Welcome to 2015, and another year of unlimited possibilities and opportunities. Among these opportunities, for many people, landing a new job is by far one of the most exhilarating feelings one can experience. With this new job so many possibilities are abound: a fresh start, higher pay, more responsibility and/or management potential, and a whole new world of challenges to be taken head-on. It’s understandable why people are excited and why they immediately turn focus to their new future surroundings.
However, too often people make the mistake of leaving their old job without sufficient (or any) notice period to their employer. This is a tragic, yet wholly avoidable mistake. Again, it’s entirely understandable that excitement really takes over, but it is equally as important that you keep in mind the long-term ramifications of leaving a job without proper notice.
How Much Notice Is Enough?
The standard for generations (in the US, with maybe the exception of the independent country of California) has been two weeks’ notice when you plan to separate from an employer. This provides them with time to start working toward getting someone new into the role, and also allows for a transfer of knowledge to take place. Depending on how long you have been in your role that might be a significant amount of information to download to others. Given your role, and the information at stake, you may want to consider a longer period of transition time, so that your current employer isn’t left without critical information that will assist the next person in your role.
It’s true that companies often want to have a new employee start as soon as possible. That’s just the nature of things. They have work to do (which is why they hired someone to begin with) and the sooner they can execute against that the better. But they also know that past behavior can be a predictor of future performance. One of the scariest things a recruiter can here when they ask how much notice you need to give is “I can leave tomorrow and start ASAP”. Mind you, if you are already between jobs, this isn’t an issue. But what the recruiter on the other end hears is “I can leave my current employer high and dry. And I’ll probably do the same to you” As you can imagine, this is cause for great alarm. So consider 2 weeks sufficient, but maybe it’s 3 or even 4 depending on what your specific scenario is. Also, check back on the offer letter or other employment agreements you signed for any clearly defined notice requirements.
Burned Bridges Are Hard To Cross
Having recently come back to a company where I previously worked for 4 years, it was a nice to “come back home”. Many faces remained, and it was easy to resume the strong relationships I had built over my previous tenure. And while I left because of a manager that was just insufferable to work for, (read: people don’t leave jobs, they leave managers – still true), I ensured that I gave them 4 weeks’ notice so that we could transition everything. I also cleared this with my future employer at the time, as I wanted them to know I was not leaving a firestorm behind, and that I had integrity. This resonated well with my new boss.
Companies also collect and track data on employee separations and terminations. And you can be sure they are noting when someone leaves without giving any/proper notice. And it’s not just “coming back home” that is affected. When references are checked or employment history is verified, this transgression potentially might be included. It may even preclude you from being eligible for rehire at that company at a later date. Ultimately, it’s not worth damaging a reputation that you worked hard to build.
I’d make one recommendation after accepting the new position. Stop, sit down, breathe, and think about your exit plan. Map out a strategy, and discuss it with your current and future manager. They will respect your efforts in closing things out properly, because you’re making their lives easier, and it’s the professional thing to do. And if you ever need to come back later on, you’ll be glad you did it the right way.