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Is the Customary Two Weeks’ Notice a Thing of the Past?

If you’ve recently left a job, how did you break the news to your boss? How about other co-workers? With few exceptions, it is still advisable to give your old company advance warning before you clear out your desk — though that doesn’t mean everyone is doing so.

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Cherry Hill-based business etiquette expert Barbara Pachter hopes these sudden departures aren’t becoming a trend. She said an employee may jeopardize a company’s other working relationships, its clients, and its bottom line by leaving abruptly.

“There is a standard protocol where you let your employer know, and the general guideline is two weeks,” she said. “And it makes the transition for the next person to move into that position usually a lot easier.”

In the case of millennials who walk away suddenly, Pachter said it may not be that they don’t understand the protocol. They may just never have been taught, and now they have been influenced by connections on social media who announce abrupt career changes with great fanfare.

There are clear ways to orchestrate a graceful exit in addition to giving proper notice, according to Pachter, like trying to avoid burning bridges. She cited a New Jersey example where a departing worker was actually told she would be welcomed back at her old company if things didn’t work out.

“You never know, with what you do, when it will come back to haunt you,” Pachter said. “So why take the chance?”

Unfortunately, sometimes the decision to leave suddenly is made for an employee, instead of by the employee. Many companies usher workers out the door as soon as they quit — especially if an employee’s next move is to a competitor — out of fear that those workers will carry contact information for clients on to their new jobs.

But in general, Pachter said if employers treat their workers with respect, that respect should be reciprocated by the employees as they leave.

With that in mind, there are times when quitting without notice could be considered appropriate. Pachter said any time an employee is concerned for his or her safety, it may be best to just walk out the door and never look back, but she would not recommend such a move otherwise.

“Whatever you do with regard to your career, whether it’s taking a new job, working with colleagues, or leaving a job, you’re building your own reputation,” she said.

Patrick Lavery anchors and produces newscasts across all dayparts for New Jersey 101.5. Follow him on Twitter @plavery1015 or email

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