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I have recently applied for a position and I have passed through the video interview stage. Should I let the company know that I will be leaving the country for a year of international study at the end of July 2017?

I feel this may hurt my chances of getting the job, but if I am employed and and tell them that I am leaving for a year, and have known the whole time, then would I be leaving on bad terms?

Should or shouldn't I let them know? If not and I do get the job, at which point should I tell them? Just leave it to the two weeks resignation notice?

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    No. Why not? Because plans change. Yes, right now you are planning on going abroad, but are there no circumstances that could change those plans? – McCann Aug 17 '16 at 12:25
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    When evaluating such "ethical" questions in the workplace, I always find it useful to put the boot on the other foot: if the company has predecided to fire you after one year, would they tell you? That should lead you to the answer. – Masked Man Aug 17 '16 at 14:23
  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Jane S Aug 19 '16 at 0:22
  • It might be too late, but I think what's missing from the question is how sure you are that you will be leaving the country, and how sure you are that it will happen in a year. Have you already been accepted to the study abroad program and the dates are set? Or on the other end of the scale, is it just something you're thinking about doing? – stannius Aug 19 '16 at 18:43

12 Answers 12

59

Should you...... ?

No

Why not?

They won't hire you then unless it's a contract role which I believe is highly unlikely in your case.

Feeling guilt?

Neither company nor yourself are committing to work forever with each other.

Personal Opinion

If you are planning to stay with a company for less than six months try to find a contract role otherwise don't worry about it.

Important Note:

What if you circumstances change and you want to stay in role more then a year?

Please be clear that permanent roles don't expect you to work for Company X for N period. It's an 'as long as it works for you' sort of relationship. If it doesn't work for you, you may leave sooner than later, or otherwise.

You maybe classed as dishonest if you are agreeing to a two-year contract but definitely know will run away after one year.

Further explanation

No one, even yourself, knows what period it would take for a company to get value out of you. This argument is very subjective.

There is no formula that anyone can use to calculate following,

We spent X resources on Y employee to get A value out of him/her.

Personal Experience

They asked me a question - Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years...

My dreams of owning a million dollar company came out straight away. Later on when I thought a bit more about it I knew they won't going to hire me. Not so lovely part of the story is that I never achieved what I told them.

Still feeling guilt...?

Then don't apply for permanent roles or look for apprenticeships/internships if you don't have experience to work as a contractor.

You can mention it on your CV saying available until X period. If companies have a problem with this they simply won't contact you.

Last words of advice

Don't ever lie, if you are in a situation where you can't disclose the truth then find ways to avoid answering that question.

Please don't get confused with word "permanent" in this context, permanent roles only means that a person is not on a fixed contract. A permanent employee can leave anytime by giving appropriate notice stated in contract.

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    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – enderland Aug 17 '16 at 18:22
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This is a difficult one as there are two sides to it — firstly, there is your side. You want to work for a year, and then you want to study for a period of time after that. You know this now, but you still need to work (presumably to pay the bills for the next year).

The other side is the company's — unless they have specifically advertised the position as a short term, temporary position, then they are looking for a permanent employee who they can invest in. My gut feeling is that if you tell them your plans now, you won't get an offer, because the company doesn't want to go through the recruiting process again in a year if they can avoid it.

The final thing to consider is the ethical position — the company wants a permanent employee, and you are not willing to be a permanent employee, so where does that lie with you personally?

What happens if, in the first year, the company wants to put you on an expensive training course? Sometimes those courses come with bonds that you pay back if you leave within a certain time period — would you be in a position to do so? If not, then you would need to decline the training, at which point your position becomes untenable anyway.

Bridges may be burned in a year's time, irrecoverably so if the company puts two and two together and realises that your leaving was planned from the start (which they may do if you let slip where you are going — if the application and acceptance process for your over seas studies fall into a given time frame which the company can simply Google).

You may find out the employer is a decent one, and may keep the position open for your study year if you turn out to be a valued employee, but that would be an uphill battle to fight.

Personally, I would be looking at short term or temporary work for the next year, I wouldn't be looking into getting hired into a permanent position with the intention of quitting in a year's time.

