I have been working at the same company for the last two years, and although I have generally enjoyed it, I feel that I need a new challenge. Since I was recently promoted and given a bonus for my performance, and as the company has been pivotal to my development, I still feel a strong sense of loyalty.

Today, I was offered a job at one of the company's competitors. The money is slightly better, but it would give me the opportunity to take my career further, as well as to apply my skills in a totally new environment.

I really want to take this offer, but I don't want to damage my relationship with my current employer. Is it professional to leave just after receiving more investment, or would I be burning bridges?

  • Has this company given you any indication they feel they are going out of their way to help you with your long-term career goals like training, excessive bonuses, letting you "tailor" your tasks and hours?
    – user8365
    Commented Aug 19, 2014 at 18:22
  • 16
    Do not be concerned about loyalty, I guarantee they are not. What you should be concerned about is going to a competitor, there are sometimes non-compete issues that can make that problematic. Most of them turn out to be unenforceable but they can tie you and the new company up in a legal battle that can make the other company not want to waste the time on you. And you shoud be very careful about not taking any proprietary information (like client contact numbers) to the competition.
    – HLGEM
    Commented Aug 19, 2014 at 18:25
  • @JeffO I wouldn't say to that extent apart from training and equipment investment, but they took me on as a junior software developer and helped me attain a mid-level position. The aim of my graduate scheme is to hire "talent" (in their words) to stay at the company for the long term, so that expectation has always been in place. Commented Aug 19, 2014 at 18:26
  • Thanks for the advice everyone, I'll keep you up to date with the situation. Commented Aug 19, 2014 at 22:06
  • I think you mean to ask is it ethical, rather than is it professional. Commented Aug 20, 2014 at 6:17

3 Answers 3


Your company has an obligation to do what they can to retain their talent. It doesn't seem like your company really understands what you want (Maybe change for the sake of change?) or they're not capable of providing it. When things go bad for them and they have to let you go, they'll say, "It's just business: nothing personal." so you can take the same approach.

If they're going to hold bettering your career against you, you're better off taking another opportunity while you can. There's no relationship to maintain in this case.


I really want to take this offer, but I don't want to damage my relationship with my current employer. Is it professional to leave just after receiving more investment, or would I be burning bridges?

If you hadn't yet received the promotion and bonus, would your current company feel any better about your leaving? Unless both you and they believed that this promotion+bonus was designed to keep you around for a long time, the answer is probably "No."

Things happen. Circumstances change. Opportunities for growth arise. Employers understand this.

While employers would like to keep most people around forever, most employers realize that this just doesn't happen in the real world.

If your leaving burns any bridges, it most likely won't be due solely to leaving soon after a promotion+bonus. And if you give your notice professionally, and work with them to help in the transition, they most likely won't view your leaving as less than professional.


Depends on any agreements. Different companies approach maintaining their talent and intellectual property differently. Non-compete agreements and non-disclosure agreements are the territory of lawyers and outside our scope - if you have signed these, see a lawyer. Typically non-disclosure is far easier to work with as it is about sharing what you know... the only tricky area is if you are asked, after your job change, about intellectual property of your old company.

The more cogent question is the personal level. People take their work personally. Normally it's a good thing - it's what inspired dedication and camaraderie. But it can also inspire spite and vindictiveness. How it plays out in the mental processes of your bosses and colleagues is anyone's guess. Normally the amount of irritation is somewhat related to the elegance with which you leave - don't leave when it would kill a huge effort that comes due very soon, don't leave without doing appropriate closure activities with your boss, don't be so gleeful about leaving that you are hard to be around. All of that is true whether you leave for a competitor or for a new type of business. My thought is that leaving for a competitor tends to amplify negative emotions in some folks.

You didn't ask, but I'll point out, that my experience in different lines of business is that competitors in a locality often optimize for the same basic outcome, which makes the working environments more similar than different. This improves your ability to feel at home on day 1, but decreases the likelihood of a drastically new work experience.

If you are leaving because you know that you'll work on brand new technology --today-- then maybe you get the change you want... but if you are leaving because "the new company would never force me to let my skills deprecate the way my current company does" - think again, that kind of long term cultural value only exists when there's profit in the competitive space from having that value... if these two companies are competing they are optimizing for the same thing.

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