no, you shouldn’t quit without notice

by Ask a Manager on July 25, 2012

If you’ve ever been tempted to quit without notice — perhaps thinking that you can’t stand it any longer, or that you want to start that new job immediately rather than waiting two weeks, or even just thinking “I’ll show them” — think again.

Quitting without notice will burn bridges and can tarnish your reputation long after you think people will have forgotten about it. It will harm you more than it’ll harm your employer.

Over at U.S. News & World Report today, I talk about five reasons why you shouldn’t quit without notice (including that you’re not going to really “show them” anything) … plus two times when it’s okay to do. You can read it here.

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{ 145 comments… read them below or add one }

ITforMe July 25, 2012 at 11:14 am

Re: references…even if you think you will never use this company as a reference, it may come up in the employment verification that you are “ineligible for rehire” if you quit with no notice. That can certainly raise a red flag.

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Charles July 25, 2012 at 12:56 pm

This is so true! It is the “information age” (kind of an old term, but still true) and often the only thing a company’s reference policy allows is for HR to state some simple facts; yes, she worked here from date to date, she earned so much, and she is or is NOT eligible for rehire.

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Lisa July 30, 2012 at 10:21 am

what if you are quitting for medical reasons? I am considering leaving a stressful job that is exacerbating my medical issue, and i literally have been in bed for 3 weeks. I returned to work, and did work from home somewhat, but think I need more time to recuperate and may resign. Is resigning without notice ok if it is due to a medical reason?

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Ask a Manager July 30, 2012 at 10:59 am

That falls under the health exception in the post, so yes, as long as it’s truly necessary and you explain that.

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Andy Lester July 25, 2012 at 11:23 am

The approach I advocate is to leave graciously and be remembered well. Walking out means you won’t be remembered as anything except the guy who up and quit. Do you want to be remembered for the work or for walking out? You can’t have both.

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Michelle July 25, 2012 at 11:34 am

I assume this was included in the second caveat, but another exception is if you are being blatantly harassed, abused, or discriminated against at your job. Even if bridges are burned, I think future employers would understand if you told them you had to leave without proper notice because you were, say, sexually harassed at your old job.

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Ask a Manager July 25, 2012 at 11:38 am

Depends on the specifics (although a prospective employer is unlikely to ask for specifics, of course). But most companies want you to report it if you’re being harassed so they can investigate and do something about it, not just walk off the job (unless the harassment is so extreme that a reasonable person would respond that way, which of course does sometimes happen). (And sort of related but not quite — but possibly of interest — to have a successful harassment lawsuit, you generally need to show that you followed the company’s reporting procedures, if they had any.)

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Michelle July 25, 2012 at 12:17 pm

Right, it would definitely only be after you tried to go through the proper channels and had no success. Good point.

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Anony Mouse July 25, 2012 at 12:20 pm

And if it’s so bad you have to leave, you should see what you can negotiate in return for not lawyering up. I left somewhere that I had reported things but still felt I should move on, and they bent over backwards to accommodate me as I was leaving: They won’t talk to a new employer except to confirm dates of employment, and they paid out my vacation.

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Ask a Manager July 25, 2012 at 12:29 pm

Yes! In these situations, you can often get a lot in exchange for signing a general release of future claims.

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Mike C. July 25, 2012 at 1:48 pm

This doesn’t work when the person harassment is to be reported to is the harasser and owner of the company.

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Ask a Manager July 25, 2012 at 1:49 pm

Right, there are exceptions. Although even then, if it’s not extreme, if often makes sense to still give notice, for all the reasons listed in the post.

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Job Seeker July 25, 2012 at 2:36 pm

We also should be sure that we understand the legal definition of harassment and the way that the company defines it – if we want to use the terminology. A powerful supervisor (not my supervisor – but someone I worked closely with) was inappropriate with me once. I defined what he did as sexual harassment (let’s just say his wife would not have appreciated his disgusting behavior any more than I did). A few years later, I told a friend (who was a manager at the same company) who I respect and trust about it. He told me that what had happened did not fall under the company’s definition of sexual harassment. (My friend did not condone what the person did, but he was explaining to me the limited options that the company provided to me). What happened was unfair and unreasonble. This person completely disregarded his marriage vows, but what he did was not considered sexual harassment by my company. If I had quit and stated that my reasons for quitting were that I was being sexually harassed, the situation probably would not have been shared with potential future employers who were checking references. Please note that I was not in danger. I have been able to avoid this person, and I rarely see him anymore. If I had been in danger, I would have handled the situation differently. Fortunately, this person was not obsessed with me, and he didn’t bother me anymore – once I indicated that I was not interested. As Alison said, no job is worth your safety.

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Anonymous July 25, 2012 at 2:43 pm

Isn’t sexual harassment legally defined – not company specific?

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Ask a Manager July 25, 2012 at 2:45 pm

Yep. Companies can have policies that are broader than the law, but they can’t decide something isn’t harassment that the law says is. (Well, technically, they CAN — but you’d have a legal claim if they did.)

However, it’s possible that what happened here didn’t meet the legal definition either, which is actually a higher bar than a lot of people assume it is. The harassment has to be severe and pervasive.

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Anony Mouse July 25, 2012 at 3:09 pm

And it certainly has NOTHING to do with marriage vows.

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When Two Weeks Isn't Enough July 25, 2012 at 11:40 am

I’m a little nervous at the moment because I’m expecting to be offered a job any day now (the hiring manager told one of my references yesterday that she hopes to be calling me with good news soon), and I know they’re wanting to have someone in the new position as soon as possible. I of course indicated I would need to give two weeks’ notice to my current/old employer, but I’m becoming concerned this really isn’t enough time, because my current/old employer moves slow in hiring and I know they won’t even be ready to start interviewing for my replacement within two weeks, let alone be close to hiring one. Historically, it’s taken anywhere from 2-4 months to fill each open position we’ve had. I’m also one of just three staff members (plus the ED), so my entire job is going to be divided between just those other two people. And being such a small org, all three of us are already doing more than one job’s worth of work to begin with. Even extending the notice to just three weeks would make a huge difference in helping prepare them for the transition, doing some projects early before I leave, training my coworkers so they can eventually train my replacement. Yet I don’t think the new employer would be thrilled for me to push the start date back much further than two weeks after accepting an offer, because they’ve created the new role to take pressure off a very overburdened member of their team.

Where should my loyalty lie? Should I press my hopefully new employer for a longer lead time, even though it might annoy them, in order to ease the transition for my old/current employer? Or should I give the two-week minimum courtesy to my current/old employer, even though I know it’s going to be a big burden to the org after I leave, in order to meet my hopefully new employer’s need to have someone in the position ASAP? Part of me thinks the new employer would be better equipped to continue with their existing staff situation for an extra week than my old/current employer would be prepared to absorb a staff loss in just two weeks. But then, I also feel like this should be the point where my loyalty should start to shift to the new employer instead of the old one.

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Ask a Manager July 25, 2012 at 11:42 am

Two weeks notice isn’t intended to be enough time for your employer to hire and train a replacement — that would be very unusual and rarely happens. It’s intended to simply provide time for transitioning your work.

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When Two Weeks Isn't Enough July 25, 2012 at 11:57 am

You know, that seems so obvious now that you’ve said it, but I really was worried that my boss was going to feel like I’d abandoned her without enough time, and I feel much better now.

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Ask a Manager July 25, 2012 at 12:30 pm

Good :)

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Henning Makholm July 25, 2012 at 1:42 pm

Over here the standard notice is until the end of the next calendar month, but that isn’t time enough to hire a replacement either. No possible convention for how much notice to give can ever provide that, because the replacement you hire will then have to give the same notice to his current employer before he can start. So the employer will always be behind schedule from the beginning.

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Charles July 25, 2012 at 8:55 pm

So, Henning, the notice period could be a month (if given on say, the 28th day) or even close to two months (assuming that notice is given near the beginning of the current month)?

Does the employer give the same in severance pay if letting an employee go? or are there different rules governing that?

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Henning Makholm July 26, 2012 at 5:53 am

Correct.

When an employer terminates the employee other than for really good cause, he needs to give at least the same notice, increasing with seniority up to “end of this month plus 6 months” after 9 years of employment. The base rule is that employment continues through the notice period, though some employers opt instead to formally “liberate” the employee, such that he doesn’t have to come into work (but his salary is still paid).

These rules are fixed by law for a class of workers that roughly seems to correspond to “exempt” employees in the US. Most other workers have very similar rules agreed through collective bargaining.

