do I have to give two weeks notice?

A reader writes:

I have received a job offer that I am going to take. I am waiting for background checks to process before I can officially accept and start.

What I am wondering is, once my offer is official and I am ready to leave my current job, how vital is it to give a two-week notice period? I know that it is a courtesy in order for my company to prepare a replacement and allow me to tie up loose ends, but since I already knew my departure was imminent I have wrapped up most of my outstanding work. I think I could finish everything I need to be done in a week (maybe even less). The summer is our “slow period” so there really isn’t a whole lot of work to take on right now. I also know that due to budget reasons my position will be left vacant for months (possibly never reopened).

I know people in the past have given short notice here due to the fact that their new jobs needed them to start immediately, but that isn’t *technically* my case. I am just really itching to leave here.

In general, you should always offer two weeks notice. That’s the professional convention, and because it’s so ingrained in workplace norms, it can be A Big Deal if you don’t — it can burn a bridge and even affect how your non-manager coworkers see you. (There are some exceptions to this, though, which we’ll get to in a minute.)

People sometimes like to argue that you’re not under any obligation to give two weeks notice because “the company wouldn’t give you notice if they decided to lay you off,” etc. And that’s true, they wouldn’t. They’d often give you severance though. But even where they wouldn’t, giving two weeks notice is still in your best interests, because your professional reputation matters. Really matters — not just theoretically. It can affect things like what kind of references you get and whether or not someone thinks of you for a job opening.

Also, there’s sometimes confusion about the purpose of the notice period. Those two weeks aren’t intended to give your employer time to hire and train your replacement (hiring alone usually takes much longer than two weeks). They’re intended to provide time to transition your projects, do some basic knowledge transfer, tie up whatever loose ends can be tied up in that amount of time, and create documentation that will be helpful for whoever takes over after you.

In a situation like yours where you don’t need the full two weeks to do that, you should still offer the two weeks — because again, professional convention. But you can say something like this: “I wanted to talk to you about my ending date. I can of course work a full two-week notice period if you’d like me to, but I expect to be able to wrap up A, B, and C in a week or less. I also know it’s our slow period and the budget is tight right now. Would you be open to setting my last day as (date) instead? Or would you prefer I work the full two weeks?”

That conveys that you’re happy to stick to the professional convention if they’d like you to, but offers up an additional option that might work for both of you. And they might take you up on it. If they don’t, they don’t — but it’s worth asking.

Also! There are some exceptions to everything above. Sometimes people are in a situation where they genuinely can’t give two weeks notice — because of a health condition or an unplanned move or a family crisis or so forth. In those cases, you simply explain the situation and apologize, and people will generally get it. It’s a little trickier if you need to leave earlier because the new job is insisting you start earlier, but even that can be explained (it’s just not quite as sympathy-generating as the other reasons are).

But in general, unless you have an exception like that, you always want to offer two weeks — and can then try negotiating down from there in a situation like yours.

(One other exception is if your company generally has people leave as soon as they give notice. If that’s the case and if they don’t pay out the notice period when they do that, they’ve forfeited any expectation to get notice.)

{ 301 comments… read them below }

  1. Lena Clare

    The convention is you give the notice for the length of time you’re paid for, so if you’re paid monthly you give a month’s notice, paid fortnightly you give two weeks’ notice… etc. Or more. But not less unless you want to leave on bad terms. Exceptions are as Alison states!

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      Hmmm, that is not a U.S. convention! I’m thinking you aren’t in the U.S.? Here it has nothing to do with how frequently you’re paid.

      1. Lena Clare

        I’m in the UK! I did not know that was not the convention :) i have learnt something!

        1. Mary

          I’ve never come across that! You’ll pretty much always have your notice period specified in your contract, surely?

          1. Marzipan

            Yeah, that’s not something I’m familiar with in the UK. I agree it’s generally in the contract. In my current job, I’d have to give THREE MONTHS notice, and they definitely pay me more often than that!

            My sense of the broader UK convention would be that a month’s notice is more typical, if for some reason it wasn’t spelled out. Two weeks has always seemed incredibly short, when I’ve seen it mentioned on here.

            1. LDN Layabout

              I’ve seen three months as standard in senior individual contributor/beginner-to-mid management level in my niche in the UK.

              1. Sarah

                My notice period is three months (UK) but I’m definitely not senior management. It’s very annoying!

                1. Darren

                  My notice period is also 3 months (Australia). You appear to have misread LDN Layabout though they said it was for either a senior individual contributor role OR a beginner-to-mid management role in their field. And it’s the same in my field (I’ve held both kinds and they both have the same) senior management tends to be longer (6 months or more).

              1. Incantanto

                How does it all work then? Do you like just turn up and assume money will arrive? I’d never start work without a proper employment contract

                1. Fortitude Jones

                  Yup, that’s basically it. We take it on faith that our employers will honor their agreement to the terms of our offer letters.

                2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

                  It’s very common! For certain white-collar jobs, you negotiate compensation and benefits in an offer letter (still not an employment contract). But for nearly all my other jobs, I was told the hourly pay rate during the application process, I was given a start date, and I just showed up on that date and was paid regularly.

                3. Gaia

                  Yes, but payment is discussed and agreed beforehand. And there are serious legal ramifications for not paying someone for their work. It is really, really a very big deal. So much so that it is verging on unheard of. The legal protections in place serve in place of a contract, in this case.

                4. AcademiaNut

                  The US laws really aren’t comparable to having a contract!

                  The laws require the employer to pay you for what you’ve already worked (ie, they can’t retroactively change your pay), but they can change almost anything at any point going forward.

                  You can walk into work one day, and they can decrease your salary or hours, change benefits, take away future vacation or sick leave, refuse to to actually let you take sick or vacation leave, change your job duties substantially, demote you, fire you without notice, and go back on written or verbal agreements about negotiated perks – flex hours, working from home, etc. They can’t reduce your salary below minimum wage (or the limit for exempt employees, if applicable) and they can’t require you to work for free. For most of the rest, the only protection is that if the change is severe enough, you can quit and still be eligible for unemployment.

                  On the employee’s side, you have the right to quit without notice, and that’s about it.

                5. JediSquirrel

                  It’s called “at-will employment”. You can google it—there’s a lot there.

                  Basically, it means that management is free to let you go at any time for any reason, and you can walk away from the job at any time for any reason. Of course, it’s still best to give two weeks’ notice, but ghosting jobs has become a thing now.

                6. LGC

                  So…basically? (All the Europeans are gearing up to tell us yet again that we’re insane, and…I’m not going to argue either way.)

                  To reiterate, the US (now more than ever) is 50+ separate fiefdoms that decide to work together sometimes (this is why letter writers sometimes specify their state – that can determine the answer). If I remember correctly, almost all states allow at-will employment (the exception is Montana, I think?), which is what you’re talking about. Basically, you or your employer CAN decide to terminate your employment at any time for any reason outside of a few forbidden reasons. I think in my state, you can receive unemployment benefits if your employer changes your work conditions substantially for the worse (for example, if your employer reduces your hours from 40 to 20 weekly, when you were previously promised full time employment).

                  Normally, my org’s given offer letters and pay change documentation. It’s not a legal contract, but it is evidence of pay and schedule agreements.

                7. SunnyD

                  My org makes us all sign annually that we understand that we have virtually no rights, they can change any conditions of employment when they want, including hours and salary.

                  They ALSO, separately, keep trying to figure out how to increase morale. Hmm.

                8. I'm just here for the comments

                  I think the closest we have in the U.S. to employment contracts are union contracts (if you belong to one). That’s the only time I’ve heard of that employers can’t unilaterally change the conditions of employment or benefits; they have to negotiate with the union for that and only when the current contract expires. However, I don’t know how they stipulate how long your notice period should be. And while it’s difficult to be fired from a union job it’s not impossible. But unions are also a dying breed among the U.S. work force and mostly exist in the tradesmen and blue collar realms (as well as some teachers’ and nurses’ unions).

          2. Jilly

            In the US it’s rare for full time employees to have contracts (except Montana and certain specific industries). Instead we get an offer letter that we often have to sign. It generally outlines the title, starting rate and possibly a summary of benefits but it is not a legally enforceable contract like a consultant might have and doesn’t have things like terms and conditions. Often once you start you have to sign a form that acknowledges the company handbook (I actually have to acknowledge each separate section of my company’s handbook every year), but not every company has a handbook.

            1. Ra94

              So, this is true of me and all my friends in the US, but my dad- who used to work in data processing in the 80s/90s and retired in 2003- claims he always, always had a contract, whether he was a permanent employee or a contractor. (Illinois, if that matters). Is this a trend that changed over the decades, or was his experience a fluke?

        2. Blue Dog

          Had a feeling when you used the term “fortnightly” that we might be looking at a difference in cultural norms. :-)

          1. Liar Liar Pants Dracarys

            I feel like we really need to up our usage of “fortnightly” in the US.

            1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

              It’s way less confusing than the bimonthly v. semimonthly confusion!

              1. Gaia

                I hate bi-monthly because it could be either twice a month or every two months. While most use it to mean twice a month even that isn’t accurate when you’re paid “bi-monthly” but are actually paid every two weeks. Aaargh.

                Language!

                1. anonami

                  I am actually paid bimonthly (thankfully twice monthly and not every 2 months) but it is a huge pain due to my employeers really strange schedule. It is based on a certain number of business days after 2 points in the month.

                2. Massmatt

                  I have worked jobs where I needed to know how much and how often a customer was paid, SO many people got biweekly and bimonthly confused. More than once someone would say bimonthly, I would confirm “ok, so twice per month?” They’d say “yeah, that’s right. Except for two months where I get an extra paycheck….”

                  The number of people that have no idea how MUCH they were paid was shocking. Some were puzzled that anyone could even know such a thing.

        3. Batgirl

          UK person and I’ve never known it to be spelled out that way. However I’ve always been paid monthly with a month’s notice specified in my contract. …

        4. londonedit

          Lena Clare, I’m also in the UK and have never heard of a notice period being tied to how frequently you’re paid. Notice periods have always been set out in my employment contracts (usually a month, but sometimes three months. Where I work now, they’re changing it to six weeks for everyone except senior staff).

        5. MJ

          It’s not the convention, but it’s not a terrible method of figuring out how much lead time you can give.

      2. Ruth

        I wonder if some of this has to do with how jobs are classified and understood. This is the understood case in US academic libraries, where I work. While a librarian being paid monthly could certainly give 2 weeks, I have only seen someone give that once and it was absolutely taken as a door slam on the way out. OTOH when you’re on a 2-week pay schedule, either because you’re staff or because you’re at a job (academic, public, etc.) where librarians are classed as every-2-week workers, then 2 weeks is A-ok.

        1. TardyTardis

          I was in a *very* low level job interviewing for a slightly better job, and I think I clinched the interview when they asked, ‘when can you start?’–when I said, “I will have to give two weeks notice to my current job.” That way, they knew I wouldn’t leave *them* in a ditch. (as it was, they dropped me about two weeks before I had to quit anyway–I had orders to leave for Arkansas, and the US Air Force can get really snippy about that kind of thing, but as it was I had a bit more time to pack etc.). However, the place knew that this was a temporary job for me anyway, to fill up the time and like, eat, before heading out to Arkansas.

      3. Commentor

        I work in higher ed in the US and the notice that period is based on your pay period. It can be a BIG DEAL when you are required to give notice and start another job.

        1. Justme, The OG

          Interesting. That was not my experience when I left a position a few years ago.

          1. Commentor

            Yea, in my experience its based on the pay periods. It has been difficult for people leaving because it is a long time to wait to leave and for a position to be held. It is even that way moving between departments so it is always a big pain. It is tied with our vacation payout.

        2. Sophia Brooks

          I just found this out. When I was classed as support staff two weeks was OK, but as professional staff, it is one month and my school within the University sticks to it!

