The 3 Month Notice Period

As someone who has spent the last couple of years recruiting a lot, I have been noticing a disturbing trend – The 3 Month Notice Period! More and more companies now require their employees to serve a 3 month notice period after resignation with very little chance of getting relieved earlier.

One of things this has led to is adding mercenary-like hues to the entire recruitment process. These days, a lot of applicants who want to leave their current jobs basically start the carpet bombing equivalent of taking interviews, i.e. interview everywhere. Then they accept an offer from the first place that gives them one. Thus starts the countdown (meter down!) to three months. But as a matter of fact, this is where the real job search starts – keep interviewing even after accepting the first offer, evaluate other offers and then finally take the one that they really want. The best part is that the ‘final’ employer doesn’t have to wait three months because they have already resigned– which makes their candidacy attractive to the final employer!  Awesome, right?

Of course if your company does not have wide brand recognition, you are out of luck.

Naive recruiters, which was us till recently, gave job offers and then waited patiently for 3 months only to find out after a month, 2 months or 2.5 months that the candidate is no longer joining because they found another job or were given a coveted onsite position (we love those, don’t we?).

But why 3 months? I can’t believe that it takes 3 months to hand over work to your successor – and it’s definitely not to address departing employees’ concerns. Most of large IT companies have anything between 8-20% bench strength – then why does it take 3 months? My guess is that it’s just an artificial exit barrier to discourage other employers from hiring their employees – but that’s not working. There is no data that proves that attrition rates have come down because of longer notice periods (believe me, I looked) – all this has led to is the situation I described above.

I don’t think it works for the companies either. Think about it – for 3 months you are paying someone who has no motivation or morale to hang around your office talking about their fantastic pay hike and opportunities to your other employees –do you really want that?
I spoke to some of my friends in large IT companies and they themselves are also sometimes the non-preferred employer. So even important brand companies have candidates who accept offers and then don’t join them. Of course, if you are a great but not widely recognized brand, you are out of luck.

Now we are getting to a stage where some recruiting companies are taking the same approach– send out offers to multiple candidates, choose the best candidate, and cancel other offers.

What is also surprising is that Indian companies are actually able to get away with it. My colleagues from San Francisco are shocked about how this is allowed in India. I tell them that our companies have leverage – The Experience Letter (and earlier, EPF transfers)! Because our environment is based on verification (mistrust?) all employers demand an experience letter from previous employer. Compare that with a recruitment market like SF, which is a minimum of 10 times more competitive that India, there is no concept of experience letter. One just has to list all previous employers and previous employers have a legal obligation to confirm employment. And this US – if they don’t, they can get sued.

I hope that that our companies come to their senses soon and go back to a much more manageable 1 month notice period – there is NOBODY in the world whose handover cannot be completed in a month.

Or else, we will be stuck with the Tinder of recruitment – go out on dates but keep your options open as long as you can.


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