My boss has done everything to make my experience working at my current company great, including a very recent raise and promotion. I have no complaints. But I've been offered a very large salary increase (50%+) at another company, and it would be a great stepping stone for my career.

I am in the middle of many projects and am the only person who knows how to work on them. I've recently written documentation about all of my work, and have outlined a transition plan, and organized my files in preparation. I feel guilty about moving, so I am considering giving three weeks notice instead of the required two weeks. This will lessen the time I will have off between my old and new job, which I'm not thrilled about.

My wife thinks the three weeks notice is not necessary, and that I shouldn't feel any guilt about leaving in the midst of these projects because I will always have projects.

When is it appropriate/ethical to give more notice than is required?

  • 9
    Your wife is 100% correct on this one. It is not your problem if they put you into so many projects that the agreed notice period is insufficient.
    – Masked Man
    May 4 '18 at 17:39
  • 3
    Keep in mind that company likely wouldn't show you the same courtesy if the situation was reversed. If the work dried up, they would more than likely would get rid of you as quickly as the laws permit. May 4 '18 at 18:21
  • "...and am the only person who knows how to work on them" They'll most likely find someone else to do it. As important as we feel, it's simply not true. The entire company's product can't rest on the most underpaid person.
    – Dan
    May 4 '18 at 18:35
  • 1
    remember any untaken leave is part of your notice period :-) May 4 '18 at 19:28

The reality is that you'll commonly be in this position when leaving; if you weren't needed, why'd they keep you around?

I would recommend never giving more notice than contractually required (commonly two weeks in the U.S.).

If you feel that guilty about putting them in a bad position, you should offer to work on contract (with a very nice pay increase), pick your hours, and how much time you will commit to. That way, you can feel better by at least offering them an opportunity to continue to get a limited amount of your time/help which should minimize the impact of your leaving.

  • Yep, exactly what I would do in regards to the contract piece, if the knowledge is as valuable as is claimed, everybody can still win from the situation and there is no need for guilt or frustration.
    – RandomUs1r
    May 4 '18 at 20:29

You've done everything you could do. You've produced documentation and a transition plan.

If you are the only person who knows your projects than that is a problem for your current company. It's their failure to plan for a key employee to leave.

Ask yourself - if I was hit by a bus what would the company do? The response (for the company) should be the same - use the documentation you've produced.

Enjoy the increase in salary. When I got laid-off in 2016 with 12½ months of severance my wife had plans for the money as soon as I got another job (as there were now two paychecks for a while).

  • 1
    I don't like this "If I was hit by a bus". I prefer "If I won millions in the lottery and decided to never again work in my life".
    – gnasher729
    May 6 '18 at 7:59
  • I would like winning the lottery better. :) However, from the companies perspective they are the same thing - someone with institutional knowledge would be leaving the company.
    – JazzmanJim
    May 7 '18 at 16:10

If you're any good, you'll be in the middle of projects until the day you die. They will manage without you.

When I leave a job, I always tell my boss they can call me any time, for free. I like to know that what I built is still working. Sometimes I get calls.


I don't think you should feel guilty about the 2 week notice, while it may come to the employer as a surprise, you're not helping anymore than you already have by giving 2 weeks.

You created the necessary documentation for the next person and are still around for a week to train the new guy for the transition.

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