252

I've worked for my current company for about 18 months now. Their primary market is consultancy - we get assigned clients, travel to their offices for the work week (from my experience this is usually around a three hour journey each way), and travel back for the weekend. These contracts are generally 3-4 months to begin with, and are often extended by a similar amount on a regular basis for as much as several years.

I'd had enough of the travel, so I looked for work elsewhere. I found a really promising position, but was also assigned a new client at my current job in the same week as the interview. As things transpired, I got the new job, and handed my notice in on the Monday of my second week with the new client.

Understandably, my current employer is very unhappy about this, and made it very clear that I was putting them in a terrible position. I'd hoped to find a new job before being given a new assignment, but I was a couple of weeks too late.

I've been asked to extend my notice period by a couple of weeks to support a handover period. Normally I'd have been fine with this, but my new employer wants me to start as soon as possible, and due to a number of circumstances (particularly with the holidays coming up), if I did meet their request I wouldn't be able to start the new job until the new year (effectively doubling my one month notice period).

As such I have a couple of questions:

  • I know they have no legal right to keep me there, but they've been trying to guilt me into staying for the last few days despite my insistence that I want to leave on the date I gave them. How do I deal with this and get them to accept my decision?

  • During the call with HR, I was told that I should have informed the company that I was going for an interview, as this would have influenced their decision to send me on the assignment. Am I wrong for not doing so, given that I didn't want my standing in the company to be affected if I didn't get the job?

  • The difficulty with the handover period is that there isn't anyone available to replace me until after my suggested final date. I don't want to leave the company in a bad position, but staying would put my new job at risk before I even start. How can I make my current employer happy in this regard?

  • 41
    What country is this? US? – MikeP Nov 9 '16 at 20:31
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    When you turned in your resignation, did you include anything other than "I resign effective <date>"? That's all you need, in the US. – MikeP Nov 9 '16 at 20:32
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    If they decided to treat you like dirt, then treat them like dirt. If you really want to annoy them, suggest that you might be prepared to reconsider the situation if they are prepared to pay you the full hourly fee they charge their clients, plus 50% for the inconvenience they are causing you - I assume you can easily find out what that rate actually is. And if they agree to do that, you can still change your mind and turn down their offer! – alephzero Nov 9 '16 at 23:25
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    "I was told that I should have informed the company that I was going for an interview, as this would have influenced their decision to send me on the assignment. " -- Yeah, so they could fire you. – Jonast92 Nov 10 '16 at 11:31
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    (a) You were under no obligation to tell your old employer you were job-searching or interviewing. (b) Your notice period is not for your old employer to find a replacement. It's for you to have time to wrap things up so they're in order for your replacement and/or your old coworkers to pick up. In your case, that probably means leaving good records of what you were doing on this project and where to go from there. – MissMonicaE Nov 10 '16 at 13:21
755
+50
  • I know they have no legal right to keep me there, but they've been trying to guilt me into staying for the last few days despite my insistence that I want to leave on the date I gave them. How do I deal with this and get them to accept my decision?

Accepting your decision is their problem, not yours. What if the situation were reversed? If they decided to let you go, do you really think you would be able to "guilt them" into continuing to pay you for another month? Not likely.

  • During the call with HR, I was told that I should have informed the company that I was going for an interview, as this would have influenced their decision to send me on the assignment. Am I wrong for not doing so, given that I didn't want my standing in the company to be affected if I didn't get the job?

Announcing that you're interviewing is career suicide. Expecting employees to do that is ridiculous, and it's their problem, not yours. You did everything right - don't say anything until you have accepted a signed written job offer with start dates and salary. (I'm assuming you did that)

  • The difficulty with the handover period is that there isn't anyone available to replace me until after my suggested final date. I don't want to leave the company in a bad position, but staying would put my new job at risk before I even start. How can I make my current employer happy in this regard?

You don't. Their lack of planning in accepting a bus factor of 1 is their problem, not yours.

