Giving Notice That You’re Leaving

Whether due to retirement, leaving for another job, (hopefully better) or you’ve just had all you can take, one of the things you have to think about is how you’re going to go about leaving. Will you or won’t you provide them with advanced notice of your decision and if you do, how much notice will you give?

There are a lot of factors to consider when you’re about to leave. The extent to which each one applies or not to your personal situation may greatly influence how much or little advance notice you give. So let’s look at some of the most common things that go into most people’s decision.

Still Within Probationary Period

If you’re in you’re probationary period, both you and the employer aren’t compelled to provide any notice to each other. They could let you go and simply say it’s not a good fit and the same applies to you.

Will I Want A Reference?

Before you just walk in and quit, consider that if you plan on putting this experience on your resume as your most recent employment, count on interviewers expecting someone from this organization to be a reference of yours. By giving sufficient notice, you won’t leave a sour taste in their mouth, and it’s likely they’ll say positive things about your contributions.


You might never plan on working again and therefore not need a reference, but you may find you still deal with the employer regarding pension, health benefits, retirement and/or buyout packages. Leaving on the best terms possible definitely won’t hurt. Depending where you live and work, there may be rules on what’s required in terms of notice and consider that some employees retire and then end up returning to work for the same employer on a part-time or contractual basis.

Your Personal Code Of Ethics

While you might feel an obligation to repay your employer’s faith in hiring you, you may also be someone who gives zero thought to their situation. If you don’t feel any remorse about leaving, you may be comfortable just walking away. Good advice however is to consider the employer’s situation. How easy or challenging will it be to replace you?

How Easily Will You Be Replaced?

If you work in an entry-level position where turnover is high and you’ve only been employed a short time, your departure will not present the same challenge as someone working in a senior position with special working knowledge acquired in a niche market. The longer it will take to replace you generally means the employer would appreciate more notice.

Good Terms Or Bad Terms?

Why you’re leaving is a critical consideration. If you’re at the end of your rope and being severely mistreated by an employer, you have to put your own physical and mental health as a top priority. In an abusive employment relationship, walking away with no notice is always justified. You may or may not report the employer and you should consult with an Employment Counsellor/Coach about how best to answer some future interview question such as, “Why did you leave your last job?” or “Describe your previous employer.” Leaving on good terms on the other hand generally means you might want to give appropriate notice.

Succession Planning

In some of the best organizations, employer’s sit down with their employees and develop personalized plans of advancement. Some organizations expect you to move on and up and this planning means they have others already training to replace you, just as you’ll be getting prepared to move into a role held by someone else. Giving them notice of your departure within or beyond the organization let’s them set things in motion for a seamless transition.

A Trigger

What’s a trigger? A trigger is a single event, conversation or action that may cause you to come to the decision to leave. Your 65th birthday, a health diagnosis, your spouse accepting a job in another city, an opportunity to take an early buyout of your services; these are a few examples. Be careful that your decision to leave is well thought out. Sometimes a knee-jerk decision to quit on the spot, made hastily is one you might regret 24 hours later.

Another – A Better Job

Congratulations! You might be fortunate to find yourself accepting a better job – closer to home, more income, a better fit for your education and experience, etc. When you have the luxury of another job, you’ll undoubtedly be happy, but again, leave on the best terms possible. Life has a funny way of sometimes bringing us back to work for companies we left in our past.

Volunteer To Paid Employment

Let’s not forget that walking away from a volunteer position because you’ve landed a paying job while understandable, may still leave one organization in a bind to replace you. No different than a profit organization, non-profits appreciate notice so they can get the right people too.

If you work for an organization with a Human Resources Manager, inquire about the requirements around providing notice. It’s a good idea to leave on the best terms possible whenever possible.

Could be that depending on your role and how professional the boss you work for is or isn’t, that when you offer to work for two weeks before leaving, they accept your resignation immediately and tell you not to come back. So be it if that happens.


Should You Tell Your Employer You’re Job Searching?

Yesterday afternoon I was speaking with a woman whom I worked closely a couple of years ago when she was unemployed. She is working on a part-time basis, and is looking for full-time work elsewhere. In addition to looking for more hours and more total income, she has moved, and is now taking public transit from one city to another, a trip of 40 minutes.

“Do you think I should tell my boss I’m looking for another job or not?” she asked. My first reaction was to quickly say, “No!”, but I altered my view shortly. You see I know how difficult it was for her to secure the job she has now, and because the job she has is an entry-level job and people are easily replaced, I didn’t want her boss to fire her and then have her be totally unemployed again, prompting a future gap on her resume. True an employer shouldn’t terminate someone for this reason, but the poor employers will sometimes do just that.

However, then she mentioned that when she relocated, her boss was surprised she hadn’t quit to look for a job closer to where she now lives, and she added that he had said he didn’t want her to quit, he was just expecting it. That was a year ago, and for the past year, she’s been making that trip faithfully. However, with the approaching winter and the snows it brings, she’s motivated to look closer to home for employment.

Apparently the employer not only said he was surprised she hadn’t quit to work closer to home, he added that he’d be happy to give her a good reference that changed my mind. In her case, the employer fully expects part-time employees will want to secure more hours, and if they can’t provide it, they know you have to work to survive, so it’s natural you should be looking. Telling your employer you are job searching then should come as no surprise. And if you add that you will give your employer a minimum of two weeks notice, they should appreciate your situation.

