How to leave this job gracefully.
January 26, 2011 7:37 AM   Subscribe

Want to leave for a new job, don't want to soil reputation with old job. Need guidance from managers.

I have a slight job dilemma. I recently within the past week applied for and got a dream job. It offers much more socialization and growth opportunities than my current job. The new job is hiring quickly to fill a need, but they will allow me to give the customary two weeks notice to my current job. Both jobs are 40-hour, M-F 9-to-5 jobs.

The problem is that to take this new job, I need to attend a training event that will be from this Friday until next Tuesday. So, my thought is to tell my supervisor that I am taking this new opportunity and that I want to give at least two weeks, but since I need Friday, Monday and Tuesday off, I will gladly take them off without pay and work two weeks past that point. (If it matters, I’m out of holiday hours from a long trip last year and I don’t even think I can take holiday hours once I’ve put in notice.)

I’m slightly worried that my current job is not going to take this well, and ask me to work those days. I don’t want to just leave and burn bridges. I like my coworkers and don’t want to leave them in a lurch. Also, I’ve been here six years and want to maintain a good reference.

Managers, how would you feel if a leaving employee came to you with such a proposition? What is the best way to present this to my manager?

Tossy email:
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (14 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I am a manager at my current job and have been for almost three years.

If someone who had worked with me for six years and had been a good employee told me exactly what you've written here -- this is a dream job, I can't pass it up, and in order for me to take it I have to do the following -- I would understand completely. Indeed, I'd think they'd gone above and beyond by offering to take those days off without pay.

It may be that I am a soft touch, but I hope your boss and co-workers feel the same way.
posted by jeffmshaw at 7:42 AM on January 26, 2011 [2 favorites]

One--some workplaces will lock you out as soon as you give your notice, and you're not allowed to do anything other than get your stuff. No email, no files, etc. Are you sure that your current employer will even allow you to hang around after you've given notice?

Two--I understand you're saying they're filling an empty slot, but if you come to them and say that you need to start a little later to accommodate your current employer and they DON'T acquiesce, I'd query whether this will be a dream job or a time suck.

Three--worst case scenario, 2 weeks' notice is just a courtesy. I know you don't want to burn bridges, but it's not like they are required to give two weeks' notice before they fire you (in most jurisdictions).

Consult an employment attorney in your jurisdiction. IANYL, TINLA.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 7:49 AM on January 26, 2011

+1 for Jeffmshaw. You're already 100% on the path to an über-responsible job transition.

Only other thing you could do is make a list of internal/external candidates who you think could replace you.
posted by markovitch at 7:50 AM on January 26, 2011

2 weeks' notice is just a courtesy. I know you don't want to burn bridges, but it's not like they are required to give two weeks' notice before they fire you (in most jurisdictions).

Um - I dont' think thats true. In many places your employer can't just stop paying you. They have to pay out at least the minimum notice term stipulated by law (or your contract).
posted by mary8nne at 8:01 AM on January 26, 2011

Former manager here. Your request is perfectly reasonable, and if your current manager does not see it as such, they are not a reasonable person. If they give you grief about it, I would tell them that Thursday is your last day. As Admiral Haddock mentions, they would not give you two weeks notice if they needed to lay you off.
posted by Rock Steady at 8:03 AM on January 26, 2011

Is the new training a condition of employment? Is there a possibility that you will somehow fail the training and not be offered the job? I'm also a little confused as to whether or not you have personal / vacation time left. Take the time off but do not tell your current manager why you're doing this. Don't tell him or her afterward either.

If someone who had worked with me for six years and had been a good employee told me exactly what you've written here -- this is a dream job, I can't pass it up, and in order for me to take it I have to do the following -- I would understand completely.

I agree that a good manager would do this, I would do this. You might think your current boss would do this. You should go in expecting them to act crazy.

I've seen otherwise normal, sane bosses get crazy when a valued employee leaves and they can't do anything about it. They can't offer them better pay, they can't offer them better opportunities and then they take this very personally. If you have this new job in the hand, it might not matter. The boss might make the next couple of weeks a living hell, bug you during the training, etc.

Do you have people underneath you, or colleagues that will be directly impacted by you leaving? I would start quietly making sure (without telling anyone!) that the transition is smooth so that people will have good memories of you. I would tell everyone at the last possible moment you can tell them. Expect a counter proposal to try to keep you, think about how you want to deal with that.

Not to be a downer, I mean I'm sure everyone will be really happy and congratulate you, etc. But I wouldn't go into this with, "Hey I have a great opportunity elsewhere, I'm taking a couple of days training (without pay!), I'm sure you'll understand!" and not expect your boss to throw a shit fit and find a reason you absolutely need to be there during training. Prepare for the worst, and hope for the best in these sort of situations.
posted by geoff. at 8:03 AM on January 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

Most U.S. jurisdictions. U.S. has at-will employment.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 8:04 AM on January 26, 2011

+1 for Jeffmshaw. And of course, the perfect answer, unfortunately, is: it depends. It depends on your relations with your boss as well as the current state of whatever it is you are working on.

Is the nature of your work common in your organization? I mean are there other people who do the same type of work that you do or is yours a singular role? If the former, transition will not be an issue and therefore the impact is lesser on the organization. If the latter, where are they going to get another intelligent, hard-working person in two weeks? That is when problems arise.

One other situation you may face is that your organization may try to hold you here with counter-offers. Not that you want to take them, but it is so natural these days, I thought I would put it out here.

If you don't think your company would understand, take sick days off and then give the notice. This is not a nice solution, but when your courtesy may be taken advantage of, there may be no choice.

Do let us know how it went. And congrats on your dream job!
posted by theobserver at 8:09 AM on January 26, 2011

Congratulations! I supervise a number of young people and your approach sounds perfect to me. I'd be sad to see you go, but happy for you!
posted by thinkpiece at 9:10 AM on January 26, 2011

Good managers know that everyone leaves at some point, and try to make the whole process as painless as possible. I'd happily work with you (were I your manager). Hell, I'd probably just tell you to take some sick days, although if you offered to make up the time on a weekend/evenings I'd be ecstatic.
posted by coolguymichael at 10:31 AM on January 26, 2011

You plan is totally reasonable. That said, employers are often unreasonable.

You can only do your best and hope your best is well received. Worst case scenario, they fire you on the spot. All that does is free you up to prepare for your new gig earlier. Most managers will be fine with your plan, though.
posted by amycup at 11:32 AM on January 26, 2011

The bottom line is that they're shortly going to have to live without you permanently. It's nice to give them some extra days to adjust, but those extra days aren't going to be make or break.

In general I consider anything beyond quitting and walking out the door (or just not showing up) to be an attempt at a graceful exit. It's not going to come up in either a formal or informal reference for you.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 1:16 PM on January 26, 2011

Mod note: From the OP:
Thanks for all the thoughtful comments. Your advice made the discussion much easier to have with my supervisor. My manager is not happy to see me go, but did not make me feel guilty in any way. He understands that it's a fantastic opportunity that can't be matched by the current company. He also said it was no problem to take the time I need for training at the new company.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:39 PM on January 26, 2011 [2 favorites]

Glad it worked out for you, guess jeffmshaw is right. Make sure to mark this resolved.

As a side note: you don't want a reference from a manager who wouldn't have been able to handle this like yours did. You might consider getting them a small "thank you" gift or at least a card to make sure you leave a good parting impression.
posted by allkindsoftime at 4:19 AM on January 27, 2011

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