I have worked at my current company for 13 months now, and have accepted an offer yesterday from another firm. I love the work environment at my current job and all my coworkers, but an increased research-oriented view and 40+k pre-tax salary bump was hard to resist.

I have heard all over the internet that I am not as irreplaceable to a company as I may think, and that may well be true. However, the project I have worked on the past year is a huge bet for my current company and I have been the sole guiding force and only one with intimate knowledge of its workings.

In anticipation of a laborious knowledge transfer, I've pushed out my new job's start date to mid-September.

What do I do in the upcoming month+ to make this as easy on my current employer as possible? I am in the middle of a fairly large project delivering in about 1.5 months (but technically not complicated. just functionally.) in addition to the behemoth that I have been heading. The large project, in my mind, has overcome all the major architectural hurdles, and I have assigned a task to a newer employee to take care of the remaining minor one. In my mind, the project's success or failure lies in execution now, rather than technical vision which is my forte.

I plan on documenting LITERALLY EVERYTHING I have done on this separate module and keeping all the resources in one place. I have further scheduled a class tomorrow to begin the knowledge transfer - teach some others how it works because I am the only one right now. Is there anything else I can do to ease the pain on the company? It is not large, so my departure will be a significant blow to the development resources.

Final Note: They do not know yet. I was planning on giving standard 2 weeks notice (USA), maybe 3 weeks because I do not want to see them fail. Is that the appropriate amount of time?

Thank you in advance for your wisdom.

UPDATE: My background check cleared on Friday, and I told my boss privately on Friday afternoon, as well as the Head of Engineering. We've started coming up with a 4 week transition plan, and they are very happy for me, but understandably disappointed at my departure. Thank you all for your input, and I hope this question helps others in the future.

UPDATE 2 BY REQUEST: The exit plan worked great, there was a rush of meetings set up to KT for whoever they could shuffle into the project, and within the guidelines of my new company's moonlighting policy I am actually still consulting for the old one as well (not that the pay is great but it's nice to keep a track of the project that feels like my child :) ).

What we did to for the exit:

  1. Spend 1 full business day with boss, his boss, and the teammate(s) most likely to burden your responsibilities (last one not as important, but it helps if they have people in mind) and come up with a list of WHAT YOU DO. Be very detailed.

  2. Spend 1 week on your own, writing a word doc on each task outlined above. Be very explicit - it helps to write out how a normal day goes.

  3. Spend whatever time you have remaining to go over each segment with your boss and anybody that is in your immediate circle as a presentation. Don't use the word doc - this is a guide they'll need for later. Just get up to the whiteboard/PPT and start talking. After all, you do it, so it needs no preparation.

  4. It helps that I am in a technical field and most of the transfer was actually transferable. Quite a bit of it was class-like and updating the team members on the cutting edge that i was using but wasn't touched by the others. This part probably doesn't translate very well to other fields.

This seemed to work in my case, but I'm no expert, so additional input would be welcome.

  • Do you mind updating this question with a summary of what you did, and how well it worked out?
    – ashes999
    Commented Mar 14, 2014 at 18:50
  • @ashes999 does that help? should I expand on anything else? Commented Mar 14, 2014 at 22:23
  • Related: workplace.stackexchange.com/q/9128/325 Commented Mar 16, 2014 at 3:47
  • You might want to make the post-separation update an Answer so folks can up-vote it. (Yes, you are allowed to Answer your own Question.)
    – keshlam
    Commented Sep 22, 2023 at 15:23

4 Answers 4


You have already accepted the new job.

The responsible thing to do is to go talk to your boss - now. Explain that you have pushed the start date in order to help with knowledge transfer and tie up any loose ends. Talk it over with your manager.

That you can give two weeks notice doesn't mean you can't give more. Two weeks is just the minimum - you can give 4 weeks notice if you wish, and give it now (which is a fair thing to your employer). The laws differ in different places, by I believe 2 weeks is standard in the US - a company knows this can happen and should not be relying solely on you - this is their problem now.

The job of transitioning the project over to others is not yours - it belongs to your manager. What you can do is ask them how best you can help in making a smooth transition as possible.

  • 1
    +1 - the best thing you can do is let them ask questions, and they can't ask good questions or make good plans if they don't know what's going on.
    – Telastyn
    Commented Aug 8, 2013 at 13:36
  • 2
    Extremely interesting - that was exactly my first instinct but research into this (and honestly prevailing opinion here too it seems) was that from my perspective much more than 2 weeks could only hurt me. I'll definitely do as you say and set up a meeting on monday. I'm also quite young and have no experience with these matters, which is why I am asking what seems like a simple question. Commented Aug 8, 2013 at 13:41
  • 5
    You need to talk to your boss about what you'd be best to do during the rest of your time, it's not in the realm of impossibility that you get the contents of your desk and the huckle out the door by security. As others have said, the relationship will now permanently change, so be prepared for things to be different over the remainder of your time. Commented Aug 8, 2013 at 14:18
  • 1
    @imsoconfused - It goes differently in every company. Some places will have you pack your belongings and leave there and then, others will not.
    – Oded
    Commented Aug 8, 2013 at 14:44
  • 1
    Regarding giving the minimum notice being the most common response: I think most people suggest this because it eliminates your employer's ability to "punish" you for leaving by ending you at 2 weeks instead of your intended departure date. Given that you believe you leaving will be a significant blow to your employer, it is not in their best interest to let you go early; indeed, it is clearly detrimental to them to push you out early.
    – Matt
    Commented Aug 20, 2013 at 14:26

There are a few things about this situation that don't add up. No offense, but a company that puts an extremely critical project in the hands of an inexperienced person and doesn't bother to structure your compensation to try to make sure you'll stay for the duration, either doesn't realize the risk they are taking or the project is not that big of a deal.