      4. Shax

        I’ve worked in the UK and NZ, mainly office jobs, and the contracts have all defined one month’s notice either way – if my boss wants to let me go, or I want to leave, it’s a months notice for both of us. It seems pretty fair for both of us to plan if things suddenly change. It’s meant that I can even be involved in the interview process for my replacements.

        There’s usually a conduct section in the contract that defines a few situations in which they don’t have to give me one months notice; usually bad stuff like workplace violence, or just not showing up for work for several days in a row without explanation automatically terminates the contract.

        I wonder if it would be interesting to compare some typical employment contracts from around the world…

          1. Gaia

            Because we don’t have contracts, we rely on laws to ensure we’re paid as we’re supposed to be. If a company decided to go rogue and not pay (which would be very, very bad) the employee would have worked an entire month plus some before realizing what had happened. Most laws have this in mind when they don’t permit it. Easier to spot an issue sooner.

            1. Darren

              Most monthly pay cycles are half in advance, half in arrears. So you are never our much more than the amount of pay you would be on a fortnightly cycle. Of course this is in Australia don’t know if the US does it the same but it would allow them to get around any employee protection laws that would required paying no later than 2 weeks after the work is done so I would assume it would work the same.

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

          It depends on your job and classification! I’ve been paid monthly my entire post-college life :(

      1. ThatGirl

        I’m sure there are jobs out there where people are paid monthly, but either every week, every other week or twice a month (like, 15th and 30th) are most common.

        1. ello

          Yes, I have one of those jobs – I am in the U.S. (California) and get paid monthly, but I am also a government employee with an employment contract.

          1. Boba tea

            I was also going to ask i get paid monthly and i work for a state agency as well. I do prefer biweekly though

      2. Natatat

        And it’s also the custom in Canada. (US and Canada have some overlap in labour norms)

    2. Amey

      Definitely not the case in my UK job! Every UK job I’ve worked, it’s been specified in my contract. I’ve always had a minimum of one month for permanent positions (including in retail) and at my current employer (a university), it’s 1 month for entry level positions and 3 months for anything more senior. Very senior posts are 6 months to a year I think!

    3. Anathema Device

      No, the convention in the UK is you give the amount of notice in your contract. But this isn’t a UK blog, so obviously this won’t apply to everyone.

      1. LDN Layabout

        Yup. And these tend to correspond to either job role or how long you’ve been there.

        (How I enjoyed giving my contracted notice while I was effectively working two levels above that and if they’d even given me just one promotion up they’d have gotten 3x the notice out of me…)

    4. CheeseGirl

      In my industry, the notice period normally corresponds with your role in the company. I work in a hospital, so support services are required to give two weeks (janitorial staff, food workers, transport, security, etc). Managerial level and above (managers, directors, VPs, C level) have to give four weeks notice. Everyone else in between, generally, have to give three weeks notice. It’s been the same at every hospital I’ve worked at.

      1. Fergus

        But if you don’t there is nothing they can do. I work in IT I have seen people and I have been perped walked right o the door after notice. I believe in giving notice with some employers, with others nope.

        1. I'm just here for the comments

          I worked in a hospital as well. For the nursing staff the norm was 4 weeks notice (the exception being if you were still on orientation). I knew one nurse that left after 2 weeks notice, and oooh boy, management was not happy! But, it’s not like they could’ve stopped the nurse from leaving.

  2. AskAnEmployee

    The answer to this post should be one word: “No.”

    I’ve given notice once and have been told that my last day was going to be that day, so I missed out on two weeks of pay by following the courtesy once. Allison is right that this is a norm, but (i) unless you work in a niche field/small community, I don’t think this sort of thing will have as much impact as she says and (ii) the norm should change because it is dumb and wrong.

    1. Construction Safety

      Yeah, I got the perp walked the next day after giving notice. They didn’t pay me out for my vacay even though it was within the terms of the company policy.

      The next guy to leave came back from vacay and said “Today’s my last day.”

    2. Ask a Manager Post author

      That’s incredibly irresponsible advice. People ruin references over this.

      It’s absolutely true that if your company has a habit of making people leave right when they give notice, that’s a different situation, and actually I’m going to add this to the post. But that’s not most companies, and you’re giving bad, irresponsible advice to most people.

      1. animaniactoo

        Yeah, I came to the comments to say that you’d missed your usual advice about companies who routinely screw people giving notice have forfeited their right to notice.

        But otherwise, you don’t not do it because you got burned one time.

      2. Mediamaven

        Completely agree. There will always be jerk companies (just like there are jerk employees) but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try to do what’s right. Many of us work in tight knit industries and you may encounter past colleagues who will have a bad taste in their mouths. Or you forfeit what could have been a great reference. Think of it as what you are doing for yourself professionally, not what you are doing for them. Burning bridges will hurt you a lot more than it will your employer.

        1. Fergus

          I agree not to burn bridges as an employee unless the employer, when has no reason, is pouring gasoline on his side of the bridge.

      3. Sharkie

        I have noticed that more companies are moving towards the walking you out early model. I am 26 and I only know of one person who was actually allowed to have the full 2 weeks but they were a project lead.

        1. Neal II

          With respect, that’s a whole bunch of anecdata based on a couple of years in the workforce. I know almost no one who was walked out early. It happens but I see no signs it’s increasing in frequency.

          1. Zombeyonce

            The frequency of this is also affected by profession. I’d expect walk outs of the day if notice to happen far more often in financial sector jobs as opposed to, say, a retail worker.

            1. Sharkie

              Yep. It is a lot of IT, Finance, Health care and HR. I have been working full time with benefits since college and have been perp walked in my 2 jobs. I also have friends in their 30’s and in their 40’s and over the past 5-7 years, the forcing people out early has happened in their offices as well.

              1. Sharkie

                Also, you should always always give 2 weeks notice (except when you might be in danger or other rare circumstances) but be prepared to be walked out at any time.

              2. Ask a Manager Post author

                I agree there are no signs it’s increasing in frequency, but it’s long been a common precaution in fields like finance. But decent companies that do that still pay out your notice period; they just don’t keep you in the office working.

                1. Sharkie

                  Yes agreed! It could also be my region or a thousand other things, but I had never heard of people being walked out when they gave two weeks until I entered the workforce, and it seems to happen a lot, or at least I am noticing more lol

              3. The Man, Becky Lynch

                It’s certainly a known possibility in a lot of places, every time we hire someone we tell them that if they’re able to start earlier due to changed circumstances [alluding to if you’re asked to leave immediately], that we’re happy to take them on sooner. However we never walk anyone out and I’ve never seen it happen ever, unless it’s a dramatic kind of “FINE! Then this is my two week notice!” flounce I’ve seen a couple of times in the shop. Then it’s just “you know what, you can leave now, that’s fine.”

            2. Gaia

              Agreed. Given my role and the level of access I have to sensitive information, I am almost never permitted to work out my notice period. But I always offer it. And I’ve always been paid for my notice period even though I do not work.

    3. fposte

      It’s not dumb and wrong when it goes well, though, and often it goes just fine. That doesn’t mean it should be the norm that it is, but it’s not an inherently bad idea.

    4. Rebecca

      I agree. When I asked a professional group for advice about leaving my last job (short version, I was there 7 weeks during which time there was no onboarding, my manager was laid off, and other nonsense too numerous/grievous to list), I was condescendingly told I needed to leave “gracefully” and work out the entire two weeks. I did that and ended up doing very little – maybe three days’ worth of tying up loose ends.
      This nonsense about “burning a bridge” is very overwrought. So I give one week notice and the general manager of the second-floor copy room at Johnny’s Plastic Turtle Hut thinks I am a bad egg forever? I can live with that.
      I think leaving a job “on good terms” means that you behave professionally, not that you sit and twiddle your thumbs for ten days if five days will suffice.

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        I mean, do you want a reference from that job in the future? And even if you don’t, are you concerned about what they’ll say when a prospective employer calls them even though they’re not on your reference list, which happens? If they want to pay you to do little for two weeks, how is that a huge problem for you? And if it IS a huge problem, you can use the advice in the post about discussing a shorter time period.

        1. always in email jail

          “If they want to pay you to do little for two weeks, how is that a huge problem for you?” EXACTLY. Way worse ways to earn money than to just sit at your desk and be available while you wait out your two weeks.

        2. lisa

          One of the best pieces of advice I ever received was “You’re only as good as your last two weeks on the job.” That’s the final impression people have of you, and it really can hurt a professional reputation you spent a lot of time building, through recency bias alone. If conserving your reputation means you have a few slow days, or even a slow week, while you wrap up your notice period, I think it’s worth it to ensure that you have stronger references to help you move forward in the future.

        3. Ask a Manager Post author

          Oh, and I missed that you were only there 7 weeks total — which is an unusual situation and not what we’re typically talking about. (In this case I assume you’re not even putting that job on your resume so references are moot.)

          1. mark132

            We’ve had people try to give two weeks notice when they’ve only been there for a couple of months or less. They are often surprised when they get walked out that day. (I don’t know if the two weeks are paid out to them, I would honest prefer not.)

        4. Rebecca

          I’m not talking about ghosting a job, leaving dramatically, telling people off, or other bad behavior. My point is that if giving one week of notice, for example, rather than two, is going to ruin someone’s opinion of me forever, then no, I don’t care about that reference. At all. Because there is nothing I can do to please that person anyway.
          People put up with a lot of terrible behavior in work situations because OMG BURNING A BRIDGE. What I am saying is that I think we can all be adults, behave professionally, and still not sit around wasting time for two weeks if it isn’t necessary. It’s highly situational but I just don’t think it’s a do-or-die in every single case.

          1. Gaia

            Do you care if someone from that job ends up at a company considering you for a future job? Or if someone considering you for a future job in which you’re in a tight competition with someone else calls someone from that job and asks? Because you probably should. Remember that you don’t control all of your references.

          2. Retired and Happy Now

            After 15 months of being treated poorly by the manager in an contract position with no benefits in an HR department, I finally landed a permanent position to start in two weeks. I had no vacation in that time and was stressed out and exhausted. I also needed to handle some household matters. before the new job. The day the new job was set in stone, I told the contract place that it was my last day. I fully expected to be perp-walked since I had full access to all HR and payroll records. Instead I worked to my regular time then left without fanfare. Since the policy there was to only confirm employment (I sat next to the person who handled reference requests), I was not losing anything by walking out.

            1. boop the first

              Hmm yeah. I tend to stick around too long so I’ve only had a few separate jobs. 1 ended with a very long notice period because I was in a really bad way and had no job lined up. I just preferred to be unemployed for a while. A couple were lay-offs. So I only ever had ONE job that ended into a new job – like you, I terribly needed a vacation but couldn’t take one. And the new job made me train while I was still employed at old job, so those two weeks I worked every single day which was a lousy experience. And my old boss was very cold during those two weeks, which broke my heart because I felt like we had a bond. I guess it was one-sided. And none of my jobs ever called for references anyway, so those two weeks straight of lonely work was not very worth it.

      2. animaniactoo

        Okay, but again, you’re talking about an outlier situation – you weren’t even there a full two months, and the company had no real investment in you, your training, or your particular skills.

        However, you also don’t know where you might run across that general manager of the 2nd floor copy room and how it might affect you in future. Is it an outside chance? Probably. But on the other hand… were you seriously harmed by twiddling your thumbs for an extra week? If so, that’s a stronger argument for cutting your notice short. If not, then it’s a week out of your life that you made money for and it’s probably better to err on the side of caution and do the week. Show that you understand professional norms and abide by them and keep that instilled in your own head by following through with it.

      3. fposte

        You can absolutely get away with it in many situations; if you didn’t work very long for Johnny and you’ve already gotten hired at the Platypus Hut without his reference, it might never matter.

        But if you’re leaving the Turtle Hut while you’re still job searching, or if the Turtle Hut is a significant entry on your resume (like you’ve worked there for three years post-college), not being able to produce a reference from Johnny is going to raise eyebrows in a lot of hiring circles. It’s also worth remembering that references can be crucial *two* jobs along, not just one, because if you’re searching for a new job while you’re working at the Platypus Shack, you may not want to alert them you’re searching and will want to rely on your references for your previous time.

