I recently left a support contracting position after several years of working very closely on site with my government clients and other support contractors for a new position with a new company in a completely different location. I have no intention of returning to this company or location (Relocated from Florida to New York).

After leaving, I am now receiving multiple phone calls and text messages a week to my personal cell phone number during work hours at my new position. The questions are for generally minor requests related to my previous responsibilities for which I was a lead for several years and are from both the clients which my company used to support onsite and my previous coworkers with my previous company.

I gave a full two weeks notice and attempted to document as much "tribal knowledge" as possible before leaving while making myself available to those below me in my role for technical questions/training. Some questions/messages mostly from my previous clients who did not want me to leave, have been more personal such as mentioning how my previous counterparts are overwhelmed and I am greatly missed.

I generally hesitate to respond and when I do so it is a brief objective message, where I may give a small amount of knowledge but encourage them to reach out to a specific individual who may know the answer still working for the project.

I find this behavior slightly unprofessional and disruptive when coming up to speed on a new position. what is the appropriate professional way to handle these requests?

  • 3
    "I've relocated to a new position in a different state. I can help you on my freetime for $500 an hour (minimum 1 hour billed) though' Feb 14, 2018 at 18:04
  • Did you sign anything or tell them that you'd be available for questions? How did they get your personal cell number?
    – Dan
    Feb 14, 2018 at 19:44
  • 2
    This is part of the reason why I never understood the "two weeks notice" thing in the US... Of course that is not enough to properly handle know-how transfer, training the follow up, letting clients know about the change, etc... In Switzerland the statutory notice period is 3 months.
    – fgysin
    Oct 27, 2020 at 9:25
  • 1
    Are you opening yourself up to potential civil suits by answering client questions? e.g. Give advice that brings down their system because your knowledge is now dated? There's more, but that one would scare the bejesus out of me.
    – paulj
    Oct 27, 2020 at 19:03
  • @fgysinreinstateMonica You are thinking of permanent employment. The OP is a contarctor. Last time I worked in Switzerland, as contract, I had one month's notice period. I hope to return in the next week or two, on the same conditions. In Britain, I have had a once week notice period when contracting. That's the company's choice, and it is one week on either side.
    – Mawg
    Oct 30, 2020 at 10:03

5 Answers 5


Well, if they keep asking and they keep getting the info they want (with the added value of not having to pay a dime), why should they stop bothering you?

Politely answer that

you are glad they contacted you, however you don't work at Previous Employer Inc. any more. Your former colleagues at Previous Employer Inc. are surely capable of handling the issue and may also have up to date information on how to deal with the product.

  • 11
    No no... the correct answer is: I'll be happy to help for *n* currency per hour between *time* and *time* :) Feb 14, 2018 at 9:56
  • 1
    @JuhaUntinen, that could be if Current Employer Inc. would allow John to use company time for his own profit.
    – L.Dutch
    Feb 14, 2018 at 11:19
  • 1
    That's why you define the time. So if you work from 8 - 16 at your current employer, you would say you can help between 16 - 18 every day (for example). Feb 14, 2018 at 13:08
  • 1
    @JuhaUntinen Sorry I didn't understand if it was serious or humorous. May I ask if you would really give that answer should you be under a similar situation as the OP's?
    – iBug
    Oct 27, 2020 at 8:07
  • 1
    @iBug It's called consultancy. It's not an unusual situation if you had a niche specialty or lots of tribal knowledge. You make N fairly large- 2 or 3 times what you made per hour when working there minimum. And if they keep paying it you start raising it when you begin to value personal time more than the cash. Oct 29, 2020 at 3:02

I have no intention of returning to this company or location


I gave a full two weeks notice and attempted to document as much "tribal knowledge" as possible before leaving while making myself available to those below me in my role for technical questions/training.


I generally hesitate to respond


I find this behavior slightly unprofessional and disruptive

leave no other choice:

Cut down any communication with former colleagues or clients

I don't know if you hold a friendship with ex-colleagues, but this is not healthy for you. Everything's against them:

  • You don't work there anymore. This means you shouldn't handle anything else from there. Clients can't ask you stuff because it's counterproductive for them (your information is outdated after your job's last day, plus, you may not be allowed to share former company information anymore) and your ex-colleagues shouldn't ask you anything because anything you had to share is already documented.
  • You won't profit. Neither the former one nor the current company will pay you for these hours. They are basically abusing of your good will.
  • You won't get a better name. It's like the startup that tells you they can't pay you but they'll talk about your awesome work. It doesn't help you get more clients. I helps you get more leeches. Helping out people will only benefit you from having more calls.
  • You don't hold any responsibility to the former company. It's a part of getting a pay. If they mess up with something, they had 15 days to check it with you.
  • They take your personal time. As simple as this.

Draw a line

Next time they call you, even if the question sounds trivial (oh, I wish you were still working here), make sure to remind them they have a new contact in charge that will eventually catch up and that you're no longer holding any information about the company (many, if not all, of the companies, take all the information back. Keeping it may even raise a problem for you).

Another thing I'd try to investigate (unless you did it yourself) is to find out who gave them your personal phone number. It's not the company's. Even if the company gave it to the former clients so they had a chance to say goodbye, they shouldn't be allowed, at all.

  • That sounds a little harsh to me.
    – Edgar
    Feb 14, 2018 at 12:06
  • Hey @Edgar, I added all the OP references that brought me to think the only professional way to do this is to end this right now. I'm into having a happy ending with companies, but it's that. Ending. Feb 14, 2018 at 14:36
  • 1
    @Edgar probably, the difference between mine (stop helping) and yours (get paid) are more cultural than anything. In Spain, having two payers can be a pain (in terms of taxes and paperwork), especially if you're freelancing for one of the jobs. If the freelancing time is small enough, it may not pay off after all, but cause the tax man to go after you a little bit harder. In his case, your solution might be much better indicated Feb 14, 2018 at 14:39

You have two options:

Defer: This is for when you find that you feel somehow still a little responsible, and want to give the opportunity to at least put some questions. Best set up an E-Mail-account only for this. When ever somebody contacts you, answer you can´t help right now but they can send that question to the e-mail and you´ll answer when you find the time. As formulating a question in writing and waiting some hours/days for the answer is a much higher burden, most of the questions will go away automatically.

Deny: Just politely answer that between your new job and your private live you do not have the time to give that kind of support - every time they contact you. Do not answer your private phone during your office-hours! they will learn.


If you like contact your old company and offer them your service for x amount of money for y amount of time.

Maybe make a deal that you will answer phone calls and/or email for a certain amount of time. It seems they need your knowledge and probably it will be good for their business if you help them out for some time. It's business, you don't have to be shy to ask to get paid for the work you do.

Deals like this are not unusual. And normally people who do this kind of consulting work get paid well - more per hour then before when they worked full time.


A reasonable answer: "Hi John, I suppose you noticed that I don't work for XYZ anymore, so I won't give you free support. If you need help, my hourly rate is $100, so if you get your manager to sign that he will pay my rate, you are welcome to ask as many questions as you like".

99% this will stop the calls. In case their manager is willing to pay, talk to your manager at your new position.

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