You seem to be willing to work with them except you're not going to stay until the project ends. Give notice and see what they want to do. I doubt they can replace you before leaving, but who knows? Continue to be cooperative. Don't burn any bridges. Before you tell them, decide what you'll do if they make you an counter-offer.

  • None taken! I think this happened for a couple reasons: 1) It is out in the suburbs, and employee flux here is relatively low. Married people wanting stability, etc. I am the youngest in the company and youngest by 10+ years in my team. Geography led to my taking up this position. 2) I am extremely ambitious. The project started off as a long shot to improve performance for only the largest of clients noticing slowdown. As the project has matured and proven itself, it is now being pushed as the showstopper in the next release cycle. Your advice makes sense, and is contrary to what I was Commented Aug 8, 2013 at 14:36
  • planning on doing (as are most opinions in this thread). That's why I'm glad I asked here. Regarding the counter-offer, I would not even take it or I wouldn't have accepted the new offer. It's more about the research bent and pushing boundaries at the new job that entices me than tried-and-true programming at my current job (finance industry). But yeah, the huge salary boost doesn't hurt Commented Aug 8, 2013 at 14:38
  • 1
    Like all things in programming, someone has to step in and figure it out. It would make sense for this company to put their best person on it ASAP. They shouldn't hold a grudge since you're looking for a different type of work and are taking a big step for your career. Good Luck.
    – user8365
    Commented Aug 9, 2013 at 14:08
  • 5
    Also, when they recognized how important this project was, they should have given you some help. You proved you could handle the challenge, some backup would have been a good idea. People get sick, find other jobs, win the lottery, become a monk, etc.
    – user8365
    Commented Aug 9, 2013 at 14:11
  • Now that you mention it, the monastic life DOES sound rather appealing... In all seriousness, all good points and ones I hadn't considered. Commented Aug 9, 2013 at 18:06

Seeing the things you mentioned in your post, as a manager I would say your heart is at the right place which believe me is quite rare (at least in my experience). What I write below is something I did as an employee as well as I would like as an employer.

First, as others have mentioned talk to your boss immediately. Don't blind side him with a 2 week notice. Given that you mentioned that your boss trusts you, that would be the ideal thing to do.

Also talk to your new employer. As them if there's a possibility of delaying the joining date. Tell them that you're working on a project and you would like to finish the project before you join. I think your new employer will appreciate that (I know I would). If the new employer does not agree for that (they may have their own reasons for that and you would have to honor that), ask them if you could do part time work for "x" amount of days for your previous employer.

When the situation is resolved with your new employer, go talk to your boss and give him all the options you have worked out with your new employer. I think he would highly appreciate this (again, I know I would).

After you have had this conversation with your boss, make sure you set up expectations straight. There should be a clear plan of action like what will be your responsibilities during the notice period and after that (if you continue working on that project).

On a personal note, start detaching yourself from the project. Since you have been associated with this project for a long time, you may have formed an emotional bond with the project. Now is the time to gradually start severing those ties. Believe me, it would be easier for everybody.


This is business. You owe them nothing. 2 weeks notice is sufficient. If you think that your resigning will burn a bridge and they won't hire you back, then there is no reason to give notice. HR departments generally only allow them to give dates of employment anyway. So unless you are at a mom and pop, this doesn't matter.

They are paying you for a service. Not any different than you walking into Walmart and buying some donuts. You find a better deal. You move on. There issues are not your problem. Companies staff up and staff down all the time. If they choose to get rid of you to save money, they won't do anything to smooth your transition.

This is just business. They will get over it. If you are so valuable they can't afford to lose you, then they should have given you a raise to entice you to stay. If they can't 'afford' it, its not your problem. Businesses go out of business all the time.

Seriously. Its just business. My resignations tend to be in email and as I am walking out of the building. Always send to your boss and atleast 1 HR person, then BCC to a personal email so you have a copy.

Subject: Resignation My last day is X.

then I hit the send button and leave.

  • Interesting, thanks for the answer. I had sort of assumed that this was how I should have handled it, but the prevailing opinion here before your answer suggested otherwise. Ridiculously, my background check for the new job just cleared this morning so I was about to tell my boss privately in ... 14 min. Now i'm a little less confident about that haha Commented Aug 16, 2013 at 20:47
  • 1
    I totally agree with @JoeStrazzere, only under very exceptional circumstances, e.g. very bad working conditions, would I leave a company like this. Of course, this is business, so you should not feel bad about leaving without finishing this big project. But there is no reason not to be a nice person and try to make the transition as smooth as you can. Commented Aug 18, 2013 at 18:11
  • 1
    People trying to stay on good terms is also good business practice. And "If they choose to get rid of you to save money, they won't do anything to smooth your transition" is an assumption. No, it's not his problem, but I know which employee I'd wanna hire.
    – user8036
    Commented Aug 19, 2013 at 14:15
  • telling co-workers you are leaving and telling your company you are leaving are 2 different things. One point about resigning. Always do it in writing. You don't want to risk (the VERY rare case) of 'no we fired you'. Best to send an email, CC to HR, BCC to a personal email and then walk into your managers office.
    – Bob
    Commented Aug 22, 2013 at 15:03

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .