Question & Answer
July 24, 2012
I am a junior associate who is contemplating leaving my current firm for greener pastures. I need to formally accept my "greener" opportunity soon, but I would not start until [late August].
Should I give notice to my current firm now, or should I wait until closer to the time I would (ideally) be departing? I have no concern about the security of the future position.
First and foremost, congratulations on your new opportunity. How wonderful that you have found an exciting new position that is better than your current job especially considering 1) that you are a junior associate and 2) that this is a very tough job market. You should be very pleased with yourself!
If you are certain that this is the very right opportunity for you - and it does sound as if you are very sure about this one - then go ahead and let the new employer know how excited you are about the offer and that you accept! Don't let any more time go by before accepting so that they don't think that you are having any second thoughts.
What you want to keep in mind is that your offer and acceptance will be pending references and since you have not given notice to your current employer, the last thing you want to happen right now is to have your references checked before they have any idea that you are about to leave.
As you accept the new offer and reconfirm your start date of late August, explain to your new employer that you plan to continue working until you start your new job and do not intend to give notice until the traditional two weeks prior to your last day of employment. Because of this, you do not want your references checked until you have officially resigned from your current position. You will call in and let them know as soon as you have given notice and will sound the all-clear when they can check references. You certainly can let them know that your offer is pending the reference check and you have no problem with this matter (as long as you don't have a problem with this!).
Two weeks before you have determined the date that will be the last day you will be employed at this firm is the day you will give your notice. At this time you will go to the two to three people that you believe will be the best references for you and say something along these lines to them: I have given your name as a reference for the new job that I have just accepted. What you say will determine my future. I hope you are willing to be my reference.
Of course, you should know well in advance who you should be asking to represent you as a reference, right? As soon as you have notified these individuals that they will be called as your references, give your new employer a call and let them know that you have given your notice and it is now time for them to check your references and let you know as soon as possible that the job offer is now finalized.
I see no reason for you to give notice to your firm now unless you want to leave in two weeks and have a nice four week vacation until you start your new job in late August. By the way, if you can afford to do that, go for it! It will be a while until you have a vacation once you start a new job and August is a great month to have some time to relax and chill. Best wishes!
Ann M. Israel