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Lilybell July 25, 2012 at 11:51 am

It really does burn bridges. I had a coworker that quit in a huff because he didn’t like the new boss, and gave two weeks notice. He decided to take two weeks of vacation instead of working through his notice. He came in for an hour on his final day, and then left without even cleaning out his mess of an office or attending any meetings about his transition (he was pretty high level and this was poor judgment). I got stuck cleaning his office, and he actually liked me – goes to show that “sticking it to the boss” ends up affecting coworkers, not the boss.

A year later, his new company folded and he showed up in the office and begged to return – my boss took one look at him, said “I can’t tell if you are crazy or just stupid” and walked into his office and shut the door in his face. It was a beautiful moment. The guy actually seemed clueless as to why he was getting the cold shoulder and I told him that not one of us wanted to go to bat for him considering the way he went out.

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Ellen M. July 25, 2012 at 1:22 pm

Wow – what a story. It is amazing how some people JUST DON’T GET IT when they have screwed people over, and think they can just say “um, oops!” and all will be forgiven.

I had a supervisor once who was extremely abusive, to me and to my co-workers – truly awful treatment for more than four years. I attended a seminar about 8 months after after I left that workplace, and she was there. She was super-friendly and said she was job hunting and asked me for a reference!

The well-worn “W.T.F.?” doesn’t even begin to cover it. I said “No” and she came up to me two more times at that (half-day) event, to keep trying. The last time, she followed me to the ladies’ room (who does that?) just before I left. Clueless.

(Sorry for the slight detour.)

Don’t burn those bridges!!

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Lilybell July 26, 2012 at 10:14 am

Holy moly, your ex-boss had some nerve. It goes to show that abusive bosses are delusional about how their employees perceive them and probably honestly think they aren’t doing anything wrong. I would have been tempted to give her a reference and be brutally honest to whomever called for one.

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Ellen M. July 26, 2012 at 2:01 pm

LOL you’re right! I should have said, “Sure I’ll give you a reference!” and then told the truth, the whole truth and nothing but!

Maybe she’ll ask again one day…

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Sabrina July 25, 2012 at 12:11 pm

Two things…

1. Yes it hurts the people you leave behind. Being an AA for a long time, I’ve had to pack up a couple of desks from people who did this. Your AA is likely not involved and doesn’t appreciate cleaning up after you and your 10K ketchup packets you have stashed in your drawers.

2. I did have a friend who had to give less than 2 weeks notice once. Her new job only started new hire insurance every other month. She was a single mom with a toddler and her ex-husband didn’t have a job to take over their child’s insurance. So either she went two months without, or quit and started her new job right away to get in under the deadline. Can’t say I blame her on that one. And before anyone says it, COBRA is insanely expensive and wasn’t much of an option.

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Anony Mouse July 25, 2012 at 12:25 pm

For #2, though, there are ways to handle it professionally. I hope your friend a) explained the situation and b) offered to answer questions via phone or email for the next week or two. I think most reasonable managers would be, well, reasonable about it.

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Anonymous July 25, 2012 at 12:33 pm

Does this still apply for internships?

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Ask a Manager July 25, 2012 at 12:37 pm

Yes, unless there’s an explicit understanding with the employer that notice isn’t needed.

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Anonymous July 25, 2012 at 2:13 pm

Yes, unless there’s an explicit understanding with the employer that notice isn’t needed.

What does that mean? All ‘at-will employment’ agreements I have seen are very explicit that no notice is required by either side.

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Ask a Manager July 25, 2012 at 2:16 pm

Meaning if the manager explicitly said, “Hey, I understand that because this is only a 3-month position (or part-time, or whatever), you’re going to continue to look, and might need to leave without the normal amount of notice.” It’s rare, but that’s something agreed to in less formal internship programs.

(This isn’t about what’s required by law — no notice is required by law, on either side. It’s about professional expectations and your reputation.)

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moe July 25, 2012 at 12:38 pm

My goodness, of course it does.

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Anonymous July 25, 2012 at 12:54 pm

Internships generally last for only a few months anyways, so I’d even go as far as suggesting that you just deal with it until the scheduled end date. Jerk-ish bosses can still give glowing references.

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Long Time Admin July 26, 2012 at 8:49 am

THIS! I was just telling my co-worker this morning that my former boss works at a different firm, and he would either hire me or give me a great reference at that firm. However, I don’t really like him and I don’t want to work with him, but he doesn’t know that. He was nice to me, but he was a jerk and clueless to boot.

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Charles July 25, 2012 at 12:46 pm

One place I worked at we had a wonderful employee who just had a “melt down” one day. He quit in a huff with lots of cussing, etc. ; leaving a ton of work that he had originally agreed to do overtime for that day. He really didn’t endear himself to those left behind to clean up his mess.

The company was planning on lay-offs which, perhaps, led to his frustration. The lay-offs were sort of an “open secret”; we just didn’t know when or who or how many. Well, the joke was on him because the managers asked for volunteers the next week. If that employee had waited just one week he could have gotten a decent severance package and walked away “happy” instead of storming out like a spoiled brat. (which, BTW, is what he is now known for)

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Charles July 25, 2012 at 12:52 pm

AAM, am I reading your first exception to the”never-quit-without-notice rule” correctly?

“When your boss will tell you to leave on the spot.”

Shouldn’t you still give notice? Just be aware that you will not have 2-weeks (or whatever) to clean things up.

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Anonymous July 25, 2012 at 12:58 pm

Slightly off-topic: I’m just curious about how it works in the US. In Canada the employer would still have to pay out the appropriate salary for the notice period, even if they want the employee to leave ASAP. (unless, of course, the employee was legitimately getting fired)

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Ask a Manager July 25, 2012 at 1:12 pm

In the U.S., if you give notice for, say, two weeks and your employer tells you to leave today, they do not have to pay you for those two weeks. (Unless you have a contract that says otherwise, but most people don’t.) You could collect unemployment for those two weeks though, although most people don’t bother for that short period of time.

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Anonymous July 25, 2012 at 2:13 pm

Thanks! It definitely departs from the idea we have here that both sides must give some form of notice (time or money), with exceptions for firings or walking off unsafe/illegal situations. (and obviously fixed-term temp jobs don’t need notice since there’s an end date in the contract)

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EAC July 25, 2012 at 2:13 pm

I had an employer who was gracious enough to pay me for the two weeks even though they asked that I leave that day. Seems as though it was SOP for them, because several other co-workers got the same deal.

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Charles July 25, 2012 at 9:05 pm

“You could collect unemployment for those two weeks though, although most people don’t bother for that short period of time.”

Most folks also don’t bother because there is, depending upon which state, a “waiting period” before unemployment benefits kick in. Usually it is a week.

Also, filling a claim will “open” a claim which would be the benefit amount used should you be unfortunate enough to be laid off within 6 months. Assuming that your new job was paying more why risk having your future benefit amount be less if it is based upon the older job’s lower pay?

(oh crap, do I know the system more than I really want to!)

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Elizabeth West July 26, 2012 at 12:32 pm

You get your waiting week back at the end of your unemployment, though, so it is still worth filing it. Your last payment will just be larger.

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Ask a Manager July 25, 2012 at 1:11 pm

Yeah, I should have been clearer — wait until you’re ready for it to be your last day doesn’t mean actually saying “I’m leaving today.”

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AnotherAlison July 25, 2012 at 2:11 pm

This can be a delicate situation, and you really don’t know how the employer will do things, despite “policy.” I left my first job for my current employer 7 years ago – they are competitors. The policy was that anyone leaving for this competitor would be asked to leave immediately, and I saw that happen with others. It was a good deal because everyone knew it, so they prepared accordingly, and they got paid for two weeks they weren’t working. Well, for me, my boss worked out a deal with upper management so that I could stay and work through my 2-weeks notice period because I was such a vital team member (ha!). I was disappointed to not get the free vacation, but I still have a great relationship with that supervisor. . .

Anyway, the lesson would be that if I had assumed I knew what the employer was going to do and planned my new start date 2 weeks earlier, I’d have had to make an embarrassing phone call to my new manager & delay my start date.

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Charles July 25, 2012 at 3:44 pm

The same thing happened to a former colleague of mine years ago.

