I've worked in startups my entire adult life and, please take my word for this, there is nothing magical about startup bosses that change the dynamic between employer and employee, and there are no special obligations startup employees shoulder.
If you give 12 months notice, you should prepare to be marginalized in your last year at the company. If you give 2 weeks notice, you should not expect to be blackballed in the industry. If someone gives you a bad reference for giving "only" 2 weeks notice, you should urge your friends never to work for that person again; if a prospective employer makes a stink about that kind of reference, you should avoid working for that employer.
Tech startup employers are fond of a "third-prize-is-you're-fired", "reward for just OK is a severance package" mentality. They don't feel like they owe you a year's advance notice about their plans. Stay professional, but don't bend over backwards for an employer unless you have a specific, personal reason for doing so. "That's how it works in startups" is not a valid reason.
And please, please remember: it is a seller's market for talent.
I gave 12 months notice when working for a startup before leaving for graduate school, and I wasn't "marginalized" at all. Giving my employer plenty of notice gave us time to talk about whether I really wanted to go to grad school (I did); to find a replacement (which I helped with); and to transition projects to other people. It also helped my employer plan: if you have a small technical team and a major contributor leaves, most startups would like more than two weeks to find a good replacement.
Any startup that "marginalizes" an employee who gives extra notice would be petty and small-minded: the employee is doing you a favor. Besides, by marginalizing you, they'd just be wasting the time you have remaining at the company.
I'm an employer. I've had people give me 2 weeks of notice at extremely inopportune times. I am good for a solid recommendation for all of them. You don't dick around with people's careers.
Consider also the flip side of this issue. If you give me 2 months notice, and I need someone for a solid 4 months to execute a project, I may have to start recruiting now to fill that slot in time. We can talk all we want about the sacred bonds of trust between startup founder and startup employee, but none of that competes with the requirement to keep feeding and providing health care for the families of everyone else who works at the company.
I'm an employer. I've had people give me 2 weeks of notice at extremely inopportune times.
Right; I certainly wouldn't expect a bad recommendation if I did that. On the other hand, if I recognized that only giving two weeks notice would be inconvenient for my employer, and if it wouldn't be problematic for me, I think giving more notice is just a decent and honest thing to do.
For example, let’s suppose you are a two years out of college and have a job at a startup. You like your job but decide you want to go to graduate school. The big company legalistic types will tell you to secretly send in your applications, and, if you get accepted and decide to attend, give your boss two weeks notice.
What you should instead do is talk to your boss as soon as you are seriously considering graduate school.
This is bad advice. You should disregard it.
ITA: "(Now don’t get me wrong: if you work for bosses who have a legalistic, transactional mindset, by all means give two weeks notice. I gave 4 months notice once to a boss with that mindset and was duly punished for it. But hopefully if you are at a startup you work with people who have the startup, relationship-centric mindset.)"
That said, I think the author underestimates the risk of opportunistic behavior by those involved in startups. Even years ago, when I started practicing, I vividly remember the refrain: "My buddies and I started this thing and everything was going well . . . but then it became really valuable . . . and then . . ." You fill in the blank but it was always some variation of "I would never believe he would have done that to me" as the "buddy" stuck some knife in or grabbed some disproportionate share of the reward from the once cooperative effort. The most frequent situation involved a dominant founder, who legally controlled everything, taking opportunistic advantage of co-founders who had trusted in his integrity and ultimately found it to be wanting. There were many other variations, however, and these can take any forms made possible by human ingenuity.
It is important to strike a balance. Normally, nothing good will come out of bad relationships, even if they are documented to the hilt with big, fat contracts. On the other hand, blind trust in a business setting, or even relying on your instincts to judge the character of others while believing them invariably to want to do good, is normally not wise. Trust but document. Just don't overdo it in a way that kills the spirit of cooperation.
It's a time at which you're going to find out for certain what someone's character is.
Having watched fellow startup employees be let go and told to clear out by the end of the day, I don't believe they (or you, or I) have any duty to give more than the culturally accepted 2-weeks notice.
I always advise to give the amount of notice (or severance) the employer would give. If the departure is prompted by a recent layoff, there's not even need to speculate.
As a rule of thumb, I would avoid giving more than required notice when quitting because you're unhappy with the job. There's no way to explain it that won't eventually create a poisonous atmosphere. If it's something less emotionally loaded, like moving to accompany a spouse or to go back to school, then a couple of months notice could be seen as a noble gesture. Any longer and there's no realistic benefit for the employer, but plenty of risk for the employee.
There are some other industries (big time consulting, for example) where transience is expected and encouraged, and it's a fair question to ask about that type of commitment up front. Particularly if you're up front about your intentions or expectations during the hiring process, people will be more willing to be understanding when you want to move on, and those recommendations, suggestions and connections can come in handy.
In other words, this advice might work out if you're the kind of person who will think "I want to work for this job for about x months/years and then move on to something else". But not everyone thinks that way.
Regardless, +1 for being clear about your intentions up front. You can't go wrong that way (for most jobs).
Again, not always feasible if you don't know what you want yet or if you're in the wrong environment, but a good strategy when it works </tautology>
I always start out with a cooperative approach, and fall back to adversarial only when the other party makes it necessary. Over time, you learn to recognize certain personality types and can predict which category a boss or business partner falls into.
My cautionary advice would be this: In a game of rock-paper-scissors, the transactional/adversarial personality almost always "wins" because the cooperative personality will accept a less advantageous position in order to avoid conflict. It's wise to recognize which personality type you are.
If you're cooperative by nature, write out on paper or at least have decided what your minimum acceptable position will be _prior_ to bringing up the subject or entering negotiation. And realize when you're being pushed past that point.
If you are moving to another company, then it's touchier because it raises questions about why you want to work at Y instead of X, and I think the 2 weeks' notice and generic exit interview are the better approach. There's nothing you gain by saying the reason you'd rather work at Y.