Three Compelling Reasons to Give Proper Notice when Quitting a Job

I Quit
I Quit

So, you've got this written job offer in your hand. It looks great. The money's amazing, the title's great, the commute is awesome, and you want the job so bad you can taste it.

One caveat. Today's Friday, they want you to start Monday. You still work for your current employer, and the new company's demanding that you just quit your role and come over immediately. The pressure to up and leave without notice is relentless. What do you do?

The first question to ask yourself is, is this a "Once-in-a-Lifetime" situation? Here are some scenarios which might qualify:

  • The President calls you personally to offer you the position of Secretary of State. Your first assignment is to host next week's nuclear nonproliferation conference.
  • Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo suffers a season-ending injury. Jerry Jones needs you to step in.
  • That book of dirty limericks you wrote in college has been picked up by a major publisher, with an initial run of 20 million copies and an option for a movie. Despite trying to negotiate a two week delay, the promotional tour begins next week.
  • You've been cast as the next Batman.

You get the idea. When looking at the number of situations in which you would reasonably be expected to drop everything and run out the door, you should probably be able to count the total on one hand. Realistically, one finger. For 99.9999 percent of us, these situations don't exist.

Let's circle back to our scenario, where they're asking you to leave your current job without notice. What do you do?

Here's what I would do:

I would tell the company offering me the position that I would only accept the role if they allowed me to give two weeks' notice. If they balked - at all - I would decline the opportunity. They might respond with a signing bonus. As much as it hurts, I would decline the offer.

But why? Three reasons.

  • For those of us not asked to play Batman in a major motion picture, all we have is our reputation. Contrary to what you may think, word can - and will - spread in the job market that you left your current employer in a bad situation by dropping them like a hot potato. It won't just be between you and your employer.
  • No matter how good your performance was with your last company, burning them will leave them no option but to make sure you will never be eligible to work for them again. Should you ever apply, you'll hear those dreaded words - "Do Not Rehire" - be spoken about you.
  • If the company extending you the offer demonstrates such little regard for your reputation coming in, how do you believe they will treat you once you arrive? Will they value you? Or will they toss you aside with little consideration?

I'm not naive - I understand the days of complete loyalty between employee and employer have passed. But the implicit social contract - and the professional approach - is to give two weeks' notice when leaving a position. It gives you time to make a clean hand-off of your work, and your employer an opportunity to best manage a challenging situation.

Scott Singer is the President and Founder of Insider Career Strategies Resume Writing & Career Coaching, a firm dedicated to guiding job seekers and companies through the job search and hiring process. He is a Human Resources professional and staffing expert with almost two decades of in-house corporate HR and staffing firm experience, and is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) and Certified Professional Career Coach (CPCC).

Insider Career Strategies provides resume writing, LinkedIn profile development, and career coaching services, including a free resume review. You can email Scott Singer at scott.singer@insidercs.com, or via the website, www.insidercs.com.