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Two Weeks Notice

How much notice to your current employer is acceptable when separating from service, and does it depend upon your position/responsibilities? The norm (rule?) used to be 2 weeks, minimum. Lately, I am aware of people giving less than 2 weeks, and in some cases only a week. Is this a new trend? Perhaps it is a product of the current economy/job market that a job seeker would not pass up a better opportunity just because he/she was not able to give a full 2 weeks notice. I appreciate your thoughts. Thank you.
G. B., Springfield, IL

When you are choosing to leave a business for a new position, the two-week period is the standard minimum. Frankly, it still isn’t nearly enough time to hire and train a replacement, but it does provide a cushion during which the person leaving can finish up work in progress, hand off projects and work that others will have to absorb, and be available to answer questions. By giving your current employer two weeks notice, you are being considerate of the effect your leaving will have on him and on the company. While he may not be pleased that you are leaving, he will at least respect your effort to minimize as much as possible the disruption caused by your exit.

As an employer, I wouldn’t appreciate it if someone told me they were leaving and gave less than two weeks notice. And therein lies one reason not to do it. In business, it’s rarely a good idea to burn bridges. You never know when your choice to bolt after one week or less might come back to bite you. That boss could become a future client or prospect, or you might want to move on to yet another company only to find out the boss you left in the lurch is now the person interviewing you. Whoops.

I seriously doubt that there are many situations where your new employer is going to demand you start sooner than two weeks. Undoubtedly, he knows you are employed. In fact, offering to make the move in less than two weeks might look questionable to him. His thought process: Would you leave him in the lurch just the way you were offering to leave your current employer?

Before giving your new employer a firm start date, let him know you want to talk to your current employer about a mutually agreeable last day. To your new boss and your old, you’ll show yourself to be a person of character, one who honors commitments and takes responsibility for his actions.

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