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    Permanent roles doesn't require employees to stay with company for X number of years, you may join a company for any duration, it's not wrong on any level. They will only pay you for what they are getting & you will only get paid until you are there. – Mathematics Aug 17 '16 at 12:06
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    @Mathematics Recruiters typically charge 10-20% of the applicants annual salary, so having to hire someone new in a year - not to mention the cost of time spent getting the new employee up to speed - can have a significant impact on the company. So yes, if you know you leaving so soon might hurt the company, then there is an ethical issue. – Benubird Aug 17 '16 at 12:42
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    @Benubird - no, there isn't. It's not your job to worry about long term interests of a company that you won't even be working in. – Davor Aug 17 '16 at 13:32
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    @Mathematics but permanent roles are intended to be open ended - for both parties. Wouldnt you be upset if you joined a company in a permanent role and a year down the road they canned you, and it became apparent that it was always planned as a short term position? Thats where this becomes an ethical consideration - the role is permanent, the candidate already has concrete future plans. Aside from the money involved, recruiting is a pain in the ass - a company would much rather go for the candidate that has more long term potential than the one who already has an end in sight. – Moo Aug 17 '16 at 13:40
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    @Mathematics I think the implication of "permanent" in the role description, is that you should only apply if you are not already planning to leave. Otherwise, you are essentially lying to them - allowing them to believe you are applying for a permanent place, when you do not intend it to be permanent. – Benubird Aug 17 '16 at 13:42
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No, you don't tell them. As other have noted, plans change. This includes not just your plans but the company's as well: they might reorg and lay people off - I've seen it within a year of hire. Your plans might change too.

As a general point: Your first thought should always be about your own life, career, and goals - not the employer's. Organizations, especially large ones, do not really care how long an employee stays. They might pay lip service and lament high turnover, but there is an intentional, even if inconspicuous, structural and managerial strategy behind every workplace with high turnover. Positions are filled because of a current need to do work, and large organizations are setup to sustain turnover within certain margins with manageable short-term, and negligible long-term impact.

Also, do not tell them at the end of the year that you knew you would be leaving. Say this was a recent decision. Even if you had made plans long ago, the actual decision to follow through on the plan is temporally very close to the commencement of the planned action, rather than the plan's origination. You would be telling the truth.

Also, after you are hired, do some research about their unpaid leave policy. Some companies in US allow leave of up to a year with no pay, but then you come back to your job. Good luck!

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    The last two paragraphs are very helpful I believe. +1 – Puzzled Aug 17 '16 at 13:32
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Don't

You don't know for a fact what will happen in a year.

No matter how strongly you feel about leaving next year, it may or may not happen. You may change your mind. You may find yourself enjoying your work and delaying your trip. You may meet someone who convinces you to stay where you are. You may find an arrangement with the company when the time comes. You may be compelled to stay for other reasons. The place where you plan to go may not be able to welcome you anymore.

On the company's side also, many things can happen. It can fold. It can reduce expenses and remove your position. It can be acquired and downsized. It can be relocated in a place you don't like. It can change management and become unbearable. You can find that you don't like that job after all. It can take ethical positions you are not comfortable with.

There is no guarantee on either side, and a year is a long time.

The one thing you can do, however, if you have a good relationship with the company and the people you work with, is give sufficient notice before you leave to make sure they can prepare. (Find someone else and train them, for example).

6

If you definitely plan to leave after a year, you should tell them.

In my opinion it would be unethical not to tell them. If you accept a permanent position, but have concrete plans to leave already in place, you are effectively taking the job under false pretenses.

If they find out later that you planned to leave all along, then it probably would result in you leaving on bad terms. You might not be able to get a good reference as a result.

You could try to omit or hide the fact that you had pre-planned this, but this would quite likely require you to act in a deceptive manner toward your employer, placing you in a bad position and requiring yet more unethical behavior.

Of course telling them is quite likely to hurt your chances of getting the job. But it's still the right thing to do.

I think it would be best to tell them as soon as possible. That way you won't waste your or their time if a short-term position is a non-starter. And if there is a fit for you, it might be something creative like offering you a somewhat different position; letting them know earlier gives more chance of working something out.

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    I agree it is not ethical to conceal the information, but as others have pointed out, companies have no ethics at all. Gracious behavior is lost on them, and they certainly won’t do the same for you. – VGR Aug 17 '16 at 14:24
  • A company which has such a low risk apetite should be soon out of business anyway. Going by OP's question, it doesn't look like they are applying for CEO or some such post. They are most certainly applying to an entry level job (or somewhere close enough). If all hell breaks loose at the company when OP leaves in a year, there is something seriously wrong with their management. – Masked Man Aug 17 '16 at 14:32
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    @VGR, lots of people on this site say this, but it's not true! Sure, some companies (or, rather, people in management at some companies) are unethical and treat their employees poorly. It's fair to warn people about the potential of being mistreated. But there are plenty of people in the corporate world, at all levels of management, who act ethically and care about the company's employees. Claims that everyone else is unethical, so you had better act in a certain way, are a very convenient excuse, but not a good basis on which to act. – user45590 Aug 17 '16 at 14:34
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    @dan1111, Let's say your company gets purchased and upper management is made aware that all employees will have to be laid off in a year's time at exactly the same moment. Will such a company tell its employees if it doesn't need to? Of course not. At least not in the United States. And yes, some companies will never be placed in such situations where they actually have to choose. But that doesn't mean that those companies are actually ethical because that never happened to them yet. – Stephan Branczyk Aug 17 '16 at 19:08
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I didn't see this in any of the answers so here it goes.

No

I wouldn't tell them but the reasoning is a little different than the others have suggested. Maybe you determine that you like working for the company and they like having you around. You could always ask for a Leave Of Absence or sabbatical for a year while you study abroad. They may even give you an option to work remotely while you are engrossed in your studies. Great companies will bend over backwards to keep great employees and who knows they might even offer to pay for the coursework with a mandate that you come back and work for them when you get back.

3

No. Any company that wants potential employees to sign up for multiple years sight unseen is living in a fantasy land. Loyalty is earned, not mandated.

Furthermore, you don't need to give them a reason why you are leaving after one year. Just say you want to pursue other opportunities or something of the like. I'm assuming this company is not that important to you if you're planning to quit after one year, so don't feel like you have some moral obligation to lay out your life plans for the company to scrutinize.

Employees are replaceable and so are employers. They don't own you and you owe them nothing but to come in and do the work they're paying you for.

3

Maybe

I know that sounds wishy-washy on the surface. But, looking over the other answers provides a lot of absolute answers. I say that they are all wrong because of their absoluteness. The correct answer is: it depends on the job.

You didn't say what kind of job it is.

If you're applying for a fast food position, many places will be quite delighted to have a good employee for a year. What such organizations do not want are people who “don't work out”, being fired after a few months of poor performance. If you serve them well for a year, that can be a mutually beneficial situation.

If you're applying for a management position which involves developing and implementing a multi-year strategy, then your plans to vacate will absolutely interfere with the organization's plans for the job.

  • If they ask, then be honest. (Yes, tell them.)
  • If you find there is cause for them to heavily weigh this factor in, then supreme honesty may proactively offer this fact. (Yes, tell them.)
  • If you aren't aware of this being a particular harm, then don't go out of your way to proactively bring up a point that may not be in your favor. (No, don't tell them.)

You see, sometimes the answer is “No”, but sometimes it is “Yes”. Whether you should tell them or not may depend on what type of position you're seeking, which may depend on who the organization is. Since you mention plans to further education, my guess is that this job you seek is a bit lower on the hierarchy, in which case a year may typically be a good amount of time that is beneficial to the organization. However, that is a guess involving some speculation, so you'll ultimately need to make your own decision that actually does apply to the circumstances you are actually facing.

If you don't want to feel guilty, then apply positive principles in life. Don't be dishonest. Don't do something that you know will unreasonably hurt them. (Of course, you leaving may be non-beneficial to them, whenever that does occur. That's reasonable and expected. If you identify something less reasonably expected, then do communicate with them.) Then, that image you see in the mirror each morning can still be an image of a person you can respect.

Talking Honestly

One more side note: despite my heavy promotion of honesty, there can be a case of being “too honest”. From your question about volunteering information that might be harmful to you, I suspect this may be something good for you to consider.

There used to be a day when I questioned whether a person can truly be “too honest”. After all, if truth is a good thing, how can there be too much of it? I wondered why some amount of imperfection would be better than a total pursuit of this great principle. I just didn't understand, back then. Now I do. So, let me explain.

