Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Giving Two Weeks’ Notice Is A Courtesy, But It Is Also B.S.

The common expected norm of a departing employee is to give two weeks’ notice.  I have no idea where this procedure came from, but, frankly, it is a crock, both for the candidate and, especially, for the company.

While two weeks’ may allow the departing employee to complete some of the projects he or she has been working on, once someone resigns, they no longer have their heart in it.  The two weeks does allow the just resigned employee time to get his or her head around the new job. 

Two week's notice does little for the company.  Here is why.

Most companies fail to react to a resignation immediately.  Truth is, especially in larger firms, it takes about a week to recover from the shock, gather everyone together and come up with a plan.  If a counter-offer is to come, which I never recommend for either the company or the candidate, it generally takes until well into the second notice week to decide to make a counter offer. Most of the time, those offers get turned down a day or two after they are made.  So the search for a new employee does not really start until the end of the second week or, more likely, third week, when the former employee is gone.

Every recruiter, contingent or fee-paid, gets assignments which are “urgent”.  Over the years, I have had many assignments where the company tells me they have to identify and hire a candidate within a few days; it rarely happens. I found information on line: statistically, it takes many weeks to find and fill a job.  A recent study from Bersin by Deloitte found that the time it takes to fill a position has increased over the last four years. In 2011, companies filled vacant positions in 48 days, but now Bersin has found that it takes an average of 52 days to fill an opening - that is more than seven weeks.   
When client companies tell me that a search is urgent, I tell them that it will take a minimum of a month - or longer - to fill a job. Here’s what happens; it is common sense: Even for a single-category recruiter with extensive industry files, it may take several days or longer to identify and contact an appropriate candidate, it may take more days to schedule an interview. (A good recruiter will always re-interview a candidate they have not seen in a while.  They have to determine if the candidate is right for the assignment.Assuming that they identify and qualify a candidate within a week, they have to then reach the hiring company, which, surprisingly, may take a day or two. We are now well into the second week. The company has to then schedule multiple interviews with its own executives.  This may take a minimum of a week, but often much longer.  Assuming they like someone they have met and want to make an offer, it may take another week for the candidate to negotiate and say yes.  Then, assuming that they are currently employed, they have to give two weeks’ notice.  All this time may take four to six weeks, or longer.

The point is that the two weeks’ notice period is long gone by the time a new employee can be found.  Over the years, I have seen many companies try to “guilt” a candidate into staying for more than two weeks.  This is a bad strategy.  Why have a disenchanted employee stay to finish up work which they are not into?  It is purely for the convenience of the company.  I advise candidates not to do this, both for their own sake and for that of their new employer.

This is all not to say that a departing candidate should not give two weeks' notice.  It is common practice and courteous, but it does not really accomplish its intended goal for either the employee or the company.


  1. As with most things, I feel it depends. I've had a lot of people turn in their notice who were professional enough to work those two weeks, complete projects, assist with transition planning and so on. It shouldn't be assumed that most providing notice will just cruise through those two weeks making no effort. If so, let them leave sooner. I do agree, however, that most companies simply aren't geared up to hire fast enough. And even if they were, what difference would it make? Even if one could snap their fingers and make a replacement appear within a week or two, it usually takes months before that employee is a functioning contributor. Just takes time to meet people, learn the system, understand the role and so on. Personally, I'm happy to provide it to employers, but have been happy in the past to let them decide if they want that support or not.

    1. You are right. I didn't mean to imply that employees would do nothing during their two weeks notice. Most people are diligent and will do the best they can during that time. Many companies unfairly heap work on them, but they do it.

      I wish you had identified yourself. I would like to compliment you on your attitude. Your point about the time it takes to be truly functioning is absolutely correct.

  2. Two "week's notice"? What's that in 2017?

    1. Sorry, Anon, but I do not understand your comment. If a company fires an employee, they generally give a minimum of two weeks severance, but ask the employee to leave immediately. If the candidate quits, they are expected to give the company at least two weeks' notice.


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