I'm currently on the fence about changing employers: I got an offer which is substantially better in payment, at a company which has a much better business model, and which will probably allow more professional growth and advancement.
Even if my current employer would be willing to match the salary offer I would very much like to switch.

As this would be the first time I'm changing employers I have a few questions:

  • How do I inform my immediate boss/supervisor about the offer?
  • Should I try to negotiate about a matching offer, or should I terminate the contract outright?
  • How do I inform the team? Do I tell them early on, or right as I'm leaving?

If it matters, this is in Germany.

  • 1
    Related: workplace.stackexchange.com/q/92/42
    – Zelda
    Commented Apr 28, 2012 at 16:17
  • Is this about the United States? Are answers expected to be general in nature and be valid everywhere? Please specify.
    – Sklivvz
    Commented Apr 29, 2012 at 8:36
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    From the OP's comment I've included the country and tagged europe for now, not sure how granular we want to go on tags.
    – Zelda
    Commented May 1, 2012 at 21:10
  • FYI you should probably not post questions like this with your real name Commented Aug 9, 2014 at 21:20

4 Answers 4


How to inform your immediate boss about the offer
My preference is to do this early in the day (when you or your boss arrives): let them know you need to speak to them, and do so alone, preferably in their office.

Inform your boss that you have received an offer from another company and intend to terminate your employment (try to phrase it gently like you're letting a bad date down easy, if that makes any sense).
Let your boss know how long you are available to finish out any projects (2 weeks is relatively standard in the US, but if you are a major component of a team or a key member of the company a month is not out of line), and if you will be available for occasional phone calls after if an issue comes up.
If you are open to counter-offers let them know that as well.

Conclude the meeting by handing them a written, signed, and dated letter of resignation stating when you will be terminating your employment. (It should go without saying, but it is somewhat uncouth to write this letter on your employer's time, or print it on the company printer.)

Should you try to negotiate about a matching offer?
This is a personal choice: Do you like your current company enough to stay?
From your question it sounds like you would prefer to work for the new company, so your decision is pretty well made here.

Be very careful when negotiating for a counter-offer. I have seen people given a counter-offer to keep them around just long enough for the company to find and train a replacement, at which point they are fired on the spot.
When negotiating a counter offer you are coming to your employer saying "I'm ready to walk out the door" - This is not likely to engender any loyalty on their part.

How do I inform the team - ASAP or ALAP?
Inform your team members / co-workers only AFTER you have formally tendered your resignation to your boss (and if you are entertaining counter offers, only after finally rejecting any counter-offer made).

I usually suggest letting your boss mention it at a status meeting or similar, and if you're working for a close-knit team you may want to tell the people who are taking over for you in a private meeting (you, them and your boss).
If the meetings thing is not your company culture you may want to tell your team members privately so they're not surprised when you don't show up one day.

Stuff you didn't mention: Managing the transition!
You're leaving the company. You won't be there when they have problems.
Unless you really hate this company, document the heck out of everything you do!

Make sure that all the obscure bits of knowledge that are only in your head are passed down to someone: Write down the combination to the donut safe, prepare your three envelopes, make sure someone knows to empty the bucket in the ceiling over the secretarial pool that catches water from the leaks when it rains, etc... -- I'm making light of this, but as a mark of professionalism this is critical. If you walk out and leave the company in the lurch your chances of a good reference from your boss/co-workers in the future is virtually nonexistent.

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    +1 for discussing the risk of them matching your offer just so they can have more time to train your replacement. Commented Apr 28, 2012 at 2:28
  • @mhoran_psprep my last job was famous for it - to the point where when people would resign their co-workers would always warn them not to take a counter-offer.
    – voretaq7
    Commented Apr 28, 2012 at 2:29
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    About the warning against counter-offers - wouldn't this very much depend on the employers ability to recruit a suitable replacement in the first place?
    – Owe Jessen
    Commented Apr 28, 2012 at 10:54
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    @Owe - Sure I suppose. It still sends you a message that you were so unhappy that you went as far as to go looking for a new job and nearly accepted it. Accepting a job from the same company, after you recieved a new offer, is not wise. I would argue that informing them you are unhappy, and asking them what you can do to get a greater compensation, might be a better course of action.
    – Donald
    Commented May 1, 2012 at 16:38
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    2 weeks is a reasonable amount of time in the US, it is most probably not in Germany. There is no exact answer, but offering a little more than the average to match a project deadline is generally a good practice if you want them to remember you in a good way.
    – PPC
    Commented Jul 19, 2012 at 14:56

How do I inform my immediate boss/supervisor about the offer?

I usually inform the immediate supervisor early in the day, after the morning status meeting. Beforehand, I try to have all my personal possessions out of the office: some companies (especially in the finance industry) will escort you to the door as soon as you give notice, others will want you to work through your notice period.

