2 Weeks Notice? Here's Why I Gave My Boss 6 Months!When you’re deciding to leave an employer, it’s customary to give 2 weeks notice as part of your resignation.  The idea is that it gives the company enough time to transition the loose ends over to another employee.

Really though, in many places, that’s not a lot of time.  If you’re in a very complex position or a company that’s project-oriented for instance, 2 weeks notice is barely enough to get the ball rolling.  And it’s likely to leave a lot of unanswered questions.

The problem is that some employers take someone leaving as personal – a slap in the face.  And because of that, if you give them more notice, it’s possible they just let you go before you planned to leave.  That could leave you with no income until you start your next job.

So if 2 weeks notice is not enough and more could get you a boot in the butt, what’s the right answer?  Tough question!

My last day of work will be 12/31/18.  And instead of waiting, I gave my boss formal notice last week.

So why the heck did I just give my boss six months notice that I’m leaving?

 

Why not just give 2 weeks notice?

I remember my interview with my boss 19 years ago.  I was still in college and had just changed my major from Studio Art to Computer Information Systems (yeah, I was an art major!).

I also had zero experience with supporting servers, networks, or computers in general.  Here’s how some of the interview went down…

Boss Man:  How familiar are you with Windows NT?

Me:  Well, I’ve used computers running NT a little bit in the computer lab at college, but that’s about it.

Boss Man:  Any experience with NetWare?

Me:  Um, what?  NetWhat?  Never heard of it.

Then, closer to the end of the interview…

Boss Man:  Where do you see yourself in the company?

Me:  I’ll be honest, I don’t have any experience supporting networks and servers – I’ve only had a couple of programming classes.  Based on what you’ve told me, I’m thinking it would make sense for me to start as a desktop technician to get my foot in the door and just see how it goes.

Boss Man:  Well, I actually see you more as an engineer…

And… boom – that was it.  I became a Systems Engineer almost two decades ago and then became the manager of the engineers 13 years ago.

My boss gave me a shot from the start with no experience.  It’s hard to say that I would be in the same position I am today without that opportunity.

My appreciation for what he’s done for me has never gone unnoticed.  I’ve worked hard for him from day one and plan to leave on a good note as well.

 

But Jim, they might decide to let you go today!

2 Weeks Notice? Here's Why I Gave My Boss 6 Months! - But Jim, they might decide to let you go today!Um, yeah, I guess that’s true.  Crap.

Just kidding.  Sure, of course, they could just cut the cord and give me the boot today!

Will it happen though?  I actually think that’s pretty unlikely.

I would hope that after 19 years, we have a strong enough relationship that he wouldn’t want to burn that bridge.  I also believe that he’s appreciative that I went with 6 months versus a measly 2 weeks notice to pass the torch.

Plus, I’m sure they wouldn’t want to give me the ax and then have me go down the unemployment benefits route.  It’s not because they would be paying me directly, but there are reasons why an employer doesn’t want employees drawing unemployment:

  • It affects their state unemployment tax rate.
  • There’s a chance of the employee considering filing suit for discrimination or wrongful discharge.

Honestly, things are very good between my boss, HR, and me.  I don’t anticipate that we’d go down the wrong path together.

But if things did go sour and I was shown the door, it’d be Ok.  We’d be just fine financially.  We might have to adjust some minor things in our plan before we move to Panama, but money-wise, it shouldn’t cause us too big of disruption.

And then there’s this…

 

My position is unique

2 Weeks Notice? Here's Why I Gave My Boss 6 Months! - My position is uniqueI’m not foolish enough to think that I’m not replaceable at my job.  However, I do recognize that I’m in a unique position at the company I work for.  It was actually created for me years ago and has grown steadily since.

If I left abruptly (i.e. with just 2 weeks notice), there’d definitely be some problems.  No one in the company really knows the intricacies of what I do.  Without my involvement, it’d be a rough ride for my successor and the company.

So I plan to make the next six months a chance to give my boss one last thank you by training my replacement to the best of my ability.

