How much notice?
January 23, 2009 12:48 PM   Subscribe

How much notice should I give before quitting my job?

Do I tell them as soon as possible? or do I wait until two weeks before I leave? Something in between?

More info: I'm going on a long roadtrip starting in May. My job is a programming gig I got after interning at this place one summer. It's okay. Not the worst, not the best. It's the only programming job I've ever had so I'm trying to stay on good terms with them in case I should ever need a reference in the future.

Here's my main concern: It's a very small place (a dozen employees) and I'm the only programmer on the project I'm working on, so I'm afraid that if I don't give more than 2 weeks notice it will seem a bit rude that I didn't give them more time to find a replacement.

At the same time I'm nervous about telling them right now because they might try to ditch me, give up on the product I'm working on because it's not a very big earner, and then I'm out of a job before I'm ready.

Right now I'm thinking about something in between, like a month's notice. What do you think?
posted by symbollocks to Work & Money (19 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I think it depends on how well they've treated you as an employee.

If they've been awesome then you should man up and return the favor by being forthright about your future plans.

If toolboxes, then you can quit any time you want. Two weeks notice is just customary.
posted by troy at 12:54 PM on January 23, 2009 [1 favorite]

if you like them, i would give my notice at about a month. in the letter state the exact date you plan to be your last day. let them know you are more than willing to help them out during the interviewing process for finding your replacement as well as getting your replacement up to speed before you leave (if they find someone before then).
posted by violetk at 1:02 PM on January 23, 2009

A month sounds good if all your require to feel secure is being able to get a god referrence. I work in a smaller place and someone who left with about two weeks notice was not regarded terribly well for it (although there were other factors...and it wasn't so bad that any trash was talked to anyone outside the workplace), but I don't think anyone could argue with a month.

But as said above, if they've been awesome and you'd like them to, say, actually recommend you to someone who's asking around for a programmer or send work your way in the future, then even earlier. How much depends upon exactly how hard it would be to replace you.
posted by K.P. at 1:03 PM on January 23, 2009

I've quit three jobs. The first one treated me pretty badly, but I was a key asset as well as young and idealistic, so I gave them a month's notice. They appreciated that a lot. The second two were incredibly good to me, and I gave them both a month as well. More than a month, I think, has the potential to make things a little uncomfortable for you if they really don't want you to leave.
posted by autojack at 1:05 PM on January 23, 2009

I would only give them two weeks notice. If you have a good relationship with your manager, maybe give him the heads up so he can begin to search for a suitable replacement. Based on the size of the company, I have a feeling the manager is also the owner/boss/founder. Anything more than 2 weeks, you set yourself up for early termination. Anything less is just not standard etiquette.

It's your first job, you feel bad about leaving these guys high and dry. I understand completely as I went through this myself about 2 years ago from my first job (worse, I was leaving for one of their clients requiring me to continue to deal with them). The answer to this question is easy: Would they hesitate to fire you if they needed to cost cut (or any other number of reasons)? I wouldn't feel guilty for moving on to something different. Keep your business relationships professional; be respectful. But don't, for an instant, think that you're not replaceable.
posted by teabag at 1:05 PM on January 23, 2009 [1 favorite]

One month notice worked wonders for me at my last job. Same field and somewhat similar situation to yours. I reasoned it simply: if you're the only one in the know on that project then you want to factor in time for them to hire someone to replace you and the time it will take to do a knowledge transfer. Two weeks just isn't enough for them to do that. So if you don't mind working there then you should give more than two weeks notice, they'll appreciate it.
posted by furtive at 1:16 PM on January 23, 2009

When I quit my last job (one I hoped to stay on good terms with), I said I was giving two weeks notice, but said that if they REALLY wanted me to, I'd stay for a month. Turns out they REALLY wanted me to, they really appreciated me staying on longer, and I even got an invite to the company Christmas party. So... making it look like you're doing them an extra favor can be helpful.
posted by olinerd at 1:19 PM on January 23, 2009

Your employment contract will specify how much notice you are minimally required to give, but as the only programmer on the project I agree with the others in saying a month would be courteous.
posted by goo at 1:21 PM on January 23, 2009

I say two weeks.

Many years ago when I quit my job, I gave 30 days notice since I was a department head and left on good terms.

Had I waited and just given two weeks notice all would have still been fine with them and I would not have lost out on several hundred dollars, since the company had a policy which was unknown to me that any employee who'd given notice would be ineligible for a regularly scheduled raise.
posted by imjustsaying at 1:59 PM on January 23, 2009

Many places view anyone working a notice as a liability. So give whatever notice you feel is fair, but be prepared to clean out your desk on the same day if HR freaks out.
posted by wfrgms at 2:21 PM on January 23, 2009 [1 favorite]

A month is generally considered polite, I think. Giving only two weeks in a situation like yours does sound a bit rude.
posted by rokusan at 2:43 PM on January 23, 2009

Nthing to give them a month to be nice, but here's something to be aware of: some places sneakily write it in to your contract that you must give a certain amount of notice. (That was an interesting surprise at my last job (big company in MA): if you gave any amount less than two weeks, they docked your pay. For example, if you gave one weeks notice, they docked your pay a week. Thankfully I gave 3 weeks notice.)

I would advise against Teabag's advice of telling your manager before officially telling HR; it's not very professional and will (most likely) end up as gossip before you'd like it to. Good luck!!
posted by veryhappyheidi at 3:48 PM on January 23, 2009

The last three people that gave notice at my place of employment were let go before their notice was up, so be aware that your concern is quite legitimate.
posted by kattyann at 4:26 PM on January 23, 2009 [1 favorite]

If your contract says "at will" then you can leave at any time. From there it's up to you. Two weeks is customary. A month is generous. Anything longer is kind of weird and awkward.
posted by plinth at 4:53 PM on January 23, 2009

Well, I gave three weeks notice once, and by the time the second week was beginning I was SO DONE with the job it was torture. This was a company I liked, but the extra week was kind of a waste of my time and theirs because psychologically I was gone already. Just something to consider.
posted by oneirodynia at 7:17 PM on January 23, 2009

Any additional guidance if in the same situation but looking at leaving for grad school next summer?
posted by midatlanticwanderer at 8:54 PM on January 23, 2009

Ah, my bad -- just saw this.
posted by midatlanticwanderer at 8:57 PM on January 23, 2009

Do you have to quit? Could you possibly talk to management about taking an unpaid leave?
posted by Lesser Shrew at 10:21 AM on January 25, 2009

I'm pretty sure it's a illegal to "dock" pay for not giving notice. I'm pretty sure you can quit whenever you want with no recourse. Of course, they may pro-rate you based on when you quit in the pay cycle.

Actually there's a great article (before financial times got hard) where employers would write glowing reviews regardless of how much notice. They wanted to be seen by recruiters are a good place to grow. It's ultimately between you and the guy who will be responsible for your work when you leave (usually your manager, in my case it was all of my peers). Ask them how they feel about it. Go from there.
posted by teabag at 6:01 AM on January 27, 2009

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