So, I don't like my job anymore. For a few reasons. First of all, the culture fit is just not really there. Second, my job has changed very drastically from my job description after just 1 year. I'm not doing anything in my job description anymore, actually.

Luckily, I have a big project that I'm poised to have completed in a few months time. And that's when I plan to exit, even though I would love to do it sooner. I think it's the right thing to do to try and make more documentation and train people before I leave, because it's a small company and I have the bulk of the engineering knowledge for this project.

I'm not sure what else I need to do. I'm early on in my career so I want to tread lightly so as to maintain my professional relationships, if I can. But I also don't want to advertise my intent to leave in case I have difficulty finding a new position with COVID. I'm grateful that the company has managed to mostly avoid layoffs and I recognize that my specialized position is valuable to the organization.

But it is causing me so much frustration and loss of morale that it is not really worth it for me. Not to mention the promotion I was poised to receive disappeared due to the pandemic. So it's not like I'm getting paid extra to do what I described above.

What else can I do to make sure I have a clean break? (Or as professional a break as reasonably possible?)

  • 2
    Does this answer your question? How can I politely turn down the exit interview?
    – Fattie
    Commented Oct 17, 2020 at 16:11
  • 3
    This is a duplicate at the level of, there are maybe 500 QA on here about exactly this.
    – Fattie
    Commented Oct 17, 2020 at 16:12
  • “I am being expected to do the job of multiple different types of engineers (mechanical, electrical, etc.). I was supposed to be software-only.” Is that even legal? I’m pretty sure that you’re supposed to be a certified engineer in order to act as one.
    – nick012000
    Commented Oct 17, 2020 at 21:54
  • @nick012000 I am an engineer, a SWE. But I'm being given tasks that are meant for MEs and EEs, and frankly I don't have the education or training to do it. So it's a waste of my time and a waste of the company's time, imo.
    – q-compute
    Commented Oct 18, 2020 at 2:46
  • @q-compute "I am an engineer, a SWE" I'm pretty sure that engineering professional organizations would disagree that software engineers are engineers. They're two entirely different skillsets, and only one of them tends to have a registration process - because if a bridge falls down, people might die.
    – nick012000
    Commented Oct 18, 2020 at 3:56

3 Answers 3


When voluntarily leaving one permanent white-collar job for another, you perform these steps in this exact order for safety and professionalism:

  1. While you're interviewing, do quiet pre-research to figure out details about timing when you want to leave your current job. What is your required notice? (Two weeks is customary in the US if there is not a notice period specified in a contract or other agreement, see Do I owe them a two week notice?) Should you take some PTO or will it get cashed out, are there any option/RSU or bonus or 401k matches or medical insurance complexities that dictate when you should actually make the move?
  2. Find a new position and sign a written offer letter. Don’t trash talk your current employer in interviews, it will cost you job offers. If there are any contingencies in the offer letter (passing background check, drug test, security clearance) negotiate that being done on their end before you give notice.
  3. When planning how much notice to give and agreeing to a new start date, you will be tempted and/or guilted into giving more notice at your current job because "you are so important" or "the project you are working on is so important." Don't, unless it is clearly in your best interest to do so. Try to plan for a week or two of downtime to mentally free yourself from baggage from the previous job and have time off because you may feel like you shouldn’t take a lot of vacation in the first part of a new job. Unless you can't afford a couple weeks without a paycheck or the new company says "it's absolutely required you start by date X," do it.
  4. Give the required notice at your current job, by telling your direct boss face to face if at all possible and then sending it in writing to him or her and HR. Serve your notice period in the way they want you to. They could walk you to the door, or ask you to focus on training, or just do your normal work, or slack, or make you do junk tasks no one wants to do - all are fairly normal, just do it. You don't need to go above and beyond, see Can I work just what I'm paid for while leaving?. In the very rare case they get super hateful and yell at you all day or make you lick their yacht clean or something else you can't cope with mentally, call in sick or just ghost them - the bridge is already burned.
  5. If your current company presents you with a counteroffer, you can consider it but usually that's not a good play, even if the offer is good the well is poisoned going forward. Certainly do not share your offer letter, specific new employer, or new salary with anyone from your current employer under any circumstances.
  6. If you get an alternate employment offer from other prospective employers in the meantime, you can consider them, just keep in mind there's increased risk with timing and you need to be careful you don't end up with no job. "Retracting your notice" usually doesn't work. But pulling out of a new job before you start it is just like quitting your current job for another, it's fine. (Unless you have actually signed a contract that limits notice already - not an offer letter, a contract.)
  7. Be pleasant to everyone at your current employer in the meantime. Give nonthreatening answers to "why you are leaving" - just say "I came across a good opportunity" or "I think it'll build my career" or whatever. See Should I tell colleagues I'm leaving and Do I have to tell my colleagues that I'm leaving?.
  8. Attend and give light feedback in your exit interview, but don’t burn bridges by getting too stroppy, they are not going to change anything based on your feedback. See How much should I say in an exit interview?. Do not sign any new legal agreements after you give notice unless they pay you separation $ to justify it and you're comfortable with what it says (lawyer review as necessary).
  9. Leave, showing appreciation and saying goodbye to close coworkers. Don't do anything unethical (take customer lists, steal code or stuff).
  10. Start your new job, ideally after a brief break. Once you've started, if you get another better offer that's coming in late it is considered unprofessional to take it and will generate hard feelings up to about a year. See I have 2 job offers A & B. A starts soon and B starts in summer. Is it ok to accept A, starting working and quit before B start date?

