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I'm planning to leave my current company soon, entirely due to needing more money. My current manager is a very good leader, and has always pushed to get our team bonuses, raises, RSUs, sponsored training programs and certifications, etc. He even had his bonus rescinded one year so that team members could have a decent bonus. He has tried to get us all pay raises, but his boss's boss won't give him much budget this year for raises or bonuses, even though it's been a "record profit year" for the company (very large tech company).

I've got a signed offer letter from another company, and I'll get a 17% pay raise (which barely offsets the increase in the cost for rent and groceries these past 2 years), and I've passed the criminal and school background verification checks. All I need to do is counter-sign the offer letter, and I'm set. I've arranged to start my new job in 3 months from now, and my current employer (Canada) requires 3 weeks notice.

Should I give my boss extra notice? I plan to work for the next 2 months to collect pay, and give myself a month off before I start my new job. We've had lots of problems with attrition, and I'm reasonably confident that my departure will cause problems for my current team. I want to do right by my current boss, considering what he's done for the team, but I'm worried that if I give too much notice, maybe the company can just fire me after 2 weeks without paying severance. I cannot afford to go 3 months without an income. I really don't want to burn bridges with my former mentor/boss either.

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    Out of curiosity, why the 3 month delay? 3 weeks notice + a month off is just over half of that. If your new company is willing to take you earlier, you can tell your boss and then if you get fired that just means you get your 17% raise earlier than planned.
    – Kaz
    Oct 28, 2022 at 10:37
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    Keep in mind that you can't give different notice to your boss than to the company. Oct 28, 2022 at 17:00
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    "I cannot afford to go 3 months without an income." - How long could you go without an income? You don't have to answer here, but I do suggest you use that number to determine the earliest date you could give your notice without running out of money. And then don't give your notice before that date.
    – marcelm
    Oct 28, 2022 at 19:40
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    @Mast Blueriver means the current company. If you tell your boss, you're telling the company, not just 1 person.
    – Esther
    Oct 30, 2022 at 2:48
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    Could you add which jurisdiction you are in, please? It sounds like you are in the US due to the extremely short notice periods.
    – Adam Burke
    Oct 30, 2022 at 5:18

8 Answers 8

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A good way to approach decisions such as this is to make a little table. The rows are the underlying truth you can't know - whether your boss will tell someone who will terminate you rather than let you give three months notice, and the columns are your possible actions - in this case, telling the boss now, or waiting until three weeks before your "month off".

Let's call the truth A, your boss is nice, and B, your boss is not nice or is not allowed to be nice. And your actions 1, you tell now, or 2, you wait.

So, what happens in each of the 4 cases?

A1 - you tell now, and you are not terminated. A benefit occurs but not to you, only to your boss. This may come around to help you some day. Alternatively, you may hear pokes and snipes and "of course thanks to you I'm stuck having to xyz" for three months. There's not much upside.

B1 - you tell now, and are terminated. You get 3 weeks pay, so you don't have to go 3 months without pay, but it's still rough. You may be able to arrange an earlier start date at the new job, but it could be awkward. Not only is this a downside for you, but it's a downside for your boss, who has less time to get people trained or whatever.

A2 & B2 - you wait. It doesn't matter what your boss would have done. You have two months to help minimize the disruption from your departure.

I would recommend 2. You might also include some being very firm about "X needs to learn how to Y, I will do the training" without ever actually saying out loud why. Your boss may catch on but if you never actually say it, there is no obligation for the information to go up the chain. Document stuff only you know. Don't explain why, but make everything right. That's how you can avoid leaving the boss in the lurch.

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    We don't know the company. It's possible that the boss would be forced to tell others and terminate the OP (by company policy) although they would prefer not to. Not all actions in a company are voluntary Oct 28, 2022 at 13:51
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    never take a counter offer. Oct 28, 2022 at 14:55
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    @Blindy In this specific case that seems unlikely given that OP's boss has had to forgoe their own bonus in order to give their team raises.
    – BSMP
    Oct 28, 2022 at 15:48
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    This is the correct answer. I have been on the Manager side of the "person giving too-advance notice" in multiple occasions, and it created much more headache than it solved. Company policies can be very weird about this sort of thing. Everyone should always be training their replacement (or documentation equivalent) and doing so with extra diligence will be better-appreciated from your boss's perspective. Oct 29, 2022 at 6:16
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    @KateGregory the "counter-offer always bad" thing appears to be an urban myth. skeptics.stackexchange.com/a/50586/57598 Oct 29, 2022 at 11:41
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I cannot afford to go 3 months without an income.

That makes things very simple.

Since you can't afford 3 months without pay, don't take the (very small) risk that it could happen.

Had you not chosen a date 3 months out, you could have handled it differently. Now, you must give your notice when you can afford to be let go that day. Apparently, for you, that is one month before your new job's start date.

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My honest answer is "Not really".