      4. BRR

        I think your situation is different though. I feel like notice isn’t a big deal for seven weeks because there’s probably not much to transition.

        1. RUKiddingMe

          Also its super easy to leave off the seven week job and to justify what you were doing for that time.

      5. SheLooksFamiliar

        ‘This nonsense about “burning a bridge” is very overwrought. ‘

        STRONG disagree. I’ve just begun to look for a new role and have crossed paths with former co-workers, some from 30+ years ago. Some of this was normal, because I attended an industry event and knew they’d be there. Some was unexpected: ‘Oh, John Smith works with you? We were on the same team at Long Ago Employer, small world…’ We know, work with, and talk to the same people. Let me assure you, these former colleagues remember what they heard about me when/after I left a company. Unbeknownst to me, some of them shared their opinions with the interview team.

        Thankfully, I didn’t burn bridges…but what if I had? Things come home to roost, and all that. Be professional, give reasonable notice, and if nothing else feel superior because you did the right thing.

        1. NicoleK

          Definitely agree. If you work in a niche, specialized, or small industry it is beneficial to give two weeks notice (or what ever the norm is). You never know when a former colleague might have influence in hiring decisions.

          1. SheLooksFamiliar

            Agreed – even if you don’t work in a specialized industry or function, it still pays to show professional courtesy. You never know who knows the people you know, you know?

          2. Miss Pantalones en Fuego

            This is definitely true in my field. We move around from employer to employer a lot; after a few months in the field I found that almost everyone I’ve worked with has worked with someone else I know. I have had people tell me that they see that I’ve worked with so-and-so and if they were deciding whether to hire me they would definitely be calling that person, even if I didn’t list them as a reference. And even if they didn’t do that they might have someone working for them who has worked with me or heard of me.

        2. Engineer Girl

          Exactly.
          I have received four (Four!) job offers from managers or Vice Presidents that I had previously worked with. I didn’t even have to interview for two of them. For the third, I was so strongly recommended that my interviewing manager stated he felt he had “no choice” but to take me (he was happy with this)
          All of the jobs I received through recommendations were some of the most career enhancing of of work life. They were fun jobs too!

          I believe that the people that are stating it isn’t a big deal are at the beginning of their career and haven’t seen the consequences of leaving well.

          It has a profound impact on your career trajectory, especially if you are a professional.

          1. Engineer Girl

            Oh, and I just remembered a fifth job where I was recommended by the chief scientist. I that case, I had stayed to the end of the program ensuring a clean transfer to the new mode. Others bailed early.

            Always finish well

        3. Rebecca

          The issue here is that I wouldn’t consider giving a week’s notice in many situations to be “burning a bridge” at all. It is five days. I am not talking about disappearing one day or behaving unprofessionally.

        4. Quickbeam

          I got my current and last job (I’ll retire from it) from a colleague of 30 years ago who liked my work back then. Maintaining cordial and positive relationships within you community can be a lifesaver. It was for me.

        5. iglwif

          Yes, all of this!

          I’ve spent my whole career in different sectors of what’s honestly an extremely niche industry where, despite very wide geographic spread, almost everyone knows everyone (or knows someone who does). It’s a super collegial and supportive industry! But part of that is that people trust each other’s informal “references” and won’t say something positive unless it’s true.

      6. Colette

        It’s not just about the manager – it’s about everyone else at that business. I had a coworker leave with 1 day notice once. I’ll remember that, and it will always affect whether I’m willing to help him get jobs in the future – because I don’t want to pin my reputation to someone who does that.

    5. Engineer Girl

      This can sometimes happen. But it is rare in professional jobs and uncommon in lower tier jobs.
      Don’t let their lack of professionalism cause you to be unprofessional. It affects your reputation.

      1. RUKiddingMe

        And…”you want to give me money to sit here reading ASM and playing *Candy Crush for two weeks? Ok!”

        *I don’t actually play CC.

    6. CatCat

      This missing out on the two weeks pay thing is the crappiest. There’s a mandatory waiting period of one week where I am (and I think this is true of a lot of other places) to file for unemployment benefits so you also can’t get any benefits for one of the weeks.

      It can be hard to know if your boss/company will boot you out early without paying out the notice period. Hopefully, you’ll hear about it. But what if you don’t, what if it’s a smaller company. Sucks to be the one to take on the risk.

    7. Justme, The OG

      I will say that if you know that your employer is going to perp walk you out because it’s the convention that you’ve seen before, sure. But otherwise no.

    8. hbc

      And I’ve given notice twice and stayed for at least 2 months after each, with the company treating me well and giving me great references. I also have accepted notices from employees everywhere on the scale from “damn, I’m going to miss them” to “awesome, I was just trying to figure out how to fire them” without perp walking someone out.

      There’s no one-size-fits-all here, but you usually know if you’re in the kind of organization that’s going to perp walk you out. Treating all employers like them as a defensive measure is more likely to hurt you than them.

    9. The Man, Becky Lynch

      It’s all about “know your audience”

      You should never be held a prisoner and I’m all for employees doing what’s best for them. Honestly as a person who’ve seen companies survive with or without ample notice, it’s no hill to die on either way.

      Sure if you want to preserve your references or think it’ll bite you in some other way, it’s best to at least do things in the somewhat standardized way of giving two weeks notice. If you are afraid of the company taking this poorly or harming your abilities to pay your bills in the end, then that goes to show why you’re leaving really clearly!

      You really do lose out on possible greatness that comes with having a strong network that can be bolstered by a few bosses who still adore you years after you’ve gone onto different pastures. I have had it pay off for me.

      I have also walked out on jobs as well and done the “You are awful and therefore I owe you nothing” dance right out of that place. They are the picture of “you have no power here, be gone”. I needed nothing and desired nothing from them in the end, so I blew the popsicle stand in whatever fashion I felt like.

      1. RUKiddingMe

        “…so I blew the popsicle stand in whatever fashion I felt like.”

        I had one job where I quit via text.

        At another job many, many years ago I just didn’t show.

        Husband worked there too and the minute we knew his start date for New Job he’d been interviewing for I didn’t have to choke on their crap anymore.

        When I picked up my final check the owner asked “whhhyyy” I quit. Not that I just didn’t show, apparently that didn’t bother her. It was the quitting. I said “because tou suck balls.”

        Disclosure: I was all of 19. The quit by text job … I was like 40 though…¯\_(ツ)_/¯

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch

          I text quit a job after less than a week of “training”, the owners turned out to be batsh*t. The day before, they were screaming, screaming violently at a crew member outside the office. Drug him outside [I’m shocked they didn’t grab him by the ear, totally serious] and just started wailing about how much of a horrible person he was for having the audacity to be found to be looking for a job [gee wiz, I wonder why he was looking!] . I never got paid for that week and I didn’t even care to make a thing out of it. I also sent a text immediately afterwards to my former boss telling her I was coming back.

          The next one was a very part time gig I took. I had to take a couple weeks off to recover from surgery. They were “fine” with it but I was getting texts asking questions about nonsense right up to the time I went into surgery! Then a couple days later, there were more texts from employees asking me stuff because the owner couldn’t be bothered to fix things himself. All I could tell them was “I’m not physically there, therefore I cannot sign checks, wtf…X, Y and Z can sign checks so try them out.”

          I text quit that job too because the owner was on vacation. He had the nerve to ask me to stay around at least until he got back. Nah. I was paid $12 an hour, for a side job that was literally just to keep me busy when my other job was only needing me 3/4 time.

    10. Anax

      Eh, I work in a huge industry – I’m a software developer, and folks with my resume are a dime-a-dozen throughout the industry.

      (Jack-of-all-trades, 6 years in industry, experience with C#, Java, .NET, web development. This is about as bog standard as it goes, and while I try to distinguish myself and do professional development… man, I’m in a tech hub, there are thousands of people with exactly the same skillset.)

      It’s true that in any random job I’m vanishingly unlikely to run into someone I know. But… having network contacts can be a pretty powerful safety net; I’ve had former bosses outright tell me ‘if you’re ever looking for a new job, keep us in mind, we would love to have you back.’

      Even though I left for a reason, that safety net was really nice to have.

    11. atalanta0jess

      It’s not dumb and wrong if you have a job that impacts peoples lives – for example any kind of social service job. Just leaving things all of a sudden can have real impacts for the folks who rely on whatever your job is. Obviously for many professions this isn’t a thing, but for many it DEFINITELY IS.

    12. misplacedmidwesterner

      It might just be my field, but I have worked at two different places with formal policies that if you don’t give x amount of notice you are not eligible for rehire.

      These are United States agencies (I’m not talking UK with contracts). So read your HR rules carefully.

    13. Cows go moo

      Notice period isn’t just insurance for a positive reference. It’s an act of professional courtesy towards your employer and colleagues. You use your notice period to tidy up your work, note down what needs to be followed up and how, hand over a list of relevant contacts to whoever needs to know, explain where to find X documents that will be needed after you’re gone, etc. Without adequate instructions you’re inflicting your coworkers to unnecessarily frustrating and time consuming effort of figuring out how to pick up where you’ve left off.

      On the odd occasion we’ve had people walk off the job it wasn’t the boss or management that suffered. It was their colleagues.

      It’s a d*ck move. If you are okay with being that kind of a person, by all means walk off your job without any notice.

      1. Public Sector Manager

        Courtesy to your coworkers is a big issue. We had an employee this year who gave two weeks notice on a Monday. Then the employee came back in Wednesday morning and said their last day would be Friday at noon.

        This person was just an average employee who wasn’t a great loss from a manager’s perspective. However, the employee had about a week’s worth of work on their desk. And their coworkers, the hiring managers of tomorrow, all had to pick up that person’s slack to meet the clients’ deadlines.

        So unless someone works for a crud company, give the 2 weeks notice for your coworkers! Unless your coworkers suck too, then all bets are off.

    14. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

      Whether it’s dumb or wrong is a different inquiry than whether you should give notice. You’re describing an outlier situation.

      In other fields/organizations, quitting without notice (or with less than 2 weeks notice) is seen as intentionally burning a bridge with the Soon-to-be-Ex Employer. It’s kind of the equivalent of huffing angrily, walking out of a meeting early, and letting the door slam behind you as you walk out. It feels abrupt and adversarial.

      Sometimes burning that bridge is valid, like when an organization is abusive, has a history of perp walking people, early terminates people after notice, etc. But if your decision re: notice turns on just not wanting to stay for the 2-week period, and you’re not in an outlier situation, then it’s not worth burning goodwill and a positive reference.

    15. Gaia

      Absolutely not true. I have seen people have an otherwise decent career seriously damaged by not giving notice. We rely on references and you do more than upset your manager when you don’t give notice: you upset your peers and colleagues (because: guess who feels the heat? Those still there to pick up the pieces). Then you have no reference and as someone who hires I am going to be very skeptical when you can’t give a reference. Or when you tell me you’re still employed but can start immediately.

      Bad companies are not a reason to change norms.

    16. lnelson in Tysons

      That sets a bad example for other employees and in Construction’s Safety’s comment, yup that is what other will do. Someone who is thinking of leaving will start to use their time off, knowing that it wouldn’t be paid out.
      The few times, where I have worked and the employer doesn’t want that person to work out their notice, we have paid the person the two weeks. Vacation pay was not an option as I was in a state that required it.

    17. Darren

      See this is why I like Australian rules and the contracts. If I give my 3 months of notice (the period on my current role) they can perp walk me out the same day, but they still have to pay me for the 3 months as that is the period both ways. There are some things that can allow them not to pay but if I’ve resigned already it’s too late for them to invoke any of them (not that it’s likely any of them would apply as it’s extreme misconduct).