  • 213
    You hit it hard here Dan. This is exactly how I'd have answered. If I could give more points, I would. Especially about the guilting. – Xavier J Nov 9 '16 at 20:36
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    It's just ridiculous what some employers think their employees owe them. This is a great answer. I'm glad you found another position OP, since these people probably won't bat an eye firing you. – Nelson Nov 10 '16 at 1:39
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    Their problem, not yours. Extremely valuable life advice. – bubakazouba Nov 10 '16 at 7:40
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    It is crazy to me that the expected behavior of employees and employers are so different. If an employer fired an employee and the employee said "You should have told me you were considering firing me so that I could look for a new job, now I won't be able to get a new job before this one ends" they would be laughed out of the office, but when an employer says the equivalent, it seems kind of normal. – Kevin Wells Nov 10 '16 at 19:26
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    I would only add that it is a good idea to let the company know that you understand and appreciate that this may place them in a difficult position. It is their problem, and probably also their fault, but a little empathy is about as much as you offer them. – David Baucum Nov 13 '16 at 16:52
97

Whenever they bring up the subject of extending your notice period or start another guilt trip, here's what you say:

I realise that the timing isn't ideal but I'm unable to extend my notice period and my final day will be the Xth.

Repeat this ad nauseam. Anything else will just result in debate or arguments that you don't want to engage in. The goal is to get them to see reason but you'll have to recognise the possibility that your management is so unreasonable that sticking to your guns will sour the relationship or ruin your reference. But there's nothing else to be done about that. Starting the relationship with your new employer off well is more important.

Dan already explained just how unreasonable your company's actions were but in the end it just comes down to the simple fact that staff turnover is just a cost of doing business. There will never be a "perfect" time to resign. Great companies encourage longer notice periods but it's obvious from what you've described that you're not working for such a company and even if that were the case, there will always be situations where someone gives limited notice or can't work around a business deadline. It happens.

One final note to make is that a notice period is most certainly not intended to train your replacement. A hiring process will almost never be over in two weeks and that time should instead go to finishing up your projects, preparing documentation or handing work over to a colleague. In a consultancy the latter part is easier but even then resigning employees can never be expected to extend a notice period to provide additional training.

  • Also, keep copies of all communications regarding this matter, and any that might be relevant before it became said matter, in the event they try to elevate the matter. It's very doubtful they'll go that route, especially if OP lives in a state with at-will employment and broke no parts of any contract agreements, but all the same: cover your ass. – MattD Nov 14 '16 at 19:03
  • I would disagree that great companies encourage longer notice. There is no benefit to longer notices that I have ever seen. Most of the time, they still don't have your replacement and all you did was waste time. Further having a disgruntled emplyee around for longer means more time for them to spread their disgruntlement. Further there is zero benefit to the emplyee in a longer period, – HLGEM Jan 27 '17 at 14:46
  • 'Ruining the reference' isn't so important in these circumstances. Presumably you should be able to come up with plenty of references from the clients you really worked for, even if the consulting company should prove to be even more of a problem in the long term. – user90842 Feb 4 at 20:30
39

During the call with HR, I was told that I should have informed the company that I was going for an interview, as this would have influenced their decision to send me on the assignment. Am I wrong for not doing so, given that I didn't want my standing in the company to be affected if I didn't get the job?

No, it wasn't wrong.

But unlike the others answers I would say "it depends".

Before I quit my previous company, I told my boss straightly that I wanted to quit. He asked me to stay until at least N months from now, giving me a substantial raise for doing so.

Once the N months passed, I found a new job; and kept working until I got a visa, then left as soon as I got it.

By talking to my boss, I was able to leave in very good terms, and with substantial advantages over simply resigning without discussing it first.

However, I was fairly confident that my boss would not try to screw me over that. So depending on your situation, it could be a good move.

In case of doubt, don't

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    I agree that in some cases letting your employer know you wish/plan to leave might be a positive thing. But there is not "it depends" on the question of whether the OP has an obligation to tell the employer. There is no such obligation. – user45590 Nov 10 '16 at 8:57
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    @dan1111 "should" doesn't mean "obliged to". +1 on your comment though, it's clear that this strategy wouldn't work with this employer. – rath Nov 11 '16 at 16:02
  • @rath I interpreted the question as HR claiming there was an obligation. "Should" often means "must" in less formal communication. But I suppose there is more ambiguity there than I first saw. – user45590 Nov 11 '16 at 16:11
14

You suffer the same problem that I do: loyalty. You don't want to inconvenience people, you don't like making things difficult for them, you feel guilty if you let them down. Loyalty is a great virtue and it's something I really value in other people. But loyalty to an employer always needs to be conditional. It's unlikely they would show much loyalty to you if the situation was the other way around. Even if that's not the case, this is a situation where you have to put your own interests first.