If you can be open and honest, it makes it easier than to approach your boss and tell them your job search progress, especially if you plan on providing their name and contact information to an interviewer when asked. If the current employer is supportive, they’ll then be honest and fair in return by providing a good assessment of your work. In this situation, entry-level staff needed on a part-time basis are relatively easy to find too, so a lengthy employee search is not their primary concern.

However, you always run the risk of an employer feeling threatened, thinking you might put in a lot less effort, maybe start taking home products or possibly poorly influencing other co-workers. For this reason, some poor employers will let employees go for fabricated reasons within 24 hours. This is unfortunate but true. But should you realistically be expected to work part-time for ever at a minimum wage? Would they in your shoes?

The best employers actually help their employees grow. If you are a good employee who adds value to the organization, and there is no room for advancement or for additional income or hours, some employers encourage their staff to take their new or growing skills and look around for other opportunities. These are the very best of employers, because they want their people to succeed, and if they move on, not only will they speak well of the company, but they derive pleasure from helping others.

I myself have taken different steps in my own past. Sometimes I’ve alerted the employer about my intentions and other times, I only indicated I had applied elsewhere after an interview. At the interview, I’d tell the interviewer that they are welcome to contact my current employer for a reference, but added that they have not yet been advised of my situation and then requested the following day to let them know myself. That prevents any awkward surprise for the current boss, and shows respect for them, as well as showing the interviewer how I might leave them one day.

It really all comes down to several questions. How good is your relationship with the current employer? How long have you been employed? How easy or difficult will it be to replace you? Why are you leaving? Are you the only one leaving or is it a steady stream of high turnovers? Are there things you are working on that make your presence essential or not?

In short, there is no black and white answer to this question of whether or not to advise the employer you are seeking another job. Even the best advice may backfire on you because as much as you think you know your boss, you may touch a nerve and be surprised at their reaction.

The best advice however is to leave on the best terms possible. Don’t say anything you’ll regret later, let them know you appreciate their support, and remember you might need their willingness to be a positive reference for years to come. While it may come as a shock, affirm your desire to work hard, help train a replacement, and give as much notice as you can. Always work to save the relationship.

Why Competent People Quit

Would you believe that in this rather tough economic climate, I have now personally heard from no less than three people in the last two days who have quit their jobs? And I might add that in all three situations, these people are competent professionals who don’t quit employment easily or often.

So what’s going on out there? I know that all three individuals read my posts, and rest assured I won’t be giving away your identities or exposing you to the minions of the internet! However, there are some lessons to be learned and some truths to be exposed in all three situations. Perhaps in the interest of helping others without injuring those concerned, I can share and gloss over to some degree a little with you the reader.

All three situations have some relevant and critical features that link them together, but the most striking is that all three individuals elevated their concerns to the right people instead of just announcing that they were quitting out-of-the-blue. In other words, there was a chance in all three situations that by bringing attention to significant problems, all three might have retained their positions if change had come about. Unfortunately, no change of significance did happen, and the result is that all three made a personal decision to seek employment in other places.

In two of the three situations, the jobs that people quit were ones that they had recently accepted. Didn’t these two do their homework? Didn’t they know what they were walking into? The answer actually is that both did in fact do some research and the jobs they were promised and the situations they would work in differed from the ones presented by the employer at the interview stage. No amount of planning, research and preparation can prepare you for a job if the job itself morphs into something different, or there is a significant change in hours, the job description, the location etc.

In one of the situations, the person resigned from a job to take the new position, and after three weeks on the job, the employer actually cut the position itself but retained the employee, and created a new position that differed substantially from the position the person had agreed to take when leaving their former employer. The result in that case was that the person told me that they felt they were doomed to fail in the new position because they were honest enough to admit they didn’t have the skills required to perform that job at a high level. So rather than accept a higher salary for a short time and then get fired, they took the high road and resigned.

Another factor involved in one persons decision was the attitude of the person to whom the employee reported to. That’s a hard thing to gauge at an interview. In this situation there is a history of people accepting the job which she did and then the position becoming vacated and advertised for. Sooner or later I suspect but will never know, if those in more senior positions from that company don’t draw the conclusion that it isn’t the applicants that are the problem but the supervision they are receiving. Perhaps that’s where the change is needed.

I am very interested in staying connected with these three individuals. Aside from being competent employees with personal ethics, skills and self-motivation, they are all professionals. Each of them will, if they include the positions on their future resumes, have to explain why they resigned and opted to look for work elsewhere. What will they say? I can tell you that all three will refrain from bad-mouthing the previous employers while at the same time being honest.

The injustice is that when you leave a position for reasons that are entirely justified, you still have to hope and trust that the new employer you are being interviewed by believes your story. And this element of doubt; that, “You’ve got to believe me” feeling, is unfortunate. The reason? Well the employer doesn’t HAVE to believe you do they? There are some people out there who quit jobs for very poor reasons, and in those situations the employer is entirely in the right and the employee is the problem.

So from the view of the new employer, they have the unenviable job of discerning which of the two you are; the disgruntled applicant who quit with poor justification or the applicant who quit their last job for reasons that were entirely justified.

When speaking of why you resigned from a position, good general advice is to be honest, succinct and to keep calm and in control as you are speaking. Your answer or reply should also end on a positive note. Any feelings of anger, revenge, and although it’s a strong word – hate, should be reigned in. In fact, doing a mock interview with a professional to answer this one specific question is a good idea. The question, “Why did you leave your last position?” or possibly even, “How would you describe your previous employer?”

Crafting an answer that is honest, doesn’t belittle the previous employer, and shows your professionalism, ethics, reasoning and good judgement is going to serve you well.