my boss wants me to give him a longer notice period when I resign

A reader writes:

If all goes well, I’ll get offers from two companies I’m really excited about joining in the next week. Currently, I’m a low level manager in a large, multinational corporation. My current boss knows about my job search. We have a level of trust such that I told him about my search two months back. My intent in telling him was that he’d have the chance to lay the groundwork for a replacement. Because of company policy though, replacement hires aren’t approved until there is a vacancy to be filled. In other words, my boss can’t take direct action to replace me until I have resigned. I’ve told my boss I’ll give him as much notice as possible. I’ve said that ideally, I’d like that to be three weeks, but in practice I might only be able to give two.

My current job has taken everything I’ve been able to give and I’ve got nothing left in the tank. I want to take at least a week, ideally two off in between jobs to unplug and recharge before I start my next job. Both potential new jobs are open to a start date three to four weeks from offer. My current boss told me last week that he expects and needs me to give him four weeks working notice before I leave. I don’t want to leave him in the lurch, but I just don’t think I can give that kind of notice. I do understand his situation – even though he knows I’ve been looking, he hasn’t been able to do anything concrete to replace me.

When I started at this company, I really wanted to give four weeks notice to my previous employer, but was pressured to join within two weeks of offer. Others in similar roles at my current employer have left with two weeks notice and it hasn’t been a big deal. So far as I know, I’m the only person who’s given a heads up about intent to leave.

My fear is I might react out of guilt or sympathy and squeeze myself out of the time I really want to regroup and recharge. How can do right by current employer in terms of notice, and do right by myself and my next employer by taking some time off in between? Also, am I maybe out out of touch? Is it unreasonable for a supervisor in a very large company to only give two weeks official notice?

I answer this question over at Inc. today, where I’m revisiting letters that have been buried in the archives here from years ago (and sometimes updating/expanding my answers to them). You can read it here.

{ 74 comments… read them below }

  1. rubyrose*

    Your current manager telling you that 4 weeks is expected and needed is being unreasonable.

    Take care of yourself first. I just changed jobs and for the first time in 20 years I was able to have two weeks between positions. It has made all the difference in the world.

    1. Batshua*

      I had some sort of reading brainfart and I pulled all the middle letters out of “current” … I was like “WHOA, THERE’S NO NEED FOR NAMECALLING HERE!” — and then I realized I’d totally misread what you wrote. >.<

  2. j*

    Just double check you employee handbook or any official office policies regarding notice. Because you say others have given two weeks, you’re likely safe, but good to double check. As long as there is no set rule that more notice is required, it sounds like you have been very accommodating and gone above by letting him know so far in advance. Even if he can’t search for a replacement, this allows him to have the job listing written up and ready to go, start planning on how to handle the training and transition, etc.

    1. AMT*

      Even if it’s in the employee handbook, it’s not a contract there’s nothing the employer can do to force the LW to adhere to it.

      1. Jennifer M.*

        But the employee handbook could say that failure to give fewer than X weeks of notice will result in a negative reference and no vacation leave payout. Which can be serious considerations.

        1. Jesmlet*

          Yes, this would also make you ineligible for rehire at my last job which is the only info besides dates that they give out for references.

        2. TootsNYC*

          In the U.S. it would be really, really rare that giving 2 weeks’ notice would result in this.

          Walking out without notice–yes. But giving two weeks’ worth, and insisting on it? No.

        3. Anonhippopotamus*

          If it’s not in the contract, how can they withhold your vacation pay which is your own money anyway? The more I read this blog, the more I realise that Americans have no rights.

    2. super anon*

      If you have a collective agreement I would also check there. Mine stipulates 4 weeks of notice, but ymmv.

  3. Matt Warden*

    Some companies will be fine with you dedicating an hour at the end of the day for the first 2 weeks or so to a call with your former boss to help them with the transition. We have done this before, and actually we see it as a positive sign that the employee cares enough to ask to do this.

