How to Negotiate a Shorter Notice Period - Herd Digital

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How to Negotiate a Shorter Notice Period – The Complete Guide

How to Negotiate a Notice Period

The skills for negotiating a notice period have never been more important.

In Digital Marketing people move jobs frequently. There are a lot of transferable skills that allow people to shift from Paid Media to Biddable or from PPC to Paid Search etc. Whether this is to learn new skills, try out new platforms, or just for a change of pace; regular job switching isn’t the stigma on your CV that it is in other industries.

But notice periods are becoming more commonplace and longer. The 3 month notice period was previously only for more senior positions and tenured-employees: But at Herd Digital we’ve noticed an increase in the length of notice periods across the board.

This makes it more essential than ever that you to have the knowledge you need for when you’re ready to leave for greener pastures. So we’ve created a step-by-step guide on how to negotiate your notice period, to make sure you’re prepared for when you start your job search.


Typical Notice Period Length

How Can You Bypass a 3 Month Notice Period

How to Shorten Your Notice Period

  1. Know What Your Notice Period is
  2. Be Persistent
  3. Use Your Remaining Holiday Days
  4. Ways to Shorten Your Notice Period
  5. Ask to be put on ‘Gardening Leave’
  6. Break Your Contract
  7. Counter Offer and Exit Interview

Typical Notice Period Length

As we’ve mentioned, notice periods are typically getting longer, with the 3-month notice period becoming more commonplace.

1 – 3 months notice period are the most common in the UK. For jobs where you work with clients (for example a digital marketer in a digital marketing agency, or a recruiter or sales person) will typically have a shorter notice period, where they don’t want someone working with clients for an extended period of time when they are leaving.

But for those difficult to replace employees, there may be a longer notice period to protect the business if you decide to leave suddenly.

However, apart from the statutory minimum notice period here in the UK, there is no standard notice period – they differ from job to job and depend on your contract.

Statutory Notice Period

As per the law by the UK government, as long as you are a full time employee you are owed a statutory notice period: Which means you have to give one as well. Even if your contract doesn’t stipulate a notice period, you will have one.

The statutory notice periods are:

  • At least one week’s notice if employed between one month and 2 years.
  • One week’s notice for each year if employed between 2 and 12 years.
  • 12 weeks’ notice if employed for 12 years or more.

How Can you Bypass Your 3 Month Notice Period (Or any notice period)

Unfortunately, there’s no way to completely bypass your 3 month notice period. Or whatever length notice period you have.

If your employer agrees to it, you can mutually decide to end your notice period prematurely and freeing you to leave sooner. And while this is rare and your employer may be unlikely to just release you from your contract, if you convey your urgency and need to leave, they may say yes.

Additionally, there are steps you can take to significantly shorten your notice period, that we will discuss below.

How to Shorten Your Notice Period

When you hand in your notice, your employer wants to delay your leaving. Their focus is on how your leaving will impact the company and impact them personally. However, when they are over the shock of your departure, they could consider the benefits of you leaving. 

It’s your job at this stage to convey to your employer why it could actually be a good thing for you to leave early. Reasons such as:

  • Saving them money: Hiring is an expensive process. By letting you leave early, the business can save the money they’ll need to spend searching for your replacement.
  • Preventing employee attrition: The last thing your employer wants is you in the office shouting about your new, better paying job, to everyone who will listen.
  • Working hard or hardly working: While obviously you don’t want your quality of work to suffer as you’ll want to be leaving with a strong reference, make clear to your employer how much harder you would work to hasten the timeline of your departure. Who would they want, someone working hard to shorten their 3 month notice period to 2 months? Or someone reluctantly sitting out their 3 months, doing the bare minimum.
  • The sensitivity of your work: If you’re leaving for a competing agency or business it could be in your employer’s best interests for you to be released from your notice period, and no longer be working on sensitive clients’ campaigns.

1) Know What Your Notice Period is

Before you can negotiate a notice period, you need to know what your notice period is. Your notice period is the length of time that you are contractually obliged to work after you hand in your notice. You can find this in the contract you signed when you started your job.