Honestly sharing lots of unnecessary details that may be to your detriment can demonstrate that you lack a bit of understanding of how organizations work. Even if people accept the details that you share, the fact that a person volunteered such details so unnecessarily can indicate that they aren't quite grasping a bit of a “bigger picture”.

I am not at all trying to advocate being dishonest, and there is some admirable aspect to being willing to be very open and honest, but going out of your way to bring up all of your faults can sometimes cause more harm than good, uselessly.

Yes, it is good if you are willing to be inspected and evaluated. However, if you have negative things about you (as everyone does), it doesn't mean that other people like to evaluate your negative things. Let's face the facts: these things are negative. And negative things can be less fun to deal with. So exposing your negative traits and pointing them out to people can be unpleasant for them, and unpleasant for you, particularly in the short term. Plus, unforgiving people may be prone to not forget what they've learned, causing problems in the long term too. And, there might be absolutely no good that gets accomplished by all this. Negative results all around, without positive results. That is the price when there is actually too much of proactive honesty (even though honesty is always extremely important, and even proactive honesty can often be a very good thing in some cases).

I've learned that you can be very honest without pursuing honesty so fervently that you prioritize it above all other priorities. I pursue these principles:

  • Never be dishonest
  • Be honest when appropriate
  • Don't be inappropriate by causing unnecessary problems in a goal to be super-honest

Since I've tried living like that, I've found a lot of people have accepted my “business sense”/“leadership abilities” better. Yet I feel like I've done right by people and maintained a real, strong, respectable characteristic of honesty.

  • @JoeStrazzere, I think the point there was "Never be dishonest," and "Communicate honestly when it is appropriate to communicate." – Wildcard Aug 18 '16 at 18:12
  • Actually the entire last portion of this answer from the heading "Talking Honestly" on down, can be summarized by: "Handling truth is a touchy business also. You don't have to tell everything you know—that would jam the communication line too. Tell an acceptable truth." (Quoted from a 1970 article on Public Relations by L. Ron Hubbard.) – Wildcard Aug 18 '16 at 18:18
  • @JoeStrazzere : They weren't meant to be opposites. Being dishonest refers to being misleading. With the second bullet point, which said "Be honest when appropriate", I was talking about proactively sharing details... a concept involving being active. In between there is neutrality: a rock that speaks no words is neither honest nor dishonest. Maybe it would have been more clear if, instead, I said "Be openly and actively sharing of information when appropriate". That second bullet point was not meant to ever counter the prior bullet point. – TOOGAM Aug 19 '16 at 0:58
  • @JoeStrazzere : Did you actually delete your original comment? I don't see it anymore. Now, there are multiple comments referring to you (for no apparent reason why) and the first word of my response, "They", has become an unidentified pronoun (meaning that people can't determine that I'm referring to the 4th and 5th bullet points, because that was only understandable based on your comment). Having that comment deleted wrecked the responses. If you felt it didn't continue to reflect your current opinion, a new comment could have expressed that. – TOOGAM Aug 20 '16 at 13:57
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If you started the job on Tuesday and they sold the business (or closed the doors) on Wednesday, they'd have no obligation to you to tell you during the interview or otherwise.

Likewise, they have no real obligation to tell you of the "oh, by the way" stuff that always comes up after you get the job (for example, I took a job and after I got it and turned down other offers, I was told that I had to spend one weekend a month on-call. Typical BS.)

You'd better look out for YOU. Get the job and ABSOLUTELY keep your mouth shut. Do some good work, and when the time comes you don't have to tell them where you're going, why, or how long you've been planning to do it because were the shoe on the other foot, you'd get thrown under the bus in a New York minute. Don't discuss your plans with co-workers or anyone else.

  • I actually declined a job offer a few months ago only to find out the team had been disbanded a few months later. Had I taken the job, I'd be unemployed right now. This is an excellent point. – MDLNI Aug 17 '16 at 21:18
1

I am fairly certain of two things here 1) it would be a lie of omission if OP did not inform the potential employer of plans to quit in a year and 2) employment is voluntary not compulsory. During the follow-up interview (presuming there is one) I would expect some questions which up the ante on the lie of omission to outright deceit. So, OP, you are going to need to decide how far to take the lie.

All that said, why is this employer so important? Will you need references or hope to be employed by this same employer again? If there is no need for anything from this employer in the future then it is only your ethics to consider. If you need something from this employer, other than a paycheck for the next year, then I would suggest honesty.

