A reader writes:
I’m currently on leave from a job that was causing me such extraordinary stress I was having panic attacks at work. I’ve been applying and interviewing for other jobs pretty extensively while I’m out, including one I’m sincerely hoping will turn into a better career path in general for me.
Now my challenge: I have not been telling the organizations I’ve been interviewing with that I am out for stress-related medical reasons from the job which, technically, still employs me. I’ve just been saying things like “it’s a work-from-home day” to explain the flexibility in my schedule. When the interviewer will ask me when I can start, I’ve been replying “two weeks from the offer.”
But, technically, I could start right away. I would give two weeks notice to my employer, but because I’m on leave, they were not expecting me to work during those two weeks anyway. So no party would be wronged here, except I suppose the hiring organization which thought I was still working.
Is there a better way I could be handling that?
Eh, I’d stick with saying you can start two weeks after accepting an offer. Most employers who are interviewing you are assuming that your start date would need to be at least two weeks away. Many times, an employer won’t even be ready for you to start earlier than that. Two weeks is not likely to be in any way a deal-breaker or even a drawback.
That said, if a particular employer is giving you the sense that they’d really like it if you could start earlier, you could say, “I need to give my current employer two weeks notice, but I could probably work something out with them if you needed me start earlier than that.”
Don’t go beyond that, though, because that can be a red flag (are you not giving your current employer the professional courtesy of appropriate notice, or are they pushing you out, or something else potentially concerning).
But really, most employers are expecting you’ll need to give notice and are fine with that.