The company’s policy was that any IT person giving notice was paid for their notice period; but, their network and other accounts were locked. They weren’t escorted out the door or anything like that, it was, just as you say AnotherAlison, most of the IT folks looked at it as a 2-week paid vacation before starting the new job. Yea! (bummer, I wasn’t IT so the policy would not have applied to me)

Well, this one guy, “Dave,” gave his notice on a Friday expecting to start his new job on the following Monday – he had to make that embarrassing phone call to his new employer asking to push back his start date. The reason was that our company wanted him to stay on board to finish the current project that he was working on. Ha!

It just goes to show – you should never guess at what will happen – “Dave” and others should give their notice and expect to stay; but not be surprised if/when they get that extra “vacation.”

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V July 25, 2012 at 3:45 pm

I don’t get how such a policy would be beneficial to the employer over time anyway. If employees know that they will be asked to leave the day they give their notice, wouldn’t they just wait an extra two weeks to give notice (assuming they were interested in staying), and just stay? It seems like the employee, who has knowledge of his/her plans to leave and control over when to disclose them, would still have the power in this situation, no?

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Charles July 25, 2012 at 4:09 pm

V, you make a good point there. But, in my example it was beneficial to the company – their reputation is all about confidentiality.

They were a management consultant firm in which more than half of the Fortune 500 were clients. It would not go over well with such clients to have folks who have access to that client’s sensitive information knowing that they will be working for a competitor in just a couple of weeks. That’s a big No-No!

This policy only applied to IT folks as IT would have access to most clients’ data. The rest of us would give notice and be expected to stay for that time period.

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KellyK July 25, 2012 at 4:02 pm

In that kind of situation, I think it might be worth checking with your new employer when they ask when you can start. Depending on what the job is and how much set-up time they need, they might be willing to bump your start date up a week or two if you get walked out on the day you give notice.

I think it’d be better to say, “I’d like to start on the 30th so that I can give my current employer two weeks’ notice, but they do sometimes have people leave immediately when they give notice. If that happens, would there be any possibility of moving my date up, even a week or a couple days?” than to tell them you can start on the 15th and have to call them again to change.

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fposte July 25, 2012 at 12:53 pm

Alison, do you have edit capability there? I think you’re missing a “not” in one of your exceptions:

“If your employer has a history of telling people to leave the same day that they give notice, then it’s unreasonable to wait to resign until you’re ready for it to be your last day” should probably be “not unreasonable” (or “reasonable”), yes?

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Ask a Manager July 25, 2012 at 1:03 pm

Whoops! Yes, thank you. I’ve emailed my editor there to ask her to change it.

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Anonymous July 25, 2012 at 12:59 pm

My coworker just gave a few days’ notice because of intense pressure from his new employer to start right away.

Even though it makes our lives much harder to have him gone so suddenly, it didn’t hurt his reputation at all here, because:
a) this is a terrible work environment for him and we’re glad he got out (including his supervisor),
b) one of his most defining characteristics is his strong sense of responsibility, and the years he spent building that reputation here are not easily negated by any single action, and
c) he’s made himself available for assistance during the transition until we can hire his replacement.

I would not recommend anyone else do that though. For one, this is an incredibly specific situation. For another, now he’s stuck still dealing with our stupid problems instead of being able to move on.

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Anonymous July 25, 2012 at 1:37 pm

This seems to happen a lot in the IT filed. System admins think they are so important and purposely leave an undocumented environment with no notice to prove it. Personally, I’d like to thank them. When this happens more junior people (like me in the past) are forced to cover their responsibilities and end up performing tasks far above their skill level. This happened to me three times early in my career and each time was a period of of extreme growth in knowledge and skills until a replacement was hired. The third time I was able to prove myself capable of handling the job and got promoted 6 months later when that replacement wasn’t working out.

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Henning Makholm July 25, 2012 at 1:55 pm

Don’t attribute to malice (or megalomania) what can be adequately explained by laziness. “Job security” is a popular rationalization for leaving systems undocumented (with drop of humor, and perhaps a large dash of wishful thinking) — but the real reason things go undocumented is that (a) writing good documentation is hard and many technical people don’t enjoy doing it, (b) writing bad documentation is easier but can feel pointless, (c) writing good documentation takes time, and it can be hard to explain why you’re not moving on to the next panic-priority item immediately, unless you have a boss who really values having good documentation.

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D July 25, 2012 at 2:47 pm

This is a great point about documentation

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Jamie July 25, 2012 at 2:56 pm

This! Although I would replace laziness with time constraints.

I like to think I’m better than most about documentation, but it is by no means comprehensive. It’s really hard to find the time as much as I do try to prepare for the eventual bus which will hit me wiping out all the institutional knowledge in my head.

And as far as Anonymous saying that system admins think they are so important – I think what you’re misreading awareness as arrogance. We’ve all dealt with the end user who makes the snide comments about how they can all do our jobs because “everyone works with computers.” FTR there is a difference between being able to reboot your router at home and maintaining a network.

And quite frankly a lot of places run IT with limited personnel. If you run IT too lean where there isn’t time for documentation to be created properly, and there’s no human redundancy due to being understaffed then you are pretty screwed for a while.

Lack of transition from IT can make for a very ugly situation because there are likely fewer people on staff who can step in until you get a replacement.

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Mike C. July 25, 2012 at 1:54 pm

The key to leaving without notice is to bring cake for everyone.

And I appreciate the fact that AaM didn’t take an absolutist approach to this topic. I lived the textbook toxic/abusive environment for three years and the best thing I ever did was leave without notice.

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Ask a Manager July 25, 2012 at 1:58 pm

I’ll actually go a step further (which I didn’t in the article) and say that there’s another category of times when you can leave without notice: when something serious and unplanned happens, like a family health crisis that you need to attend to, or the situation Sabrina talks about above. In those cases, you just explain the situation, make it clear you’re sincerely mortified, and try to do what you can to help. Good bosses understand those things happen. If you’re mortified and apologetic about leaving them in the lurch (and it’s truly serious, not just that you want to start your new job sooner), this will go over fine.

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AnotherAlison July 25, 2012 at 2:22 pm

One more thing I want to say on the topic…
Even though I completely agree that we should give two weeks notice, like so many other things, is it a business practice that’s past its prime? The discussion above about the IT system admins who leave undocumented processes behind explains why we still need two weeks notice, but truth is that behavior shouldn’t be permitted.

The president dies, we instantly have a new president, but a junior level admin assistant is so critical to operations that s/he has to give two weeks notice? Obviously, the reason a new person can step into the president’s role is because it’s so important that succession planning is vital and we must plan for the worst-case scenario. But, if your employees are so important that if one getting hit by the proverbial bus would send your operations into a tail spin, then shouldn’t you have a back-up plan in place? (And if they aren’t really that important, then isn’t requiring two-weeks notice just for convention, not practicality?) I could honestly say that other than from a workload perspective, my employer would be fine if any one of us left immediately. We have multiple people capable of doing all jobs, and enough flipping meetings that everyone is up to date on what team members are in the middle of.

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Jamie July 25, 2012 at 3:06 pm

I am sure there is a loss of efficiency for a time while the new President in your example gets up to speed.

Of course office work isn’t more important, but it would be a waste of resources, imo, to have to be prepared for any employee to announce that this is their last day.

Companies don’t crumble if people leave without notice, it happens all the time – but it’s a courtesy to those you’re leaving behind to at least have some time to facilitate as smooth a transition as possible, answer questions, help advice on recruiting a replacement, etc.

It’s kind of like the world wouldn’t come to a halt if any of us just didn’t show up for work tomorrow – but if you do that and don’t call in you’re causing a lot of needless stress and inconvenience for your co-workers.

It’s just bad manners to leave someone in the lurch if it’s avoidable. Death tends to be unavoidable which is why they can’t require 2 weeks notice for that, even if you’re the Commander in Chief :).

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Ask a Manager July 25, 2012 at 3:13 pm

Exactly! Really well said.

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Sam July 25, 2012 at 3:22 pm

Giving 2 weeks notice is a simple courtesy. No, the business will (probably) not fall apart if a junior admin got hit by bus. However, if the JA gives 2 weeks notice, then there is a period of time to either get a temp in place and trained, or at least train other staff members to do the JA’s job for a period until a new JA is hired.

Als0, for those who work on a shift pattern (food service, retail, IT support, call centres etc), 2 weeks notice allows the employer to organise rotas and schedules to cover for the departed employee.

