Problem Description

For the last 3 years I have been working as a consultant for a good company. However, as a consultant it was hard for me to evolve. I started to feel as if my career has been stagnating.

The company where I am consulting is in the tourism sector, which was hit hard by the COVID crisis. My prospects of getting hired on permanently are not good as they are currently laying off staff.

Two months ago, I interviewed with another company and everything went well, but no immediate offer.

An hour ago the new company contacted me with a promise of employment.

I haven't said anything to my current employer, as I didn't want them to know I was looking and continued to do my job. I had meetings with my manager laying out the work for the rest of the year.


Is it impolite to tell my manager that I'm leaving? even though we were recently taking about projects for the rest of this year.

How should I approach my manager in this situation.

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  • 17
    This question is lethally ambiguous, what does "promise of employment" mean? Verbal, written...? Just a) an email that promises "We will send you a written offer of employment" or b) an actual written offer letter of employment? Or c) a full contract with your name, title, salary, grade and start date? Each of these things is different, and your legal protection differs, by jurisdiction. Without you clarifying, your question has 99 different possible equally valid answers.
    – smci
    Feb 13 at 7:00
  • The title asks if it's impolite not to tell, the question asks if it's impolite to tell. What do you really want to know?
    – Barmar
    Feb 13 at 16:43

You did it the absolute correct way. Some companies are liable to fire you if you show that you might leave; they don't want to put you on any important or valuable projects if they think you might leave, or they may just do it out of "lack of loyalty" or what have you. Definitely do not tell your employer you're leaving until you have an actual offer ready to go, and just pretend like nothing is happening.

This situation happened to me, where I was working at a company and my boss said he loved my work and etc, and he promoted me to a team lead and was talking about projects a year or more down the line. A month and a half later, I was laid off because the company was having financial trouble. The company will absolutely not hesitate to do this to you; you should absolutely not hesitate to do it to them. If you feel guilty about it, that's why there's a notice period in your contract, to protect the company from any negative issues that might come up as a result of an employee leaving abruptly. They've legally protected themselves and their continuity, so you don't have to.

The company is not your friend. You do not have to be emotional (you SHOULDN'T be emotional) about the company. The company will not be emotional about you. If they want you gone, they will fire you in a second; nobody will cry, nobody will tell you they're sorry, nobody will come on SE and ask if firing you was the right call or talk about how you were supposed to do projects a year down the line. You're an employee, and that's where the relationship begins and ends. You should treat the company the same way. They're an employer, they give you money to pay your bills. If you find another employer who will give you more money to pay your bills, then you change employers. It's just business. That's all.

  • 7
    "nobody will cry, nobody will tell you they're sorry, nobody will come on SE and ask if firing you was the right call" -- maybe these are rare but you can't say nobody. There are several reports of employers literally crying while firing someone. ...
    – nanoman
    Feb 13 at 7:45
  • 4
    ... Just last month, GitHub apologized for firing an employee. And here on SE there are at least a few examples of employers showing considerable concern about being fair to someone they fired or are considering firing.
    – nanoman
    Feb 13 at 7:45
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    Some companies, especially small companies and startups, do become like families. This also often happens within small departments, development groups, etc. I've been lucky throughout my career to work for organizations like this, and departures have always been painful and emotional.
    – Barmar
    Feb 13 at 16:46
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    The advice you give is solid, but your de-humanizing view of employers is deeply concerning. There are a lot of managers and business owners out there who are decent people, for whom letting people go is a very painful and emotional issue, and who do not have ulterior motives when being nice to others. Apparently, you have only met the "other kind" in your professional career, and you have my sympathy for that.
    – Heinzi
    Feb 13 at 22:46
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    @Heinzi Individual people may be sad about you being fired, e.g. your manager may be sad for having to fire you, despite him having to do so. However, hiring and firing is always a decision made for the good of the business; if it makes the company happier to have you, then you wouldn't be fired, so if you are fired then it means the company is happier to have you gone. So while individuals in the company may be sad about firing you, the company, as a whole, never is. Note I said in my answer "The company is not your friend", not "your manager is not your friend". There is a difference.
    – Ertai87
    Feb 13 at 23:16

It's polite, and wise, to wait until the new company has officially hired you before saying anything. Otherwise you may be saying "I Quit!" then asking for your job back.

The new company may drag their feet in hiring you, or decide not to hire you after they've given you a verbal offer. It happens more often than you'd expect.

If that happens you do not want to be in a position of rescinding your resignation. Does saying "I Quit!" then asking for your job back sound impolite? Hint: Yes it does.

There is already a polite way to handle this. Wait for the official offer, then give notice. 2 weeks is common, but this will vary by industry and location.

  • 3
    This is not being polite, this is being wise...
    – Laurent S.
    Feb 12 at 15:58
  • @LaurentS. added wise - thanks Feb 12 at 15:59
  • 11
    "then give 2 weeks notice, given the notice period depends on local law and the contract, I'd recommend to remove the "2 weeks". Feb 13 at 7:20
  • 1
    I have seen an excellent employee quitting for a much better offer. He started the new job on Monday 9am. At 9:30am the old company got a phone call if he could have his job back - what the new company promised and what they actually did were very different. HR told him to come back, and removed all evidence that he ever left. Because everyone was happy to have him back. He stayed there for many years.
    – gnasher729
    Feb 13 at 13:22
  • @gnasher729: it doesn’t even need to be a better offer, just as long as everyone was professional it shouldn’t be a big deal. Certainly not impolite.
    – jmoreno
    Feb 13 at 16:07

There is no "politeness" to be considered here, only professionalism. As long as you play by the rules defined in your contract about notice period, you're free to go.

Any reasonable manager would consider it a wise move if your current company/client (not clear if you're a freelance consultant contracting for or an employee of this company) was hit so hard and letting people go already as a result of that.

I think you should avoid considering business relationships like personal relationships. Companies are companies, they don't have feelings. They can't be sad, disappointed or hurt. They can't find you impolite. All that matters in your relationship with companies is being professional.

  • Salut Laurent. I placed my resignation today. The manager was so nice to me. He wished me a lot of good luck. I told him that i have no perspectives where I am working now. He told me indeed, it's so hard to hire in that situation. He told me that I made the right choice. U are right In your assessment. Any reasonable manager would consider it a wise move .
    – HappyGuy
    Feb 15 at 10:03
  • Thank you for the feedback. Glad this turned out well for you and you didn't have any reason to worry :-) Good luck with the new position!
    – Laurent S.
    Feb 15 at 12:30

Let's answer the question that you asked: Yes, it is impolite not to tell your company that you are looking for another job elsewhere. BUT it is absolutely stupid and an enormous financial risk for you to tell them. So anybody with a bit of experience with employment will tell you that absolutely one hundred percent you MUST be impolite in this situation.

If a used car dealer offers a used car for $10,000 and I say I'd like to buy it for $5,000, is it impolite of him to refuse my offer? Absolutely. But if he is polite and sells the car for half the advertised price, his boss will kick him out as soon as he finds out. Go to a court, and you will find judges being impolite, even rude, to criminals. Being polite or impolite is very often quite irrelevant.

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