  3. alohaflower

    My last day at work is this upcoming Tuesday (woohoo!). I gave the standard 2 weeks’ notice because it’s conventional/the norm, as Alison was saying. I wish things were different as I’m nearly bored to tears! My supervisors said they probably won’t look for a replacement, so I’ve been documenting whatever I can, but sheesh!

    1. CAA

      You can still go to your boss today or tomorrow and mention that you’ve wrapped up and completed everything you can, and suggest that if they don’t think they’ll need you for two days next week, you’d be willing to have Friday be your last day. Then see what they say. Most employers will be willing to save the two days of pay and let you leave on Friday instead.

    2. Batgirl

      Hah you should try a month’s notice, which is standard in the UK. You weep tears of joy by the time you’re free.

      1. OP

        wow, that sounds awful. I’m already close to weeping tears of joy about two weeks at it is. I really didn’t anticipate how this thread would turn into a 2 week vs 1-month debate. But I like seeing how different the norms are in different countries

      2. anon for this

        I have contractually-obligated three months over here and I’m not looking forward to it. I reached the end of my rope with this job pretty rapidly and am reeeaaally not looking forward to still being stuck here until, at the bare minimum, October. :/

        1. Fortitude Jones

          Yeah, that suuuuucks. The longest I’ve ever had to wait before I could move on to a new job was six weeks, and I almost hit the roof. I’m pretty sure I damn near cried every single day until my final week because I wanted out of that department so flipping bad (my manager was pissed I accepted a promotion to another division even though she expressly gave me permission to apply(!), so she decided to make the rest of my stay with her as unpleasant as possible until my last week – very petty) – I practically skipped my belongings up to my new department/desk once I was freed.

    3. The Man, Becky Lynch

      I’ve never worked anywhere that two weeks notice was enough to be bored with but can see how that would be awful!

      However after taking on my role now, I was shocked that they had originally desired to give me weeks worth of training. I ended up with a couple of days and that was plenty. It was hellish having to sit through training that was dragging out because it was so simplistic.

      I hope that you do go to your boss and explain that you’re done and would be happy to leave early if they’re okay with it.

      1. RUKiddingMe

        “It was hellish having to sit through training that was dragging out because it was so simplistic.”

        Oh! I’ve had that job before…a couple times. “Please just let me get on with things already!!!”

  4. Blue Dog

    The only other times you might consider not giving two weeks notice: if you felt you were in danger, asked to do something illegal or unethical, or the employer had serious problems with abusing people once they give notice. If any of those are the case, the employer has forfeited its right to the two weeks.

    1. Dust Bunny

      I hope we don’t have to explain that to people, though. (Besides, if they’re endangering you, the reference thing no longer applies, anyway, since you’re unlikely to use somebody as a reference if they’re threatening you or asking you to do something illegal or dangerous.)

      1. Fortitude Jones

        The reference thing could still apply because as Alison frequently notes, some reference checkers contact people you didn’t list in addition to the names you provided.

      2. The Man, Becky Lynch

        Given how many people stay around and take the abuse for years at times, sadly I think we do need to explain it to people. We have to continue to tell people that their employers are not the untouchable Gods they want them to believe they are.

  5. 2 weeks or 1 month?

    Can anyone provide guidance on when it may be expected that you provide more than 2 weeks notice? I’m preparing to leave my current role and there would be considerable pain if I left in just two weeks – we are short-staffed at my level and I have multi-year projects with long historical records. Nonprofit space if that makes a difference. I have been expecting to give 1 month’s notice but would be much happier if I could just do 2 weeks.

    1. Dust Bunny

      Not your problem. Understaffing and chaotic workload are your (soon to be former) workplace’s issues, not yours. You’re not responsible for the fallout.

      My former supervisor retired and we discovered later that she kept a lot of stuff in her head. But we handled it. They will just have to deal.

      1. Dust Bunny

        Plus, if you wait until they’re “ready” for you to leave, you’ll never leave. Ongoing projects are, well, ongoing. At some point, that band-aid has to be ripped off.

      2. Ask a Manager Post author

        Yes. I used to work somewhere that asked for four weeks from department heads. And honestly, we didn’t need it. Two weeks is sufficient. All four weeks did was make the position remain vacant slightly shorter than it would have otherwise (because we had an additional two weeks head start on hiring).

    2. Manic Pixie HR Girl

      It’s usually specified in your employee handbook. I had a job where I was required to give 1 month to leave “in good standing” (meaning, eligible for rehire and vacation leave payout).

      In clinical settings, one month is pretty standard.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch

        Not necessarily…

        Our lawyer actually made us take out even the “request” to give at least two weeks notice because they said in that case, we’d need to give two weeks notice on our end as well if someone was being let go. It may constitute a “contract” status in some jurisdictions.

        1. Manic Pixie HR Girl

          Interesting! Perhaps that’s why the “in good standing” is included. (I am not in a state that requires employers to grant vacation payouts.)

          1. The Man, Becky Lynch

            It has nothing to do with vacation payouts on our end. It’s about if you terminate them immediately and don’t give them 2 weeks severance at least, they have a case of you breaking their “contract” to work that’s put into play due to the wording in the handbook.

            You can’t hold it over their head that “you can’t leave us without a notice period or *consequences*” and then on the back end be able to terminate them without their own consequences.

            I mean it’s only a problem if someone tries to make a case out of it of course. A lot of companies have lawyers who look at things differently or don’t have the same argument as well. It depends on your counsel and the case law they know.

        2. hbc

          I’m not a lawyer, but that’s silly. So you pay two weeks severance to some crappy employees–I did that even for the person who threatened to have her husband come beat up her supervisor. It’s a small price to pay for having the high ground of not having tossed someone out on the street with no paycheck, and it certainly helps the remaining employees feel like you’ll treat them fairly.

          1. The Man, Becky Lynch

            Yeah, nobody I’ve ever worked for just hands money out when parting ways, it has nothing to do with being a bigger person. It’s about not feeling like you’re held hostage by someone who couldn’t deliver for various reasons. Severance is only ever a thing if you’re laid off due to downsizing or reorganization but if you’re just awful, we’re not throwing any bones out.

            I mean we also don’t regularly fight unemployment claims, that’s our “nice nice” when people may or may not be eligible.

            1. Fortitude Jones

              I’ve only ever seen severance given out in those instances as well, or in the case I had in my very first job out of college, where they liked me personally and I wasn’t bad at my job per se, but I just couldn’t come up with enough referrals to help the (for-profit) school get more registrants, so I was “let go” with severance and unused accrued vacation paid out. They hired me to essentially be a salesperson (because that’s basically what an admissions rep at for-profit schools are) knowing I had zero sales experience and little to no training, so they took some responsibility for my failing.

      2. 2 weeks or 1 month?

        Thanks for mentioning this! Our employee handbook did have this:
        “submit a written letter of resignation to the employee’s immediate manager two weeks in advance of the termination date as a professional courtesy”

    3. fposte

      I think you have to weigh it, but keep in mind that one month isn’t going to solve the problems you describe either. Is there a norm there of leaving one month or have people left after two weeks before? Do you generally get along with them or are you escaping a horrorshow?

      The other advantage of a norm, which Alison hasn’t yet talked about, is that makes it tough for an employer to complain about following it. A reference that says “She left us in the lurch by leaving in the expected amount of time!” isn’t going to get very far.

      1. 2 weeks or 1 month?

        People have typically given 1+ month notice and the last two people transitioning out stayed on as part-time consultants for 6+ months.
        I think I generally get along, my reason for leaving isn’t people-related.

    4. MissBliss

      I don’t think it’s likely that they’ll be in considerably less “pain” if you leave in 4 weeks rather than 2. Losing people at a certain level is just hard, and losing people at nonprofits is hard. But that’s not your issue.

    5. KHB

      Going from short-staffed to even-shorter-staffed is painful, but it’s not your problem, because you’re leaving. If you or someone else at your level got hit by a bus tomorrow, your department would find a way to carry on – and they’ll find a way to carry on if you leave with reasonable-but-not-excessive notice.

      Ideally, for exactly that reason, your multi-year projects should have ongoing documentation that would allow someone else to pick them up if/when you become unavailable. But if that’s not happening, again, it’s not your problem.

    6. Spreadsheets and Books

      My last job actually had notice periods specified in the handbook, with a minimum of 30 days and as many as 120 for high level roles in the company.

      No one who quit while I was at the company EVER gave more than two weeks, including higher level people in my department, so I did too. Turns out because my departure coincided with a few others, I was the exception to the rule and got yelled at by HR for 30 minutes in my exit interview. I still stuck firm to my two weeks as my offer was contingent on a start date and I didn’t actually care if they paid my three accrued days out. In the end, there were no consequences, and they even paid out my full vacation time.

      Do what you need to do. Two weeks is courtesy, and no one is owed more than that.

      1. Observer

        Well, unless the company was actually giving people some incentive to stay, what were they expecting? And what exactly did the HR person think they were going to accomplish?

        1. Spreadsheets and Books

          I have no idea whatsoever. That exit interview was one of the most deeply uncomfortable moments of my professional life. It also involved a grilling of morale on the team (we had a bit of a mass exodus), what everyone else thought the morale of the team was (!!), whether I was conspiring with the other people who gave notice to leave (!!!), and what everyone else’s reasons were for leaving. They were also very angry with our department head for not pushing back on my departure date, but she made it clear that she did not care.

          I will say that I’m unsure of my rehire status. I may try to figure that out before I job search again.

          1. Countess Boochie Flagrante

            Ah yes, that is definitely how job hunting works! Conspiring with other job hunters definitely is how you do it.

            1. Fortitude Jones

              The law firm I used to work for was considering sending three local employers in our area cease and desist letters because they were furious that they kept having back-to-back mass exoduses and everyone who was leaving them was going to one of the three companies. When my former coworker told me this while she was still employed there (and was on her way out to one of the three employers, ha!), I laughed and told her to tell them, “Good luck with that.”

              They seriously thought they could take some kind of legal action against these major companies because their employees kept jumping ship of their own volition – it was just coincidence we all happened to go to these same companies which were bigger, paid more, and had better benefits. With the amount of time they sat around harping on this, they could have come up with a plan to suck less so their employees would stop leaving.

              1. Observer

                So, a LAW FIRM was going to try to break the law to keep their employees from leaving. Sounds good. I just hope they were not engaged in employment law.

                1. Fortitude Jones

                  LOL nope – foreclosure and bankruptcy. They did a lot of unethical/borderline illegal things though and were sued A LOT.

              2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

                This is a hilarious example of why everyone at that law firm kept leaving.

              3. SunnyD

                I love this story. Omg it would be a godsend if they HAD done that, it could have been leaked to the press and everyone would then have a heads up on what toxic loons they are.

              4. Not One of the Bronte Sisters

                Employers never come up with a plan to suck less. I don’t know why, other than denial is not just a river in Egypt.

          2. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2

            I had two exit interviews that got ugly. The first – one of my first jobs, they successfully “starved me out” and I tried to make it as pleasant as I could. The exit interviewers decided to give out One More Dose of Hell.

            Another one I abruptly terminated after five minutes. First off, all my loose ends were tied up so I was advised I could go – manager and senior co-worker acted like junior high kids (immature actions, won’t get into it). That was on Thursday, my exit interview was on Friday. I show up, the HR person stood me up.

            A few days later I’m at home working on a backyard project and Ms. Happy-happy-Joy-Joy calls and wants to do the interview. Now, leading up to this – Boss from Hell had put three of us on probation/bad reviews, with the intention of getting rid of one of us so he could promote someone into a slot. Well one guy left two weeks before. That gave him the opening he wanted and now he was trying to play nice, but it was too late in my case. I was going to a much better job, a 30 percent increase in pay, etc. so there was no way I’d accept a counter offer (they did TRY to make one).

            Anyway, the interviewer wanted to know what the third, remaining guy on the staff was doing/planning. I *know* he was looking, but didn’t say that. I suggested “you should probably talk with him, I know nothing but talk with him. If I did I’d keep it in confidence.” When her second question came up about “Fergus” – I cut off the interview – firmly but courteously. And let Fergus know he was the center of attention.