As a smaller company (around 40 employees), we don’t have enough documentation in place… systems, if you will.  If I got hit by a bus tomorrow (not in my immediate plans), this would pose a problem.

So I’ve already started creating a framework of procedures to help prevent this.  I went down this path long before I planned to give my notice, but it’s a tough battle.  I want to have a digital binder that can be used for anyone to run things in my soon-to-be-former department.

My plan is not just to train my successor, but use this as an opportunity to solidify this documentation.  It’ll, of course, be a living document with ongoing change, but it’s something that’s needed regardless.

We’ll call this my last opportunity to do good by my boss.

For many of you in a similar situation, this would be an excellent opportunity to leverage some of the techniques Sam Dogen talks about in his book “How to Engineer Your Layoff” for a severance.  I outline the book in my post Get Paid to Get Laid Off – How to Engineer Your Layoff.

 

Let’s call it what it is…

In all reality, I’m not quitting my job to move on to another employer… I’m retiring.

And retiring is generally something an employee discloses much earlier to an employer.  You’re getting older and people expect that the day will be coming sometime soon anyway.

2 weeks notice might be a nice gesture to your old employer when changing jobs, but it’s generally not the way to go if you’re retiring.

In the case of early retirement though, the line becomes a little grayer.  Although in the personal finance community the number of people aiming for FIRE seems to be growing, it’s still only a sliver of society.  Moreover, most folks, unfortunately, don’t realize that this is even a possibility anyway.

2 Weeks Notice? Here's Why I Gave My Boss 6 Months! - Let's call it what it is...
Haha, the conversation was nothing like this, but what if it was? I’M RETIRING AT THE END OF THIS YEAR!! AND I DON’T WANT TO BE NAKED FOR ANY MORE OF THESE DISCUSSIONS!!!

And that lack of realization is also the case for many employers.  Because of that, hearing that an employee wants to leave in their 30’s, 40’s, or 50’s can definitely raise an eyebrow.

 

I’ll be 43 at the time I retire.  That’s over 20 years earlier than the traditional retirement age.  It’s hard for a lot of people to understand this.

That means many companies might not even believe that you’re retiring.  They might think you’re moving onto another job or just taking a “mini-retirement” because they can’t grasp the whole idea.

That seems to be the case in my situation as well.  Although I’ve talked to my boss about our plans months ago, I think he was taking it with a grain of salt… “Oh, there goes Jim coming up with another one of his wacky ideas.”

Although he never said that out loud, I could sense the “uh, yeah… sure” in the conversation.

So this time was a little different.  Upping my date to the end of this year made this much more real for everyone.

The idea that we actually need to turn this around pretty quickly probably turned my boss’ stomach a little.  Not that my replacement isn’t going to be good at the job (he’ll do fine), but rather that this will be a drastic change all around and big changes aren’t really my boss’s cup of tea.

I’m not so worried about it – I think everything will be all right for the company.  6 months is definitely much better than 2 weeks notice.  It gives plenty of time for me to train my successor to ensure he understands enough to be successful.

The conversation went fine with my boss.  I think he wanted to think more about it and just kept saying, “We’ll figure it out” as we talked.  But now that he’s had a little bit to think about it, he’s already talked to the engineer he wants to promote to my position.

The question I now have is will my boss let me start training him soon or will he put this off for weeks or even months?  That’s a concern.

Fortunately, it’s not my concern.  I’ve done my due diligence by giving enough notice.  At this point, the ball’s in his court.


Every company’s different and so is every job out there.  In some positions, it might make sense to give 2 weeks notice – maybe even less depending on the circumstances.  In others though, doing the right thing and not burning bridges might mean providing a longer duration before leaving.

I went with the latter and I think that should help smooth the ride as I exit and let someone else have the reins.

 

Think it’s a crazy idea to give an employer 6 months instead of just 2 weeks notice?

 

Thanks for reading!!

— Jim

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2 Weeks Notice? Here’s Why I Gave My Boss 6 Months!

