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When my coordinator hired me, he told me he wanted an employee to stay for a long span. In fact, he wanted me to start a whole new project (that would take more than 2 years to end), and some time in the future, replace him (as he would be leaving the company in less than a year).

This was told during the first interview. The project hasn't started yet, and is planned to be started in 3 months (postponed 3 months already), but everything about this project is left hanging. My coordinator is not planning to leave yet (and in fact he's about to hire another employee and teach him about some business logic for more projects). However, it looks like I need to commit to the verbal agreement of staying at the company.

During the last 2 weeks I've been offered 2 other jobs, and I've found some offers myself that look perfect for me. It's really tempting, but I feel something's wrong if I start looking at other jobs.

There's nothing in my contract about a minimum time staying here, there's nothing that says verbal agreements are binding. However, I feel like cheating and being a loss of time for the company, but it looks like leaving now is better than after a project has started. The company, however, has a good salary and has given me lots of freedom for doing some technical choices, so I'd prefer to keep the bridges unburnt.

How could I face a situation of a confronting boss that will remind me of that verbal agreement?

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    @JoeStrazzere I am decided to go, but I don't know how to keep a good mood with my boss – Korcholis Aug 21 '14 at 18:14
  • They say "a verbal agreement isn't worth the paper it is written on". In the end, look after your own interest. If you had a verbal agreement to stay for two years, and the company cancels this project and you are not needed anymore, do you think they would keep paying you for two years because of a verbal agreement? I don't think so. And when you leave the job, you are not an employee anymore, and there is no need to keep your boss happy. – gnasher729 Oct 29 '14 at 1:53
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There's nothing in my contract about a minimum time staying here, there's nothing that says verbal agreements are binding. However, I feel like cheating and being a loss of time for the company, but it looks like leaving now is better than after a project has started. The company, however, has a good salary and has given me lots of freedom for doing some technical choices, so I'd prefer to keep the bridges unburnt.

Verbal agreements are not worth the paper they are written on. And—in an extreme case—they hurt you in the end because the company will ultimately have more resources at hand to perhaps legally challenge you in a confrontation about it than you have to counter such a claim.

But you also say this:

During the last 2 weeks I've been offered 2 other jobs, and I've found some offers myself that look perfect for me. It's really tempting, but I feel something's wrong if I start looking at other jobs.

A company is not a person & a job is not a life. Even if your current employer would be upset by you leaving, if you do it right nobody gets upset & no bridges are burned. More importantly: You should not treat an employer/employee relationship strictly as if it’s some deep personal relationship in which one would get upset at the there by leaving.

At the end of that day even a “career” is still a “job.” And your task for yourself is to further your career in a way that benefits others but—most importantly—works best for yourself.

Meaning, based on what you have described, I would weigh the benefits of other positions. Most likely accept one of those positions. But do so in a way that reflects your current employer.

How to balance that? Who knows. In the U.S. 2 weeks notice is standard & in some cases giving more than 2 weeks notice is a good way of ensuring bridges are not burnt. But perhaps the best way to state this is to negotiate with the future employer and state, “I’m going to give my current employer 2 weeks notice, but there might be some desire from them to allow me to consult. Is that something we can work out?”

Then on the current employer front, approach them, tell them you accepted a new position & give standard 2 weeks notice. But also state, “I understand that you have other projects you would want me involved in, but nothing has happened so far. That is why I am leaving. Do you still want to keep in touch regarding the future project to see if there is any way we can work together on a limited basis?”

What it all boils down to is you cannot be strung along by verbal agreements. And at the end of the day, folks on your current employer’s side will be upset. But in the great scheme of things, you might look back on this gig and be upset you didn’t do what is best for you.

Like I said at the outset a company is not a person & a job is not a life. Do what is best for your career & do it in a way that respects others. All should be good.

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    That's a good way to keep my current company happy, despite leaving. Actually, I did something similar to my old job (I left them 3 weeks to search for someone to replace me and train him. By the way, in Spain the standard is also a 2 weeks notice, or at least during the previous work legislation). – Korcholis Aug 25 '14 at 9:19
  • @Korcholis Happy to help. And will be honest: I have been having to deal with B.S. like this for decades. And it doesn’t get easier. Human interactions tend to make us forget business is business. And it is tough—and I mean tough—at times to truly put perspective on an individual’s role in the grand picture. But ultimately you need to always remember: 9 times out of 10, the person with your best interests in mind is really only you. Don’t ever sell yourself short. Best of luck! – JakeGould Sep 1 '14 at 1:11
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This is one of the inherent problems of verbal agreements - they are at best loosely defined and unactionable.

You will need to talk to your boss and explain to him that what you are doing now is not the same as what you expected when you signed on, and as a result of that discrepancy you would like to start looking for alternatives that better utilize your expertise. If he brings up the 2+ year commitment, politely explain that in a contract there are obligations for both parties, and that his end has not been kept either (not giving you the project), and is not yet ready for you. Explain that you would like to help him and his company at a more mutually beneficial time when they are ready to receive you and that you appreciate what they have done for you up until now (mention specifics if you can, i.e. technical choice freedom), but believe that it is currently in both your best interests for you to part ways at this time.

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How could I face a situation of a confronting boss that will remind me of that verbal agreement?

You have already decided to go. So the only thing remaining is to get the new job first, then give your notice in a professional manner, and serve out the rest of your notice period being as helpful as you can.

If it's the truth, you could say "I hadn't intended to leave so soon, but this great offer came up, and I really can't turn it down. I'll help in whatever way I can to make the transition as smooth as possible during my notice period."

Certainly every manager/coordinator wants people to stay around for the long haul, but these things happen. Most managers understand this.

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