    1. YesYesYes*

      Every day??? That seems unreasonable and over-the-top to me. I’ve had multiple people leave, and I’ve never needed more than one text or quick phone call. As long as you get the two weeks, you should have 99% of your questions and needs covered before they leave.

      On the contrary, I would think poorly of a new hire who asked to do this. I need team members who are willing to enforce appropriate boundaries, and push back when needed. There’d have to be a pretty giant mitigating circumstance for me to agree to this.

      1. EddieSherbert*

        My reaction is not as strong as YesYesYes’, but I would also find this really weird and unusual. I wouldn’t be onboard with paying someone to continue their old job for free (even if it’s just an hour a day for a few weeks).

        1. TootsNYC*

          Also–an hour? On ANY day, an hour?

          I wouldn’t allow it as the new boss, and I wouldn’t allow it as the former employee.

          15 minutes MAX. Now and then.

    2. Sibley*

      If a company needs that much help with a transition after you leave, that means they didn’t do enough transition prep before you left. Once I leave a position, I’ve left. I MAY, if it’s really necessary, and I like the person, be willing to answer a question. Once or twice. But that is it.

      1. Jools*

        Yeah, there’s absolutely no way that much help should be needed after you’ve left a job. At least in my experience with jobs I’ve left, pretty much the only contact from the old job has been one or two quick emails to the effect of “Sorry to bother you, but when you’ve got a moment, could you tell me where I would find X?”

    3. AdAgencyChick*

      I would never allow it from a new employee. Unless she’s fresh out of school, she’s probably just come from a competitor agency. No way, Jose.

    4. Honeybee*

      Even if my new employer allowed that, I wouldn’t want to give that to my old employer. A new job is a fresh start, and I would want to dedicate myself fully to engaging with my new job. The time for transition is during the notice period, and 2 weeks seems like plenty.

  4. Jessesgirl72*

    In my experience, it’s common to both ask for longer notice of those leaving and to press for new candidates to give as little notice as possible to their current employer. I sometimes wonder if the last one is a test, especially when asked before the official offer. I always stand firm, and if pressed, state that I’m sure when the time comes, the company hiring me will be glad that I’m committed to giving them at least 2 weeks to replace me.

    The way to not let yourself be guilted into doing something you don’t want is simply to not do it. You know 2 weeks is standard. Give 2 weeks’ notice and enjoy the vacation before you start the new job.

    1. Kassy*

      I went on a job interview yesterday and was asked about a start date. The woman I interviewed with seemed to actually understand, though. I told her I’d like to give as much notice as possible to my current employer, and was fine with the standard two weeks, but would not go below that. She stated that she’d expect nothing less of anyone she hired. So there’s a small test I passed, at least.

    2. Aurion*

      I told my current boss that I’d like to give more notice to my old job if possible, because it was a small operation. I gave them 3.5 weeks, and would’ve given a full 4 weeks if things had worked out a bit faster. My current boss was totally understanding and approved; she prefers 3 weeks of notice from her exiting employees as well. And of the employees I’ve seen leave so far, all of them have given long notice periods: 3-4 weeks (quitting employee) and 3-4 months (retiring employee).

      You get what you give, in my experience. A retiring employees from my friend’s job gave two weeks of notice because the guy was so fed up with management and crap from the top despite his 20-30 years of service. I think pressuring an new employee to start quickly, but then expecting long notice periods, is a red flag unto itself.

      It might very well be a test, but it’s a shortsighted one.

    3. Annonymouse*

      Any job that presses for quick joining (when you are currently employed) is normally only thinking of themselves and their needs. This does not bode well for your future working relationship.

      There are exceptions of course (I.e you need a teacher to start at the beginning of the school year or that the training for your position only comes up every X months and if you miss it you have to wait for next time)

      Kassy I’m glad you’ve found a sensible and respectful employer.

  5. Cautionary tail*

    I’m sure this is another excellent article of Allison’s, however Inc won’t let me read it without signing up for an account with them. Time to add them off my list of websites that I will never agsin read an article on. Among others this list includes Forbes and Wired.

    C’est la vie.

