I know I'm leaving, but when should they know?
October 11, 2006 7:54 PM   Subscribe

I have no problems with my job. In fact, I'm happy with it. But a few months ago I realized I don't want to be doing it forever. So after saving up some money, I've decided to quit, move back home with my parents and go back to school in a field unrelated to my job in January.

The problem now is when and how to tell my employer. My one-year review is coming up really soon, and there is a self-evaluation that will have me list my goals for the coming year. I don't want to lie on this, but I want to give them ample time to look for a replacement. I want to leave feeling that no bridges were burned.

There was much wrangling with my former employer to get me here, and I am grateful for them for that. I want them to have a quality hire in their search for someone to replace me, but I am afraid October is too soon to be telling them of my intention to quit. What do you think?

A related question: I've read the EDD posts about unemployment benefits, but is there anything regarding unemployment to go to school?
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (12 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I was recently in your shoes. I left my job to go back to school (medical writing to nurse practitioner school). As soon as I'd been accepted by my program (March), I let my employer know that I would be leaving in June. I experienced zero negative repercussions in giving this much notice. To the contrary, my boss was very pleased to have been given so much time, and the possibility of my doing contract work for them is alive and well. (Not that I have any time for such frivolities as earning money.)

During the time that I was applying to schools, I did have to do a self-review, and I did feel a bit of a fraud when I was listing my goals, but it certainly didn't make me lose any sleep. One has to COA to some extent. Plus, if I hadn't been accepted to my program, I would have ended up staying on there, so it wasn't necessarily for naught.
posted by tentacle at 8:18 PM on October 11, 2006

I'm sure you will get contrary advice, but when I found myself in a similar position I simply told the truth (with a similar amount of lead time). My employer appreciated the extra time for the search. If you have a good relationship with your employer I think it is unlikely this would lead to your early dismissal.

WRT unemployment, I really don't think there is any possibility whatsoever of getting it for leaving a position voluntarily to pursue an education.
posted by nanojath at 8:19 PM on October 11, 2006

You're quitting work to go to school. Why would you receive unemployment benefits? Wouldn't living expenses be something that you would receive as part of a grant/loan/scholarship?

As for how much notice to give, that would depend on how long you believe it would take them to replace you and for you to train your replacement. We'd really have to have more information on your position and the standard amount of time that is considered to be the correct notice term. Try talking to others in your field who might have a more informed estimate.
posted by Meep! Eek! at 8:26 PM on October 11, 2006

You feel compelled to give them as much notice as possible, but honestly, if you need the money wait until exactly two weeks. Even with a good working relationship, they may walk you out of the door the moment you give notice. This depends on who you work for and in what capacity, but if you entertain this notion, even in a wildest-dreams capacity, you should wait.

Answer the evaluation as if you're going to stay. They're a business. They don't care about you. That applies to nearly 100% of work situations, but obviously the choice is yours and you're truly the best person to make this call.
posted by miniape at 8:34 PM on October 11, 2006

Invest some quality time in writing your goals for the next year, but do so as if you were writing them for your replacement. Your perspective regarding what someone in your position should be doing in the next year to benefit the organization is valuable, perhaps it can be used to their benefit. When leaving, invite your boss to share your goals with your replacement. This might help ease your mind a little.
posted by cior at 8:57 PM on October 11, 2006

It is the noble thing to do to give your employer lots of notice but be prepared to accept the consequences:

It's november, and your company's main contract is cancelled. The situation is grim. Layoffs are inevitable and your boss is asked to reduce headcount by, say, three. Guess who gets the ax? Your boss will probably feel terrible about it but the business realities will dictate his response.

You have to take a calculated risk. If this seems very unlikely there is no harm in telling him.
posted by PercussivePaul at 9:00 PM on October 11, 2006

I wouldn't tell them now, but I would try to give them at least a month's notice unless you think it will affect you negatively. They still might be pissed because you obviously didn't decide at the last minute to move in with your parents and go back to school. I haven't done much hiring, but hiring a replacement in December may be difficult due to the holidays. I'd try to save as much extra money as possible until then. Any time you give notice you should be prepared to be let go on the spot.

I was in a similar situation with my landlord. I knew in August that I would be buying a house in November, so I told him immediately so he could start looking for a new tenant. He prefers to use word of mouth so his apartments can be vacant for months until he finds a good tenant. We always had a great relationship and I wanted to help him out. It turns out he had someone ask about my apartment the week before, so he evicted me the next day. Never underestimate someone's instinct to look out for number one.
posted by bda1972 at 9:27 PM on October 11, 2006

I was facing a similar situation recently. I did the same thing as tentacle, and told them as soon as I accepted an offer of admission (sometime in April, notice was for the end of July). They appreciated the notice and we parted amicably. However, I had a good relationship with the company and was fairly confident that I would not be booted as soon as I announced my departure.
posted by Krrrlson at 9:32 PM on October 11, 2006

Anecdotal: Just over a year ago, I informed my (then) employer that I would be leaving in a month and a half to move to Ireland to be with my girlfriend. My boss said it was fantastic, great news, they were sad to lose me but they understood that some things in life are more important than a job. They even offered to let me work remotely from Ireland until I found work here. I only *needed* to give 2 weeks notice, but I gave them a month and a half because I love those guys, and I really want to work with them if/when I move back to Canada. But the culture at that company was VERY different from your average company, so YMMV.
posted by antifuse at 2:52 AM on October 12, 2006

I left my job in CT when my wife got a medical residency in Boston. I gave my boss about two months notice. Up until that day, I had been acting like I was planning to stay forever (participating in quarterly reviews, planning for purchases for the future, even went out for company-paid training). Your plans for the year will still be useful — when I started the job, they slapped my predecessor's goals on me as a starting point. And any planning you've done is still applicable, too. The more time you give them to start looking for a replacement, the better. If you can help in finding your own successor, everyone will be happy.

I still keep in touch with several people from my last job, including my boss. Bridges: intact.
posted by Plutor at 3:26 AM on October 12, 2006

I've been in similar situations twice - once when I left a job to go back to school, and once when I left to work in a different field. I was on good terms with both bosses, and gave notice very early in both cases. The first time, things were awkward but amicable while I worked my last couple of months. The second time, I was escorted from my boss's office to the sidewalk after being sternly warned not to touch any computers in the building. The personal items from my desk were mailed to me with my last paycheck.

So I guess my advice would be to go ahead and give notice now as long as you're okay with either one of these outcomes. What would happen if they showed you the door as soon as you said you were leaving? If it just means you'd move back home a little sooner, then go for it.
posted by miskatonic at 6:59 AM on October 12, 2006

Make a note that miskatonic's 2nd experience is not uncommon. I have multiple friends who have given extended notice thinking they would be giving their employer an opportunity to find a quality replacement.

They ended up being escorted out of the office/building (in one case, to their vehicle!) with little to no opportunity to say goodbye to coworkers or retrieve personal belongings. You probably know if your workplace has done this type of thing, or at least is capable of it. You may not burn any bridges, so to speak, but you may find yourself out of a job much earlier than expected.
posted by littlelebowskiurbanachiever at 3:59 PM on October 12, 2006

« Older Talking disembodied head movie--for kids   |   WTF dink? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.