            Other than that, other exits have gone well and amicably.

      2. boop the first

        I don’t know if I would have stayed for an exit interview like that (and I’m a super pushover). I’m always baffled by people who get nasty when they’re asking for favours. The first question that pops into my head is “Is THIS supposed to be charming? Does this work on literally anyone?”

    7. animaniactoo

      I gave 6 weeks notice at my last job. During that time they hired two people to replace me. They still went under within 18 months. I was later advised that my leaving probably hastened that by at least a year – but here’s the thing. I was leaving because nobody should have had the amount of responsibility that I did if they didn’t have a stake in the company. I was leaving because there were serious issues with how they ran the company. And it wasn’t my job to stay and make up for any of those.

      I gave the 6 weeks because I had relationships I wanted to keep and I felt bad for the customers who were going to get screwed if I gave a shorter notice period. If it was just them and not the customers? I’d have been fine giving just the two weeks.

      1. De Minimis

        I gave six weeks at a previous job too. I was the only person in my department, and wanted to give them time to have me help train an interim person until they figured out what to do long term. Also, I was quitting without a job and wanted to save money as well as not burn any bridges [they would be my only significant reference.]

        It was probably about two weeks too many. The notice period caused my supervisors to drag their feet on a succession plan and they wasted quite a bit of time. Also, having to cram the training into a few weeks made it very difficult for me to finish up my work responsibilities [I naively thought I could just have the person watch me as I worked, but it didn’t work out that well.]

    8. The Man, Becky Lynch

      It’s not your problem.

      I gave two weeks at my last job, despite being tasked with the jobs of 3 people. They ended up not being able to replace me because of their sh*tshow setup, they had to call in a favor from someone who had done [some] of the job before.

      If you like a place, sure you should absolutely give more if you know it’s going to be appreciated and you can keep fostering a great relationship with them. I’ve been there as well and it’s worked out well. I did it because I was invested in my relationship aspect, sure the reference too but I truly cared a whole lot more emotionally for that place in the end and they were amazing humans.

      This is when you get to be selfish as you want to, within the professional guidelines of giving a standard notice period at very least. Play your cards as close to the vest or as far away as you feel comfortable and happy with.

    9. Observer

      What are the policies around vacation payout?

      Is there a contract in place? And what have others in your position done?

      People at my employer tend to provide long notice times – but our ED has always been REALLY good about not pushing people out, despite the fact that we’re a non-profit.

      1. lnelson in Tysons

        Talking about the US. Some states like CA, MA and IL (there are others) requires that upon separation regardless of terms the employer pay out accrued unused vacation.
        Other states states that the employer must only pay out said vacation if it is company policy.
        One place that I worked spelled it out, that they would only pay if the state mandated it. So, employees in MA, CA and IL were lucky. Those in TX, CO and FL not so much. One PA employee tried to claim that she was actually working out of the Boston office. That got nixed as she never set a floor in said office in the 1.5 years that our employment overlapped.

      2. PlainJane

        It varies by employer too. I work for a state university, and we have to be paid for accrued vacation when we leave… but the policy in my unit is to make people take a chunk of their accrued vacation once they give notice so our budget doesn’t take a hit from the payout. Not a big deal if you’re giving the usual 2 weeks or a month, but we’ve had retirees who’ve intentionally given only 2 weeks notice after working here 30 years, because they’re counting on that vacation payout to bridge the time between their last paycheck and their first retirement check (which can be… months). It sucks for those of us who have to figure out how to do their jobs when they leave, when there’s been little training or transition time.

    10. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy

      I gave 10 weeks notice when I left my last organization because they were massively understaffed (like, two full timers and a half-time in a department designed for six), so not only did I have no fear of being shuffled out early, but I also wanted to give them plenty of opportunity to get someone in and maybe even trained. During my 10 weeks notice, my coworker pulled us all into the conference room to let us know that they had been diagnosed with inoperable terminal cancer and would be dropping to half time effective immediately.

      They didn’t even get my position posted before I left.

      Do what works for you. They’ll deal.

    11. Lily Rowan

      I’ve given three weeks a couple of times as a mid-level manager in nonprofits, and that definitely feels like more than enough time. If your historical records are good, you don’t have much to do to leave them for someone else, and if they are bad, it would take more than a month to get them into shape.

    12. BRR

      It’s a pretty common letter theme of “it’s not a good time to leave” but it’s part of doing business. Someone gets sick, someone takes parental leave, someone wins the lottery and doesn’t show up tomorrow; things happen and it’s just the natural order of things.

      And it’s not different for a nonprofit other that employees might feel bad about leaving things undone or employers try to guilt employees about things but it’s the same premise.

    13. Double A

      As a teacher they want as much notice as possible if you’re coming back the next year. I’ve been asked in January about the following year and given notice months before the school year ended.

      I’m resigning my current position under circumstances that are stressful/not my desire and my organization hasn’t been very supportive and I only gave them 4 weeks notice before the end of my contract and I’m a little afraid that was bridge burning.

      1. just a random teacher

        Yeah, teaching expects that you’ll finish out the year, basically. Often, if you’re being fired for something that isn’t, like, “also on the local news for doing that thing” fired they’ll still expect you to work out the rest of the year after being fired.

        In my 20s, I quit a teaching position full of bees (not literally – that happened one semester at different, much more pleasant school to work in, though) where both sides were happy to be seeing the backs of each other before it was done. I still worked out the rest of the school year (several months away), and was expected to attend The World’s Most Awkward Retirement Party, which featured a couple of genuinely-retiring older teachers and quite a few younger teachers who were quite obviously not actually planning on staying home and gardening the next year but had quit without other jobs lined up in that district because the school was full of bees. They gave me a plant to nurture “in my retirement” as a gift and everything! On the other hand, working those last few months was pretty freeing because I wasn’t planning on asking anyone there for a recommendation so I really no longer cared what anyone in the district thought.

      2. Clisby

        Wow, I didn’t realize that about teachers in some places. In SC, where I live, the state law says districts have to offer teachers continuing contracts by April 30 (of course, this doesn’t apply to brand-new teachers, just returning teachers), and the teachers have to respond by May 10. I’ve never even heard of teachers being expected to give notice. They either respond by signing a new contract, or they don’t.

    14. CAA

      If you’re a key person on an event or project that has a well defined end date, which is not too far in the future, then it can make sense to give more notice. I’ve done this when giving only 2 weeks would have had me leaving the company about a week before a trip to a customer site where we were going to finish the project I’d been leading for a year. I just didn’t feel right leaving at that point, and a lot of people thanked me for staying and seeing it through. Because of that, I still have good relationships with my former colleagues and with the customer personnel, and I’ve crossed paths with them more than once since then.

    15. Shark Whisperer

      OldJob was a non-profit and I was leaving during the busy season. I wanted to give them a month because I knew they were understaffed, but my new job wanted me to start in 2 weeks. I ended up negotiating giving two weeks notice, but staying on as consultant for another 3 weeks just to help out on some very specific projects. (After I “officially” left, I worked about another 20 or so hours, all of which were paid for.) But, I wanted to wrap up those projects. Don’t feel obligated to work more just because of guilt. And don’t work after the end of your notice unless you are getting paid to do so.

    16. vlookup

      I gave three weeks notice at my last job (middle manager at a nonprofit). We were understaffed, I had built a lot of systems no one else was familiar with, I wanted to minimize the impact on my team, etc. I ended up regretting it; two weeks would have been plenty of time.

      I do, however recommend documenting as much of your job as possible in advance (i.e., before you know you’re leaving). In particular, while I was job searching I built out a big spreadsheet with all of my responsibilities, how time-intensive they were, and who I would recommend transitioning them to, and having it ready to go shortly after giving notice was extremely helpful.

    17. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

      A month is only appropriate for certain very high-on-the-org-chart jobs (e.g., Executive Director, C-suite, etc.) or in certain industries (e.g., teaching, academia). And even then it’s not always necessary.

      But it’s definitely not your problem that there are multi-year projects or that it’s short-staffed. Two weeks is more than sufficient. You staying two additional weeks likely won’t make a difference.

  6. Engineer Girl

    OP, I think you’ve analyzed this incorrectly because you only included yourself as a stakeholder. There are other stakeholders in this scenario.

    • You don’t know if there are new assignments coming. Only your manager knows that. The notice allows the manager to move assignments around
    • you think you’ve captured all aspects of your job on paper. But a second set of eyes (your manager) may catch something you missed.
    • the extra time will help with handoffs to your coworkers. This is especially important since you state your role will be left unfilled. Your coworkers will pick up that slack and it’s a courtesy to them to help transition.
    • the extra time will help with HR, payroll, etc.

    In short, there are other people involved with your transition. It’s a courtesy to them to give them time to adjust.

  7. Manic Pixie HR Girl

    LW, you may also want to keep this in mind: Depending on your new company’s norms, it may be 2 weeks (or more!) before you will be allowed to start. In larger companies, it’s often encouraged that you start at the start of a pay period, and in some instances the requirement is the first pay period AFTER the 2 weeks, so they have time to get all necessary onboarding ready (for example, workspace, computer, shared drive access, email, etc.). I had a situation where I hired someone who could have potentially started earlier, but she wouldn’t have had access ready for some of the systems she’d need (and, potentially, would not have had a computer yet!). So you may want to confirm with your new employer if this is even something they can accommodate first.

    1. learnedthehardway

      This is a really, really good point. Most companies’ HR and IT teams require a notice period so they can arrange onboarding for new employees – for some large companies that I have worked with, the minimum was 3 weeks from offer acceptance until the employee could be onboarded. With other companies, it was as little as a week (usually smaller, more nimble organizations).

    2. Batgirl

      Yeah I actually thought this was the whole point of cultural conventions within regions and industries. The new employer knows how long to wait for a new hire, and a similar period will probably affect whoever the old employer hires as a replacement.

  8. Sleepy

    I’ve seen multiple people do good work for years and then mishandle their transition out, leaving a bad taste in eveyone’s mouth. It’s not fair but someone’s last impression of you will color their memories and the reference you receive.

    1. What’s with Today, today?

      Our board is dealing with that right now. The outgoing ED had an excellent reference until she began her two weeks notice. Everything since has been so far outside professional norms she’s badly damaged her reputation.

  9. Michael Valentine

    At my last company, it was routine for employees to be walked out immediately upon giving notice. Many had access to sensitive financial information, and they considered that access a security risk. I was able to work out a 3 week notice because my group was persistently understaffed, and they begged me to do one last trip before leaving. My husband, however, was asked to wrap things up in a few days (we worked at the same company). That worked out fine, honestly, but still, the unpredictability of it wasn’t awesome.

    At my current place–a nonprofit–we are asked to give a very long notice if possible. Hiring is so slow, and in my group especially, a quick departure would cause a lot of pain for the rest of us. I actually replaced someone who gave an 8 month notice! But the thing is, we’ve lost people suddenly before, and we handled it.

    OP, good luck! I’d make the case for a shorter notice–fingers crossed it all turns out well.

    1. hbc

      That has never made sense to me. By the time someone resigns, they’ve usually been planning to leave for weeks or months. They’re going to be walking the USB drive full of sensitive information out the door the day *before* they give notice, not the day after.

      1. Fergus

        Yea I work in IT. If I was going to have a virus format all the hard drives in the building I wouldn’t do it after I gave my notice. The virus would already be loaded before I gave notice. If I am really not happy somewhere I just leave. In the end some people are their worst enemies. They’ll screw themselves in the end. I have seen it.

      2. animaniactoo

        Yes, but you can limit your damage to that and not giving them an additional two weeks of info.

        My sister has the level of access to company information and systems that mean she’ll get perp-walked out the door the moment she gives notice. They’ll pay out the notice period but they will want her off premises immediately. She’s fine with that.

