Giving Notice When You’ve Accepted a New Executive Position

Giving Notice When You’ve Accepted a New Executive Position.jpg

You’re so enthusiastic and thrilled you can hardly stand it: All of your hard work searching out opportunities for your next career step–researching companies, putting together a powerful executive resume, preparing for interviews, etc.–has paid off. You have the job offer of your dreams and have accepted. Now you are wondering how and when (or if) to give notice to your current employer.

Common business and career etiquette would seem to call for at least two weeks’ advance notice to your employer that you will be leaving, and reciprocally, at least two weeks’ severance from your employer if you are to be let go from your position. For those at executive level, reciprocal notice lead times can be on the order of a month to several months.

However, stark realities of the job market are worth considering. Many of us have heard horror stories from friends or family members who accepted a position, gave notice, and then had the offer rescinded for vague reasons, leaving them in the cold with potentially disastrous career consequences. As an executive resume writer, I have spoken with a number of executives over the years who found themselves adrift, having quit at their last employer and then had the new position offered them snatched away. What is disturbing is that the incidence of this scenario seems to be increasing.

So what is the best course of action?

Ask the Headhunter’s Nick Corcodilos says “Bunk!” to the following statement: “The conventional wisdom about quitting without giving notice is etched in stone: Don’t do it! Always give notice!”

He reminds us that conventional career wisdom is invariably wired to benefit employers and not employees. On the employer’s side, there is generally nothing restricting them from firing at will for any reason or no reason at all, and it happens frequently.

There is probably no legal reason (unless specified in your employment agreement) that you must give more notice than on the day you walk out the door. There could, however, be consequences in terms of losing benefits or severance, having to pay back bonuses or draws, etc., so you would of course want to look at these things carefully. And I don’t think anyone would disagree that it is bad form and just not a nice thing to do.

Rescinded job offers in today’s workplace have become distressingly common. However, even if you  have determined that there are no contractual obligations that forbid leaving without notice, the burning question boils down to:

Is protecting yourself from a rescinded offer worth the risk of forever alienating your current employer and losing any positive reference you may have expected from them? There is the real potential for lasting damage to your reputation in your industry and profession, so careful consideration is certainly required.

For a full discussion of this topic, see Nick’s article at:
Protect Your Job: Don’t Give Notice

There are also links within the article to more in-depth discussion of considerations to keep in mind when leaving your job.