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I currently received a job offer for a previous employer I used to work for. I am currently unemployed and since my old position is open I agreed to go back to work and help them as they desperately need someone. My offer letter states I need to give 4 weeks notice when I leave. It used to be 2 weeks, but turn over has been so high they revised this.

Can this hurt me when interviewing for new positions? Will I not get a job because they can't wait 4 weeks for me to start?

  • If they're so desperate, is it negotiable? – Catija Apr 5 '17 at 23:59
  • I would have to ask, but if it's not, what do you think? – user67227 Apr 6 '17 at 0:07
  • Where you are might help... there may be laws regarding this... Some info in this answer: workplace.stackexchange.com/a/22027/41738 – Catija Apr 6 '17 at 0:09
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    And more importantly, what is your location? For example in Finland, 4 weeks (or 1 month to be accurate) notice is the default notice period and no one will comment on that. But if you are in US, it is very different. And probably so in Asia too. – Juha Untinen Apr 6 '17 at 6:22
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    Please add your location. 4 weeks might be outrageously long in the US and downright illegal (too short) where I live. – nvoigt Apr 6 '17 at 8:16
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This is somewhat reliant on the industry you are in, and your level of experience. Most professional-level businesses would not object to a 4 week notice period, while if you want to be a waiter or cashier they might just refuse because they "need someone to start right away".

I would humbly suggest that not being willing to wait for a 4-week notice period would generally be a sign this is a poorly run business you don't want to be a part of anyway; but if you are desperate to get a job, you tend to end up being of interest to similarly desperate people. This almost always turns out poorly for everyone involved, so do what you can to not be in such a situation.

I would warn you that demanding an increased notice period because of such high turnover is a warning sign that people hate working there, they don't pay well, etc - or the business could even be going under. But if it's an improvement on being unemployed, then just go in with eyes wide open about the environment. Sometimes you just really need a pay check, and that's OK - do what you have to do to provide for yourself.

Having a 4 week notice period shouldn't prevent you from getting the majority of jobs. For your piece of mind, though, I'd want to look closely at that employment agreement and see just what else they are asking, and what 'penalties' they threaten for not giving appropriate notice. Most employers in the US just say that if you quit with less than the requested notice you will not be re-eligible for rehire at the company, and that's it - but you'll want to read that very closely before you sign.

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    Solid answer IMO – Kilisi Apr 6 '17 at 3:35
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In addition to BrianDHall's answer - which covers most of the issues, ask yourself this: what do you get in return for agreeing to giving the company a 4-week notice period?
Is this a 2-way street where they'll give you 4 weeks of fully paid notice if they let you go?
No I didn't think so...

What they're doing is sketchy at best.

Something like a mandatory notice period is a contractual obligation and belongs in an employment contract, not tagged on to the offer letter.
But putting it in an employment contract would cause the company more trouble than they're willing to put up with - firstly because they probably want to employ you 'at-will', and secondly because there would need to be something in it for you too in order to be enforceable (the 2-way-street thing).

In the end, it probably wouldn't hurt significantly one way or the other.
Even if you take the job with the 4-week notice period in the offer letter you're not really going to be obligated to stick to it.
And unless you're planning on applying to a new job where you absolutely have to start right away, most companies should be able to work with a 4-week period if you do choose to follow it.

The only real significance you should attach to this is how you think you would be able to deal with this company's unhappiness if you decide to leave 'early'.

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This former company is coming through with something when you are unemployed and desperate for something. Read the contract thoroughly, ask questions. Is four weeks standard in your state? Will they give four weeks pay if you honor the four weeks? What are the exceptions to the rule (there are always exceptions). Can the four week be renegotiated? Can you offer to train someone or bring someone in that can do the job that you can be confident will be able to do it in exchange for them having those four weeks breathing space to find somebody if you leave beforehand? Talk to your prospective/former employer and get it in writing. If they refuse to budge or put it in writing, then you got a decision to make. Can you afford to stay unemployed.

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