        The other thing is prevention of sabotage: People who are going to go out with a bang are unlikely to do it when they may be around to have the mud all over their face, so they’re unlikely to do it *before* they have given notice. Once they get into their notice period? Much more space to sabotage stuff and not be around when it’s caught. Think file deletion, numbers changed in files, etc.

    2. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2

      Almost every computer professional – especially if he/she works in a place that has accountability built into their systems (no sharing of IDs, no reliance on a single password or a single user’s ID, passwords kept secret to one user, activity tracking, and appropriate logging) – an individual with half a brain, no matter how pissed off he or she is, would NEVER compromise his/her reputation in the business with an event of sabotage.

      I always got suspicious when I heard about a departing employee doing something – and – it very well could be someone else trying to make the departing employee look bad. Seen it happen, both ways.

  10. BRR

    With some exceptions, is a week or two that big of a difference in terms of leaving a job or starting a new one? This also goes for companies that “need” someone right away. Two weeks notice may not always make sense but it’s the professional norm most of the time.

  11. 2 Cents

    Just switched jobs at the end of March. Gave my two weeks’ on a Friday and the following Tuesday, I was told I could make that my last day and they’d pay me for my notice period. (Yes!) I was more than happen to leave there forever AND to be paid to stay home before my new job.

      1. 2 Cents

        It really was, though they’d treated me pretty shabbily before I left, so it was extra astonishing.

  12. KateM

    Our company (in the US) has a policy in place that if you don’t give 2 weeks’ notice, you lose any accumulated vacation days and they are not paid out to you in your final paycheck. Definitely a reason to stick with the conventional 2 weeks!

    1. stefanielaine

      I have worked under this policy too – when I quit, I offered two weeks notice but they shortened my notice period to 4 days to avoid paying me for an upcoming holiday, but still paid out my vacation days because I had offered two weeks.

    2. Little Miss Cranky Pants

      I would argue that accumulated vacation is part of my benefits and compensation package and they can damn well pay me what they owe me.
      But, I’m shirty that way. :)
      I just gave 2.5 weeks notice at the current job. My boss said, “Oh, okay.” Silence.
      Yeah, glad to see the back of you too, dude.
      Over it.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch

        Yeah, if you offer vacation payout, the idea of using it as a way to continue to exercise control over your workers leaves such a bad taste in my mouth.

        However if it’s their policy and there’s no state/regional law that requires them to pay you out, you’re not going to get very far by demanding they pay you out, despite their policy saying they won’t.

        They actually cannot bend the rules and just pay you out because you demanded it, despite not giving the requested amount of notice. That’s going to make the policy unenforceable moving forward due to it not being practiced uniformly.

  13. Polymer Phil

    Quitting without notice would be remembered in a bad way, but a few of my coworkers gave one week instead of two, and no one really remembers a few years later. I can think of two people who are remembered in a negative way: the guy who left a nasty note for his boss and grandboss on the way out, and the guy who packed his stuff and left without telling anyone one Friday afternoon. The nasty note guy might not even get a bad reference today because there are few people left at that workplace who remember what he did.

    An ethical company would pay out your two weeks if they ask you to leave immediately (my last company did this a few times when salesmen went to direct competitors). Any company that fires people immediately upon giving notice and doesn’t pay them for the two week notice period deserves to have the next person quit without notice.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch

      They don’t even have to be ethical or good people! My old boss was truly horrid and cut my notice period short but paid me anyways. No skin off my nose, I totally won out, my new job wanted me immediately. So I said my goodbyes and skipped right to my car to call the new folks to say “Hey I can start sooner.” and it was delightful news since the person I was taking over for was leaving that day, having just gotten “the phone call” that they were waiting for. They were kind of on…”I’m leaving….so soon as I get a call.” notice?

      1. OP

        definitely not ever intending on not giving notice! I just hoped that it could be a bit shorter. Our fiscal manager did that – quitting by sneaking out with her stuff on a Friday. I agree that by avoiding drama/theatrics, people likely wouldn’t remember the gritty details on if it was a full 2 weeks or not.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch

          But do know that there are cases where it’s okay to sneak out into the night if you really want to!

          I’m glad everything worked out for you though, so it’s all moot.

          I found out that one of my train of “replacements” quit by giving a stack of mail to my former coworker and saying “Can you get these stamped for me, I don’t want them to get lost in the shuffle. But I’m done.” and just walked out. My former coworker, now friend, was like “Go gurl go, I would too if I could afford that option!”.

          I just had a client tell me that their bookkeeper walked on them. Well duh, she was put into an impossible situation with never being able to pay things on time. This was the “sob story” they tried to feed me when I was demanding payment in advance, like that was going to make me give them any favors. “So you’re telling me you ran someone off because of your awful behavior and negative cash flow….and you want me to give you even marginal credit terms…”

            1. The Man, Becky Lynch

              I kept it a little less barbaric ;)

              I just responded to the story with “That’s unfortunate. However she’s not the reason we weren’t paid on time [it’s factual, she forwarded me to their ridiculous “CFO” who fed me some line about how important the company is and how it’ll last for-ev-er but had hit a little snaggy poo cash flow issue last year that was going to be fixed super lickity split!] and therefore no more credit will be extended. Ever.”

              They just stopped the charade and sent me my darn check. Which I made sure cleared before processing the order. I’m true evil.

              Not my first rodeo and I’m finally in a position where customers are treated exceptionally well without allowing them to run all over us. It’s so rejuvenating! I’ve watched good people lose lots of money over being too nice to these antics.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch

        It happens a lot more often than you’d think.

        Not a nasty note but we had a Dear John letter left on the desk of an executive before. Resting neatly on top were their keys and company issued things.

        I’ve seen some fantastic email resignations in my time and they’re usually forwarded to other in management as the “FYI this happened”.

        1. Temp anon

          I worked in a financial call center where call volume would skyrocket when clients would get their quarterly statements, especially if the market had fallen. We hired some temps, but given the training needed to do the job they couldn’t fill the need, so we needed to pull people from support areas to staff the phones. Many cracked under the pressure. One guy worked a Monday in the call center (busiest day), and was hoping to go back to his regular work. When he was told he would have to work in the call center at least the rest of the week he logged out, sent his security badge to his boss via inter office mail, and walked out. No email, no note, just disappeared.

      2. Polymer Phil

        I saw a copy of the note. Wasn’t threatening or anything like that, but it was an obnoxious Dear John letter that reamed his boss and grandboss for perceived unfair treatment and stupidity.

        Frankly, that was a fight I didn’t have a dog in. The employee was obnoxious and widely disliked, and ended up getting fired from his next job. His grandboss (also widely disliked) ended up getting fired for poor performance not long after.

    2. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2

      Well it isn’t because they’re trying to be nice in some cases.

      If you’re perp walked out the door after giving a 2-3 week notice, and Bozo Enterprises refuses to pay you, in many states you can collect unemployment (and they’re on the hook for the claim) for the unpaid period.

      Most managements won’t do that. Managers don’t want to called on the carpet for that.

      1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2

        And – apologies – there may be a company out there with that name – I was referring to “Bozo” as a clown reference, not to any particular company. Apologies for the coincidence.

  14. LadyByTheLake

    I came here to agree with and emphasize that those last two weeks are what people remember. I was in a job that was going south, in large part because the office bully told my boss and other higher ups various untruths about me. When I left I was gracious and helpful in getting everything handed off, and since it was necessary for my boss and grandboss to work closely with me during that time, they could see what I was really like. My boss actually admitted at the end that those last weeks had made it clear to him and grandboss that they had been dealing with misinformation about me and regretted that. They gave me great references and are still good resources.

    1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2

      They may have regretted it – but apparently made no effort to fix things and attempt to convince you to stay around>>>????

      This is why I do not like dating/relationship metaphors in this column in comparison to job/career situations.

      Long term relationships can and likely should be fixed, most of the time.
      Bad job situations, more likely , won’t be fixed.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch

        With the divorce rate, I’m not sure I can ever agree with your point about long term relationships can and likely should be fixed.

        Bad job situations are fixed all the time, we’ve had plenty of updates that talk about how they’ve fixed their problems and are now happier.

        1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2

          True to a point. But it’s a lot easier (most of the time) – to work out problems in a marriage or relationship. Much easier to quit a job, or walk away from a bad situation into a good one in the workplace.

          The marriages that work out after problems, you don’t really eahr about them. Job problems in the workplace that are straightened out behind the scenes, you sometimes do.

          On the other hand, it can be easier to work under a bad management (hold nose) or even survive as a problematic employee. As Al Davis – Oakland Raiders GM – once said about some unsavory players = “You DON’T have to take them home with you at night.”

  15. Lovecraft Beauty

    I am in much the same situation as the OP, with the following differences:
    – my employer asks for a month’s notice if you’re at a certain level of seniority
    – my boss and department director know I’m in late-stage discussions, and they’ve been supportive; I’m confident I’m not going to be walked out

    But oh my god I just want to get started on the next stage in my career.

    1. OP

      I definitely feel like you understand where I am coming from! I am ready to move on with my life into something that will be so much better for me both professionally and emotionally.

  16. schnauzerfan

    When we interview someone we ask “if we were to make you an offer, when would you be able to start?” If you’re unemployed we really don’t care what the answer is, but if you’re working someplace and your answer is anything other than some variation of “I’d need to give notice at llamaworks, so? Two weeks?” You will not be getting an offer. It causes major headaches if we end up with a hole in our coverage. People have to cover your classes, your desk coverage, etc. People have to shuffle their schedules, cancel plans, etc. Sometimes you do have emergencies, people get sick etc., and we do cover those things, but it takes a really long time to get new staff on board and we won’t hire someone we think is likely to just down tools and walk. It doesn’t happen often here, it’s much more typical for people to leave at the end of an academic year.

    1. Clementine

      Some people are in a position where they have been told they are free to go as soon as they find a new job. I think the justification is for the company to avoid the drama of a firing or layoff or possible other consequences.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch

      Yikes. That’s an awful big assumption to think that because they may be able to jump ship immediately from Current Job that it’s anything to do with them not usually giving notice when it’s deemed necessary.

      If they are an otherwise good fit with a solid job history, then why should it matter? I would understand this weighing a whole lot more if they have a scattered job history of short gigs or something! But yeah, there’s more thinking that goes into it instead of that automatic NOPE stamp.

    3. Rake

      I have lost out on jobs for the explicit reason that they were unwilling to wait for me to give my current employer two weeks of notice. As job seekers, we really are f***ed either way.

      1. Massmatt

        This strikes me as especially short sighted and dumb thing for employers to do. If you are demanding people violate business norms and courtesy to come work for you, why are they not going to do the same when they want to move on? Are they shocked, SHOCKED to find that employees are leaving without notice?

        Hypocrisy, same with employers that demand references but refuse to give anything except confirmation of employment.

    4. FemGeek

      Reminds me of a story my father once told me. He was interviewing, and wanted to make an offer to a candidate who was currently employed. Dad asked when he could start, and the candidate said “tomorrow!”. Dad told him flat out, “Never mind. If you’d do that to your current employer, you’d do it to me, too.” I’ve used a version of this when interviewing and the potential employer wants me to start right away: “I’m sorry, I wouldn’t do that to you, and I won’t do it to my current job, either.” Never cost me an offer yet…

  17. I Work on a Hellmouth

    I am possibly getting a job offer in the next few weeks and am considering not giving a full two weeks notice at my current job, but 1) I have no manager currently, 2) the company is going to cease to exist at the end of the month and they have yet to even name the new management company that would take us over, 3) I am planning on leaving this industry forever, and 4) none of the corporate people live in any states that I will ever move to, and I am too small of a fish for anyone at the corporate level to know who I am or remember me, anyway. But I’m still GROSSLY conflicted about it, because I’ve never given less than a full notice ever.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch

      I think most of us are on the side of “No notice, just burn the place down on your way out.” [Or just hand it over to the army of squirrels.]

