Long notice period: Should I quit before finding a new job and hope for the best?
February 28, 2012 8:46 AM   Subscribe

I'm concerned my rather long notice period at work (3 months, UK) will harm my chances for finding new work. Should I quit before finding a new job and hope for the best?

I'm in a job that I've realised doesn't suit me, so it's time to find another job. However, I'm required to give three months' notice, and I'm concerned that may ruin my chances of finding the kind of work that I want due to employers hiring someone with comparable skills who is more readily available.

So, should I a) give my notice and spend my spare time in the following three months getting my ass into gear and finding another job with fingers crossed I get an offer? Or, b) should I try to line up something before I quit and risk spending more time in a situation I'd rather not be in?

I do have the option of freelance work if I choose option a) and no permanent job offers come my way before the three months are up.

There is also a need for headcount reduction across all divisions, so I could try to get my post made redundant (laid off, basically, with benefits), but that would mean discussions with my boss about this and revealing my plans before I'm ready. Risky.

The reasons I want to leave are:

- professionally: it's a management role and I'd rather be in a production-based role, which is what I used to do before this

- personally: it's far from home and I spend most of the week away from family (spouse and child) and friends - not good; and the stress of it all is affecting my physical and mental health.

And, having read previous posts on similar topics, it's not an option to leave before working out my full notice period.

What would you do?
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Impossible to answer without knowing (1) what does your contract say about penalties if you don't fulfil the notice period (and do you need to part on good terms, e.g. references) (2) how long will it take you to find a new job in your field/geographical location?
posted by caek at 9:01 AM on February 28, 2012

I would not talk to your boss in order to get your current role in line for workforce reduction. That puts both him and you in a bad position, both professionally and legally should he not go along with the plan or if it goes sour down the line. There are some soft benefits to telling your manager...

* Communicating that you are leaving on your own accord would open up a spot for another co-worker to keep their job giving the upcoming reduction.
* If your relationship with your manager is strong enough, he may actually be able to help you out on your new job search.
* It could leave a good impression and reference from your manager now has time to prepare for you leaving and the eventual work transition.

That being said, I simply find the possibility of blow-back to be too risky to be worth doing. Disclaimer: I have only worked for organizations with heavy office politics and some of the cutt-throat behavior that can come with that.

It's hard to say whether to give notice while you look or give notice after you have a new position. It depends on the strength of your job market field and how risk/risk-averse you are. The only certainty is to start job hunting now so get started on that while you weigh the risks of when to give notice.
posted by seppyk at 9:12 AM on February 28, 2012

I have a non-technical office job in the USA. I can only offer anecdotal evidence, but it took 2 1/2 months from first in-person interview to "no" with one job I was pursuing, 4 months from first in-person interview to "we're not filling this position anymore" with another position and 3 months from first in-person interview to start date with the job I'm at now. None of the jobs I applied for were eager to fill the job immediately and at the early stages, nobody asked me when I could start.

So I'd start sending out your Resumes/CVs and setting up telephone interviews now, and not give notice until you start lining up in-person interviews. At least then you'll have a pipeline of job leads.

Good luck and I hope it all works out for you!
posted by ladygypsy at 9:55 AM on February 28, 2012

It IS an option to negotiate a shorter notice period with your manager. Since the company is short of cash at the moment, they might bite your hand off.

If I were in your position, I think I'd start interviewing for other positions, saying that my notice period is three months but I think it highly likely that I could negotiate it down given the current economic circumstances.

Then I would wait and see what happened and play it by ear.

You never know, you might land a job and get made redundant the next day anyway!
posted by emilyw at 9:57 AM on February 28, 2012

My UK job requires 3 months notice. I would not consider quitting early on the offchance. Any potential employer will realise that this is pretty normal and generally be preapred to wait. As you move up the professional tree is becomes more and more likely. It may even confer some advantage as it may make you look higher up the food chain.

When you do get something try and negotiate a faster release. In my job there are opportunties for a quick get out depending on the time of year (academia, they are much more likely to go for quick release in the summer when they would be paying me to research and won't get any benefit from it if I am leaving) and it is worth a punt to see what they say.
posted by biffa at 10:05 AM on February 28, 2012

Three months is pretty standard across Europe.
posted by three blind mice at 10:34 AM on February 28, 2012

I've had a three month notice period in the past, and it's not been a problem. It can sometimes infer that you're worth trying to keep, therefore worth trying to employ; it's far from unusual; and once you get a job you might be able to negotiate an earlier end date / new start date. Just include this information in your applications so prospective employers know about it.
posted by dowcrag at 10:42 AM on February 28, 2012

For the UK I think the requirement for three month notice tends to occur in specialist roles that take a while to recruit for, as well as senior roles. Having said that I also think it's becoming more common.

I'd echo biffa in saying that I'd be tempted to apply for new jobs now. I bet in many cases people won't bat an eyelid at your notice period, and if they do: you can always indicate there may be room for negotiation. Afterall - you may be able to approach your current employer about redundancy at that point.
posted by SuckPoppet at 1:49 AM on February 29, 2012

Line up a new job and then give notice. From observing a bunch of people with three months notice period leaving my last UK employer everybody was able to negotiate an earlier date although that may have meant 2 months instead of 3 for example. And it is pretty standard in more senior roles so unless you are looking for a role at a lower than your current level they will know you can't start next Monday...
posted by koahiatamadl at 12:05 PM on March 4, 2012

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