Beginning of the year I joined a new company. Things are not bad, but I am not 100 % happy with the current situation. I addressed this problem to my line manager and he was very supportive of trying to change the situation for me. He already started a process with HR.

In the meantime a company, where I really would like to work, finally reached out to me after applying last year. (To be fair the deadline for the application this position was end of April.) I already got an offer to start in October. I want to accept the offer.

The problem: My current contract has a notice period of one month. I fear, that if I announce directly that I will leave the company in October that my contract will be terminated and after one month I don't have a job anymore. At the same time I find it unethically to not say anything while my manager and HR try to accommodate my problem with the current contract.

How could I solve this dilemma? I am really considering just declining the offer.

  • 23
    Can you add a country tag. Notice procedures and expectations vary a LOT from country to country
    – Hilmar
    Commented May 14, 2021 at 18:36
  • 4
    What if your line manager does change the situation for you, and now you want to stay? What if the offer with the new company falls apart before October?
    – A N
    Commented May 15, 2021 at 14:45
  • 1
    @Hilmar thanks for the tip, added the tag.
    – yoggy
    Commented May 15, 2021 at 21:49
  • 4
    @AN I already have the signed contract laying in front of me I do not expect the offer will fall apart and I have to sign the contract latest by tuesday.
    – yoggy
    Commented May 15, 2021 at 21:50
  • IANAL but even with the signed contract, the new company could decide to cancel it before you even start, and this is even more likely if the contract was signed a long time in advance. So better wait to be safe even on that side.
    – Didier L
    Commented May 17, 2021 at 14:24

7 Answers 7


The company has a notice period so that you will have time to finish your tasks, and clean things up.

Your obligation is to give them notice. You have no obligation to give them more notice than is required by the contract/law.

Therefore you need only to give them one month of notice.

I have been in a similar situation before. I knew for several weeks I was leaving. But I didn't tell them until I had to. Yes, there were some strange meetings where we were discussing the future of a project I knew would be done months after I left. It happens all the time.

Things can still fall apart. Plans can change. Managers can leave. Telling them now just invites them to end it long before the new start date.

  • 6
    I would feel strange and kind of guilty talking about future projects, my future work packages, career plans etc. when I know full well that I have signed a contract at another company and won’t be party of any of it. Personally I would be honest about it and just tell my manager. Of course there is no obligation to do so.
    – Michael
    Commented May 15, 2021 at 13:09
  • 18
    @Michael Typically projects will go on without you and whoever takes up your responsibilities will fill the roles assigned to you. Even better, if you already plan stuff, they have an easier transition as the big picture is clear. To me this never feels wrong or guilty, if it does that's typically because the company relies too much on individuals rather than roles these individuals fill (low bus factor). That is not to say one needs to be a robot, but personal socialising and task assignment are separate things. Granted, it can be awkward to say "we will do X", but "we" is the company. Commented May 15, 2021 at 17:41
  • 5
    @Michael on the flip side, its not uncommon for businesses to work with employees as they also work to let them go. The personalization of your side of the equation doesn't mean that the alternative won't happen
    – WernerCD
    Commented May 15, 2021 at 18:39
  • 1
    Thx Michael you really saying what I think. But all the answers are quite reasonable and it seems to be a common dilemma. I am just new to the bussiness world and have never been before in a similar situation. I will take the offer and announce my departure around 2 months before leaving the comapny. Thx @mhoran_psprep and all the others for their answers
    – yoggy
    Commented May 15, 2021 at 22:02
  • 1
    @Michael: Would you feel the same way if the company sent you to a meeting with a client, with you representing the company, to discuss a future project? Would you explicitly remind the client that your company might have filed for bankrupcy, thereby significantly impacting the likelihood of getting them to sign a contract with your company? Probably not. Transfer that logic into your dealings with your own employer. Don't actively screw them over, but at the end of the day, your allegiance lies with yourself (i.e. "your company"), not your employer (i.e. "your company's client").
    – Flater
    Commented May 17, 2021 at 9:07

You should absolutely continue as if nothing has changed until you give your official notice. If you feel it’s unethical, consider the reverse situation—say the company is planning to downsize and you would be one of the people to be let go. They most likely wouldn’t mention anything to you prior to giving you an official termination letter. Why? Because they want you to continue doing your job at full capacity for as long as possible.

