How many of you would like to say to your employer: "Surprise! I quit!"
Giving two weeks' notice has long been the standard when it comes to leaving your job. Many FINS readers, however, say they'd forgo that professional courtesy for the right job offer.
In FINS' informal online survey, Sign or Decline, 68% of 374 respondents said they'd accept their dream job offer if it meant they had to leave their current company immediately and give no notice.
Experts say that in many cases, this is the right idea -- even if you'll burn a bridge along the way.
"If the decision is between starting tomorrow or the job doesn't exist, how could you not take the dream job?" said Jodi Glickman, author of Great on the Job and founder of a career consultancy by the same name. "You're going to regret it if you don't."
Still, it's a good idea to give notice if you can, said Salvatore Gangemi, a New York-based employment attorney. Unless you have a contractual obligation to give a certain amount of notice before leaving your current employer, you aren't required to stick around. Employers can withhold discretionary bonuses or severance packages, he said, but "it's clearly illegal to deduct from, or otherwise withhold, amounts from the final paycheck."
Leaving an employer with your reputation intact is important in this job market, but it's not always possible. Glickman believes you can have your cake and eat it too if you handle the situation with integrity.
"Employers can hopefully understand that you are doing this because it's your dream job, and you couldn't live with yourself if you didn't take it," she said.
If you have been a reliable, hard worker, a good manager won't let it taint their entire experience with you. "You're between a rock and a hard place," she said. "Do everything you can to make it work."
If you're leaving your employer in a lurch, do your best to preserve the relationship.
"You have to worry about your reputation, especially in a market with a lot of movement," said Roy Cohen, a New York-based career coach and author of The Wall Street Professional's Survival Guide. "Imagine the reference you'd get if you abandoned your former employer and they weren't happy about it."
Glickman suggests recommending qualified replacements for your job and working nights and weekends to complete assignments. "It might be hellish for two weeks," she said, "but for a dream job, I'd want to do anything to make it happen."
As for your prospective employer, you can try negotiating a later start date, if you're really pressured. While laws vary by state, it's typically not illegal for a company to rescind a job offer if you can't accommodate their desired start date, said Gangemi.
"Tell the new employer you are excited about starting," said Cohen, "but you have loose ends to tie up and a great relationship with your boss and you wouldn't want to compromise that."
They'd expect the same courtesy from you.
What Would You Do?
Answer the question and see how you match up with the rest of the FINS community.
You've just been offered your dream job, but... you have to quit your current job and give no notice.
Sign ...or... Decline
Write to Kelly Eggers
Sign or Decline is a series of questions on FINS.com that ask what you would do for your dream job. Since its launch late last year, over 100,000 answers have been received and compiled in our database. Participate in Sign or Decline here.