I have been working for this company for 4+ years and I feel that it's time for me to move on, find another job that has better benefits and pay, and to experience more growth. I'm in my late 20s and I should be aggressive at this time to reach certain career goals. I feel that I've been complacent and I should push myself more and try to aim higher.

My company is just a small start-up and I'm the only person who can do my role. I also have other ad hoc tasks for other clients that only I can do. Training another person to do it will take a few weeks or so.

I'm also in a difficult situation because I work overseas so my residency is dependent on my employer. As long as I have a job, I can stay in this country (my current pass will expire around 1 1/2 years from now).

I have a good working relationship with my boss. He's very kind and understanding and willing to help me all the time. But the pay is not much and I feel stuck. So here's the dilemma:

Option 1: I will tell him before I go job hunting.

The good:

Based from my long-time working relationship with him, I think this is the most proper and cordial way to go. This would allow him to prepare for the next steps that he needs to take if I leave, without being rattled. This would also leave us in good terms, even after I leave the company.

The bad:

There's also a risk that he may suddenly cease my employment before I can even find a job. Although I trust that he won't do this, but he has a right to do it. I also don't know how to tell him (and if it's even proper) whether I can still work for him indefinitely until I can find a new job.

Option 2: I won't tell him before I go job hunting.

The good: This is the safest decision as I would have plenty of time to job hunt without the fear that my current employer would cease my employment. I won't feel too much pressure to just grab any job offer.

The bad: If I find a job first and secure a new pass, then tell him afterwards, I feel that I've done him wrong or betrayed him. Plus, I have a long list of things to handover too. If a find a company that I like and they ask me to start soon, then, I'm worried that it's not enough time for him to work out any plans for transition / hand-over.

Can anyone help me with this situation? I'm not sure what's the best method to take.

  • 3
    Laws may vary where you are, but in the US whenever you give a "notice period" (usually 2 weeks) you're basically protected from being fired during that time. If you think it will take longer than that to find/train a replacement, you can give a longer notice period and be safe. I did that with my last employer, giving 3 weeks notice to make sure they were well-prepared by the time I left, because I was in a similar situation to yours. Either way, definitely don't tell them before you at least have some prospects.
    – thanby
    Commented May 11, 2015 at 11:18
  • 2
    Just notice in your option 1 you use the phrase "if I leave". There's no guarantee when you're leaving until you actually get a job offer and you decide to take it. Therefore, it only makes sense to wait until that happens. You only need to inform your boss when you've decided to leave, not before you've decided.
    – Brandin
    Commented May 11, 2015 at 11:45
  • 25
    FWIW, you will not burn bridges by giving the minimum expected notice. Reasonable people understand that employees need to move-on to manage their careers properly. You can be fair and nice without putting your career in any risk.
    – teego1967
    Commented May 11, 2015 at 14:49
  • 9
    To look at this from another point of view; option 2 ends up sounding like "I loved my time here but i've found this amazing opportunity I can't say no to", option 1 ends up sounding like "I really really need to find annother job; I can't stay here any more" Commented May 11, 2015 at 21:35
  • 11
    It is the manager's responsibility to manage the risk of critical company processes not having adequately trained persons to do them, not yours. Wait until you've found a new role to tell him. If there isn't enough time to train a replacement it is their fault for not mitigating key-man dependency risk. Commented May 11, 2015 at 22:17

7 Answers 7


Give your notice depending on how long your notice period is.

Look for a job as early as you think you can get a job by the time you're leaving. Companies live and move on with good employees leaving and being replaced every now and then, and they have set their notice period to be able to have enough time to handle those types of situations.

Announcing to them early that you'll be leaving may be polite, but you're putting yourself in a situation where they might get prepared for you leaving a little too early before you get ready for your new job. It's polite and generous, but it's smarter to secure yourself a job first.

You also mentioned that

Training another person to do it will take a few weeks or so.

In that case, I recommend gathering up documentation and tutorials as early as possible to make the transition for the new employee easier.

If you're feeling generous, you can talk to your boss regarding you leaving a little earlier than what the notice period requires of you, and explain to your boss that you will need X weeks to train the new employee.

The key thing here is not letting yourself get into a position where you can be potentially temporarily unemployed.

Also, here's a related question regarding giving earlier notice periods.

