ABC’s of Hiring #35 – How much notice is the right amount of notice when you resign?

When should you let your current employer know that you’re going to leave and how much notice should you give when you do? This is one of the most hotly debated questions for employees and employers alike. The answer is that giving two weeks’ notice is professional and courteous, and certainly enough time for most managers to line up a replacement or reshuffle responsibilities around the rest of the team.

Employee Perspective

You must be very careful to never give notice until you have accepted a formal written job offer and have addressed any contingencies, e.g. background checks, references and drug screen. Don’t be pretty sure that you have an offer, be absolutely sure. If the offer falls through, you could be left with neither position, and starting a job search.

Do not send an email to resign but have a face-to-face meeting. Be polite and courteous. You don’t want to burn any bridges. You may have to rely on them for a future reference. Be thoughtful, and don’t resign when your boss is on vacation, or expect to use your vacation time during your notice period.

It would be a mistake to offer more than 2 weeks’ notice. Don’t let your sense of fairness overrule your judgment. You have made a commitment to a new job and want to make a good impression with them as well. If you were to stay beyond 2 weeks, you will quickly become a lame duck and be left out of ongoing meetings and discussions. You also give your current employer plenty of time to play on your emotions and make it harder to leave, especially if you have enjoyed a good relationship. They can, and most will, tempt you with a counteroffer to stay.

There is a natural phenomenon that occurs during the transition. You will want to be at the new job and lose interest in the old job. Your loyalties switch to the new employer. Your productivity will drop and you will be glad you gave 2 weeks’ notice.

Always remember why you are making the change. It should be driven by needs that your current employer can’t or hasn’t fulfilled, that the new employer can provide. If you are underpaid, then why all of a sudden are they willing to pay you more? They should have done this all along.

Employer Perspective

Your new employer will be very anxious if you provide anything but 2 weeks’ notice. Their immediate concern will be with your commitment to the new position and they will question whether you will actually show up. Your integrity will come into question. They will defensively try and keep their back-up candidates on hold as long as possible. That creates problems for everyone involved and is terribly unfair to all concerned. It can create a rocky start which is very undesirable.

Your employer will need for you to help manage the transition of responsibilities. As long as you are on the payroll, you are expected to contribute. Employees should not assume that once they have provided notice, their responsibilities end. Complete outstanding tasks, hand over any unfinished work and offer to train your replacement before you leave.

Your current employer will try and keep you as long as possible and effect a smooth transition that works for them. It will take some time to replace you beyond the 2 weeks’ notice provided. They benefit from any extra time you give them and you get nothing in return. You have no obligation to provide any notice, let alone, anything more than 2 weeks.


The accepted standard for professional behavior is to provide 2 weeks’ notice when you resign. Anything more, or anything less, creates problems that are unnecessary and can be avoided.

Bob Harrington Associates has been in the executive search business since 1994 and can help you find the best people for your business.


Best Regards,


Bob Harrington CPC
Bob Harrington Associates


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