    1. Meghan*

      Are you running an ad blocker? If you turn it off for that site you can access the content without signing up for anything.

    2. Lily in NYC*

      Or just turn off your adblocker. The more we expect free content with no strings attached, the more watered down and crappy that content will become.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Thank you. This is how they make money to let them continue providing content, and it’s how I get paid. I’m not sure why people get so cranky about that sometimes.

        1. Jeanne*

          I can’t read Ask A Manager on my ipad without a content blocker. I’m very sorry because I want to give you the income. But it just keeps giving an error and reloading. Then I can’t read Inc unless I turn it off. It’s frustrating.

          1. Candi*

            Does the Adblock only work on one browser? If so, you could download, say, the Chrome app (or whatever) and use it just for stuff that is blocked by ad blockers.

            I like Chrome because it syncs with Chrome on my laptop -which is set to no pop ups, ever. I’ve only had one issue in the past several months, and that was a Not Always Right problem I reported.

        2. Kit*

          I spent a solid ten minutes the other day trying to get your “report an ad” page to load without redirecting me to a cruise scam, so … that’s why people use ad blockers. I don’t on my desktop because I want to give people their ad revenue, and every once in a while I find a good site/product through ads. But on mobile… nope nope. Ads break websites on mobile.

          1. Turtle Candle*

            Yeah, the prevalence of redirect scam stuff especially (but not exclusively) on mobile is why I turned Adblock back on. It makes websites quite literally unreadable. I wish it weren’t so, because I get that people deserve to get paid for content, but if the ad won’t let me even stay on the website for more than ten seconds….

      2. paul*

        How are the ads on that site?

        I whitelist a lot of sites for the reason you mentioned but ones that have consistent problem ads (autoplay audio, pop unders, etc) stay blocked.

        1. Honeybee*

          I put Inc in the “medium level of annoyance” category. They don’t have pop-up ads, or ones that flash or are difficult to close. But they do have auto-playing videos with audio and the initial ads expand the top bar to half of my 13″ laptop screen.

      3. Elsajeni*

        To be fair, the “To continue reading, log in or create an account” screen doesn’t say anything about ads or adblockers. I’m happy to turn off my adblocker for them, but the only reason I know that works is because I’ve read other threads about it here; if they won’t tell readers “Here’s why we want you to create an account and here’s an alternative option,” some people are going to respond “Hey, they’re forcing me to create an account for no apparent reason! I hate that!”

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Right, because they don’t want people turning off ad blockers because ads are how they earn the revenue they need to keep the site going. Ad blockers mean they don’t get paid (and neither do I); they’re a loophole, not an intentional thing the site is cool with.

          They’re giving people free content. They need money to keep doing that.

          1. Honeybee*

            Do you mean they don’t want people turning ON ad blockers?

            Elsajeni’s point is that when you visit the page with an ad blocker on, they don’t tell you that your choices are to turn off the ad blocker OR to sign up for an account. All they tell you is that you need to sign up for an account. I think what she’s saying is that should tell us – much like Business Insider or Forbes – that you need to turn OFF your ad blocker if you want to read their content.

      4. Honeybee*

        I’m all for advertisements because I understand that’s how companies make money, and honestly I click on them very often. But quite frankly, some websites have the most annoying ads that take up half the page or start auto-playing as soon as you load them or make it difficult to impossible to read the actual content you came to the page for. When I first loaded, an ad popped up that literally took up half the screen, and halfway down the article I got an auto-playing video. Scrolled down the next article, another auto-playing ad.

        I’d personally rather pay a subscription for a periodical I read often than be subjected to a 30-second video every time I load a page. But even without a subscription model, I don’t mind the ads on AAM, which are far less annoying and actually tailored based on my search history.

    3. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Are you using AdBlock Plus? I’ve switched to AdBlock (completely different product) and I can read those publications without the ads and without signing up. And it has an “acceptable ads” filter, which allows you to permit ads that meet certain non-intrusive standards, like not flashing, playing audio or video, etc.

      There’s also BugMeNot, which lets people share anonymous, made-up accounts.

