Can I quit with no notice?

I have been employed more or less happily as an executive assistant at this company for a year. Today I had a final round interview for a great job (project director at an incubator for start-ups, with higher pay and flex time to work from home!) and I believe I have a solid chance to get hired.

The catch is, they want the candidate to start on Monday, as the person vacating the position is moving to England on January 20 (!) so there’s not much time for training.

If I get this job, how do I gracefully extricate myself from my current position without making them hate me forever and ever? The girl who does backup for my position will be leaving on an overseas trip this week and I will be leaving them in quite a bind with no administrative support. I wish I could have given 2 weeks notice but there’s no time. I would really prefer not to burn my bridges and kill my potential references from this job, which is only my second “real job” ever.

What Would Penelope Do???

3 replies
  1. Penelope Trunk
    Penelope Trunk says:

    After they offer you the job — AFTER – tell them that quitting with no notice is not nice, and you are not willing to do that, but you’d love to take the job if you can start in two weeks.

    If they say no, then they are unreasonable for making you start immediately, and they are probably not great to work for if they are asking you to do that.

    Here’s why: it’s common courtesy to give an employer you like two weeks notice, or at least one, if you are leaving. You are a part of their team and you care about them and they have been decent to you.

    Most companies hire people who already have jobs. People who are strong performers have jobs. And a company that wants to hire someone who is a decent person would not look to hire someone who would leave without giving notice. So, good candidates cannot start immediately. That’s how the world works.

    And because of that, good companies don’t ask people to start immediately. They ask people to start in two weeks – or more, depending on how high-level they are.

    When the new company asks you to start immediately they assume your last company doesn’t need you or doesn’t care that your’e leaving – at best. That is the best we can assume that they are thinking. The worst they are thinking is that you don’t mind being a jerk. Either way, it’s bad.

    Think about turning down the offer, staying where you are, and doing more job hunting to find a better company to switch to.


  2. Laura Hamilton
    Laura Hamilton says:

    Can you do the training for your new job on the nights and weekends? That seems to me a reasonable compromise.

    Alternatively, you could explain the situation to your current employer and offer to be available nights/weekends/future weeks for phone support and help.

    I think that if you explain the situation to both employers and offer to work extra hours to make sure nothing gets dropped that you can work something out.

    I wouldn’t quit with no notice.

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