Negotiating a Notice Period: The Complete Guide | Dynamic Search

Negotiating a Notice Period: Everything you need to know

Notice periods are getting longer. At Dynamic we’ve seen notice periods go from the 1-2 months in previous years, to 3 month notice periods becoming the most common. But when it comes to negotiating a notice period, you as the employee have more power than ever.

It’s a candidate driven market, which means more jobs than people to fill them. So as we see greater numbers of people leaving for greener pastures, the more pressure managers are under to make sure projects are on track and positions are full. Thus, the longer average notice periods.

This means it’s never been more important that you are equipped with the skills you need to negotiate your notice period.


What to do before negotiating your notice period

The first step to negotiating a notice period is the most obvious, finding out what your notice period actually is.

You’ll find out your notice period length in the contract you signed when you started your job. This can either be a fixed term like three months, or may increase over time as you become harder to replace for your company.

It’s important to know your notice period before you even begin your job search. Here at Dynamic it’s one of the first questions we ask IT professionals looking for their next role. After all, there’s no point investing your time and effort interviewing for a role to find out they want you to start the next week!

And if you’ve handed in your resignation and are now in the position where you’re negotiating your notice period, then you need to be going into this negotiation as prepared as possible.


4 Tips on How to shorten your notice Period

There are a few different approaches and steps you can take to try and shorten your notice period. Some of these we advise and some which we don’t; but we’ll leave the decision making up to you. You can shorten your notice period by:

  1. Asking to be released from your notice period or put on “gardening leave”.
  2. Working with your employer to see how you can shorten your notice period.
  3. Using up your remaining holidays so you can start your new job sooner.
  4. If all else fails, you can break your contract and quit.


1) Ask to be released from your notice period

The old saying goes, “if you don’t ask, you don’t get”, and this rings true for negotiating your notice period. Do your best to convey your NEED to be finished by a certain date. No employer is going to want to keep disgruntled staff in the office who don’t want to be there.

In some circumstances you can also be put on ‘Gardening Leave’. This means still being employed and paid by the company, but either working from home or more likely, being asked to not work at all.

‘Gardening Leave’ is most typical for senior positions or those working with sensitive information. As you are legally still employed by your employer, you can’t begin your new job. However if you are put on gardening leave, this gives you a strong case to argue your release from your notice period early.


2) Work with your Employer to shorten your notice period

If you have asked to be released from your contractually obligated notice period and received a “no”, the next step is to ask what you can do to shorten your notice period. 

When you hand in your notice, your employer wants to delay you leaving. Their first reaction will be to worry about how your departure will affect the company. But after the initial shock has worn off, you can talk to them about the benefits to letting you leave early, such as:

  • By letting you go, they will save money by not having to pay you for the remainder of your time there.
  • They won’t have you in the office bragging about your new, better paying job to your colleagues. One thing they will want to prevent is employee attrition: others being tempted to leave like you are.
  • Ask them who they would rather have, an employee who is working hard to get the work finished so they can leave, or someone just seeing their 3 months out by doing the bare minimum? 

How can you work with the manager to make the transition as smooth as possible? This can be as simple as outlining the responsibilities of your role as well as any additional tasks you do, and can extend to actually assisting in the job searching and interviewing process. After all, the sooner you find your replacement, the sooner you can leave.

And ask your manager about what needs to get done so you can leave. If your work is project based, how can you speed up the timeline? Unfortunately, if you’re working on a support desk or another position dealing with tickets and problems as they come up, you might be out of luck…


3) Use your remaining holidays 

By using up any holidays you are owed, you can effectively shorten your notice period; although this is entirely down to your employer to accept your holiday request. Some may be happy to avoid paying you for your notice period AND accrued holiday leave. While others may be more concerned about keeping you working as long as they can and projects on track.


4) If all else fails, you can break your contract and quit

As a last resort, you can break your contract and leave without working your notice period. This is not something we would recommend. It opens you to your now ex-employer suing you for the cost of finding and paying your replacement, for the duration of what your notice period would have been.

In reality, the chances of a company wanting to be known for suing their employees is slim. It’s not a good look for any company. But if you’re in a senior position within the company or a specialist, then your chances are higher.

It’s a candidate short market, so you have the power. Be confident in your position.


When Negotiating Your Notice Period Fails

But sometimes there’s nothing you can do. If all of the above fails, you will have to work the full length of your notice period. It can be all too tempting to do the bare minimum. But our advice is to keep working to your usual high standards. 

You’ll still be looking for a recommendation from your soon to be ex-employer. And you don’t want your letter of recommendation to be marred by a few months of low productivity.

Whether you work in Network, Infrastructure or any aspect of IT: it’s a small world. You never know who you’ll be working with in the future, so it’s best to leave on good terms.


Exit interviews + Counter Offers

After you hand in your notice your manager will start to evaluate how much they are willing to pay to keep you. So you should expect an exit interview and a counter offer. 

They may not call it an exit interview, they could just present it as a ‘quick chat’ with your boss. But prepare yourself to talk through your decision and remind yourself of the reasons you’re leaving in the first place

The exit interview may be something you can’t avoid, but it also is an opportunity. The exit interview is your opportunity to negotiate your notice period. While your employer may not be the most receptive to a negotiation after you have turned down their counter offer, you have just reinforced your desire to leave, and they may want you out as soon as possible.

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