25 thoughts on “2 Weeks Notice? Here’s Why I Gave My Boss 6 Months!

  • July 3, 2018 at 7:39 am
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    I think only you know your relationship with your boss and the company. Six months is a long time but you’re not an interchangeable cog in their machine, you have some domain expertise that isn’t quickly replicated or learned. I’ve quit two jobs in my relatively short career and I always gave around a month’s notice. I wasn’t easy to replace (not hard either, not 20 years of experience) but 2 weeks would’ve put them in a bad position.

    Reply
    • July 3, 2018 at 2:57 pm
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      A month’s notice sounds pretty fair. Like you said, it’s all going to depend on the relationship you have with the boss and the company. Of course, you’re irreplaceable in my book, Jim! 😉

      — Jim

      Reply
  • July 3, 2018 at 10:02 am
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    It sounds like you have a good relationship with your boss and HR. I think that’s the advantage of working in a small company. The relationship is more real.

    I wouldn’t want to do that in a megacorp. At my old company, the manager needs to fill a quota on their annual review. So if you give them a 6-month notice, that’s the sacrificial lamb right there. You’ll get a bad review so everyone else on the team doesn’t have to get it. 2 weeks is more than they give the employees. Usually, they just walk you out right away and pay the 2 weeks. I guess, they don’t want a disgruntled employee messing around with the projects.
    Anyway… I’m sure it will be fine for you. 🙂

    Reply
    • July 3, 2018 at 3:00 pm
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      Good point on the smaller companies versus the larger ones. That probably makes for a few differences – some good and some bad.

      That’s interesting on the quota and the reviews… actually pretty glad I’m not working there!! 🙂

      — Jim

      Reply
  • July 3, 2018 at 11:05 am
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    Jim, Kudos to you, my friend. I gave an informal notice 1 year out, and formalized it 6 months out. My employer appreciated it, and it gave them time to do serious due diligence on my successor in a critical role (it had to go to the Board for approval, and bureaucracy takes time! My successor was named 4 months before I retired, and we had a very organized and systemic transition process.

    Never burn a bridge, you don’t know when you might need to cross it again. Well done, my friend. Well done.

    Reply
    • July 3, 2018 at 3:03 pm
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      That bridge for me to cross might be an actual wall if Trump has his way! 😉

      Now let’s get this wrapped up so I can enjoy the good life like you’re doing!

      — Jim

      Reply
  • July 3, 2018 at 11:35 am
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    I’ll probably give six months or more when it’s time. The caveat is it probably would impact my yearly bonus. The flip side is the folks that held my job before me were asked to stay for large number of months while they trained their successor. Ie sudden let go is highly unlikely. Then again who knows as that’s 15 years in the future for me. But at moment now I’d give a heads up not to mess over my coworkers.

    Reply
    • July 3, 2018 at 3:08 pm
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      That bonus is one of the reasons I’m working until the end of the year – don’t want to miss out on free money! 🙂

      Sounds like you have a pretty good situation for the time being at work. And when money’s not really an issue, the tables tend to turn more into your favor anyway.

      — Jim

      Reply
  • July 3, 2018 at 1:11 pm
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    Great post and you are spot on, every situation is different. I gave my employer notice this year that I’ll be retiring in 2 years. Some people thought I was crazy. But I have a good relationship with my employer, I understand our culture and we’re an extremely seasonal company (As in 95% of business in 4th quarter). My work is also very time specific. Many projects only happen once a year such as developing the catalog. This means only two times for someone to learn before I leave. Assuming we hire someone immediately which isn’t likely. If I had only given 2 weeks notice, I’d have fired me. 😁

    Reply
    • July 3, 2018 at 3:12 pm
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      Wow, 95% in the 4th quarter – that is definitely seasonal! That’s really cool that you have that kind of relationship and can provide that much notice. And, I’m sure that garners even more respect and goodwill from your employer. You never know if that will come around in your favor at another time in the future! 🙂

      — Jim

      Reply
  • July 3, 2018 at 8:56 pm
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    I gave my company two years notice. There are only a few people in the entire country who had a comparable position so I knew it would take time to find someone. Sadly the person they hired to replace me only lasted about two years and is gone now. But that is not my problem. As another early retired friend told me, that’s not your circus and they aren’t your monkeys any more!

