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Quitting Your Job: To Give Notice or Not?

Updated on October 6, 2012

Do you owe your boss (or bosses) a two week notice?

I am not the first blogger to write about this topic. There have been many before me and most likely many after me. Just Google information about quitting your job or giving a 2 week notice and there will be a plethora of articles. I have had many, many jobs over the span of my life. I have been downsized, outsourced, laid off, fired, terminated and just plain "we're going in a different direction" as in not the same way as you, basically let go. Each time, the employer really did not give me much-if any-notice, so why do I own the same courtesy?

Do not bother telling me about all the adverse repercussions I may encounter by not giving a proper 2 week notice, I am well aware. At the same time, I am equally well aware that if my employer was in my position and I was being let go, there would not be much, if any notice regardless of how many unpaid over time hours I have worked or how well like I may be by his clients. At this stage in the game, I am about 9 years this side of retirement, so if my reputation is ruined by not giving a 2 weeks notice, so be it. The way I see it, I don't have time to waste.

Time is something I do not like to waste. Never being one to hear negative speak inside my head, words like "can't" "what if" do not really infiltrate my life. Now in my 50s more than ever, the need to jump first and think about it later is the way I live my life. This is exactly why a year ago when my husband and I got fed up with our living in a certain area of Los Angeles, we set about to change it. We picked the area we wanted to live in, found a home to lease, he first got a job and then I found one that needed me instantly, like in a day or two.

I liked the job I had, but not my boss. I had seen him let long time older workers go on a moments notice without any severance pay under the guise of business had fallen off only to hire a very young 20 something female within 2 weeks of letting the older, reliable worker go. I also had witness fellow co-workers give a 2 week notice only to be harassed, bullied and berated until the day they finally left. Not for me. I broke up with my boss in a text message. I have come to learn the term is "immediate departure". I thanked him for hiring me. Told him I enjoyed my time being associated with the firm and felt it was time to move on to other opportunities. Of course he tried to reach me by email, cell phone, texting, I never responded and for that I do admit not being very grown up but I figured why bother. I saw him bully others and if he had managed to talk me out of leaving, I am fairly certain my workplace life would be living hell.

Can my former boss bad mouth me? Oh yes, he can and he probably has. I like many lived under the assumption that employers can be sued for saying anything negative about a former employee. The truth is former employers can say anything about a former employee as long as what they say is the truth. My work was very good and I have the emails to prove it. I kept emails from managers, clients even my immediate boss that provided proof of my good work, so no matter what negative comments my boss may have made to a prospective employer, he would look like a liar or just bitter when copies of his glowing "good job" emails were sent with my resume.

What happens if you find out your former boss is saying derogatory things about you? Maybe even costing you jobs? You can sue him but you have to get the proof. In my situation, I had a friend call my former boss posing as an employment counselor for an agency. Luckily, my former boss is very litigation paranoid, he promptly referred her to the Human Resources Director who would only give dates of employment and a "no comment' on whether I was rehire-able. What if I heard something untrue and damaging to my reputation, would I sue? Probably not and here is why: I could not wait to get away from these people why would I want to spend the next few years of my life involved in litigation and seeing these people again?

The truth is I did not leave my former employer high and dry. I was in the process of training a young college intern to do my job. One of my clients had already been transferred to her (I did not want to lose this client, I loved doing their work, my boss insisted their cases were below my level of experience--I doubted that) and about half of my file pending was given to her. Essentially, I saw the handwriting on the wall. I truly believed, based on other older workers getting laid off, that I might be next. I needed to take and run with it the new opportunity that might have been missed had I given the proper 2 week notice.

It has been my experience giving or not giving notice you intend to leave a position has not hurt me or others in their careers. Many new employers place much more weight on your knowledge, samples of your work, and personal background checks. Besides most managers who want to hire you, will hire you on the theory that maybe your old boss is just a gigantic idiot!


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