I work in a big technology company as an I.T. analyst in a department with two other people. Last month I started searching for jobs and attending interviews but I am a little anxious about the notice. The contract says that I must inform them at least one month before leaving the company. There's a chance in a job that I am being interviewed right now to be asked (If hired) to start working earlier than 30 days.

I have perfect professional communication with everyone in my current position and my managers are happy with my work. I don't want to risk getting a reference letter later or do something that I'll carry on my back for the rest of my career. So, If I decide to ask for a decrease in the notice days, how am I going to negotiate it in a smart way?

There are three problems:

  • It's a bit critical position for the company but not enough to let me go in one month (as the contract says). If I am going to ask to leave in three weeks, they will need to find a new person in - at least - two weeks and then I am going to train him in one week which is pretty tough (there is a lot of knowledge to transfer..).
  • There is the chance that they'll not find a replacement in one month (due to the complexity of the interview process). How do I address this? Should I just say "I'm sorry, I got to leave but I left you all documentation necessary" ?
  • I have 6 vacation days which I didn't take on 2015, so they'll have to do something with them. Hopefully to pay them ?

The ideal for me should be to take advantage of all the good communication and work I have done for the 5 years I've been working for the company and ask them for a favor they can't refuse. I might need to add a bit of pepper to the recipe, by politely letting them know that I'll do my best If it's three weeks instead of doing what I am supposed to do as the contract says (just typical) ?

That's all, what do you think ?

  • Why are you afraid? If you are open about the notice period to the new company they will know that in the future you will likely do the same to them: keep your promises. Which is a good thing. – Pieter B Mar 5 '15 at 10:54
  • That's the meaning of negotiation: both parties are satisfied. I don't say I will blackmail them. But you got a point I haven't considered. – Radolino Mar 5 '15 at 10:56
  • The only thing that wonders me If other applicants have the advantage of working the next day than me that I'll need to have one month. But as you said, If the employer really values me, he can wait a month. – Radolino Mar 5 '15 at 11:34

If you signed a contract specifying one month's notice, then you give one month's notice when you hand in your resignation, simple as that.

It may well be possible to come to an agreement regarding a shorter notice period, but the problem is, you can't negotiate that without telling your employer that you are resigning, and you shouldn't tell them that until you have a written offer from a new employer, and getting that written offer generally involves telling them what date you are available. Chicken and egg problem.

Anyone who is hiring a new employee that is currently in work knows that they will have to wait for that employee to work out their notice period. Sure the new employer would probably love to have you as soon as possible but they know that a notice period is to be expected.

It is very, very unlikely that someone will decide you're the right candidate for them - and then change their mind because you need to give a month's notice rather than, say, two weeks.

It is much more likely that you will cause headaches for yourself if you tell the new employer that you can start in two or three weeks time and then try to work something out with your current employer.

As for how you address "the chance that they'll not find a replacement in one month" .. yes, you are correct. You just say "I'm sorry" and leave. Spend the month documenting as well as possible, and transferring as much knowledge as possible to the other two people in your department, but beyond doing as professional a job as you can for the month of your notice period, it's not your problem. A "big technology company" should be able to take responsibility for not suffering from a critical loss of knowledge from one person resigning. Or being hit by a bus.

  • 1
    Your reply is outstanding. I haven't thought about the chicken and egg problem.. How am I going to sign an agreement with the new employer for three weeks If I haven't agreed that with the current employer? I feel idiot. It's my first transition to another company so I suppose that one month is absolutely typical and they should expect it. Maybe I can negotiate to sign for one month with the new one and work it out with the current employer to leave in one week less. However, in the end, I don't give a shit after I "legally" leave from the company, their future is in their hands. Thank you. – Radolino Mar 5 '15 at 11:09
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    As an aside, how typical one month is depends very much on location. I'm in Australia, where four weeks notice is absolutely very typical for tech jobs. But I gather that in the USA, two weeks is common. – Carson63000 Mar 5 '15 at 11:12
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    @Carson63000 In Finland, even 3 months is not unheard of... – Juha Untinen Mar 5 '15 at 12:24

Better way to negotiate for shorter notice period is only by convincing your management that you will ensure smooth handover/transition before one month itself. Every company is concerned about transition, if it is taken care of, they should not be adamant on asking one complete month notice period (higher probability).

Yes, its difficult to have replacement in shorter period. Alternative option could be handing over responsibilities to an existing employee as additional charge.

At the same time give them assurance that you will be available to help them in transition even after leaving if required. You may opt to visit them after your office hours for a couple of hours or visit them on weekend.

You may try to have win-win situation for you and your company both by adopting above mentioned alternatives. It should work, I believe.

  • What If I leave in three weeks despite that they don't let me and tell them that it's the dream job of my life and it's the only opportunity to get it? What If I play dirty and tell them that it's more sane to let me leave earlier and do better job than stay there by force and do only typical stuff ? – Radolino Mar 5 '15 at 10:37

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