    Reply
    • July 4, 2018 at 2:14 pm
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      Wow, now that’s a notice! At least you did the right thing with your notice – nothing you could do about your replacement leaving. Haha, and I like the circus saying!

      — Jim

      Reply
  • July 3, 2018 at 10:40 pm
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    I love this. I agree with giving a longer notice when it’s been a career of longevity and a role that is specialized.

    Wow, that is pretty amazing your boss gave you a shot with little or no experience. I wonder if part of his decision was that he appreciated your humility. Obviously he saw your potential. Yeah, that warrants longer than 6 months.

    Reply
    • July 4, 2018 at 2:19 pm
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      Thanks, Ms. Fiology! I’m not sure what he saw in me at the time, but I guess after 19 years, it seems it worked out pretty well for both of us. 🙂

      — Jim

      Reply
  • July 4, 2018 at 6:20 am
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    What you’re doing is called ‘being a stand up guy’, so kudos. It’s the right thing to do and if you ever needed them to scratch your back again they’ll probably remember it.

    Reply
    • July 4, 2018 at 2:24 pm
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      Yeah, definitely not in anyone’s best interest to burn bridges. I’m glad I’m in a position that we’re able to transition things over amicably – everyone wins in this situation.

      — Jim

      Reply
  • July 4, 2018 at 4:41 pm
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    That is a great point, taking care of that relationship. I had very little contact with my former employer until this year and they’ve asked me three times to come in for some consulting at both my former plant and one in Texas. I did three days work one time and one day another and netted some $8,000 in consulting fees plus expenses, got to see my old friends and got to be the hero that rode into a disaster zone and left it purring like a contented cat.

    Reply
    • July 5, 2018 at 9:44 am
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      Haha, that’s the way to do it! Sounds like a great deal! If you had burned the bridge, that opportunity would likely never have happened.

      — Jim

      Reply
  • July 6, 2018 at 11:34 am
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    Wow, I didn’t realize they’d taken such a big chance on you. I guess it makes sense to do the company a favor given those circumstances. Very nice of you Jim!

    For nearly everyone else that works at a life-sucking employer though, I wouldn’t recommend giving six months!

    Reply
    • July 6, 2018 at 2:04 pm
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      Haha, love it! Stupid life-sucking employers ruining people’s lives! 🙂

      — Jim

      Reply
  • July 6, 2018 at 8:12 pm
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    I gave a four-month notice when I retired at 43 for many of the same reasons you did. It was a complicated position. Two weeks wouldn’t even give them time to get out a new posting. While my boss changed many times over the year my team was a great team and I wanted to make sure they were well taken care of.

    Thankfully my current bossed moved right away to find a replacement and start the transition as soon as possible. He basically said that when I was done with the transition just stick around to help out and do what I want. It was a great last month and I was able to help with some of the training docs that none of us ever had time to complete.

    I don’t think it’s crazy, but definitely is different for everyone.

    Reply
    • July 7, 2018 at 9:05 am
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      That’s fantastic, Bonnie! Sounds like a smooth transition. I like that you were later able to work on some things that you never had time for before. We’ll see how things go, but I’m hoping to do the same before I leave.

      — Jim

      Reply
  • July 8, 2018 at 1:49 pm
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    You are doing a great thing and it’s commendable. Most people wouldn’t care about what they leave behind, but you are thinking about the people who gave you a shot years ago. I’m sure it will turn our great and you’ll then be able to enjoy your retirement.

    Reply
  • October 19, 2018 at 1:34 pm
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    I agree that giving notice is probably unlikely to result in you being let go since employers generally don’t want to have an employee end up having to file for unemployment. I almost wonder if giving very far advanced notice of quitting might prolong an employee’s time if they felt there were on the chopping block.

    Reply

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