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Two-week notices, nickel beers, and rotary telephones

Editor's Note: James Carlini wrote the first installment "Ready to leave? Why you shouldn't give two weeks' notice" back in April 2005. Two years later he followed that with "Two-week notices are no longer "customary". With the economic situation many have found themselves in, in the last years, it's not surprising that these two articles have had such staying power with more comments than any other on WTN. Here's Carlini's latest....

These are all things of the past. Where are any places you can get a nickel beer today? How do you text or send a picture on a rotary phone? Two week notices? You must be kidding.

Since my original article back in April 2005 ( ) stating that two-week notices went out with nickel beers, I have answered many people's questions about giving or not giving a two-week notice when leaving a company.

When I first wrote that article, I did not believe it would elicit tens of 1000s of hits as well as thousands of inquiries. It created an impact on so many people's individual career decisions. Many readers had bad situations that they were in and also had less-than-sterling management to deal with.

About a year later, I followed up that original article with another ( ) and I pointed this out:
While some people disagree with my advice, they are the ones living in a dream world. I believe individuals who give what many companies are giving - an immediate departure upon notice - should not be viewed as negative but as initiating a standard business practice that companies and other organizations themselves have instituted.

When it's to the company's advantage from a pay and benefits standpoint, they want people to leave immediately. When an individual leaves, they want them to give "adequate" notice so the company isn't left in a lurch. In today's society, you can't have it both ways.With security issues being what they are today, companies will say it is for security purposes that you have to be let go the same day. Shouldn't this then apply from the individual's standpoint as well? Leave immediately.


Let's examine how many organizations get rid of people. For over a decade, major companies have brought in people that they wanted to lay off into a large room and summarily told them that their services were no longer needed and that they would be escorted to the door. Any personal belongings still at their desk would be sent to them so there was no need to go back to their desk. Pretty cold, but I have seen it defended by the “human resource professionals” as nothing personal, it's the company just doing business.

That was, and still is, a standard procedure at many of the Fortune 500 companies. With that management approach, how can you demand more from an employee who has decided that it is time to leave? More employees are now looking at giving notice as optional and not obligatory.

In today's corporate environment with all the systems and access to corporate information, most companies would rather get rid of someone immediately when they announce their resignation than keep them around for two weeks. From a security perspective, I can see their point but I then would say that an employee should have that same option in giving immediate notice. It should not be viewed as negative or even a stigma if the employee does the same thing.

The typical “job advice” columns are so out-of-touch with reality, it is time for another reminder. Some career counselors, coaches and others who hold themselves out as “human resource professionals” still try to sell the average worker on “not to burn your bridges and give two weeks or even four weeks' notice” and yet say nothing when a company lets go of people without any notice.

Do you think there is a double standard here? Why have I not seen any articles from these same people condemning the “Don't let the door hit you on the way out” layoffs that have decimated morale as well as given many good people a negative attitude?

Those who are in human resource roles are hypocrites if they preach that the employee should still give two-weeks' notice and then look the other way when companies let people go without any notice and lamely comment that that's the company's prerogative.


Some employees believe that if they “do the right thing” and give a two-week notice, they are automatically entitled to two-weeks' pay even if their company lets them go that day. The reality is that you are owed any accrued vacation time.

As for the two-weeks' notice you just offered? That is completely discretionary and the company may not pay you anything above and beyond what is mandatory like the accrued vacation pay.

Some people have written to me about this over and over again. The answer is always the same. If you give your employer a two-weeks' notice, they can escort you out that day and you are owed nothing (except the vacation pay). By giving notice, you are not locking in an extra two-weeks' pay.

If you have some complex questions, talk to a labor relations attorney or a state labor relations board. They can answer anything that is in a gray area. 99% of the time, the answer will be that the company is not obligated to pay you anything except the accrued vacation time.


With many corporate organizations hiring people from outside the United States, the cultural differences have to be accepted. The cheaper labor coming in does not understand about “giving notice” and when a better opportunity comes up, they are gone. They don't care about the “customary” two-week notice because it is not “customary” to them.