      1. AW*

        AdBlock Plus is supposed to have an “acceptable ads” whitelist as well. IIRC, people went nuts when they implemented it. I think their reasoning, which is that they want to encourage advertisers to create good ads (which they can’t do if they block everything), is fair and correct.

        1. Honeybee*

          This! I don’t mind ads! I learn about cool products and services and companies who make stuff I like get paid. Win-win. I do mind obtrusive or terrible ads that are annoying or break my browser.

      2. Candi*

        Bugmenot accounts will get the account banned on some sites. The things are searchable, so it’s not that hard for a user to find and report it. (Seen it happen a couple years ago.)

  6. Not a Real Giraffe*

    Great advice from Alison here. You *are* giving him more notice; you’ve given him at least two months’ of notice. He needs to be utilizing this time to lay the foundation for the transition. Are there processes he isn’t 100% familiar with? Do you need to crosstrain a coworker? That can all happen right now. He needs to be making the most of all the time you’ve given him already.

    1. TCO*

      Exactly. Training, documentation, updating your position description, planning with his boss/team, deciding what skills he needs in a replacement, casual recruitment–those are all things he could be doing now to ease the pain of turnover. If he’s not doing those, that’s on him.

  7. Menacia*

    I’m curious OP, you said your boss expects and needs you to give him 4 weeks notice, what was your response to that? Did you say yes, or that you would have to think about it? I also recommend that you consult your HR handbook regarding notice. Two weeks should be plenty if you’ve given him a heads up and he’s starting to prepare for your eventual departure, even if he can’t hire anyone, there are other ways to prepare. Don’t make him do anything you don’t want to do, it’s actually not up to your boss to decide that.

  8. CrispyBearcat*

    It is as if I wrote this myself, I am in this exact predicament now! Thank you OP for so eloquently describing my feelings and Alison for the peace of mind!

  9. AdAgencyChick*

    Since this is an older post, I’m curious how much notice the employee did end up giving and how it went.

  10. KarenD*

    Given that this is an archive post, the decision is long since made, but Alison’s advice is spot-on as always.

    From my own experience, I have found that leapfrogging from the intense activity of closing down one job to the intense activity of finding my way in a new one is extraordinarily draining and undercuts my flexibility at the new job. In this situation, always put your own needs and the needs of the new employer first, no matter how generous the old one has been.

  11. Engineer Girl*

    The OP gave plenty of notice. As AAM said, the boss could be reaching out to potential candidates even though he can’t post the job yet. That is something good bosses do anyway – they are always recruiting good employees. I know that several of my job assignments were the result of managers asking me to consider them when my current assignment ended.
    OP – do not harm yourself to enable dysfunctional recruiting practices. The only thing that changes these practices are actual consequences. You are not responsible for the limits that your boss is facing. You gave him plenty of notice and he isn’t acting on it. It isn’t yours to fix.
    Give your two weeks and don’t look back.

    1. TootsNYC*


      Good bosses are always keeping their hiring network fresh.

      And when you know someone might be leaving, you step it up. You say to former colleagues, “I might be having an opening soon, so if you run across people you think should move up from their current jobs, send them my way.” You call the placement offices at a few strategic universities and say, “I might be having an opening, so send people my way.”

      This boss is really lazy in terms of recruiting!

      If I were the OP, I might saying, “Oh, you aren’t doing some reaching out even now? You don’t have to wait for a job listing to let your network know you might be looking, or to do a little searching on LinkedIn.”

  12. animaniactoo*

    The fact that he “needs” it doesn’t mean that you have to give it to him.

    I mean – part of the reason you’re leaving this job is because it’s demanded more of you than you can take. Their recruiting structure is not your problem, you didn’t set it that way, and if boss needs more notice time because of it that is not your problem. Instead of pressuring you for more notice, he could be pressuring the company to change its policy pointing out the issues that are being created by it. Including pushing candidates to start within 2 weeks because they need to get a body in that seat.

  13. Purest Green*

    This isn’t directly related to the question, but does anyone know why two weeks is the “standard” notice? As in, how that came to be the accepted norm?

