Business

ETIQUETTE AT WORK

When leaving, two weeks notice still the norm

Q. How much notice to your current employer is acceptable when separating from service, and does it depend upon your position/responsibilities? The norm (rule?) used to be two weeks, minimum. Lately, I am aware of people giving less than two weeks, and in some cases only a week. Is this a new trend? Perhaps it is a product of the current economy/job market that a job seeker would not pass up a better opportunity just because he or she was not able to give a full two weeks notice. I appreciate your thoughts.

A. When you choose to leave a business for a new position, the two-week period is the standard minimum. Frankly, it isn’t nearly enough time to hire and train a replacement, but it does provide a cushion during which the person leaving can finish up work, hand off projects and work that others will have to absorb, and be available to answer questions. By giving your current employer two weeks notice, you are being considerate of the effect your leaving will have. While your boss may not be pleased that you are leaving, he will at least respect your effort to minimize as much as possible the disruption caused by your exit.

As an employer, I wouldn’t appreciate it if someone told me they were leaving and gave less than two weeks notice. And therein lies one reason not to do it. In business, it’s rarely a good idea to burn bridges. You never know when your choice to bolt after one week or less might come back to bite you. That boss could become a future client or prospect, or you might want to move on to yet another company only to find out the boss you left in the lurch is now the person interviewing you. Whoops.

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I doubt there are many situations in which your new employer is going to demand you start sooner than two weeks. Undoubtedly, he or she knows you are employed. In fact, offering to make the move in less than two weeks might look questionable: Would you leave him or her in the lurch just the way you were offering to leave your current employer?

Before giving your new employer a firm start date, let him or her know you want to talk to your current employer about a mutually agreeable last day. To your new boss and your old, you’ll show yourself to be a person of character, one who honors commitments.

E-mail questions about business etiquette to etiquetteatwork@emilypost.com.