Either your notice period will increase over time (as you become more valuable to and harder to replace for the company) or will be a fixed term like 1 or 3 months.

Ideally you should know this before you even begin your job search to avoid wasting time applying and interviewing for jobs that have a start date that’s too early.

2) Be Persistent

The first step in actually negotiating notice periods is perhaps the scariest, and that’s asking to not have to honour the terms of your contract. Your manager will most likely turn you down, so it’s down to you to be persistent. You may need to ask again and again to make your manager realise how serious you are.

If you need to leave, convey that need. No business is going to keep around an employee who clearly doesn’t want to be there, actively bringing down morale: And the last thing your manager wants is your colleagues following your lead.

3) Use Your Remaining Holiday Days

You can use any remaining holiday leave to effectively shorten your notice period. This relies on your employer accepting your holiday request. But to increase your chances you can convey to them the benefit of allowing you to use up your remaining holiday days; not having to pay you for the length of your notice period and your accrued holiday leave.

4) Shorten Your Notice Period by Finding Your Replacement

If you’re negotiating your notice period it can help to bring something to the table; your knowledge of the role. No one knows how to do your job, or the skills you need to do your job, better than you. So when you’re set on leaving, one thing you can do to shorten your notice period is to make the transition as smooth as possible for your employer by helping find your replacement. This includes things such as:

  • Helping to write the job advert for your position: What additional responsibilities has your role come to include over the tenure of your employment?
  • Assisting in the interview and selection process. No one knows how to do your job better than you, so you will know the skills and experience the role requires.
  • Referring someone for your position. Is there someone in your field or in your team who would be perfect for your role?
  • If your work is project based, work with your employer to either speed up timelines and release you from your obligations sooner, or make sure that everything is ready to be handed over to your replacement.

5) Ask to be put on Gardening Leave

‘Gardening Leave’ is a term where you are still employed and paid by the company, but you are asked to stay at home and not work. This is most typical for senior positions, for people working on sensitive campaigns, or if you’re going to work for a competitor.

So if you are put on ‘Gardening Leave’ for any of the reasons above, this gives you the perfect opportunity to ask to be released from your contractually obliged notice period. While you need to ask to get it, this decision is entirely down to your employer.

6) Break Your Contract

As a last resort and if you need to leave immediately, you can break your contract.

This is an extreme measure and not something we would generally recommend if it can be avoided. If you break your contract, you open yourself up to the possibility of being sued by your ex-employer for the money it will cost them to pay a (potentially expensive) freelancer to replace you for the duration of your notice period.

However, this is an unlikely result. No company wants to be known as the company that sues it’s ex-employees: Even if they are legally in the right, it’s not a good look. And suing an ex-employee is a long and expensive process that will likely not be worth it for the business.

7) Counter Offer and an Exit Interview

As discussed earlier, when you hand in your notice your manager’s focus will be on how your leaving will impact the company. Your manager will perhaps go to their manager to discuss how much they are willing to offer you to keep you. Here at Herd it’s something we coach all our candidates to expect. 

Your counter offer may involve a significant pay increase, but it’s important to remember the reasons you’ve decided to leave. For example, this pay increase often doesn’t represent your value to the company, but how much it would cost the company to replace you at short notice.

Your counter offer could be presented to you in your exit interview or at a separate date, but you can safely expect one. While it may be tempting to vent in your exit interview, it won’t benefit you at all. It’s best to leave on good terms, and thank them for your time there. After all, digital marketing is a small world, and it’s best to avoid burning bridges when you can.

When Negotiating Your Notice Period Fails

If you’ve tried all of the above but don’t wish to take the extreme option of breaking your contract, then you may have to work out the length of your notice period. While this is obviously not the outcome you were looking for, you should aim to avoid working below your usual standard.

It can be all too tempting to do the bare minimum, but digital marketing is a small world: You may work with the same manager or colleagues again, and you don’t want to make a reputation for yourself as someone who quits mid-campaign and leaves your team in a lurch.

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