoes says:

    . It is important to handle every aspect of your departure in a professional manner. From letters of resignation to the goodbye lunch, behaving in a professional way will make you stand out.
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  3. I think that it should be agreed on in advance at the time of hire.30 days should be the avg. But the parties can agree to modify that as they be leave necessary. Notice of termination should equal your notice to leave.

  4. I think 2 weeks notice is the standard for at least attempting to show civility to your employer. Anything less than that can jeopardize your chance of getting a decent reference.

  5. Donna says:

    I have notified my employer at 2 weeks notice that I will be leaving, but he has claimed that I am obligated to work for more than that: for 2 weeks multiplied by a number of years spent in the company (in my case it’s 6 weeks). Nowhere in the contract it said so, and this is the first time he tells me about such practice. Do I have any obligations to stay, as I am obviously eager to start my new position as soon as possible?

  6. Hi Donna,

    It seems that if it isn’t in your contract then you wouldn’t have to work 6 weeks. Frankly, I’ve never heard of that–an employer demanding the employee work multiplied by the number of years.

    You may want to consult a lawyer to double check, but again, I’ve never heard of that happening.

    Good luck and keep me updated!

    Erin

  7. Vinod Nakra says:

    I am working for a multi national bank. As per the Employment letter the employee or the Employer has to give 3 months notice of resignation/termination. I have almost 5 years of good service in the Bank with rewards based on my performance.
    Due to plans of relocation abroad, one month ago i sent in my application to be relieved after three months. My boss called me today and asked me to leave in ten days time. When i told him that i want to work till notice period, he said no. Then i requested him that i should be paid salary for the remainnder period, he said he has decided to waive my right and i will have to leave in ten days time (10 Feb 2013) subject to my performance. I think this is a very prejudiced and unfair response as i cannot show results in ten days when i am required to meet quarterly targets by March 2013. What should i do?

  8. Hi Vinod,

    Yes, this seems unfair. :/ If the employer HAS to give you three months notice then you may want to bring it up to them again and remind him of the contract. If you wish to continue with it further, you may want to seek legal advice.

    Let me know what happens!

    Erin

  9. Jennifer says:

    Heres my dilemma was given a job offer have to let them know tomorrow if I want the position. Got a call from another interview of a job I want that I have been short listed and the 2nd interview is Friday I really want the 2nd one what do I do. if I sign the 1st contract em I able to terminate without notice if I get the 2nd job

  10. Hi Jennifer,

    Wow, what a dilemma! Not sure what to tell you on this one. Can you see if you can extend job #1’s offer to Monday? Tell them you have to discuss it with your significant other maybe? Unless you sign something that states otherwise, I think you are able to quit the job without notice, although that’s going to burn that bridge. You may want to give company #2 two weeks, or a week before you start… that way you aren’t leaving the other company in a pickle.

    Let me know what happens!

    Erin

  11. alberto says:

    hi i have give my boos 2 weeks notes end he sate i have to give hem 4 weeks notes i have work for hem for 10 years butt im on 00000 hours contract

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