      But I understand this tug and pull on your conscious. I almost walked out on my toxic boss of doom but now I’m glad I got to see his face when I gave notice. I also mostly did it for my own sake because I only walk out on places that are absolute tragedies from top to bottom. I liked my coworkers mostly and didn’t want them to hurt. Also just when you’re a person who regularly “plays by the rules” , it feels awful stooping to that level, you know.

      1. I Work on a Hellmouth

        That’s it exactly! I am SO by the book, and it feels terrible to even consider not doing the normal, professional thing.
        But maybe the squirrels can have the place. Or the armadillos (we now have three that are hanging out under the porch)!

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch

          I want to play with the armadillos *_*

          This would be my only saving grace in your spot because I’m basically a Disney princess, leave me here with my animal friends, crazypants humans.

          1. I Work on a Hellmouth

            They are SO CUTE! We’ve named them Wynken, Blynken, and Nod. They keep snuffling around the azalea bush.

            1. The Man, Becky Lynch

              I don’t know what armadillos eat because we don’t have their fantastic armored selves up here but I hope they get brought appropriate snacky snacks. It pleases me greatly that they have names.

    2. irene adler

      Given all the ugly I have read (did some catching up earlier this week on that wonderful place you call work), please end it early. And do not let it exact any additional angst on your emotions.
      On top of all else, they are jerking you around by not providing a smooth transition to new management company. Clearly they don’t give a whit about your feelings. Return the favor. With relish!

      1. I Work on a Hellmouth

        They… really don’t. My eye has been non-stop twitching for the past week because of the orders from on high and the increased we’re-going-out-of-business-and-we-need-to-wrap-stuff-up workload.

    3. BRR

      For you if I remember everything correctly it’s not like this will kill a reference plus a week or two for you is a really big savior.

    4. Seifer

      Because it’s you (I don’t mean that in a bad way, I’ve been keeping up with your stories with a hand clapped over my mouth in shock every Friday), I wouldn’t give the two weeks. I would just ghost them. OR. Call in well.

      “Hi, I’m not coming in today, I’m finally feeling well, so expect me back never!”

    5. LawBee

      If I recall, your job is horrific – you’re the property manager, right? You have no bridge to burn here, haha. I wouldn’t bother with two weeks.

      And light the pool on fire.

    6. Observer

      I must have missed it, but what happened to your manager?

      In any case, I don’t think it wold matter if you just called out your last day. This is not a place that can have any expectation of reasonable courtesy.

        1. Observer

          I just went back to find it. Wow! Yes, epic indeed!

          Good thing she’s gone, that’s for sure. As for the rest, you’ve given them more than enough.

      1. Falling Diphthong

        The squirrels.

        That guy who knew there was a squirrel with a two year vendetta against his truck was right, and it’s no coincidence you haven’t seen him in a few weeks.

    7. CatCat

      Oh dang, just walk. We all know your story. No way you need to give the 2 weeks. ESCAPE!!

    8. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

      I think hellmouths are the kind of outlier situation that don’t require 2 weeks’ notice.

  18. OP

    Op here!

    I have talked with my manager using your advice (being open to staying longer) and made arrangements to leave at the end of the next pay period which is a week and a half from now. I have a good relationship with my manager, who I can count on to give me a good reference. In the comments, there were concerns expressed about passing work onto others. Due to the squeezed budget and MAJOR changes to our program structure, regardless of my departure, a lot of my projects won’t be continued for next year. I also really prepared for cleanly onboarding people to my ongoing projects. Earlier this year I inherited a mismanaged project from someone who quit and made it my mission to ensure that I wouldn’t be doing that to someone else.
    The culture here is BAD. I am the 6th person to leave since April. Two weeks ago someone in a management role quit on the spot without telling anyone. I handled my notice period as gracious as I felt was possible for me and my situation. I am also wrapping up coursework for my master’s degree, and my current employer is just not that accommodating. By leaving a little early I have a tiny reprieve to wrap up my school work before jumping into my new role. I am grateful for it.

    1. learnedthehardway

      That’s great that everything worked out. All the best with your new role.

      I was going to offer the warning that any employer that expects you to ditch another company with less than adequate notice, and to start work for them immediately, is raising red flags as to how they will treat employees. That doesn’t seem to be the case in your situation, but I have seen it happen, and invariably, unreasonable expectations wrt start date are early predictors of unreasonable management.

      Another thing about giving 2 weeks notice is that – as in your case – if you do get out of the company a bit early, it gives you a chance to relax. No point rushing into the next role before you’ve had some time to decompress.

    2. VLookupsAreMyLife

      Good for you! Sounds like things went as well as could be hoped, given the circumstances. Best of luck to you in your new opportunities.

    3. Viva

      Thank you for the update! I’m sure it’s a relief that it went smoothly. I wish you the best going forward.

  19. The Phleb

    When I left a job many years ago…I prepared in advance! My boss was well known for vindictive perp walking but I wanted to take the high road! I got everything ready to go…either way it went down and gave my two weeks. She was NOT happy and said today…go get your stuff. Okie dokie…I’m out of here. Took me all of 2 seconds to get my act together due to prior preparations (all done secretly) and I was done. Was at new job in less than a week.

    1. AJ

      Love it when a shitty boss thinks they are screwing with you but you’ve got their number so they’re not.

  20. Dezzi

    In general, it’s a really really REALLY bad idea to give notice before your background checks have been processed and the offer is official. Even if you’re sure you’ll pass–mistakes happen, and a lot of employers won’t wait for you to make your case or get things cleared up.

    1. OP

      In my question, I said that I was waiting. I asked this question in the preparation for when everything is clear and official. Which it became today!

  21. BookNerdier

    I just got a phone call this week from one of my new employees. She was hired a month ago, so she could give proper notice at her current job. She worked two days and then cheerily called me to say that she was “offered an opportunity to further her education” and she quit. Effective immediately. This is a professional person with several degrees, and it was a full-time job with benefits. Because she quit without notice, she would never be eligible for rehire, and I wouldn’t hesitate to explain that to anyone calling for a reference. She seemed honestly stunned that my tone was terse and that I wasn’t excited for her Next New Thing.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch

      She only worked for you for two days?

      If she ever did decide to use you as a reference, that would show her ignorance even further, yikes! Nobody uses a job as a reference when they worked there two days or am I just that far out to lunch *blinks*

    2. kc89

      People are bizarre

      This topic came up on another website I go to and one person said she worked a couple of days at a new job and then had to quit, but she was sure the company she was quitting was happy for her because they knew what a good opportunity it was for her.

      I was like girl you’ve burned a bridge with anyone you dealt with there and are deff on a do not re-hire list

    3. Clementine

      I think if someone quits two days after starting, and this person has a long and serious work history, it is likely for a very good reason. You could hold it against her, but why is that in your best interest? I doubt she will ask for a reference, and I don’t see any point in bad-mouthing her.

      1. Jennifer Thneed

        Saying that someone is not eligible for re-hire is a statement of fact. It is not “bad-mouthing”. And BookNerdier specifically said that they would say that to anyone who called for a reference. So it won’t come up unless she’s short-sighted enough to put BN down as a reference.

  22. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2

    And on the topic of bridge-burning – what if your management team decides to do the bridge-burning as you walk out the door?

    That’s a good topic for another day – how, as an employee/professional/worker in the real world do you handle that? And what should managers do to make sure it doesn’t happen — that is, if they want to avoid doing that.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch

      What do you mean? In what way does a management burn a bridge? The bridge is really for the employee’s benefit in the end because what does the company have to gain, other than positive reviews or possible recommendations to people who are thinking of working there? Sure Glassdoor is a thing and I’m a fan of it for research purposes but you’ll also see tons of mega popular employers have gross reviews…it doesn’t seem to hurt them, really?

      As professionals with standards and ethics, we should work to treat everyone fairly and understand the “human” aspect involved. Be kind, respectful and honest. If someone leaves, don’t take it personally and start a war on their way out. You do that by creating good atmosphere and transparency between leadership and the rest of the staff. Most people who leave a good place aren’t interested in getting out as quickly and quietly as possible, they’re leaving for a real opportunity or due to a life need, not just because they’ve been sucked dry by a soul sucking employer, you know.

      1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2

        Sometimes management will bad mouth, slander (internally), refuse to provide employment verification, state that an employee was terminated for cause when he was not, fail to deliver benefits or payments due, rip up expense accounts due, etc. etc.

        “As professionals with standards and ethics” – but not all company managements have them. Sometimes managements DO take it personally when someone leaves.

  23. Beancounter Eric

    Short or no notice due to medical or other special circumstances, ok, things happen. A day or two less than two week notice, not likely to be a problem, especially if your desk is ready to hand over. New company wants you to give one week notice so you fit their pay cycle….we’ll chat, but I won’t be happy, and depending on the specifics, you may get walked out by security & HR.

    But giving less than two weeks, except for medical or truly special circumstances (“I got an amazing job offer” doesn’t qualify as special), will get you on the no rehire list at most every company I’ve worked for in the past 30-odd years. It also tends to become a central item in any reference given in the future.

  24. Crafty Jackrabbit

    I’m in the UK – my contractual notice period for my current job is 10 weeks! 8 weeks as standard for the grade, plus one week for each successive full year in the grade up to a maximum of 12 weeks. I’m not in a management role either; I’m in a mid-level role, one grade above Executive Assistant/PA.

    Since I’m leaving due to voluntary redundancy, therefore my leaving date has been set by the business, I’m only having to work approx. 6 weeks of the 10 required – but contractually they have to pay me for the 4 weeks’ difference, since that’s what is laid out in my contract!!!

    My final day can’t come soon enough… I’m bored to tears!

    1. MissDisplaced

      My friend from my former job is in France and also works to a contract where the typical notice is 8 weeks. Apparently, companies can sue you if you don’t give notice! (!) When she quit, she requested to be released early, and only did 3 weeks as the company was trying to save money anyway.

      But being in the US this duration seems so odd (and long) to me! It feels like it would be limbo as you couldn’t really start new projects.

    2. MarfisaTheLibrarian

      Real curiosity here. Do employers just assume that from the date you accept the job, it’ll be 2-3 months before you can start while you ride out your notice period? What if there’s some kind of crisis in your personal life? I know places that are not the US tend to give more PTO, are you allowed to give your 8 weeks notice and then take a month off paid?

      1. Amerdale

        Can only speak for Germany, but here the notice period normaly depends on how long you have that Job – two weeks during the probation period (meaning the first six months), than often a month, after a few years it goes upp to two months and so on. But the exact period has to spelled out in the written contract. Oh and that applys to the emplyer and the employee.
        If you give notice you have a right to your remaining paid time off. You can either take that time off during your notice period while getting paid or you get some extra pay for it.
        There are exceptions, where you get some severance and in return give up your PTO but that has to be written down in an extra contract.

        And yes, when you accept a job offer, it can be months before you start the new Job. But again that’s so common companies already include that in its hiring process and its calculations. This might be a small Advantage for unemployed applicants because they can start immediatly but on the other Hand it gives companies a longer time to reorganize work load and so on if someone quits.

        I don’t really understand what you mean with a crisis in your personal life and how that should affect the notice period / hiring.

      2. londonedit

        In the UK, if you have holiday that you haven’t used, then you can often negotiate to use some of your holiday to cover your notice period (so if you had a notice period of 3 months, but 5 days’ holiday that you hadn’t used before you gave notice, you might be able to arrange to take the last week of your notice period as holiday rather than working. The other option is that you’ll be paid for any outstanding holiday allowance when you leave, so people often do that instead – the extra cash can be useful if you’re starting a new job in the middle of a pay period (we’re usually paid monthly here).

        And yes, employers know that it’s usual for people to have at least a month’s notice in their contracts, so it’s just the norm here. It’s expected that you won’t start a new job until a month or so after you’re hired. I’m also not sure about the ‘crisis in your personal life’ comment and how that would affect the hiring process – I’m sure in some extenuating circumstances you could negotiate with your employer to have a shorter notice period, but I think that would be pretty rare as everything is set out and agreed in a formal contract.