    1. SMT*

      I know in my hospitality job schedules are put out 2 weeks in advance – I’m not sure how that translates to a regular M-F 9-5 job.

  14. Happy Cynic*

    When I left a bad job I’d spent years at, and came to work for a much smaller place with people and work I love, I negotiated an entire FOUR weeks off between jobs. I took a road trip, cleaned my place top to bottom, saw old friends I hadn’t seen in years, and still had time to lounge by a pool for a couple of days.

    It was expensive, but it cleared my head like never before and was the best thing I ever did for myself. Negotiate as much time off for yourself as you can afford. You will not regret it.

  15. Barney Barnaby*

    So here’s my question: what are you doing during Weeks #3 and #4 that is substantially different than what you would be doing for the for the two weeks following your notice? It’s not like they are going to be able to have someone hired on in that timeframe that you could train. It’s just shortening the gap between employees from what, eight weeks to seven weeks?

    I just don’t think that your manager is getting such a benefit from this additional week that it’s worth your mental health. He’s still going to have to interview, background check, and hire someone; that person will still have to be trained without you; there will still be a not-insubstantial gap between when you leave and when the next person is ramped up.

  16. Jeanne*

    Any amount of notice will still leave old boss in a predicament. He still has to handle things until he hires a replacement. You cannot and should not be responsible for that. Move on knowing you’ve done the best you can. Also, if he thinks he can hire someone in 4 weeks, he is obviously asking them to give only 2 weeks notice. Just give your 2 weeks and walk away.

  17. TootsNYC*

    Ooh, let’s make a list.

    What a Good Manager Does With a Long But Indistinct Notice Period

    • work up a job description
    • review, refine, or create procedures
    • review, refine, or create documentation
    • create a training plan
    • review corporate hiring procedures
    • contact former colleagues about a possible opening coming up
    • contact colleges & universities about a possible opening coming up
    • conduct exploratory interviews with particularly appealing candidates that bubble up from this
    • identify current employees who can pinch-hit in the interim
    • arrange training for interim employees
    • consider whether temporary or contract help will be needed in the interim; identify possible sources of those

    What am I missing?

    1. Diluted_Tortoiseshell*

      I know right? This whole, woa is me my company won’t let me post the position is not a get out of jail free for failing to take the long notice and work with it card.

    2. People!!*

      This is a really helpful list. If you see my post on today’s open thread, you’ll notice that I wouldn’t be surprised to find myself 1. very engaged in PIP-related counseling that 2. doesn’t result in employee improvement. Having some legwork done before that happens is a good idea.
      (And lest someone think I’m inappropriately negative and not open-minded about my employees, I’ve been their manager for a year, during which they didn’t have performance plans (performance plans can only be created in a 6-week period) so couldn’t be put on PIPs.)

    3. OwnedByTheCat*

      Well, I know what it’s not:
      -Continue to pile on work during the 7-week notice period as if the employee was never leaving;
      -Ask for the same training plan repeatedly and then never look at it;
      -and…refuse to hire a replacement even 4 months after the employee has left.

      I gave 7 weeks notice when I knew I was moving across the country, and left my previous position in June. In October, they still hadn’t filled the position and the stress of having a three person department down 33% of the team caused another team member to leave. How long do you think it will take to replace them?

  18. Tiny_Tiger*

    I wouldn’t feel guilty at all about only giving your boss 2 weeks notice at this point. He’s known about your job search long enough that he should have taken the opportunity to put out his own feelers for a replacement. If he hasn’t felt the need to take advantage of this prior knowledge it’s not your responsibility to make it easier on him now. I’m toying with the idea of giving my current job longer than a 2 week notice as I’m going to be starting my own business rather than going to work for someone else. But I’m leaning more towards the 2-weeks since it is standard.

  19. Gaara*

    Am I the only one with some sympathy for the boss, here? The LW didn’t really give notice as such; they said “I’m job searching.” It sounds like the boss said, “sure, go ahead, and in the meantime I won’t push you out the door.”