I also try to have a written resignation letter handy. Based on past experience, resignation letters should be 3 and only 3 sentences.

  1. I will be resigning my position at $company.
  2. My last date of work will be $date.
  3. My address is $address.
    3.14 Sign and date the letter.

Reason for sentence 1: it is a resignation letter, there needs to be zero misunderstanding about what is going on. It needs to be in writing as I've worked for bosses who deny that the person quitting was quitting so as to screw with them starting elsewhere.

Reason for sentence 2: I've worked for places that have backdated resignation letters and claimed you quit today - not in 2 weeks. Consequently, you may be expecting a paycheck that you'll never recieve. This is also why you date it with "today's" date when you sign it.

Reason for sentence 3: Many people move, and if you need COBRA benefits, or 401k paperwork, there have been places I've worked at where they would deliberately and maliciously send your paperwork to an old address so that you cannot reply in the mandated 30 day period (because either it was still tied up in the post office's change of address system, or if that expired, returned to sender).

Never ever add stuff to your resignation letter about why you are leaving. It is none of their business. If they ask, answer verbally, but never in any sort of writing.

Should I try to negotiate about a matching offer, or should I terminate the contract outright?

If they ask, let them bring it up. All the places I've left, I've left for large raises that they cannot and would not match.

How do I inform the team? Do I tell them early on, or right as I'm leaving?

This is a cultural issue that depends on your workplace's culture. Some want to inform everyone affected as soon as possible, others want you gone with no one knowing you have gone.

One book that has a useful chapter on leaving is called Engineering Your Retirement. It is aimed at technical people, and it gives plenty of advice (and equations) to help determine how much is enough to save for retirement. The checklist and advice at the beginning of chapter 8 is what you should keep in mind whenever you depart any employer (due to quitting or getting laid off).

  • +1 for sentence 3 in the resignation letter, and for not putting your reason for leaving on paper. If your company doesn't suck you will have an "exit interview" with HR, and that's the time/place to discuss such things.
    – voretaq7
    Commented Apr 28, 2012 at 21:23
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    Although you should probably avoid putting a reason for leaving in the letter, I strongly recommend putting something pleasant about your tenure (a thinly disguised brag if you want, or genuine gratitude) since it will be in you file, and you want people to think well of you when they come across it eg in confirming a reference. Commented Apr 30, 2012 at 12:37
  • @KateGregory - What purpose does it serve? If you are leaving them you are clearly unhappy, people just don't quit their job to go work for another company, unless something is wrong. I agree save the reasons for HR. If you are leaving because the pay is to low, tell HR the reasons, they will ask what you liked no doubt.
    – Donald
    Commented May 1, 2012 at 16:41
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    @Ramhound so not true. Maybe your spouse has a great job somewhere else. Maybe you got a chance for something great and the current job is only good. But even if you're unhappy now, you were probably happy once. Saying something nice increases your chances of good references, working with the company in some other capacity, or a good relationship in case the people involved also leave the company. It should be simple to do and it does make a difference. I have seen it do so more than once. Commented May 1, 2012 at 17:31

How do I inform my immediate boss/supervisor about the offer?

Politely, but firmly. Don't fish for a counter offer. Stay super positive. "I've enjoyed my time here and learned a lot, but it's time for a change." It's not you, it's me. :)

Should I try to negotiate about a matching offer, or should I terminate the contract outright?

Never never never accept a counter offer. Don't even entertain the idea. See @voretaq7's explanation. Repeat as necessary: "I'm flattered by your counter-offer, but I've decided this transition would be best for me and my career."

How do I inform the team? Do I tell them early on, or right as I'm leaving?

As soon as your supervisor says it's ok to do so. Earlier is better than later. Then connect with them on LinkedIn so you can stay in touch.

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    To the "I'm flattered by your counter-offer" you might want to add "If it doesn't work out with my new employer, I would be happy to come back.". It's always good to keep your options open - I once got taken on by a company set up by the disgruntled ex employees of a company which opted to retain me.
    – Mark Booth
    Commented Apr 30, 2012 at 11:35
  • @MarkBooth - I would not trust a job offer that resulted from being brought back.
    – Donald
    Commented May 1, 2012 at 16:42
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    @Ramhound - If you've been gone a year and they still want you back then you're probably pretty safe, you obviously filled a hole they haven't been able to satisfactorily plug while you've been gone. As always, lots can change (or be discovered) in the first few months of a new job, so don't burn your bridges.
    – Mark Booth
    Commented May 1, 2012 at 16:46

In addition to the other great answers, make sure you have the new offer as a signed written contract before informing your boss. You really don't want to resign only to find the new offer falls through.

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