Whilst your situation sounds like one person leaving wouldn’t upset the apple cart, sadly many workplaces aren’t run like this. Staff aren’t cross-trained until they need to be as it costs time and money for the business. And don’t underestimate the power of the workload. Knowing that you’re going to be doing 1.5 jobs in a couple weeks because Bob’s leaving gives you chance to prepare and liaise with Bob to ensure the transition is smooth and the additional workload isn’t too great. Being dropped in it suddenly at 2pm on a Wednesday afternoon because Julie just up and quit means you have to hurriedly revise the schedule you had planned for your 0wn work in order to accommodate Julie’s – not to mention the time lost in unravelling the nuances of exactly what Julie had done before you can start to take over.

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Laura L July 25, 2012 at 9:55 pm

“The president dies, we instantly have a new president”

But that’s because the president is so important that we have a very long, official, line of succession set up ahead of time. You don’t have that for your average employee.

Also, what everyone else said.

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D July 25, 2012 at 2:22 pm

How much notice is too much?

I work at two jobs: 1) academic position that is scheduled to end in December (after I graduate with my postgrad – there is a crossover between the two programs) and 2) receptionist

When I interviewed for and got the receptionist position (2+ years ago), I was VERY clear that I would be leaving at the end of this current year. So now that it’s close, I brought it up with them and asked about reducing my hours and hiring someone new. I know I have 5 months left, but it’s a small team and I have been working there for almost as long as the company has been around. I work a ton of hours but I can’t continue to do so right up until I leave (I am moving 3,000 miles away). I offered to reduce my hours in the fall to allow for someone new to sort of take the reins and begin training. It is very involved/difficult work and I also work the most inconvenient hours that no one else wants, so I know it is going to be very, very difficult for them.

So I wasn’t really giving ‘notice’, but more reminding them that I AM leaving, because despite us being close on a personal level and them being aware of my future plans, they seem to have willfully ignored the logistics. I want to be as helpful/involved in the next few months as I possibly can be. However, since that conversation, my boss has been a little ‘off’ with me and I can’t read his tone. Did I make a mistake here?

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AnotherAlison July 25, 2012 at 2:28 pm

I’m no expert, but I think the problem is that the understanding was you’d be there through the end of 2012, and now it looks like you want to stay only with reduced hours instead of fulfilling the commitment. You think you’re helping them, because someone else will be well-trained, but I can see how from the outside looking in, it looks like you’re trying to get out of something previously agreed to.

(I’m also extremely curious what kind of receptionist job this is that is so difficult…)

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D July 25, 2012 at 2:42 pm

Thanks for the response! I clarified myself a little below; that’s exactly what I’m afraid of :( and it’s not true at all – I LOVE working there and am planning to see out my entire time.

The reason I offered to reduce my hours a little was to allow them to fully train someone else appropriately. I work some very inconvenient hours that are also unsupervised (no one else in the office), and while I personally love the work, I know that it’s not for everyone. We have had several employees last only a few weeks because it’s so inconvenient and more difficult than it appears.

And yes, it’s not a typical receptionist job :) it involves managing a very large team, doing hiring/interviews, etc. It’s a fantastic and challenging job that I love, but it’s not something you can just walk into and be fine. I work entire days with no management/supervisor in the office and so since I have been there, all of the management has assumed that the office is taken care of and these are their ‘days off’. So for over 2 years, no one else in the office has had to work these days/times.

I was trying to nicely remind him that I am leaving, that the position is not going to be easy to fill ( I have a really odd schedule so it’s perfect for me) and I want to make sure that it all works out, because I care very much about the company.

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Anony Mouse July 25, 2012 at 3:17 pm

No, there is nothing wrong with that. In theory, they COULD give you the boot, but unless you have some reason to think they WILL give you the boot, you are going to leave on excellent terms.

I have actually seen this pretty often when people are leaving for reasons other than another job: going back to school, relocating with spouse, etc. People give two months notice and it works just fine.

I know AAM has talked about this before: if a manger has created a climate where it is safe to give more notice, people will give more notice. It’s good for everyone involved.

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D July 25, 2012 at 2:32 pm

I guess my question was, have I opened up the door for my boss to just tell me to leave now? He is very understanding, but I don’t want him to think that I’m itching to leave when I was genuinely trying to be helpful. I also think it’s awkward not to acknowledge that he WILL need to hire someone else and I’m not going to take offense or be weirded out when that time comes. I’d rather it happen sooner than later so that I can do a proper handover of my work and allow someone else to become adjusted to the hours I work. It’s not really a typical ‘receptionist’ position and involves some programming work, travel to other sites, etc.

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Ask a Manager July 25, 2012 at 2:41 pm

I agree with AnotherAlison — there are two issues here: one is reminding them of your existing agreement (shouldn’t be a problem) and the other is that you’re now saying you want to change that agreement by reducing your hours (absolutely could be a problem). That’s the part I’d focus on.

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Malissa July 25, 2012 at 8:20 pm

I would think the reduced hours request should be framed as an opportunity for your replacement to take over more responsibilities while you are there. This way there is no gpa in coverage. The idea as they are trained up, you should need to be in the office less. While offering a little financial relief to the employer during the training period.

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fposte July 25, 2012 at 4:42 pm

I also think that the employer has no interest in you working fewer hours than you were originally scheduled, so framing a lighter schedule as something useful to them is going to look disingenuous. If you want to leave the job earlier than agreed or change your work hours from your original agreement because it’s convenient to you, I think that’s what you have to ask for, while if there is genuine concern about budgeting and schedules, then you just ask about that–”What’s the target hire date and how much training time can we afford?” But your leaving early is making a problem and not solving one, and I’d hate to be on the receiving end of a request that didn’t seem aware of that.

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Andrea July 25, 2012 at 2:43 pm

This may be a little off topic, but a natural disaster devastated my hometown (and my parents’ home, and my MIL’s home) mere weeks after my husband and I had moved to a city a few hours away (though he had started the job two months earlier). He went into work the next day spoke to his boss, who was terrified that he was going to quit. They barely knew him at that point, but they knew his reputation and didn’t want to lose him. Plus, once they realized that he wasn’t quitting, they were more concerned about our loved ones. All he wanted to do was leave immediately and join me so we could help our families and friends for a few days. They were more than willing and even paid him for the time (and offered much more than we wanted) and sent him off with a truckload of donations. I know that’s an extreme example, but sometimes emergencies happen. He wasn’t going to quit, but even in an extreme situation where you think you might need to, some employers will actually still do right by their employees, especially those who have proven themselves or who have stellar reputations.

Meanwhile, I am a freelance writer. I have two major clients, and I get paid a retainer for my services for each month. As a freelancer, I’m not entitled to time off, so when I contacted my clients and explained the situation, I tried to just quit because I didn’t know how long I would be unavailable and helping my family (I work from home but could basically work from anywhere). I was surprised when they both insisted that I take two weeks off and that they both paid my full fee for the month. Most people are sympathetic to these types of emergencies, even on a smaller scale, and most people do want to help. (And I’m very glad that they didn’t let me quit!)

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Charles July 25, 2012 at 3:57 pm

“some employers will actually still do right by their employees”

True, I was working at a small company when a hurricane hit us last year. Several folks had their homes flooded, etc. The company issued a “temporary policy.” Anyone who needed to could take whatever time off that they needed to help themselves or family get things back together.

So, yep, there are folks out there who will “do the right thing.”

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Ask a Manager July 25, 2012 at 4:55 pm

So true. I should do a call sometime for stories of employers going out of their way to do right by their employees, since we hear so much of the opposite.

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Long Time Admin July 26, 2012 at 9:25 am

When people lose electricity at their homes (which happens a lot in our rural area), my employer lets the family stay in the staff lounge at work. There are comfy couches & chairs, a kitchen, a fitness room where kids can run around and let off a little energy, and showers. A few families have had to take them up on this, and it worked out really well.

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LCL July 25, 2012 at 2:59 pm

Many years ago, after I had finished college and was working part-time, I got the dream job offer. The offering company was OK with waiting for me to give a two weeks notice. The current employeer said “if that’s the way you feel you should quit NOW.” So I did, and enjoyed two weeks minivacation and went to the dream job.

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sparky629 July 25, 2012 at 3:06 pm

I once worked with a guy who went out in a ‘blaze of glory’ and not in a good way. He was called into the boss’s office about some issues that he had been counseled on several times. Well, he thought that ‘he’d show us’ because (and I quote)…”this place will f****ng will fall apart without me’ and he QUIT.

So not only did he quit but he told the boss to take the job and stick it in her nether regions and flung out the big F word on her. Mind you, she was not firing him but giving him one. last. chance to get his crap together.