Companies keep all kinds of information secret from their employees all the time. There’s no reason for you to feel any guilt about doing the same.


You're required to give one month notice. Your new job starts in October. Give your one month notice in September.

I'm failing to see how or why this is an issue of ethics.

  • 2
    Some people might feel bad (as mentioned) if talking about a multi-year project when they know they'll leave by the end of the year. I don't think the company will feel guilty in the other direction and either way... I also don't think it's unethical to wait to give notice because, as mentioned, it might change (the new company might fold or change their mind or any number of other things could happen in the near future)
    – WernerCD
    Commented May 15, 2021 at 18:40
  • 3
    For me the unethical part is more that I gave my manager the impression that if he tries to change the situation for me that I will stay. But from the majority of the answers I get the impression this is a more or less common problem. Thank you for all the answers!
    – yoggy
    Commented May 15, 2021 at 21:53
  • 16
    small correction: Give one month notice at the end of August - typical notice periods in Germany are "x months to the end of the month". So if you give in September, your notice period would be the end of November.
    – Tom
    Commented May 16, 2021 at 9:51

My current contract has a notice period of 1 month

Then you are obliged to give at least a one month period.

If you feel that they will have little time to sort out the things that come with your departure, consider giving your notice a bit earlier. How earlier, depends on you and the "risk" you are willing to take regarding them terminating you before the period.

However, it seems that there are still four months until October comes, so definitely giving a four month notice will not be a good idea.

So, if you have a one month period, and are starting your new job in October, then it seems logical to hand your notice at the beginning of September, or earlier if you want.

  • 1
    small correction: Give one month notice at the end of August - typical notice periods in Germany are "x months to the end of the month". So if you give in September, your notice period would be the end of November. (quote by Tom on other answer)
    – Chris
    Commented May 17, 2021 at 15:52

I always give my notice the as soon as I get a contract signed by the new employer, but before I signed and returned it.

It's the moment where your new employer legally obliged to take you if you want to work for them, but you didn't yet legally oblige to accept that offer. This gives you 100% security of having another job secured after you give your notice, but also some leeway in case your current employer is ready to offer something that might make you want to keep your current job (in case you are switching jobs purely from financial or career reasons).

  • 1
    If possible, this is always a good choice. Unless you have unfixable reasons to leave, giving your current employer a chance to meet or beat the other offer is something to consider. However - also keep in mind that even if they do, you'll be marked as someone who is potentially on the way out if he gets another, more interesting, offer.
    – Tom
    Commented May 16, 2021 at 9:53

As stated in a comment: "Notice procedures and expectations vary a LOT from country to country"

Most answers say as late as possible. In Western-Europe, this can be different, and I would say "whenever you feel comfortable". Personal experience: I worked for a company for 8 years, and wanted a change. I discussed things with another company, but before I even formally applied, I discussed with my manager. He was not happy to see me leave, and proposed an alternative: for one year, I would do a project for the new company, employed by the old company. Everybody happy:

*I went from a permanent contract to a permanent contract, otherwise I would first have had a temporary contract. And if I did not like the new job, I could very easily go back to my old employer.

*my old boss kept my experience for one year, got some income, and had time to find a replacement.

*my new boss had a person to do the work.

It helped to be in a country where employees have protection. Don't do this if an employer can fire you for wearing the wrong socks.

  • 1
    It should be noted that lots of things are different once you have worked for a company for several years. Note that the OP is still quite new ("beginning of the year", possibly still in their probation time). Most people at that stage probably haven't even been productively involved in enough stuff for the company to be interested in much of an extra transition phase. Commented May 16, 2021 at 10:56

The other answers do a great job at explaining what you should do at your current job. I want to explain why you shouldn't feel bad about not letting them know right now: they're working to accommodate your requests because of your past achievements. They're happy with you and your work so far, and whatever they are trying to arrange for you is a 'reward' you have been entitled to for some time.

  • thx @Xano this one actually helps me a lot with the moral dilemma I see myself in for asking for better conditions and then leave the company in the end anyway. I am really thankful for that : )
    – yoggy
    Commented May 19, 2021 at 16:36

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