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6 Reasons You Shouldn't Quit Without Notice

Your company doesn't care one whit about you and will fire you at the drop of a hat, so why on earth should you give them two weeks--or any length--of notice before you quit? In a discussion when to give notice, BNET commenter Bouchart wrote:

If possible don't quit your job until the day before you start your new one. You want as little down time as possible between jobs. It's a little trickier if you need to relocate, though...

Bosses would be willing to sabotage your job change because they think they are understaffed and can't afford to lose you. Don't you think? You need to give them as little time as possible to do that.

I do understand the logic behind this. Bosses sometimes go crazy when employees resign. Some bosses will terminate you immediately, regardless of how long you've said you have until your last day. Legally (in most situations) they can do this. It's reprehensible behavior. If they don't want you to come into work once you're committed to working for a competitor, they should pay you for a reasonable notice period.

I have even heard stories of bosses calling the new employer and attempting to destroy the employee's reputation.

These things are not normal. Normally a boss might be a bit cranky and even angry at you for leaving, but that doesn't justify bad behavior on your part. With few exceptions (see below) you should never quit without warning. Here's why:

  1. Your boss isn't the only person that matters. Your peers, your direct reports, your clients, and your boss's peers also matter a great deal. They aren't going to blame your boss if you leave with only 15 minutes notice, no matter how bad your boss was. They are going to be mad because you left them hanging.
  2. You will run into these people again. There is a lot of churn within industries. The coworker who got stuck figuring out your projects with no transition time, may end up as a hiring manager for a job you want, and certainly won't get.
  3. You may want to come back to this company in the future. Now you think I'm truly crazy. You'd never want to work for this rotten company again! Well, remember that whole churn factor? 5 years down the road, the people who made your life miserable have all moved on to new companies and now you want to go back, but you can't because there is a comment tied to your social security number that says, "Not eligible for rehire."
  4. There is such a thing as a "permanent record." Sure, it's not the one your 7th grade math teacher threatened you with, but it is permanent within the company. And if your former company gets purchased by a big company, they transfer your records to the new company. That means that your poor exit from a tiny company you never want to work for ever again, prevents you from ever being employed by the big multinational company that bought out your little company, even if all they did was fire everyone who worked for small company.
  5. There are financial benefits to giving notice. Many companies have a written notice policy in their handbook. It's usually 2 weeks, but could be more. If you don't give two weeks notice, you may lose any vacation pay out or planned bonus that you would otherwise receive.
  6. You've guaranteed yourself a bad reference from this boss. So what? You'll never put her down as a reference. Yeah, well, she was your boss and it doesn't take Sherlock Holmes to find previous bosses. She might be annoyed by your departure but three years later when you're looking for another new job she'll remember you as the jerk who didn't give any notice, which caused nightmares for the people you left behind.
Now I said there were situations in which you could quit without notice. There are two.
  1. Your boss fires everyone who gives notice. In this case, go ahead and tell the new company you'll start on Monday and quit on Friday. In your resignation letter note that the reason you are not giving notice is that your boss terminated Kevin Gray, Sheila Blue and Randolph Green as soon as they gave notice. Regardless of your reasons, please note that HR will not care and will not pay out your vacation or other benefits that are predicated upon proper notice. A better way to do it is to give two weeks notice and be fired yourself.
  2. The situation is so bad that it puts you in physical or mental jeopardy. Then you should just get out and let the chips fall where they may.
If you notify your boss and she reacts badly don't tell her what your new job is and call the new boss and warn him that your old boss did not react well. Keep in mind that if I got an unsolicited call from someone claiming to be my new hire's former boss and that person was trashing this person, I would be more likely to think this person was the nut case than I would the new hire. I would ask, "If this person was so awful, why didn't you fire him in the first place and aren't you just glad to be rid of him?"

No method is risk free, but if you're playing the odds, it's safer to give notice than to run out the door.

For Further Reading:

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Photo by Karen Eliot, Flickr cc 2.0
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