In all of the drama of quitting he had forgotten a couple of things:
1. He had not driven to work that day and he lived an hour away from the job. So he had to call his wife and have her come and get him.
2. His wife had been fired from her job a few months earlier and they had been struggling to make ends meet for some time.
3. He had been at this job for 5 years so how was he going to explain the gap on his resume to a prospective employer.
4. He had been extremely lucky in getting this job and there probably weren’t many jobs out there that would put up with some of the crap he had done.

To this day, 6 years later we still talk about the day employee X left in a ‘blaze of glory’. It’s kind of a ‘don’t be this guy’ reminder when you feel like quitting with no notice.

The last I heard from that guy…a prospective employer called me (personally) to get a reference for him. I had to explain to the prospective employer who had been told that I was his supervisor and could vouch for him that I had worked FOR him and that they would have to contact HR for any pertinent information. I was not at liberty to discuss anything about his work at our company.

BTW, the job was at a gas station (no offense to gas station workers but the position he held before was a mid level IT position).

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Jamie July 25, 2012 at 3:12 pm

“Well, he thought that ‘he’d show us’ because (and I quote)…”this place will f****ng will fall apart without me’ and he QUIT.”

I’ve definitely worked with people with this mindset – and it’s baffling to me.

Unless you are the owner and the capital goes when you do, very few people have the kind of impact the delusional (like your former co-worker) think they will.

I think pretty highly of myself as an employee – probably more than is warranted – but I know that should I leave for lunch and never come back it would cause inconvenience, some back-logs, some additional expense to outsource until a replacement was found…but life would definitely go on.

I’m non-fungible, not indispensable.

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sparky629 July 25, 2012 at 3:51 pm

I would even argue that being the owner does not necessarily entitle you to that mindset.

I worked at a place where the owner passed away and someone in the family stepped in and took care of the business. In many ways, the new person was able to grow the business in a way the original owner had not because they had a new mindset and was not tied to the old way of doing business.

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Ask a Manager July 25, 2012 at 3:14 pm

It’s so interesting how many people people have that attitude that the place would fall apart without them. I’ve seen it even in fairly junior positions — it’s odd.

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AnotherAlison July 25, 2012 at 3:22 pm

I’m also surprised by people who think that in the positive context — i.e. the people here stressing that 2 weeks isn’t enough notice, etc.

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Jamie July 25, 2012 at 3:38 pm

For some jobs it’s not a lot – it’s something.

If it were me I’d give as much as possible. The person who had my job before me gave 5-6 months and it was great…she was able to help choose an awesome replacement (if I do say so myself – ha) and get in as much training as possible because there is no one else in house who knows the database back-end.

If the person leaving has a unique position in the company and has knowledge that other co-workers can’t teach…then two weeks isn’t always a lot of time. That’s where being available for questions for a limited period of time is a decent thing to do, if you can’t give a ton of notice.

Not mandatory – but decent – and can help assuage some of the guilt for feeling like you left people hanging.

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AnotherAlison July 25, 2012 at 5:00 pm

I’m definitely not saying 2 weeks is a lot of time, but I guess I am sort of vindictive deep down inside. I am really thinking about when we leave for more money, a better position, etc. When somone actually *is* special and the employer doesn’t realize it (didn’t document their job duties, didn’t train a backup), tough cookies. If you are retiring, moving, whatever, and the employer has treated you exceptionally well, then I would be doing the most I could to help them with my replacement.

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Jamie July 30, 2012 at 10:43 am

I see your point, but it goes back to the fall out on your co-workers and not the powers that be.

The people picking up the slack for the “I’ll show them!” exits are rarely the ones who set your pay scale too low or didn’t/couldn’t offer you a better position. It’s the people just trying to do their jobs and get through the day, who would appreciate some documentation, training, and discussion before they have to assume your responsibilities as well.

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Scott M July 25, 2012 at 4:07 pm

I can understand this. If you are constantly getting ‘urgent’ requests every day, then you can have an inflated sense of ego. You might think “Whose gonna do all this stuff when I’m gone?”

But what really happens is that people find a way. They are just calling you because it’s easy. They’ll call someone else, or do it themselves, when you are gone. It will be more difficult, but it’s not the end of the world.

I remind myself of this often. I just wish I could get them to call other people NOW! … lol

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Jamie July 25, 2012 at 4:15 pm

“I remind myself of this often. I just wish I could get them to call other people NOW! … lol”

You and me both! I am so in need of a day of “pretend I’m not here.”

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Scott M July 25, 2012 at 4:26 pm

new acronym : “PTO” = Pretend Time Off

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Ask a Manager July 25, 2012 at 4:58 pm

I used to arrange for our IT department to have one week either once or twice a year where everyone else was instructed to pretend that the entire IT staff was out on vacation at some remote island where they were unreachable. It gave them a full week to work on stuff with zero interruptions; they seemed to love it.

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Jamie July 25, 2012 at 5:08 pm

Everyone reading this who has the authority to do this please follow Alison’s lead and implement this immediately.

I’m sure they didn’t just seem to love it, I would be surprised if statues weren’t commissioned in your honor. If I were on your staff I’d have bought you a World’s Greatest Boss mug from Spencers – and I’d have meant it!

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Ask a Manager July 25, 2012 at 5:09 pm

They bought me no such mug! But the IT director does still offer to buy me beers when he’s in town.

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Jen M. August 2, 2012 at 10:25 am

Beers trump mugs! :P

Rana July 26, 2012 at 4:06 am

Heh. I can say, having been a temp, and having once been asked at extremely short notice to fill in for a senior colleague who was literally (!) hit by a bus, that very few people are as irreplaceable as they think.

Even if there’s that one little piece of magic information you know and no one else does, they’ll figure out some way of working around it, just as they did before you came along.

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-X- July 25, 2012 at 5:04 pm

My spouse quit suddenly in a huff once, and it was one of the rare exceptions where I think it helped with future networking. Spouse and many co-workers were mainly recent immigrants with a good future, and this was a sort of high-tech sweatshop for very skilled labor.

Spouse quit in response to an absurd chastising from a bad HR department, and though it may have left co-workers in a lurch, many seem to have admired that and my spouse stayed in touch with many of them over the years as they went to work for much better firms. Spouse didn’t curse or anything, but used words like “That is ridiculous and I won’t put up with it. Good bye” and walked away.

So while spouse could not get good reference from the company, it enhanced spouse’s reputation with peers who became influential over time in the field.

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Ask a Manager July 25, 2012 at 5:10 pm

I have to say bravo to that one; I cannot help it.

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Mike C. July 25, 2012 at 5:46 pm

This is exactly what it was like when I left, though I left because of a job offer, not a problem.

The company would actually hand out significant amounts of vacation time because so many needed people would quit in a huff, and then over the next week or two be convinced to come back and chalk up the absence to a “vacation”.

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Ask a Manager July 25, 2012 at 5:55 pm

ha!

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AnotherAlison July 25, 2012 at 8:22 pm

I actually forgot about it until I read your post, but my husband also once walked out of a job. He had been looking and had an offer for a new position, better pay, but 2nd shift. He had a job foreman who liked to degrade people, and one day he had taken enough and just handed over his keys and left It didn’t affect his future at all because he already had a new job, which was his last job before the past 10 years of self-employment. (He gave notice when leaving that one, but has never needed references anyway.)

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-X- July 25, 2012 at 10:35 pm

To clarify – spouse had a job lined up for the future and was planning on quitting with a little notice a few weeks later. Actually, spouse was going to give notice of a couple weeks but expected to be told to leave that day or the next day (which the company had done in the past to people planning on leaving). So spouse was out of work for a few weeks more than planned, but it was worth it in terms of self-esteem and the impression it made on other people.

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-X- July 25, 2012 at 10:37 pm

Also, I don’t hold this up as a common example – it’d only be appropriate where there is a network of people at the place of work who all hate it and are supportive of each other in helping everyone move on, and helping others get out once they’ve left themselves.

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Charles July 25, 2012 at 9:12 pm

Sparky? Blaze of glory? and now he’s working at a GAS station?

Is that wise?

Those three things do not sound like a good combination to me!

(sorry, I just couldn’t resist – my mind does make connections that really aren’t there sometimes)

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Suzanne July 25, 2012 at 3:23 pm

I’ve never left without at least a two week notice (except for a temp job for which we were only required to give 24 hours notice). However, I have a number of former co-workers who did leave with no notice from my current company because several people before them tried to give a two week notice and were immediately shown the door. So, these people felt turn about was fair play and left a note in the supervisor’s box as they exited the building, never to return.