Now, if your Boss is as awesome as you say, then you can give them a verbal 'Hey Boss, just so you know - I will be handing in my 3 weeks notice in X number of weeks as I've accepted another opportunity'

And that way, your Boss will get extra time to start looking at your replacement - however, I would still recommend against this, as you don't know how your boss will react to this verbal heads-up, they might see it as a betrayal and make it difficult for you.

That's why my honest answer is to just give your notice when it's time to give notice and let the Business work out what happens next, it's not your responsibility.

The only time I'd personally consider giving my boss a heads-up chat (not in writing - plausible deniability...) is if there was a project in the pipeline where I would be expected to take a leading or key role and I didn't want to start something I wasn't going to be able to finish.

Even then - I'd give it some serious thought.

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    The problem with "looking for a replacement" is that this is often not possible (at least in a formal way) without actually making it visible in the company that there is a future vacancy. Which won't be possible without a proper notice. Oct 28, 2022 at 17:37
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This is a very difficult question to answer in the general case. I think conventional wisdom here is that you should only give minimum notice, because of the risk of retaliation.

But IME this depends very much on the people involved and how much value you put on maintaining that good relationship with your soon-to-be-former boss.

I have been in a similar situation to yours. I let my boss know at the point where I first applied for another job, before I even had an interview let alone an offer, and I can say that in my case it was the right thing to do. He encouraged me to apply, gave helpful feedback on a draft application, and wrote me a strong reference. He got several extra months to plan around losing a long-term team member, and we remain on good terms which has been helpful for both of us since there are opportunities for our orgs to collaborate.

One option if you have had other staff leave recently is to sound him out about that - use their departure as an opportunity to explore how he feels about staff giving notice.

(Though you'll still have to decide whether you trust what he tells you, and be clear about whether you're okay with him passing it on to others who might not be as nice about it. In my case, my boss kept that info to himself for a while and then asked my permission before sharing it with his boss, because he needed to tell her before he could start recruiting a replacement.)

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I really don't want to burn bridges with my former mentor/boss either.

The other answers don't really address this but this isn't a situation where you would be reasonably expected to give extra notice. If your manager is as good as you make them sound here, then giving the standard notice shouldn't burn any bridges.

Situations where it might be reasonable for someone to be upset that you didn't give more notice than agreed would be very uncommon. A company having attrition issues is not an uncommon situation. It hurting your team to lose a person is just every day business (even if it would hurt more than usual due to prior losses).

Generally, you shouldn't be worried about your resignation burning a bridge. If they're reasonable, they won't hold a normal business decision against you. If they're unreasonable, giving extra notice won't suddenly make them reasonable.

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Other answers nicely line out why you shouldn't give extra notice. But there are things you can do if you want to make things nice for your manager - not literally what you asked about, but maybe relevant.

If you want, you can put extra effort into leaving a clean, neat, tidy situation for him for when you are gone. Of course, don't make it look like you're going! But, depending on what you do, you could put more effort into documenting your job, avoid getting dragged into new projects and rather see that on-going ones are in a good place for you to hand them over.

Unpicking a sudden departure is a pain for any team. The 3 week notice period is likely both set by the company, and insufficient for a real handover. If on the day you break the news you make it easy for them with some prep, that's a big bitter pill avoided for your manager.

The risk for you is much lower, you're making things neater for your manager as and when he gets to replace you etc. Chances are, they might still be unhappy when you hand your notice in, but if they're good people, they will appreciate it down the line.

That said, nothing in your post suggests you have an obligation to do so. Company can cut you loose with 3 weeks' notice, you can do the same - it is symmetric.

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I think that you probably already know the answer to this, and can answer it better than anyone here because you know your boss and your company better than anyone here.

Personally, the last time I changed jobs I gave my boss three months notice even though my notice period was one month.
I wanted to give them enough time to find a replacement and to be able to help them with the recruitment process.

The new company were very understanding and had no problem with me starting in three months from the date of their offer. I would like to think that they appreciated my gesture, because it shows that I would afford them the same courtesy when it becomes my time to leave them.


HOWEVER: in this situation I was working through a consultancy firm. The "boss" to whom I gave notice was the person I reported to in the client company.
I gave the consultancy the bare minimum notice period, on purpose, because they were the reason I was leaving.


The point of this story is that in that situation I knew exactly what I could and couldn't get away with.
I knew there was no chance that I would have had to leave any sooner than I wanted to.
I knew that the consultancy needed me more than I needed them.
I knew that my relationship with the client company was very strong.

If you know that you're secure in your position, that you're appreciated, and that your boss is a decent person, then you already know that you'll be able to chat to your boss about your upcoming departure now, with no bad repercussions. Conversely, if you don't feel sure that you know how your boss will respond then maybe it's better to wait a little while and give, say, five or six weeks' notice (or even the legal minimum if you're really unsure).

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I would give the legal minimum, see if a counter offer is available (I have myself accepted one) and then you have your month off after working the three weeks. I know you like the boss, but seriously, employers don't show any empathy in my experience, so I would not 'off the record' tell my boss now, just in case...

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