Monday, April 21, 2008

Quitting Time?

The busy season's over, which means some people may be about to make their move and jump to another firm. I stumbled across this post by blogger Monica O'Brien today, in which she argues against giving two weeks notice to your current employer before you depart for the new one.
So my suggestion is to shorten the two week notice to about three days. This is ample time to wrap up assignments, which if you are truly a good employee you would have mostly done while on the job hunt anyway. This is enough time to plan a nice lunch with your team, say goodbye to the people you most care about, and not have to explain yourself to the people you probably won’t see again. And above all, this is enough time to avoid the awkwardness that comes when everyone in the room knows you are leaving your current job.
I've got to say, this is lousy advice.

I'd point out giving three days notice is a fine way to alienate the partners in your current firm, who are going to have to scramble rather than plan a transition. If you're leaving clients behind, they'll be less-than-thrilled to be given such short shrift, and that's something they're going to pin on you, more than your old firm. Your employer, after all, isn't the one giving such short notice. I suspect your co-workers may feel left in the lurch if there are projects you were involved in. And if you have an in-house mentor? Something tells me that relationship will be pretty much gone.

I don't argue with Monica's description of how an employee feels once they've made the decision to jump. When you've accepted an offer from a new firm, you want to get on with it. But her discussion is all about her own desires and assumptions, and doesn't really consider how her current employers will react. It's important not to burn your bridges, and leaving too quickly might make you feel relieved in the short term, but it could haunt you over the course of several years.

And ask yourself this: How would your NEW employer feel if someone left them so suddenly? They may look at your actions and say "Hmmmm."

Why Two Weeks Notice May Be Too Much Notice [Twenty Set]


Monica O'Brien said...

Hi, thanks for writing about my post.

I think overall your notice should depend on what type of work you do. I don't have clients, so that isn't a problem for me. As I wrote in my post, three days would be enough for me - where I went wrong was to suggest that three days was enough for everyone.

My point should have been that the prescribed two week notice should not be the default.

Also, you mentioned the company's feelings, but does a company really have feelings? In the end, there are people in the company who will - coworkers and boss. I can guarantee HR doesn't have any personal interest in keeping someone around. So while I discussed my own feelings, I also discussed those of the people directly affected - and my argument is that in some situations, coworkers get more angry because someone is sitting there with nothing to do.

Anyway, thanks again for your thoughts on my article!

Karen said...

Also, when you're fired or laid off you generally don't get even three days notice. It's just here's your slip and pack your desk. I think Monica is right. It depends on your job, what's going on and how much extra coverage there already is in place.