    LW has to do what’s best for them, but man, if possible, I’d want to try to give my boss more than two weeks’ formal notice, given the “search and replace” restraint placed on the boss — namely, that they can’t take steps to hire the replacement until the LW has given notice.

    I understand this is a dumb policy, and the boss should challenge it somehow if possible, but at the same time, they reacted exactly as you would hope (and as my current job never would): by enabling you to look for a job, with their knowledge, and without pushing you out the door or setting an end date. For me, that would be enough to take less time than ideally desired between jobs, and I don’t think it’s an outrageous ask by the boss.

    1. Isben Takes Tea*

      Maybe a bit initially, but given that 1) the OP was initially pressured into giving short notice at her prior job, 2) the OP already declared intention of 2-3 weeks’ notice, and 3) the boss then phrases it as “expects and needs” as opposed to a “would really like to work out a situation where…”–no. Not really.

    2. MillersSpring*

      Your sympathy to the constraints on the current boss is admirable but misplaced. Once you’ve accepted an offer, make your new employer your priority and let the current boss deal. Give notice that is customary and reasonable, and leave on good terms. That should be enough that your current boss will want to be a reference for you in the future. You don’t have to take care of him to still leave in an ethical manner.

    3. AcademiaNut*

      The OP did her boss a favour by letting him know she was planning to be leaving, though – it would have been perfectly acceptable, and less of a personal risk, to hide her job search, wait until she had a new position, and give two weeks notice then. As it is, the boss has an extended period of time to prepare for the change – write up job duties, polish the job description, document everything, etc.

      And the extra two weeks would be, at most, a minor benefit, given the time it will likely take to do the paperwork for the new position, post it, collect resumes, do phone screenings, arrange interviews, make offers, have them accepted, and then wait a minimum of two weeks for the new person starts. Compare that the the cost to the OP – going from a demanding job where she’s nearly burnt out, finishing work on Friday, and starting work on Monday, ramping up on a new position while totally exhausted, and potentially having to wait an extended period of time before she’s eligible for vacation at the new job.

    4. Honeybee*

      “I’m job searching” IS notice. It’s essentially saying “I am looking to leave this company in the next couple of months, so you can start preparing to replace my position in the nearish future.” A good boss can then start putting out feelers for who might be out there as well as refining internal processes to prepare for who will take over the employee’s process.

      At the same time, I don’t think the policy is a dumb policy, either. It’s in place to prevent managers from requesting and posting hires that they don’t actually need. A person could say “I am engaging in a job search” and then 6 months later decide that there’s nothing out there on the market that makes them want to move enough, or their plans chance otherwise, or it just takes them longer than expected to find something. You can’t post for a job that you don’t know for sure is coming available.

      The notice period is not intended to give employers time to find someone to replace you; it’s intended to give you and the employer time to put a transition plan in place.

  20. Artemesia*

    The boss is taking advantage precisely because she gave the two months notice of the search. He feels he can prevail on her to disadvantage herself to make his life easier. The OP has behaved admirably and should not hesitate to say when the time comes and he pressures for more notice ‘That won’t be possible. Let’s sit down and figure out how I can use the two weeks to make the transition go as smoothly as possible.’ period. no hesitation. Giving up a couple of weeks of down time between jobs that makes your life better and helps you start a new job gracefully and full of energy is a huge mistake. Don’t discuss that you need vacation or can be on call or whatever. Don’t waffle and justify. Simply state when you have the new job lined up ‘That won’t be possible.’ do what you can in advance to document, cross train if possible, make sure your work is well organized for hand off — then walk out the door. NEVER disadvantage yourself in order to let someone else sponge on your good nature. The boss has lots of time to equip himself to make the transition. The advantage to him of you being at his beck and call for 4 weeks is slight; the disadvantage to you is huge. Be calm and courteous and firm and don’t JADE — Justify, argue, defend, explain. That just invites pushback. ‘That won’t be possible, so lets figure out what we can do in this two weeks to make the transition as easy as possible.’ PERIOD.

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