Career Geek: Leaving Your Job Gracefully

I don’t often blog about non-tech things here, but sometimes I do, and well, it’s my blog so.. yeah. Anyways, I have been in some kind of tech lead or manager position for a while now, and have hired and fired and seen people leave from time to time, so I have some experience, not the most by far, but some, and just want to get this one out here.

Leaving Gracefully. Pretty simple when you think about it. Give your employer ample time and notice (2 weeks seems to be the norm). The other company you are going to or whatever you have planned for your future (retirement?) can wait. You have given the company years of service, and they have given you years of paychecks. It doesn’t hurt to give them as much time needed to transition you off the team.

A few times even recently I have seen people just up and leave, 0 day notice, a few days, etc. That’s just not cool.

Another thing to think of is “what I am responsible for, only me, and how can I get someone else to know where to even start”. Most everyone has something only they work on or know the in’s and out’s of, or where to even start to get some system configured or whatever. Don’t leave without giving someone at least some basic training or documentation.

Try not to burn bridges, you never know when you will need to get back across them.

If you do the right things, you might even get a send off party, so all your colleagues can join in wishing you well.

Everyone moves on sometime, there is no doubt, but if you do it gracefully you will come out in the end as a more likable colleague and even sometime in the future when you might want to come back (you never know, I have seen it happen!) then the company and other people on the team will welcome you back.

Now in some tech companies, they might even ask you to leave right away, and that is ok. No use having someone sit around for 2 weeks, it all depends on the situation, but you should at least offer the 2 weeks, and in some cases even more, 3, 4 weeks, etc.

Like I wrote earlier, the other place can wait. How do I know this? I hire people too. In the grand scheme of things waiting a couple of weeks to get someone on board isn’t going to make a difference. When most tech/software jobs are 2-5 years, waiting 3 weeks isn’t going to kill a project.

Keep in touch with your team, maybe even your manager. In the end, just use common sense when moving on.

By Steve Novoselac

Director of Digital Technology @TrekBikes, Father, Musician, Cyclist, Homebrewer

6 replies on “Career Geek: Leaving Your Job Gracefully”

As a manager, I would agree with your sentiment about giving notice. As an employee, I kind of disagree. The problem is that the expectation does not work both ways. If a company is going to lay you off because times are tough, the employee will not get two week’s notice. So why should it be different when the employee leaves the company? Too often, I’ve seen companies have the attitude that the employee has some sort of obligation when leaving, yet take the viewpoint that employees should merely be grateful for the chance to collect a paycheck for however long they did.


I worked at a place for 8 yrs and was laid off due to lack of funds. My severance was the 4 yr old computer I was using, likely because donating it to me would be a tax break. 😉

Don’t get me wrong, when I’ve quit jobs in the past, I’ve always given 2 weeks notice. I do it not because of the company, but because of the team of people I worked with. I don’t want to leave them high and dry. But I also don’t like the double standard that comes with the expectation.

When an employee quits, they are firing their company. They are saying “you do not meet my needs, and so we will no longer work together”, which is the same statement the company makes when it fires an employee. Yet the employee is supposed to give notice while the company won’t. I’ve watched people with 10+ years of *good* experience get fired with no prior warning. I understand the logical reasoning the company does it that way (security, for starters), but I don’t understand the logical reasoning why the expectations are different when it’s the employee firing the company.


True, you are correct in most cases, though I have also seen companies give ample notice or wean employees off so they don’t get left out in the cold. “work 6 weeks and then resign” etc.. but Even in most “letting people go’ situations, the employee isn’t left high and dry. I suppose I could write a post on how a company should act in the same situations, but it comes down to the same thing, they can be good or bad.


To me its not so much a question of whether my boss deserves to have the extra notice or whether my company would do the same for me (besides that is awkward for both parties anyways), but what should I do as a professional?

Perfect Example:

My previous boss was a complete douche and I knew he would take my resignation personally, but I only needed to work one week to come out even on vacation time. As I predicted every day for the next week he generally did all he could to try and make work hell for me and every day I would shrug it off and try to transition as much knowledge as I could to my team members. After I had finished transitioning my knowledge, I could have just quit and took the second week as vacation, but I decided that I should try and help my team out by cleaning up some administrative processes that were slowing them down.

My manager decided dismiss me early instead.

Was I hurt or angry by this? Not really. I had been a professional to the end and I left my team with a solid understanding of what I had worked on… and plus I got 3 extra days of vacation.

So I guess my though comes down to this: if we call ourselves Professionals and we want to be paid as Professionals, then shouldn’t we act like them?


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