      3. Crafty Jackrabbit

        Typically here in the UK you are asked at the application stage to indicate how long your notice period will be with your current employer. Not sure how much this is taken into account as part of the hiring process.

        When you resign from a job you can sometimes negotiate your final date to be sooner than your notice period, taking into account remaining annual leave etc. You would then advise your new employer of your availability to start based on your agreed leaving date.

        It’s relatively unusual here for anyone to rock the boat by quitting without notice, as almost every job application asks for two references and one has to be your current or most recent line manager (I get the sense that this is not the convention in the US at all!)

  25. Cows go moo

    I had an employee who worked with us for several years but quit without any notice. She used me as a reference and I gave an overall positive reference about her work, because it was true – she did do a good job while working. The last question from the hiring manager was, “How much notice did Sally give you when she resigned?” I truthfully answered, “None. She said she was leaving and didn’t come back.”

    Because of that Sally was declined. Oddly enough she had the balls to call me and blame me for losing a good job opportunity.

    1. Anonymous Educator

      This is a good point. Even if your former co-workers aren’t judging you for not giving two weeks’ notice, they also aren’t going to lie to future employers and say you did give that notice when you actually didn’t.

      1. OP

        Hmm I am not a fan of this situation. In my company, my peers don’t know about my resignation immediately (notification is sent by management to staff and they take their sweet time). If a colleague of mine was asked this they might say “I dunno a week?” because they only knew for a week… even if I had informed proper channels far earlier.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch

      Ooooh that curveball they threw in with the asking about her notice period! I haven’t had that asked before, that’s some good reference checking on their part.

      However Sally would probably be burned too if you were asked the traditional “Is she eligible for rehire?” question, since I’m suspecting if she came back to you, you wouldn’t be rehiring her after that exit. I may be wrong in that assumption though of course.

      Sally is pretty nonsensical regardless, since she walked out and then had the idea to list you as a reference and then after all those bad choices, she called you up to blame you. What did you say to her, did you give her any conversation at all?

      My response would have been “Well you just disappeared one day, I didn’t even know you were still alive until you appeared again, so do us both a favor and lose my number, never call again.”

      1. OP

        Hmm I am not a fan of this situation. In my company, my peers don’t know about my resignation immediately (notification is sent by management to staff and they take their sweet time). If a colleague of mine was asked this they might say “I dunno a week?” because they only knew for a week… even if I had informed proper channels far earlier.

        1. Cows go moo

          I don’t know if you’ll read this OP, but I was giving a reference as a manager and not a peer.

          If I was a hiring manager checking references, I would understand this isn’t a suitable question for peer references for the reason you mentioned.

      2. Cows go moo

        I didn’t say much; it wasn’t worth arguing. She was convinced she was a victim and it would be waste of my own time trying to correct her.

  26. A

    I work for a state agency and 1. get paid bi-monthly as per our contract and 2. am mandated to give 2 weeks notice or am ineligible for re-hire. This pertains to even other state agencies, so if i want to go work for a different agency I’m supposed to give two weeks notice. A LOT of employees get around this by not mentioning that they’re transitioning until the day they leave, they then restart immediately at the new agency and there’s literally nothing the state can do about it. I know a lot of people though who have just left. Left in the middle of the day, left and never came back etc. I have left a job and given them a day’s notice but it was a gas station job and I had gotten a much much higher paying job and never intended on using anyone from the gas station as a reference. But yes, CHECK YOUR CONTRACTS!

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch

      Ah the mid-day disappearing act.

      Working with production workers for so many years, I’ve seen it happen all the time.

      I had one guy leave for our first break. Never show back up. Then came in two weeks later for his paycheck [for his two and a half hours but hey, we cut the check because it’s the law and right thing to do], gave me this glorious story about how he left for break and was arrested [within that 15 minutes!] and asked if he could have another shot. [Spoiler, no he didn’t get a second shot but I give him hand claps for trying].

  27. Clementine

    I have given a few weeks longer than needed in order to be helpful, and even extended that a bit, on request. But I’ve sometimes thought I should have asked for the higher salary that I was getting at the new job. All in all, I am happy that I was able to leave on a positive note, and I never slacked off, even on the last day.

  28. MissDisplaced

    Generally, two weeks notice for a professional job is about the time it takes to wrap things up and make a smooth handoff, as it’s unlikely they’ll hire a replacement in two weeks.

    But you’re certainly not “required” to do anything!

    I’ve been all over with notices. Mostly it’s two weeks, but I once gave 3 months (moving) and a few times only a week because I hated the company and/or the manager, and didn’t feel they deserved that courtesy. But I think if you’ve had a fairly decent time at the company it’s better to try to give the courtesy notice if possible.

  29. dovidbawie

    I’m in a situation where [hopefully] I will have a new offer before my probation ends with current employer. I’d like to give two weeks notice out of courtesy for my coworkers, but management here truly and awfully suuuuuuucks. Like, someone was urinating blood but wasn’t allowed to leave [and then later hospitalized with kidney stones], & makes employees clock out for their 15 minute breaks [against federal labor law here]. The kicker is that they specifically treat me better than everyone else.

    This is considered an entry level job, every town has about 10+ of these businesses, and I have years of previous experience as well as years of much higher experience.

    Advice? Would you burn this bridge?

    1. LGC

      Light that sucker on fire. With prejudice.

      If they’re forcing people to stay through medical emergencies and clearly violating labor law, they do not deserve your respect or courtesy. Especially if you have references from better positions.

  30. Kisses

    Hi there OP!
    Congratulations on the new job- I’m excited for you!

    I’m sorry, I really mean this as nothing to worry you AT ALL, but even with an offer in hand never take it for a done thing until it is a done thing. I was bit in the butt because of having an ID and checkbook stolen over 10 years ago- and apparently having something show up on my record check that was just as old and in a state I hadn’t lived in. I had no notice until the check didn’t clear, and a lawyer suggested about a 6 month period to get it off my record for good- to fight it basically. I still had the offer pulled.
    I really am not trying to worry you, but by giving 2 week notice, it also keeps you in a position to come back so to speak if for some reason other things fall through.

    1. OP

      Luckily I am not too concerned about this due to the fact that my current employer (public institution) backgrounded and fingerprinted me, and future employer (comparable public institution) has a less extensive process. I am pretty sure my current employer would have been having problems with me if something like that had happened to me.

      Also, I knew not to resign until the offer is a done deal. I mentioned in my letter I was asking for when it becomes official.

  31. LGC

    So I’m going to ask a really stupid question: how did we in the US settle on two weeks specifically as the right timeframe? I get that it’s customary, and obviously what you’re supposed to do during that time, but the more I look at it the more arbitrary it seems.

    (I’m guessing that part of it has to do with people often being paid biweekly – so it actually does match up with Lena Clare’s point about notice periods matching to pay periods at the top.)

    That said, I was slightly annoyed when a star employee resigned with a week’s notice last winter. But it was also super easy to transition, since another star employee could backfill her job with no training. (I think I surprised a lot of people by how well I handled it – I don’t think anyone expected me to force her out and I couldn’t anyway, but I think everyone expected me to have a panic attack about coverage.)

    1. MissDisplaced

      I think it was probably initially a payroll thing. And some states have law that says on your last day, you are owed ALL the pay due to you (wages, unused vacation, etc.). Naturally, this would make it easier for Accounting.

      But with all this “at will” directive, if a company can end you employment at will and whenever they want, than so can the employees end it, and they should be able to do so without a negative or derogatory reference because of it. Because it’s not fair.

  32. Surrogate Tongue Pop

    I gave 8 days…it was the best I could do and burnt no bridges due to the documentation for transition I prepared. It was a balance between 1) using earned vacation days for a bit of a last minute trip that I wouldn’t be paid out for, 2) sending my resignation email the minute the plane touched down back in the U.S. (so it would officially go on record on that work day that I resigned) and 3) having a very, very planned vacation coming up where my notice could only be 8 days before I left for planned vacation. It all worked out. I think offering is nice, but you also have to balance your needs/wants/life, even if there is no crisis. The key is preparedness and professionalism to transition the work the best way possible in your specific environment/situation.

  33. Alisa Limvere

    When I was eager to leave a position, I would phrase it in my resignation letter as
    “With deepest regrets, I hereby tender my resignation from My expected last day is , unless you are open to me leaving prior to this day.”

    That way, I am fulfilling my professional obligation while still leaving open the option of leaving before two weeks. I then negotiate with my management to see if I can leave earlier.

  34. Alisa Limvere

    My apologies, the submission engine edited my comment in an unexpected way. Here is my original post:

    When I was eager to leave a position, I would phrase it in my resignation letter as

    “With deepest regrets, I hereby tender my resignation from (Company Name). My expected last day is two weeks from (resignation date), unless you are open to me leaving prior to this date.”

    That way, I am fulfilling my professional obligation while still leaving open the option of leaving before two weeks. I then negotiate with my management to see if I can leave earlier.

  35. Anoncorporate

    I think it’s worth giving a two-weeks notice to not ruin your references. One bad reference alone could screw over your chances of getting a job, and it’s not worth risking it, even if you hate your employer. Another reason I would consider is not screwing over my coworkers. In my case, it’s because I genuinely care about them, but there is a networking aspect to that as well.

  36. Bosswoman

    I was manager at a company with no policy on notice time. I spoke up several times on this and other HR policies that were lacking and was told it was not important. Fast forward a year and I got a big bonus at my job and a new job offer at another company if I could start in one week. I happily turned in my one week notice. My boss stopped by before I left and casually stated that maybe I should not have accepted the bonus as I did not give a 2 week notice. Too bad, you did not want to bother with this detail, I am outta here!

  37. AB

    I understand that giving two weeks is the workplace norm, but I am scarred by an experience that happened a couple years ago.

    I gave three weeks notice at a job I worked at full-time for about six months. I realize that is not that long, but my mid-year review (which happened about a month before I got the new job and gave my notice) was glowing. When I gave them three weeks notice, they told me to pack up my stuff and leave that very day. There was even a comment about how my job “isn’t that hard” and they’ll get a temp to do it until they find a new person.

    Was I in an especially terrible workplace, or is it common that workplaces can and will seemingly retaliate with this behavior? I was in a tough financial spot at the time, and the two weeks pay made all the difference. I told my new job I could start in three weeks – expecting at worst to be given two weeks and forego a week of pay in between jobs.

    So now I err on the side of caution when talking about this subject. I’ve heard from people it’s best to give MORE than two weeks as a courtesy – as well as protect yourself by giving LESS in case a scenario like mine comes up.

    I’m really interested to hear thoughts on this.

  38. Greasedlightning

    I feel like I have the opposite problem, I recently gave notice at my job (almost three weeks) at a non-profit where people often give crazy long notices to make things easier for everyone. I have had many remarks such as “oh so soon” “what a fast change”. It is rather awkward as I feel like I am doing something wrong even though I have given above the normal amount of notice (I am not a supervisor). I work with a lot of martyr types here, and I feel bad that my notice has caused a lot of inconveniences but my jobs have become notoriously slow at hiring and I think to give very lengthy notices hasn’t encouraged them to move it along. For instance, the position I took (as an internal transfer) was empty for over 6 months.

  39. SomeOldGuy

    There’s also the issue of personal ethics to consider. I like to think I have ethics. I like to believe that I adhere to a high standard of personal behavior. Even if I had no legal requirement, even if it weren’t likely to give me a negative future reference, I’d still give 2 weeks’ notice because it’s a decent, honorable thing to do. The only exceptions would be if my current employer was engaging in illegal or harassing behavior, or if my new employer absolutely had to have me in place sooner than 2 weeks or I’d lose the job offer. It’s not remotely fashionable these days but there’s really a lot to be said for the old Golden Rule. (And that’s why they call me SomeOldGuy, I guess!)

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