Exit Strategy


I have finally made the decision to leave my job of 8 years, but have not sent out résumés or contacted any potential employers yet. My decision is not based on anything negative – I love my bosses, co-workers, etc., but want a career change. I work at a fairly small (25 employees), family owned business and lead one of their four departments, though the dept. only consists of myself and a newly hired assistant (who won’t be able to take over). I want to leave on good terms with the company and I know they will have an extremely hard time finding a replacement. I do not want to commit to staying until said replacement is found, but planned on offering 1 month notice and staying until I have completed those clients that have already booked (I am a dog trainer). Additionally, the gal who does the sales for me is leaving in less than a week and I will now be expected to take on these appointments. My question is: knowing that I will be leaving, is it appropriate for me to not give notice to my employer until I have secured a new job and complete my sales appointments as if I AM staying, or should I notify them of my intent to start looking for alternate employment so they are not then having to cancel clients who may book farther out than 1 month and run the risk of them excusing me before I find new employment. Thanks in advance!

Exit_000017488442_smallDear, On Short Notice,

Searching, applying, interviewing, and finally landing the right job may take a while. By the time you are ready to give your standard two weeks notice, it could be months and the salesperson may already be replaced. But since you have worked with this small company eight years, you may wish to inform your bosses of your career goals to allow them the extra time to find a replacement for you and the salesperson.

While you may not harbor ill feelings, when leaving a less than satisfactory job, some people may be tempted to quote country music singer Johnny Paycheck and tell the boss to “Take this job and shove it; I ain’t working here no more.” Here are tips to create an exit strategy that won’t have repercussions down the road.

  1. Update your résumé, including career highlights from your current position. Review my post, “Importance of Annual Résumé Updates.”
  2. Start networking – discreetly and on your own time. Put out feelers to find open positions and companies in which you may be interested.
  3. Stash away an adequate emergency fund. You never know when your boss may catch wind of your plans to leave and fast forward your decision. There may also be a period of time between your old job end date and your new position start date, and bills still need to be paid.
  4. Use Paid Time Off (PTO) or vacation time judiciously to save enough for interviews. Be sure you know your company’s policy for unused sick time or vacation time. You don’t want to lose any time that you’ve worked hard to earn.
  5. Once you have a firm job offer (preferably in writing), tender your letter of resignation. Two weeks’ notice is the professional minimum. However, if you have a management or key position, consider staying a while longer to train your replacement. Some companies don’t like “lame ducks,” however, and may whisk you out the door that very day. See why #3 is important?
  6. During your last weeks on the job, maintain your work ethic. Organize and delegate your projects and workload with adequate instructions and documentation.
  7. If your company does an exit interview, keep your comments positive. There is a better chance that your criticisms will negatively impact you than bring about any lasting changes in your company.

Readers: How many weeks notice did you give your last employer when you quit?


Stay or Quit?
Building, Not Burning, Bridges

4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. we catch
    Feb 23, 2016 @ 10:53:17

    Failure rate in the …


  2. Dawn
    Nov 10, 2015 @ 13:13:51

    Dear Anita,

    On the job application, is it alright to write down in the box “negotiable” when they ask for a dollar amount for wages that you would like to earn.

    Thank you,


    • anitaclew
      Dec 09, 2015 @ 10:19:13

      Absolutely, Dawn! Although some online applications may require numerals in the field. But give it a try.


  3. Arlean
    Nov 05, 2015 @ 14:54:47

    I at one time thought it to be the professional, ethical, and considerate thing to give an employer 1-2 weeks notice before resigning. However, I am not sure if this rule applies. Lately, at least in the past 10 years of my work experience, I have witnessed employers give employees a 1-day notice, and in some cases, no notice at all that there service is no longer needed – due to either position elimination or no reason at all. The new employment laws allow employers to terminate employees “At-Will,” which means employers do not have to have a reason. An exception to this is that an employee can not be terminated for reasons that violate Title VI.

    So do to the fact that employers can terminate employees At-Will, and without allowing employees to work out a 2-weeks’ notice, I don’t think, at least in my opinion, that it should be mandatory for employees to give a 2-weeks’ notice. The At-Will applies to both the employer and employee (am I right about this?). The last position I was on, I was so unhappy with the position that I told the manager the day of that it was my last day – I was resigning. It was the type of work environment or employer that if you gave a notice you would be terminated immediately; they didn’t desire to “waste” their resources knowing that an employee was thinking of leaving. So, it depends on the employer contract…An At-Will contract does not require a notice. Finally, it all comes down to ethics — I think that both employer and employee should do the ethical thing – to do what’s right by one another!


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Anita Clew's blog posts are intended for general guidance and should never be taken as legal advice. In all instances where harassment, inequity, or unfair treatment is believed to be present, please consult your HR Department or legal representation.
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