  • 3
    Note that a few weeks to train someone is really a short time.
    – mart
    Commented May 11, 2015 at 8:38
  • 30
    It is, but it's also normal. I think it's firmly the duty of the employer to have continuity plans - if someone is truly indispensable, then what happens if they get hit by a bus? It's a courtesy to train your replacement, but it's far from mandatory, or indeed desirable.
    – Sobrique
    Commented May 11, 2015 at 9:42
  • 4
    @svick He already stated in his question that his residency is dependent on his employment.
    – Zibbobz
    Commented May 11, 2015 at 13:38
  • 8
    .Also an unemployed candidate is typically less desirable to hiring staff than an employed candidate, all things being equal. Commented May 11, 2015 at 14:29

I would suggest to go with Option 2. You have not betrayed anyone here. Do not kill yourselves with hard feelings. Everybody looks out for prospects. If you feel the current employer is not meeting your needs, you are free to look for a better prospect. Also since you are in a foreign country it is correct to secure a work permit and then leave the current job. The bad in option 1 is actually ugly. If your feel your pressure for loyalty, you could get an offer and ask for a raise to match the current offer in hand. Hope it helps.

Good luck!


Option 4 Work with your boss to develop "hit by a bus" plans for you (and everyone in the company). Then if you find a new job, you can leave with a clear conscience. And if you don't leave, you have nice documentation for how much value you bring to the company.

When I did this at a previous employer, an unexpected bonus was that in the process of documenting we found things that could be simplified or improved. The company benefited in several ways, and my last couple of months there were better for it.


I'd go for option 2. However, it might be a good idea to ask your new boss to extend the time until you enrol in your new position.

Your previous boss will surely understand you may want to move on, and will thank giving him/her some extra time to find you a replacement. Your new boss might be a little upset at first, but he probably sees this decision as a good thing, since it means you care of your position, and in case you leave, you might also do this for them.

Let me explain with my own experience.

Last time I switched jobs, I came to an agreement with the new company to let me still stay for 1 month in my previous job. That let the previous company with enough time for them to find somebody and allowed me to teach the new one.

We're still talking from time to time, and they'd let me come back if needed.


I suggest Option 2 - With a twist

I actually did this recently and it worked out fantastically. You look for a job and do everything you need to do at your current job to keep things going, as if there is no change (because, honestly, there might not be). However, whenever you get an interview or speak to HR at the new potential job, tell them you can't start for "X" weeks. Where X is the number of weeks that you feel it is most comfortable for your current employer to replace you.

In my example, I used 2 months. I really liked my current job and had no intention of leaving them, but something much better for me, and my future, came along and I couldn't pass it up. I told the new company that I needed 2 months, from agreement to hire (after everything went through) before I could start. Therefore, after the new company said "yes, you are hired and everything is good", I went and told my current company I found a great opportunity, but I told them that I needed two months for the transition.

This left me on fantastic terms with them because they realized that life has great opportunities, especially for a family man, but that I had convictions to make sure I didn't harm them in any way. Everything worked out great and I feel like I could go back to that job if I wanted to.


I think you should consider a third option:

Option 3

Negotiate for a raise and avenue towards promotion.

You say that you're in a position where you, and only you, have the knowhow to do the job you're doing. This puts you in an advantageous position to negotiate for the things you want in your current job - better pay, an avenue towards promotion, and personal growth in your position. Bring up your desire to your boss with this in mind - even with his work visa advantage, you have the advantage of being too important to terminate immediately.

A Caveat

You should only attempt this if you are absolutely certain of your solid position in the company, and you feel the company can afford to do this for you - as a start-up, it's possible this opportunity isn't available to you at all, in which case you should go with Option 2, and provide your boss with the legally required minimum amount of advance notice of your departure (2 weeks if you're in the US, but it could be different if you're in another country).

If you can get the type of advancement you want in your current position, there's no reason to give it up - and you should try to pursue it if you can. Employers can sometimes make you a good offer if they know they're going to risk losing you. But, as I said, make sure you do this with a solid foundation in the company, and only if it's possible for them to offer something to you, or else you'll risk the same thing you'd risk in Option 1.


My suggestion is you should start looking for new job and as soon as you find one suitable for you, ask them for some notice period may be around 2 weeks. After you have got the joining letter tell your current employer that you will be leaving in 2 weeks and in these two weeks he can hire someone new and you can train him and also hand over your responsibilities to him. But if in case you don't get at least two weeks notice period you can tell your current employer that you can assist the new joinee and give him some training may be on weekends for 2-3 hours for sometime like a month. I think that would solve your problem and as well as his and you wont feel anything unethical about it.

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