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    A company itself can not be loyal only people in the company can. However the more people you have the less likely it is that the comppany is going to be loyal. – joojaa Nov 11 '16 at 13:50
  • @joojaa it's okay to attribute human characteristics or behaviour to a company. – Christiaan Westerbeek Nov 12 '16 at 6:47
8

All of this seems fairly obvious; it is the employers problem not yours, this is a cost of doing business and most companies factor staff movements as a part of normal business practice. Re the statement "During the call with HR, I was told that I should have informed the company that I was going for an interview" As an employee you are under NO obligations with this regard. Such matters are entirely your private business as it impacts your future therefore it is your own affair not theirs. Also worth noting that you would damage any future prospects that you may hold re your existing employer should you have been unsuccessful in your application with a new employer.

3

Great answers here. Let me just add, highly accountable people sometimes have their integrity used against them.

Don't let your soon-to-be-former employer use your integrity against you.

Sure, your soon-to-be-former employer is in a bind. Sure, you want to be a professional. I promise you, you WILL continue to bump into former coworkers throughout your career, so being a professional is good.

But workers leave, they get sick, they get injured, they even die. Employers don't go the grave site and try to guilt the corpse. They get on with finding a replacement.

Decide on your personal boundary, then enforce that boundary with firmness that you express professionally and politely. You do NOT need to give reasons. The firmer you are, the better for everyone.

-2

From the employers side - it is hard to have 'extra staff' around to be available to fill in quickly.

Since there will be some time involved in getting a replacement (or a coworker to cover) perhaps you could offer to take the new job and then return for 1-3 days when the old employer has the new staff available. The new employer might balk at this but you could explain that you are trying to be flexible and loyal to your old employer. Since you would not likely be starting right away on a project at the new company you could go through the initial training required or the initial 'ride along' work. The time off (1-3 days) would be easier to fit in that way.

The new employer would likely see your loyalty as a plus for them moving forward; and the old employer would see how a mature handling of the issue would be of benefit in the future as well. Potentially employees (and HR) in the old or new company would see that there are ways to be loyal and not secretive.

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    Would you take back ex-employees you fired for a few days here and there if they could not find a job and needed some money to live? – Shautieh Nov 14 '16 at 3:26
  • This is a horrifying awful idea. Taking unneeded time off during your initial period at a new job is highly discouraged and often disallowed outright, nevermind when doing it to work for someone else. While saying that you are trying to be loyal and flexible for the job you quit and your current one can just deal with it, no less! No employer would ever see your complete lack of loyalty to THEM as a plus. – Matthew Read Nov 15 '16 at 15:30
-2

If the shoe was on the other foot, the employer would tell you everyone is expendable; I guess that's not true. If you really want to help them out, is it possible to do weekend work to get them to a good position for your replacement?

-3

It sounds like your client engagement team is looking backwards. I suggest you get them to look forward. What I suggest everyone focus on is making the client happy.

The one new suggestion I have is that you put some effort in to finding a resource that can replace you on the contract.

You could suggest to your client engagement team that if you find a replacement they should pay you a bonus (maybe that is already the case). The bonus they offer will quantify how big of a problem this really is.

A heft bonus then will be motivate you and some of your fellow consultants to solve this problem. A smart team would also get the client involved.

If on the other hand they are unwilling to persue this angle then they are proving that it is not really a problem they just want it to be your problem instead of theirs.

  • Most of the answers focus on removing guilt from the OP. This answer instead focuses on the being a nice guy part. I agree with the previous answers, but find this approach a good complementary action to be done while waiting out the notice. I wouldn't really -1 this answer just because it is not in line with the majority of the other ones here. – brett Jul 30 '18 at 19:27

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