Have been working at my current company (first employer) for about 15 months now.

Since joining the company I've only been on one project. In that project felt like I did not learning enough skills which would let me steer myself in the direction of the career I'd like to have, expecting that being useful would let me have more leverage later. The project have now finished and I'm about to be pulled into another one, which I suspect I will feel similarly about. I should add that the company is treating me really well, trying to be accommodating, and it might be a simple misalignment of my current goals with theirs. I've talked to my manager about not being satisfied. Keeping good relations with them is important to me.

Now, I am ready to quit. I have a contingency fund which should last me +7 months, plenty enough time to train myself in the technologies I am actually interested in and then apply to relevant jobs.

The thing is - I do want to have an open mind and try the project I am being pulled into, just in case it actually is interesting, but I'm not sure if it would be ethical to commit to something knowing that the chance you will stick to it is not super large.

On one hand I know that the company should be prepared for anyone to leave at any time. On the other hand, I don't know if I should feel comfortable risking creating such a disruption (The project would have me work as a sole developer of a part of a system, with about 1.5 months predicted to get me up to speed, so finding a replacement in would seriously mess with their deadlines.)

The alternatives to taking the project I see at the moment are:

  • Quit immediately, without trying any other project
  • Refuse the project, making an impression of a fussy child and search for one I like
  • Let my manager know exactly how I feel, and ask him if it's OK if I start with the project with such high likelihood of leaving.

Neither of those makes me feel particularly comfortable so I'd appreciate any insight from those more experienced in the ethics of resignation.

  • VTC. Figure out what you want to do first because this post is sure making it confusing. Frankly, you need a reality check. You're going to retrain yourself in 7 months and find a job in a new field, after you've quit in less than 2 years without having a new job lined up? You'd need two years' worth of funds I'd say. Regardless of that, questions about timing your resignation have been asked before, check the search.
    – Lilienthal
    Commented Dec 4, 2016 at 10:15
  • Think about what kind of "recommendations" you will get from this employer if you are seen as sabotaging a project...
    – keshlam
    Commented Dec 4, 2016 at 13:43
  • Go ahead and take on the project. If you leave between now and then, you can always hand over your knowledge to the next guy which is common practice.
    – komodosp
    Commented Dec 5, 2016 at 8:30
  • @keshlam That is exactly what I said in my answer, which got a downvote for no stated reason lol. Commented Dec 5, 2016 at 22:18

4 Answers 4


Think of the worst case

One way I make difficult decisions like this is to play through what-if and worst-case scenarios. Below is a bit of analysis based on the very limited information you provided. Instead of considering the analysis specifically useful, consider the method and try to create your own analysis.

  1. Take the project without saying anything.

If you do this, what is the likelihood of you leaving? You've already talked with them, so consider that they'll change something to keep you. Worst case, for the employer, is you spend 1.5 months ramping up, and then leave right away without adding any value. Worst case for you is that this looks like an intentional move and someone else holds that against your character personally. What's the likelihood of those things happening? What if you actually end up liking the new project?

  1. Quit immediately.

Sounds like you're financially sound to do this. You'll get the full-time opportunity to find a new job you want for ~7 months before taking a job you need. Will someone in the company appreciate you leaving, or will they still get the impression that you're actively trying to hurt them?

  1. Turn down the project and try to find a better project.

This is a unique option that most development positions I've seen don't provide. You may be able to transfer to another place in the company, with a reasonable manager. The worst case is they fire you for not doing your job or they force you to do the work anyways (with threats of firing).

  1. Be honest with your manager, and let them decide with more information

Your immediate manager will probably appreciate this, but will the rest of the management chain care? Your manager is beholden to the company more than you (legally, fiscally, etc..) so realize that the worst-case scenario is that they fire you. If your coworkers found out, how will they treat you differently?

As far as some straight up advice:

In general, in my experience, it's often something I never share unless I am OK with the worst-case scenario. You've already voiced displeasure, hopefully in a noticeable / recurring / official way, and your employer shouldn't be surprised for you to leave if they don't try to change what you were displeased about. It's a cliche statement, but it's nothing personal, it's just business.

That said, be sure to make your leaving as professional as you can. Even if some people are personally hurt, do not play games (trying to get the last say, dropping the mic, etc.) and the people that matter will remember your professionalism. This means be sure to give 2 weeks, be willing to train others, and focus on what's best for you, even if it's not ideal for them.


So you want to leave and you think you have a plan: quit, study, find job.

That is a terrible plan. It is far better to find the next job before quitting. You have a source of income. Even though it is not using your skills as you want, and it isn't letting you develop the new skills you desire; they are treating you well.

So accept the new task, put the effort into doing it well, and see where it goes. At the same time use the 9 months duration to find a new job.

Now at the end of the 9 months that is where is gets tricky. You should be well into your job search. How you handle the transition is a completely different set of questions...

The other options you mention:

  • refuse the new project. For most people that is the same as quitting. If you were being asked to transfer projects you might be able to refuse. If you were so valuable the company would be willing to pay you for a short stint while you weren't on a project, you wouldn't be thinking about quitting after one project.

  • Talk to your manager and tell him you are likely to quit. Depending on where you work that could be the same as quitting. Even if they kept you, you would have to operate as if they would fire you at any time.


Please, please do not do this. It will not be fair to either your employer or to the people who will have to mess with continuing your work. Better to be honest and just leave without getting yourself involved.


My two cents: This is obviously unethical.

The company is looking to fill a position, and from the duration question they are not looking for a temp position.

By taking the position, you make the company think they have the position filled.

By quitting before your commitment is up, you do damage to yourself and the company. Yourself in that you will have a company that, if you reference as a past employer, will likely not have positive things to say about you. And you damage the employer by making them have to look for a replacement for you before they had planned to.

  • 1
    note: downvotes without comments is juvenile Commented Dec 9, 2016 at 16:48

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