At several major companies, this has happened over and over again and yet the companies still hire that cheaper labor. Funny, it doesn't seem to “burn their bridges”.

Why do career counselors keep pitching a myth about “give two-week notice because you don't want to burn your bridges”? They are out-of-touch with the current job market and how expectations have changed.

Companies are not following the same “don't burn your bridges” rule with employees. If they don't extend notice, they shouldn't expect something that they themselves do not offer or adhere to.

Unless you have a written agreement that binds either party to giving a notice, no notice is necessary AND no stigma should be attached to either party exercising that decision to part ways.

If you think you were treated well by the company, then by all means extend them that courtesy, but never think you are obligated to. It is optional today. And based on how many readers have been treated in their companies, it is becoming a very rare option. Like purple squirrels.

Carlinism: Two-week notices went out with nickel beers.

Recent columns by James Carlini

Follow daily Carlini-isms on Twitter and check out JAMES CARLINI's BLOG here.

Copyright 2010 - James Carlini
The opinions expressed herein or statements made in the above column are solely those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Wisconsin Technology Network, LLC.


ok84 responded 5 years ago: #1

Absolutely on point. I have too often seen coworkers' resignations accepted immediately despite the two weeks notice they offered. The end result? Two weeks less pay.

If I felt that a particular company valued my employ and was positive they would not "screw" me, I would still offer two weeks notice upon my departure as a courtesy to them. However, if there was any doubt in my mind about corporate retaliation of any kind, I would not hesitate to resign and depart on the same day.

tc responded 5 years ago: #2

I am worried about getting two weeks less pay and the stigma attached to what the new employer might think if I call them to ask if I can start earlier than anticipated. I think a two week notice would help the other members of the sales force in transitioning my book of business to them. I'm leaving the industry and not going to a competitor.

Cody responded 5 years ago: #3

Hey just wanted to let you know I am not giving my 2 weeks after finding a new job.
The company I work for would not work around my college schedule, they had me check in machines that were leaking sulfuric acid and hydrogen sulfide, they made me poison baby birds, I have been harassed countless times by other employees and I'm just done with it.
I worked for another company before, and when I gave my 2 week notice they fired me the following day. I leanred that when you work for a company and have started to become a slight pain in their neck (with the current one I had to go to the ER because I was poisoned) they will make an example out of you.
This gives me a week of free time to focus on my websites and not having to wake up at 5:30 in the morning. Except tomorrow for Sonic :)

Thanks for the article, while it may not be the best "practice" I doubt they'd be a good reference anyway. They were all douche bags.

Amy responded 5 years ago: #4

I'm currently looking for another job, and am scared to give my manager any notice in person, no matter the notice length! He's emotionally unstable, a bully, and will yell and swear at you if you tell him something he doesn't want to hear. When my predecessor gave notice, my manager went into the conference room and screamed while throwing chairs. He said he felt betrayed that this employee didn't talk to him to try to figure out a solution before choosing to leave. Considering that it's usually my manager's way or the highway, my predecessor probably didn't want to deal with my manager's abuse and aggression. My doctor is concerned about my health from this job as well (high blood pressure/cholesterol/migraines/anxiety), and I don't know if I'm up to being screamed at and possibly threatened for doing something that is perfectly legal and within my right. I can tell you one thing, I think deciding what to do is stressing me out as much as my job does!

locke9000 responded 5 years ago: #5

Amy - If you submit your notice in an evasive fashion, maybe your boss will get the message. Anyway, he won't be able to throw chairs at you if you don't give him the chance! Just clean out all your belongings at the end of work one day, and when you get home, e-mail or (preferably) fax him your letter. If (as you are already aware) he cannot act civil when presented with that type of news, then he does not deserve to hear it in person.

Looking2010 responded 4 years ago: #6

Amy - you should clean out your desk, go home, then fax your letter to your boss and to HR or his manager. That way there can be no confusion on his part.