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Jamie July 25, 2012 at 3:33 pm

I temped at a place like that once. Everyone who gave notice, even for things like moving out of state or deciding to resign instead of take maternity leave because they weren’t coming back were immediately escorted out.

They never could figure out why so many people started resigning by phone and stopped giving notice. Looking back now that I have some experience under my belt, the turnover rate was shocking. They had more people quit in the couple months I temped there than my company has had in the last 30 years.

Bad management really does drive good people out the door.

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Scott M July 25, 2012 at 3:51 pm

I wonder, does the stigma of quitting without notice REALLY follow you to the next job?

I can imagine it might for higher-level positions where there are more behind-the-scenes contacts and such. But for lower level positions (not management or leadership positions) don’t most reference checks just verify that you worked at a job?

Also, how often do paths cross with former coworkers. Perhaps it’s because I work in I.T. and our skills are pretty interchangeable, but I don’t think that former employees really have any contact with former coworkers that often.

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Jamie July 25, 2012 at 3:58 pm

In my industry (and I am IT servicing a non-IT industry) absolutely it would follow you.

At my last place almost half of my co-workers had worked with each other at prior jobs, and even more worked with former co-workers former co-workers from other jobs. It’s pretty similar where I am now – just less turnover.

Manufacturing even in a large city is a very small world. I would be cutting my throat if I left without notice because I’d have a hard time finding something within 50 miles where someone at the new company didn’t know someone I’d worked with before.

It may be different in other industries, I don’t know.

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Scott M July 25, 2012 at 4:03 pm

Weird. I guess my company is unusual. It may simply be that we have very low turnover (lots of my coworkers have been here 10+ years.)

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Jamie July 25, 2012 at 4:12 pm

It’s not just about the official references, either. Shared vendors are a good source of casual references…”Hey isn’t Chocolate Teapot, Inc a customer of yours? Do you know Jamie Keyboard-Monkey? She applied here, what do you know about her?” The more niche your industry the more likely that there are mutual vendors/contacts in common.

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Anonymous July 25, 2012 at 4:34 pm

Some of the relevant factors are probably

-Whether it was a career job or a job-job. I walked out of a job once where I had to approach strangers in a shopping mall to get them to take surveys about what movies they liked. One day I came in for a shift, picked up my paycheck, said I’d left something in my car, and left and never came back. It’s never haunted me because it was a part-time job in college and completely unrelated to the work I want to do, that job never appears on a resume (nor do any of the other probably 15 different part time jobs I worked in high school and college), and even if an employer somehow came across it in a background check I’m sure they wouldn’t care about the bad choices I made with a crappy job when I was 20.
-How small your field or town is, how much your field works with others. Working in a highly specialized field, small town, or a field like say advertising where you regularly interact with leaders of all sorts of other businesses, you’ll see more paths crossing in the future.
-How long average job tenures are in your field. In some fields it seems that most people switch jobs every 1-2 years, while in others people stay in one place for 5, 10, 15 years. If you’re in the 1-2 year standard tenure fields and your field is small, there’s going to be a lot of shuffling around and you’re more likely to encounter someone who remembers you from a previous job.

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Ask a Manager July 25, 2012 at 5:00 pm

Scott, this is one of those things that varies and there’s no way to predict it. If you’re not in a tight-knit industry, you might be able to do it and never have it come back to bite you in the ass. But it also might — and there’s no way to know if it’s going to or not. Imagine that you’re applying for your dream job and through some weird coincidence, someone working there used to work for your former employer? Or is married to your old boss? Or whatever. It does happen, and when it does, the ramifications aren’t good. It’s rarely worth taking that risk just to avoid serving out a two-week notice period.

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Jojo July 25, 2012 at 4:16 pm

If I won a $84 million lottery and if I happen to hate my boss, I would :)

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Charles July 25, 2012 at 9:19 pm

If I won a $84 million lottery and even if I happen to LOVE my boss, I would :)

There would be no notice, my phone would be disconnected, my personal email would be set to “out of town,” and my snail mail would be returned with “no forwarding address.”

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Ask a Manager July 25, 2012 at 9:20 pm

I would still write this blog. But I would do it from a castle.

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Elizabeth West July 26, 2012 at 12:43 pm

Love this answer.

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Jennifer O July 26, 2012 at 1:02 pm

:D Love this.

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A Teacher July 25, 2012 at 4:29 pm

Before I became a teacher, I worked in corporate America for a company that grew too quickly and completely changed their values. After 2 years of pay freezes while all management continued to get a raise, they opened 70+ more sites, and changed their evaluation structure so if you had been at 90% or above they dropped you into the mid 80% range because they could and with no explanation as to how and raise your scores, which was tied into our bonus. The inconsistencies in what management would tell you and the backstabbing were commonly known. It was a very toxic work environment–as in I left there and went to work at a regional safe school where suspended and expelled kids go as a last resort and got cussed out daily and was happier in that school than in my old job. (Sorry for the run-on sentence)

It was not uncommon for people to not give any notice–i.e. call at 6 a.m. and leave a voice mail that said “I quit” or e-mail HR and say they were done. My supervisor was pretty nasty to me in my year end meeting (I went from 92% to 88% in 3 weeks because of the change in evaluation tool–no reason why) and after I walked out I was in tears on my way home–wouldn’t give them benefit of seeing me cry. It was already costing me money to go to work for them (no raise in 3 years). I only gave a week notice. That was so unlike me and something that I dreaded doing but it was so toxic to work there that my mental health meant more to me than the few bridges I burned. My boss asked why I didn’t tell him, and I replied, “I didn’t trust you to tell you because you’ve fired people so I couldn’t say anything.” He was silent for a solid two minutes because he didn’t know what to say.

They bad mouthed everyone that left–notice or no notice–and in my professional field on serve on several national committees. Leaving there hasn’t impacted me professionally. I do think 2 weeks notice (or more if possible) is a good thing, but like others, I think there are exceptions to the rule.

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A Teacher July 25, 2012 at 4:31 pm

sorry, I serve on…just caught that!

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Natasha July 25, 2012 at 4:50 pm

I only left without notice once. I was a cashier and the nook where they had the register had poor ventilation. The previous cashier had left smelly flowers and put on her perfume in the area and the combination was setting off my allergies. I had brought this up before and it was even against company policy to wear strong perfumes. When I brought this up with the manager and mentioned I was having problems like I had mentioned before, all he did was put raw bleach down in the poorly ventilated area and tell me to work in it. So since I didn’t feel like not being able to breathe for hours, I quit. This was though after a year of really cruddy treatment despite being one of their best workers. The manager really disliked me though the supervisor loved having me on shift. I didn’t get a bad reference at all from them either about it.

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Anonymous_J August 2, 2012 at 10:37 am

I quit my very first job ever under similar circumstances. I was front-line (cashier) at a fast food restaurant.

One very busy, hot, summer Saturday, I literally felt like I was going to faint, so Iasked my supervisor if I could get a drink and sit down for about ten minutes, and I told him/her why. When he (I THINK it was the male supervisor, but it was so long ago!) said “No,” I finished up my line of customers, locked my drawer, went into the office, and wrote my manager–who was a very nice guy–a detailed note about what had happened and why I was leaving and that I was sorry. I truly was very sick that day!

This is the same place at which someone–I suspect it was a different supervisor–was taking money out of my till and trying to pin the theft on me. (I have NEVER, EVER stolen from an employer, and I would never do that!)

I feel like it wasn’t really a loss, and I’ve never been asked about that job. While I was there, I gave it my all, and for a first job, I have to say it wasn’t all that bad, other than the whole being-set-up-for-theft thing.

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Sharon July 25, 2012 at 5:58 pm

The flip side of this is that you should be prepared to be escorted out by security as soon as you deliver your notice. Back up any important documents, shred anything that needs to be shredded, and start sneaking your personal belongings out of your work space before you give your notice… just in case you won’t get a chance afterward. It’s not common, but it does happen.

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No regrets July 25, 2012 at 5:58 pm

At my last job, over 3 years ago, I worked in a call center. I was there for 2 years. From when I first started through most of my employment I was told by management how great I was and pressed to do more challenging tasks and assignments, some which were actually part of a job that was one step above me. However, at the same time being told how great I was I was also berated for stuff so ridiculous that I can’t even remember what exactly! It was a very micromanaging and demoralizing environment. Now that I think about it, I think they probably didn’t do this to just me. By praising me they were just “using” me to get me to do more stuff that essentially wasn’t even my job so that those one step above me were potentially slacking off. One example was putting me on the escalation line for customers wanting a supervisor. They claimed I had all the knowledge to handle it and that I had potential to move up to that position.