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(I assume this is a highly skilled position, not something like manual labor, routine lab work, or an unskilled position.)

The answer sounds pretty obvious to me.

Obviously you cannot tell them because they then won't take you. By this logic, you are obviously hurting them by leaving after a year (or they would take you).

By applying to a permanent position for just a year, you are actively and knowingly hurting the company. The application process costs them real money; teaching you the ropes costs them real money; there are also usually real humans in companies, taking their time to get you up to speed, you are hurting them as well. And at the end you are gone, together with all your knowledge and experience. You are hurting them because they then have to find someone else - and they will have to do that 100%, even if they take you back a year later. With bad luck, they get such a person again, and again.

People have thought about how to decide whether a particular course of action is correct; one pretty nice way is https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Categorical_imperative. You have to decide what kind of person you want to be.

And to those who said that the company cannot give you a guarantee as well, that does not matter at all. Sure, life is full of changes, but without further knowledge, it is purely the OP's decision and responsibility.

-2

You should 100% tell them.

First, and foremost is the fact that they are hiring for a permanent position. You can not in "good faith" fill that position. You know for a fact that your leaving. This is different then leaving after a while because you got a better offer, or something came up. You know you have 0 intentions of staying at this position. They should know that.

Some side effects you may have to face if you do not tell them and they find out: Keep in mind that IANAL and this will change based on local laws and contracts. Even company policy.

  1. Legal action against you. If you take a job in bad faith, the company can sue you for damages. This may not be worth it for them to do so, so this doesn't happen much for low end jobs, but for higher tier jobs (or public) this happens a lot.
  2. Loss of credibility. You may ruin your credibility. If your working at the chicken shack it likely that no one cares, but if your of the top x in your y field, or if your field is small, then its very likely that people care. The last thing you want when someone calls for a reference is "No, we won't hire him again. He misinformed us about his intentions when hired", or some such.
  3. Loss of benefits/training/reimbursement/certification or the like. Many jobs require and provide specialized training. In many cases, if you don't work for the company for X months, they will come after you for the cost of that training. Usually this is spelled out in a contract, but remember that your offer for employment is a contract.

Some arguments against telling them and my opinions.

  • It's not your job to care. This is not really true. There is this trend in recent years to feel this way, but you should care. Again were not talking about something coming up. Stuff happens and that's ok. Were talking about you actively (or maybe just passively) deceiving a hiring manager, your team, and your co-workers. You should care about this.

  • You don't know what will happen in a years time. Time and time again I have worked with companies to help them retain their in house staff when something comes up. While your true you don't know what will happen in a year, you do know what you want. After a year it would be very easy to go "Wow you want to stay on, sure lets see what we can do". If at 8 months they "discover" that you planned to bail on them, you may be in for a very rough time. Prove your worth to the company by being an honest hard working employee and you may be surprised. They may even hold the job open for you, or even pay for your education.

  • Advice telling you t lie. Just don't! If you have to lie, then don't. It's that simple. Don't lie. Don't put your self in a position where you have to lie. Honesty works best.
  • 3
    If the contract shows a normal notice period (eg 1 month) then how would OP failing to give the company a whole year's notice mean that the company had a case for damages? – A E Aug 17 '16 at 18:22
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    The OP is probably not some famous soccer player, or an high level executive, he/she is a student. I really doubt that we're talking about a high level position here. Also, if that were really the case, then the contract would build in some early termination penalties, or some golden handcuffs of some kind. – Stephan Branczyk Aug 17 '16 at 18:51
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    Everyone seems to agree that the company would take it as "bad" and would count it against a potential hire. In fact all the advise against telling the company is to avoid that penalty. At the very least, not disclosing information, that you think would count against you, so that you can benefit from a different perception of the situation is dishonest. Just tell the company. There is plenty of short term, or contract work available. Work with a temp agency for example. – coteyr Aug 17 '16 at 19:44
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    While I agree that telling the company is the right move, the warning about potential legal action is pretty off base in my opinion. I don't see any consequences other than reputational ones. – user45590 Aug 17 '16 at 20:13
  • @dan111 definitely different areas, and different levels of employment will change that one a lot. – coteyr Aug 17 '16 at 20:35

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