Don’t overthink it. This is the professional process adhered to by thousands of people a week. You do not need to give extra notice, see Is it naive to tell my current employer that I'll be leaving, months in advance?. You should do a professional job of documenting and cross-training at all times, and it doesn’t hurt to be extra scrupulous about it while you’re gearing up to leave, but not unusually out of your job responsibilities. See How can I prepare for getting hit by a bus?. Responsibility for business continuity is on the company, not you (except in special circumstances, like if you are a significant shareholder in a very small organization and it might tank your shares). See A coworker beat me to resignation. How can I resign in a professional manner? and Is it acceptable to quit in the middle of a project, when I am the only team member?.

All the backstory in your post has no bearing on any of this - the project, where you are in your career - this is the accepted way in all white collar jobs with exceptions only as weird contracts, local laws, or truly exceptional circumstances dictate. As a hiring manager, I expect all of this and while I might advocate for longer notice or whatnot in my role as an extractor of value from employees, I wouldn't take offense at it and would consider anyone who did to be acting unprofessionally. Deviating from it in most cases would be considered unprofessional. You can't control the fact that some people will freak about you quitting, but that's a them problem not a you problem. See How do I deal with my current employer not respecting my decision to leave?.

  • should be closed, it is opinion based
    – Alex
    Commented Oct 17, 2020 at 6:45
  • 3
    @Alex Question was: "What's the best way to do this?" It has a good answer. Backstory is probably unnecessary, but a new OP may profit from being told so. Commented Oct 17, 2020 at 12:17
  • 1
    @Alex - well yes, click the vote to close button
    – Fattie
    Commented Oct 17, 2020 at 16:11
  • 1
    This is a terrific answer by the way. The only thing I would add. (It would be around "2B".) A question that comes up a zillion times on here from newer employees is "What reason should I give for why I am leaving when I say I am leaving". The answer is SAY NOTHING. (Give a platitude such as "career move".)
    – Fattie
    Commented Oct 19, 2020 at 14:38
  • 1
    Fair enough, added. It does seem to come up in other questions. I'm hoping this can be a good canonical 'how to quit' answer so we can stop writing them.
    – mxyzplk
    Commented Oct 20, 2020 at 19:31

It sounds like you feel you owe them something. You don't. They changed the job, you found a better opportunity, that's business. They will be used to people coming and going, it happens.

Start looking for a job now. Get that offer in writing and accept it, then just hand in your notice. It's up to them to have a plan in place for when people leave.


Regarding moving on to a new job.

My advice to programmers, in the current market, is now just leave and then take a new job.

Obviously, the traditional advice in all professions is of course find your new job, then leave.

Presently, the programming field is so hot, it is better to leave and be free. Because of two reeasons

(A) it's far better to say you're available instantly

(B) it comes across as very un-confident, in this market, if you hang on to the previous job while looking.

This only applies to the software field, presently.

For the OP's specific details, regarding a project that will be finished in "a few months", that's a lifetime, forget it and move on.

  • 3
    Terrible advice. Since the market is hot they’ll wait the weeks needed for your notice, too. Many companies are having layoffs of techies due to COVID and not all locations have ready jobs - note that the OP mentioned a rural town. There’s a lot of reasons not to do this and no good reasons to do it (unless you are set for money for an arbitrary span of time).
    – mxyzplk
    Commented Oct 17, 2020 at 22:22
  • Yeah the job opportunities where I live are extremely scarce for tech (except for aerospace, which I'm not willing to work in weapons). I got this current job offer on a whim right out of college, so I took it. It was cool until it wasn't the same job I applied to anymore.
    – q-compute
    Commented Oct 18, 2020 at 2:52
  • @mxyzplk-SEstopbeingevil , just to respond to your points as it may help others. there are obviously no jobs in a rural town. If the OP is a programmer, just work remotely. The normal. assumed, ordinary course of action for programmers is just working remotely. (If, completely bizarrely, one asserts "Oh, I want an on-site job, programming, in a rural town" the answer is as obviously "you can't do that" as if you say "I want to be a farmer and live in Manhattan.) Continuing ...
    – Fattie
    Commented Oct 18, 2020 at 14:25
  • You mention layoffs - there have been NO layoffs to speak of of programmers. Software, self-evidently anything to do with remoteness, has boomed. Do you have any data on that? You mention companies willing to wait - famously software co's (do not even mention startups, or valley software co's) HATE waiting a day for hires. (We find and hire speciality programmers for companies, and indeed the last two folks were literally chosen due to "A".) (Prompting me to write the answer. Of course that's just one anecdote.) The two points I make, A and B, are perfectly correct; you assert there
    – Fattie
    Commented Oct 18, 2020 at 14:27
  • 3
    You know what they say about assumptions. There have been 77k+ layoffs of tech jobs so far according to layoffs.fyi. I know people laid off by wide ranging layoffs at Chef, New Relic, Ticketmaster, and more. You’re wrong and giving dangerous advice.
    – mxyzplk
    Commented Oct 18, 2020 at 23:51

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