An earlier shift became available so I opted to take it so that I wouldn’t have to work nights any longer. This caused me to change supervisors. It was nothing against my supervisor at the time, I just didn’t want to work nights anymore. He seemed to take it personally though and tried to backstab me as much as possible. My new supervisor saw right through him and backed me every time. However, one time I was out sick for a couple weeks. Upon my first day back I get accused of something by my old supervisor that he basically made up and brought to upper management and they wanted to punish me! My supervisor wasn’t able to do anything but he knew I was upset and that the job was becoming very stressful and weary on me. I just couldn’t mentally cope any longer.

My supervisor was so understanding that he got all of my vacation pushed through and approved so I went out for another 2 weeks. In that time I found another job. On the day I was due to return to work I came in at the start of my shift and asked to speak to my supervisor in private. I thanked him for always being there for me and gave him my notice effective immediately. He pretty much knew it was coming and understood. Out of curiousity he asked what my pay was at my new job. I didn’t mind telling him. I think it showed how unhappy I was that I was taking a $6-$7 paycut an hour just to get the hell out of there! And it was a temp position too.

Anyways, I am still at the “temp” job I left for and became a permanent employee in less than a year. I don’t know if they checked references but my previous call center job does not do references, they have a third party employment verification. My current job is the same way I believe. I don’t think my leaving without giving much notice will affect me because of 1)the third party employment verification, 2) because I switched industries, and 3) my supervisor is still willing to give me a reference. To this day I don’t regret leaving the way I did.

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Jen M. August 2, 2012 at 10:41 am

I’m glad you had a positive ending. Sounds like you deserved it!

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Anonymous July 25, 2012 at 6:37 pm

What about when your a contractor in a state like California where the terms of the agreement are “either party can terminate the relationship without notice and at any time , for any reason”

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Ask a Manager July 25, 2012 at 7:23 pm

That’s most employees in the U.S. — most are at-will. But we’re not talking here about what the law requires and rather what professional expectations are.

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Cassie July 26, 2012 at 12:31 am

One of our secretaries quit without notice – she was out for a couple of days (I think she called in sick) and then on 4th day, she sent an email saying that she was quitting effective immediately. It was a bit of a shock (although my boss was not particularly thrilled with her work performance and was thinking about revamping her position). Not sure what she is up to these days (she was looking to get into the showbiz industry – I think she’s done a few bit parts) but I doubt she will be using us for a reference anytime soon.

I have to admit, though, that I have once quit a job without notice. I was a freshman in college and just got a job at a campus eatery. I worked 2 hours in my first shift, bussing and cleaning trays, take out trash, etc. A friend’s mom who worked on campus offered me a clerical job so the next day, I stopped by the eatery and turned in my hat/t-shirt and combo lock. I didn’t even get paid for the two hours I worked but I felt bad about quitting (although they hadn’t even scheduled me for future shifts because I was hired after classes already started and I wasn’t available for any of the open shifts). But I really did feel bad about it and unfortunately didn’t know how to give notice properly.

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Sandrine July 26, 2012 at 8:21 am

The “bite you in the ass” thing can be SO random…

When I was 14 I was in a certain class, in a certain junior high.

15 years later, I work for an ISP. A few months after I start, I notice a new hire… who has in that class.

And guess who was promoted to team leader two weeks ago ? Yup, that girl. Who, if I remember well, was kinda dramatic as a teen, and has grown up to be a rather nice person, from what I can tell.

I’m just hoping they don’t try to transfer me to her future team, because that would be sortof awkward for me :P .

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Sandrine July 26, 2012 at 8:21 am

who WAS in that class.

Woops.

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Elizabeth West July 26, 2012 at 12:56 pm

I quit a job without notice once. It was a kitchen job at a little diner that had changed ownership recently. The place had been downtown for years and years. The new owner had no clue what he was doing, apparently. I worked there for two days and saw one waitress walk out, way too many people hired to do only a small amount of work, and the person who hired me wasn’t even in the diner when he was supposed to be. I had been offered a temp position at a former job so I decided to split.

I quit the day after my second day. The manager wasn’t there, so I went to the owner to tell him I wasn’t coming back. He had no idea who I was, or that I was even working for him. The diner closed the next week. Now the building isn’t even there anymore; it’s a parking lot.

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anonymous July 26, 2012 at 1:23 pm

I’ve also walked out on a job. I knew it wasn’t a great fit but tried to tough it out because I felt lucky to have a job, but after being berated for not disclosing a medical issue in the interview and having someone threaten to hunt me down, I was done. Shortly after I left, the business came under federal investigation and has subsequently been shut down.

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Alisha July 26, 2012 at 5:57 pm

In my mid-teens through very early 20s, I definitely walked off service-sector jobs without notice. Those were the Clinton years though, so it didn’t matter one whit – the service-sector was hiring like gangbusters in both the areas where I grew up and where I went to college. I could walk into any store, customer care center, cafe, or mall boutique, leave my name and availability, and get a job offer that same day. Young people today shouldn’t try this, especially in smaller cities.

Since entering the post-college workforce in 2000, I’ve been terminated once after refusing to accept come-ons and other types of sexual harassment, and at my first management job, I left halfway through my 3-week notice period because my boss had asked me to do something illegal – knock a female subordinate from her decent-but-not-great hourly wage to a per-project rate that worked out to $3.50 an hour. I refused to do it, and he called me first thing in the morning to verbally abuse me, so I told him calmly that my resignation was tendered immediately, and I would come by the office later in the week to turn in my keys, project folders, and company Flash drive.

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Alisha July 26, 2012 at 6:03 pm

p.s. Oddly enough, while I’ve sweated the potentially negative reference (and burned bridge!), I’m not sure it’s hurt me. Either that or my ex-boss knows that what he asked me to do was illegal as all get-out (?).

I’ve gotten three offers since – one job that required an extensive background check, then the job where I was a dept. manager for a decent no. of years (where my old boss is know to be diligent about vetting people), and finally, the job that was eliminated. If the boss I theoretically burned the bridge with were badmouthing me, I’d imagine a thorough background check would reveal that, right?

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Athen January 26, 2013 at 12:14 pm

I worked at a gov agency in a startup project for over a year in a rock-bottom entry level position. I was doing an insane amount of work for 4 different supervisors total. I was constantly commended on the quality and quantity of my work. At first, I was also fed a line of bs about promotion and/or a reduced schedule so that I can work on my graduate degree. When I was ready to start school, all of a sudden they would not work with my schedule. And the promotion offer was a joke. I was at a clerk pay-grade, yet was doing a great deal of my supervisor’s work (a woman who happened to be a racist, ignorant, former military shrew who could barely read and write). For example she could not write professional level correspondence or contracts, so I was assigned this work several levels above my pay grade. Fine. I don’t mind learning new skills. But I also don’t want to be taken advantage of. Basically, the workload, the frustration of working with my idiot primary supervisor, and lack of promotional and educational opportunity forced me to quit. I gave 2 weeks notice and they managed to pull someone from another department that I did my best to train. I cleaned up after myself and tied up loose ends before I left. And I can’t get a reference from anyone at that company. I was doing so much before I quit that my leaving meant some people actually had to do some work. They wanted me to give several weeks notice. I would never have done that, because they would have taken advantage of me even more in that space of time. The more notice you give an employer, the more the ball is in their court.
I did everything right and can’t get a reference from them. Since that’s the case. I might as well of just left and let them slip around in their own mess.

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Tony February 18, 2013 at 3:10 pm

If you’re in California this goes back to the At-WIll employment clause where you do not have to give a notice and employer does not have to give a reason for firing you. The two weeks notice on the employees behalf is just common courtsey where as the employer doesn’t give you two weeks they just fire you on the spot. Try to find somebody you connected with at your old workplace and it doesn’t have to be a manager.

Next time remember to always look out for your own best interest and not the companies because me they will get rid of you in a heart beat.

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Kirsten April 25, 2013 at 2:30 am

Very well said, there is definitely a lot of truth to what you’re saying!

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CJ February 19, 2013 at 12:47 am

I’m about to quit my job of 2.5 years with a one week notice. I plan to accept an offer in the next couple of days, but coincidentally, I’ve had a week-long vacation abroad scheduled for the past 6mos (it’s paid for so no rescheduling is possible). I don’t think it makes sense to give notice,work a few days, go on vacation and then come back for five more days as a “courtesy.”

I’ve also been documenting processes for my position and I’m on top of everything so I dont feel that Im leaving anyone in a lurch. I recently had a coworker leave who gave her 2 weeks and then did almost no work in that time. We would have been better off if she’d just left immediately.

As far as burning bridges, I think in my situation it’s not possible since I would never return to the company or work for any of the managers I had here so if our paths crossed during an interview I would run the other way! And honestly besides my immediate supervisor, who would really know how much notice I gave? For all they know, I could have given it and my boss held the information.

I have awesome references from every job I’ve ever had besides this one, and being so undervalued at my current job means they couldn’t give a proper reference even if I wanted them to. If I needed the reference I’d try to make it happen but I don’t so they get their short notice.

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Kirsten April 25, 2013 at 2:24 am

What started off as a new exciting
endeavor transitioned into a full-fledged nightmare. initially the 1st several months of employment was a decent experience, however progressively with time, the direction the company was shifting due to the financial crisis it was encountering.
I never encountered management that was very cliquish and also gossiped about employees so openly on the floor.. I’ve seen so many people including myself being intimidated and harassed like no other, however nobody would speak out because when one of us would there were just be massive contributions to making life more miserable. going to work eventually felt like going to prison, you were treated without any common decency or regard, and talked down to like a dog.. you work constant overtime without any appreciation, every team meeting is negative about not doing good enough, your job is constantly threatened, there so much tension in the air it becomes a very depressing atmosphere that you’re constantly bringing yourself to everyday. I’ve never seen an organisation function this way, which only increases its high turnover rate and is an obvious road for failure. I found a new job before hand, I took notice of other two had put their two weeks notice in and were let go or not paid out their vacation time, etc. under normal circumstances this would not be something I would choose, however when you’re presented with an opportunity that starts immediately, its ok that point that you have to ask yourself, will you ever go back to the employer? my answer was Never. usually when you obtain a new position a new company is to progress forward, rejoining the company but you had a horrifically experience with with is out of the question, you want to go the right direction in your career and not take two steps back. your job should be rewarding encouraging and motivating, and I know this isn’t the right way to justify anything but in all fairness due to the circumstances I have encountered, I will provide the same courtesy that I am provided with. sometimes you have to make a statement, that’s what leads to change, of course there different approaches to making a statement but hopefully it will provide some sort of wake up call that you should appreciate what you have when you have it not when its gone!

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anagramformongo May 20, 2013 at 1:47 am

I had to do this a while back. I had a panic attack that landed me in the ER, and I lost about 15 pounds in the next 3 weeks. One day, I realized that if I worked there one more day, I would be a patient in the hospital where I worked, so the next day I was scheduled, I resigned effective immediately. It was a horrible thing to do to my co-workers, who I liked, and the company was top-notch with excellent morale but the job was literally killing me. I had only worked there 6 months, and had relocated to a region where I knew absolutely nobody, so this wasn’t a decision made lightly. To my surprise, I did get my PTO, and unfortunately discovered after the deadline for filing had passed that if you can prove that you had to quit because of job stress, you can qualify for unemployment.

Prior to that, I briefly worked, through an agency, at a start-up that (among other things) wasn’t paying the regular employees. That would count under the “unethical behavior” list, that’s for sure. I was paid through the agency, but we had a couple of people do this, and I couldn’t blame them. One of them had worked there for a month, and hadn’t yet received a check.

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Eleanor June 30, 2013 at 2:23 pm

This is ridiculous.

I don’t care what “professional expectations” are – it totally depends on the job that you’re at. In my at-will employment state, anyway, your employer can fire you for ANY reason at all (unless federally protected – and even then, they can just make up another reason for firing you) and is not required to give you notice, unless of course you have a contract that states otherwise. Take into account:

-Fire them the way that they would fire you. Because that’s what you’re doing – the company is performing unacceptably and you want to end your professional relationship with them. Would they let you know two weeks in advance so that you could get your affairs in order first?

-How important was this job to you? Is this in your career field, where you need the reference? Or is it a part-time gig that you were never going to put on your resume anyway? Do you see yourself ever going back to this company or needing it to tell another that you’re a good employee?

-Why do you want to quit without notice? Is the company affecting your mental health or even your physical health? Are you being treated in a way that majorly offends your dignity on a constant basis? Was this job/your boss/your coworkers treating you well enough that they deserve notice?

-Do you have something lined up? Either another job, or some kind of savings while you look for another job, or family support if need be?

Remember – legally, the company owes you nothing and YOU OWE THE COMPANY NOTHING. If it were reversed, how would this company treat you? If they’d go out of their way to be fair, then you should definitely give notice. But most companies would ditch you in a New York minute if you affected their bottom line. I hate the mindset in this country that corporations are people, but that they owe us nothing – but we somehow owe them something.

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Ask a Manager June 30, 2013 at 2:24 pm

That’s fine, if you’re unconcerned about your reputation. But fairly or not, this will impact it, and there’s no reason to make your future job searches harder just for the principle of the thing.

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jill September 15, 2013 at 5:39 am

So I’m 17 and working at McDonald’s. There was recently a family emergency. And my parents want me to be with her to watch her so she doesn’t get hurt again. It can’t wait another 2 weeks. I’m not going to be listing them as a recommendation or will I be going back trying to get my job. Will me doing this effect me in any other way? It really can’t be helped and I can’t go against my parents so I don’t have a choice…

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Ask a Manager September 15, 2013 at 12:38 pm

Just explain the situation and be apologetic and you’ll be fine. This kind of thing is different in food service than in an office job.

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Maggie September 17, 2013 at 4:50 pm

I understand now why this is a good idea, but I made this mistake at my last job. Things went south quick even though I used to love it. It was just a part time job at a huge retail chain. The corporate office got rid of my job position. The local store manager was supposed to place my co-workers and I into new positions by the corporate office’s orders. My supervisor finally explained I had a job, but no position and I was not allowed to be laid off.

However, despite having a month’s notice, when my job position finally ended, I was kept hanging a week with nothing to do. I could be fired for not showing up, but I was not allowed to wear an uniform or work. My supervisor tried calling a regional HR person about our situation, but it didn’t help much. With the mental health toll plus the fact that any new position if I ever did get it wouldn’t work well with school, I decided to quit.

So I arrived in person to let my supervisor know and ask if there was anything I needed to sign. He directed me to the local HR person and when two weeks notice came up, I asked what I would do for two weeks since I had no job position. She said what I was doing, which was very little unless I could talk my supervisor into letting me help out somewhere since I really wanted to work. So I ended up quitting without notice since it wasn’t as if I would be giving any co-workers more to do and I couldn’t survive another two weeks with nothing to do.

And she asked to make sure, and I felt like it was some sort of trick since I didn’t know what I was doing and that she might put down I was fired. (And she probably put down not re-hirable.) I didn’t sign anything and was blocked from saying goodbye to anyone or cleaning out my locker. I understand now I can’t use this company as a reference, no matter what work I did before in the four months it lasted. Can it still harm me even as a part time job I did while in school? I guess we should always give notice, even if there’s no job to do? It’s the only work I’ve had since college two years ago, so it almost seems worse to say I haven’t worked in two years than I worked for four months recently but gave no notice.

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Jim November 6, 2013 at 12:23 am

If you do not mention the company you left, it will not come up in a background check or will anyone call them. My friend left a job after 2 weeks there for a better job. The old job was very basic and was misrepresented. Emailed the boss and left. When you are laid off you get no notice. It is business plain and simple

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Kay December 21, 2013 at 7:56 am

I’m a casual worker and my new manager has treated me badly (10 weeks without a shift and no reason as to why) and now 5 weeks without a shift, I am very tempted to not contact them again seeing as they don’t bother to contact me

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Anonymous January 30, 2014 at 2:30 am

I have a notice period pf 3 months but I don’t want to serve the notice period as the new company I am not showing my current company experience and they are still under impression that I am not working anywhere. So I dont want to serve the notice period. Is it ok? or how I can do the same.

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Anonymous March 25, 2014 at 12:19 pm

I don’t agree that if you quit without notice it is going to taint you forever, ESPECIALLY if you work at low level job. Just resign effective immediately and say “something suddenly came up” . Just like Marcia Brady in old Brady Bunches. Life is too short to spend two weeks in a miserable situation. Move on and count your blessings that you have the courage to leave while others have to stay.

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