I have already cleaned out my desk and will give notice next Monday. I will give 2 weeks notice but with the expectation that I will be walked out. That way I can take the high road.

pk713 responded 4 years ago: #7

Mr Carlini, your articles and advice are a great service. There is no possible comfortable way to stick around once you've told someone you're leaving them. You are setting yourself up for recrimination and animosity, not to mention coworkers dive bombing you for information and work they themselves will not want to be saddled with. My boss will definitely be blindsided. So were all the "slaves" who did not receive their Christmas bonus without any warning, after years of receiving big bucks for their kids' gifts. So was the gal who received an email so as not to come in the next day. Thank you Jim, keep them coming.

DOS2009 responded 4 years ago: #8

Thank you for your articles! It gives me hope however, I'm in an awkward situation and would love your advice.

I've been temping at a company for 7 months. No joke when I tell you, my boss doesn't even speak or look at me. I've never received any training nor do I receive positive feedback when I have done something well.

Co-workers are pretty much the same. I actually overheard one woman talk about me to the rest of the team because I made a fairly big mistake on a project. It wasn't fatal, other people have made the same mistake in the past but I made sure it was correced that day. My colleague decided to use that situation as fodder for jokes at my expense rather than sit me down and find out what happened. I was so embarrassed. I'm constantly spoken down to and with my boss losing her cool all the time, I've been fearful of getting fired. Needless to say I've been depressed for a long time and I know for certain I would never get a recommendation from anyone here.

I recently got a new job within the company in a different department. I would still work with the team here but not as much. I gave 2 weeks notice b/c I wanted to take the high road especially since I'm moving internally. I want to show my new team I care about my work (I really don't).

It's been a few days since I gave notice and my coworkers still have problems with my performance. They're happy I'm staying to help but I apparently still stink at it. I want to cut down my notice period so I can take a few days off with my husband before I start my new job. That would give them a week and a half instead of 2 weeks. All I've heard from others is that burning birdges nonsense. Will this effect me negatively on my new department?

One more thing to add is my boss is she's a screamer and she insults everyone she feels are beneath her. After I gave notice, 2 other temps came up to me and said me leaving gave them hope that other jobs are out there.

I don't want to give them any more of me. I'm doing them a favor and they're taking advantage of that. What do you suggest I can do?

Many thanks!

mogrify responded 4 years ago: #9

The situation is even more hypocritical for contract workers whose employment is "at will." The employment agreement clearly states that the worker may be terminated at any time without cause or notice, AND that the employee may also quit without cause or notice. It sounds very equitable until an employee actually resigns without giving notice -- the ill will this can generate can affect your entire career from then on. These are the rules the company dictated when you took the job. There should be no recriminations against the employee when the company suddenly realizes that the rules don't suit it.

Kelly responded 4 years ago: #10

This column is dead on in this crazy "work" world now. You are lucky if you are working in these times. With employers only giving maybe a two hours notice after your work day starts that you are no longer needed, giving two weeks to move on to a better opportunity is stupid. A few years back, my employer cut my position & stated they were placing me in a "clerk" position due to state budget cuts and were doing me a favor by keeping me on the payroll even though it was far less pay. I decided to not accept that clerk position because it was a step backward for me & I would find something better. The next day I cleaned out my office & gave notice that I was not accepting their "new" opportunity even if they felt they were doing me a favor by not laying me off. If they gave me a days notice to change my job so could I! thanks for the article. These are the new times & old career advice does not work.

AmyB responded 3 years ago: #11

I was surprised to come across an article like this, but I have read it and its earlier iteration with keen interest.

This is partly what happens when people who have NO business managing other people seem to make up the majority of supervisors/employers out there. I'm only in my 20s and already incredibly disillusioned with the working world.

Chill responded 3 years ago: #12

I've been laid off by being escorted out of the building like I was a prisoner.
I've been laid of by being texted at 4:40 on a Friday morning.
And I've given a 2 week notice, and been let go right then with no two weeks pay.
You dont owe them a THING.

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