my boss is pushing me to delay my start date at my new job so I can keep working at my old job

A reader writes:

Thanks to your advice, I was recently in a position to choose between two excellent job offers and have landed a new role that is a great fit for my long-term career goals. I’m leaving behind my first post-grad-school job, where I was feeling stagnant and frustrated with institutional/program issues that were clearly not going to be resolved. The program I’m leaving is very small – me (analyst), the boss (lead investigator), a research manager, and a part-time assistant – and we’ve had a lot of turnover (we’re on the 3rd research manager in one year). I’ve been here for a year and a half now, as such, I have a fair amount of “institutional knowledge” that will be tough to lose. But, I’m certainly not irreplaceable.

I told my boss about the new position after receiving a conditional offer due to the complicating factor of an upcoming interview for a promotion (i.e. the day after I received the conditional offer). My boss is now really pushing me to ask for an extended transition period (4-6 weeks) with a part-time component so I can continue to be available and work for her part-time while they hire someone to replace me. I get why she’s doing it…..but the old research manager did this and it was kind of a disaster. My boss had a hard time letting go and trusting the replacement manager even though they were eminently qualified and it definitely created some tension. So I’m hesitant about this request at a personal level, but I also don’t think I have the seniority to ask my new employers for this kind of transition.

This is my first resignation experience, and I want to do right by my current boss who has been very supportive, without compromising my focus and attention at my new job. Should I just tell my boss that new job has said no to a 4-6 week transition period? How do I decline requests to work part-time from home on my evenings and weekends for as long as I’m needed? Is it reasonable for me to offer to be available for a finite period of time (say 3 weeks?) after I leave? And how do I make a firm break after that time period? I’m actually concerned that they will put off hiring a new person for as long as I keep myself available to them. On the other hand, this isn’t a bridge I want to burn.

It’s totally understandable that your boss would like this, but you should make your decision based on what makes the most sense for you. You gave appropriate notice, and you even went out on a bit of a limb to do that before your current employer spent time seriously considering you for a promotion. You’re presumably going to work hard during your remaining weeks there to wrap up and transition your work. Those are really the limits of your obligations.

Sure, there are some situations where the kind of gradual, extended transition your boss wants can make sense. But in your case, you (a) don’t especially want to do it, (b) feel uncomfortable asking the new employer for it, and (c) have seen others there do it and it went badly.

Moreover, it’s generally not a great idea to do this, because it will prevent you from putting all of your energy into your new job. New jobs are exhausting and demand a lot of attention, and the impression that you make early on can last a long time. You’ll be doing yourself and your new employer a disservice if you split your focus like that. It doesn’t make sense to compromise your success in your early weeks at your new job just because your old manager is panicking a little. (For more on this, read this post from 2012.)

I would just tell your boss that your new job wants you to start in X weeks (fill in X with however much notice you’re willing to give). No need to get into details about whether you’re pushed them for more, although if she specifically asks you to try asking them again or otherwise pushing you, simply say, “I’m not comfortable pushing for that, but I’ll certainly spend my remaining time here making sure that I’ve documented as much of what I do as possible and leaving things in good shape.”

If you’re asked to work from home on evenings or weekends after you leave, it’s totally fine to say no. It’s gracious to answer a couple of quick questions (quick things, like “where is the Warbucks file?”) but not to do actual work once you’re gone.

You can use wording like: “I don’t think I’ll have the time to take on additional work” … “I really want to be able to focus fully on my new role and I don’t feel right taking on anything additional” …. and “I’m not going to have the time for anything additional.”

If your boss continues to push, you can say, “I’ve thought about it, and it’s just not possible. But I’m going to work hard to leave things in good shape before I go.”

And remember, you aren’t responsible for whatever problems have led to your manager’s panic. You’ve done everything right (you gave appropriate notice, you’re helping as much as you can while you’re still there, etc.). People leave jobs — it’s a normal part of doing business, and employers are responsible for keeping themselves running when that happens.

Make a clean break and move on to your new job with a clear conscience.

Read an update to this letter here.

{ 84 comments… read them below }

  1. AdAgencyChick*

    Decide what YOU want to do and do it. If it would be a pain in the ass to continue working part-time for her, get out your best Miss Manners “I’m afraid that won’t be possible.” If you actually wouldn’t mind the extra money but want to limit the amount of time you spend working for her, spell out your terms (and your rate — do NOT make the mistake I made once, which was letting my old employer pay me at the equivalent hourly rate based on my salary, which was pathetically low compared to what they had previously been paying freelancers for the same work*) and get them in writing before you leave. Again, if the boss pushes for more than you are willing to give, “I’m afraid that won’t be possible.”

    I wouldn’t give too many reasons either. Just “I need to focus on my new job, and I’ll do everything I can in my last two weeks (or however much notice you are comfortable giving) to make the transition as smooth as possible.” In my experience if you give a reason, you get an argument back about why you should be able to work around it or why she needs you anyway.

    *Even if you are compensated well now, INCREASE YOUR RATE. Your employer will no longer be paying you any benefits or paying your Social Security taxes, so bump it up!

    1. Jipsy's Mom*

      Re: “I wouldn’t give too many reasons either. …In my experience if you give a reason, you get an argument back about why you should be able to work around it or why she needs you anyway.”

      I saw this idea addressed so perfectly by the commentariat at Carolyn Hax’s advice column: “No is a complete sentence. Explanations will be taken as opening negotiations.”

      As AdAgencyChick notes, if you explain an obstacle, the person requesting your help/time/whatever is likely to counter with suggestions to remove the obstacle. If you say “Tuesday’s not a good day for me,” you’ll get back the response “Great, let’s get together Wednesday.” If what you really mean is that you don’t ever want to do the suggested activity, just say “no thank you.”

  2. The IT Manager*

    Alison probably said it all, but I think the request for you to work part time is particularly bad since you don’t want to spend the first few weeks of new job exhausted because you’re trying to work 60+ hours a week. I highly recommend you not given into this one.

    Two week’s notice is standard. I think four weeks is very generous, and unless the new job was delaying your start date for their own reasons, I would not got beyond a month. They hired you now. Almost assuredly they need you to start now.

    It’s actually normal to feel guilty when you leave especially if you like your colleagues, but don’t let this keep you from doing what’s best for you.

    1. Mike B.*

      The two-week notice period is standard because that’s the most common length of pay periods–it gives your employer one full period to calculate the value of your unused PTO, discontinue your benefits, and wrap up any loose ends pertaining to your financial ties to the company. It’s understood that transitioning your existing projects and responsibilities to other coworkers should normally take less time than that.

      If you take so much institutional knowledge with you that your workplace will be crippled without you in two weeks regardless of your transition efforts, that’s a shame. But it’s not your responsibility, it’s theirs. It sounds like your boss didn’t think about how to prepare for departures even after losing multiple employees in a short time frame, and she’s paying a price.

      1. Colette*

        The two-week notice period is standard because that’s the most common length of pay periods–it gives your employer one full period to calculate the value of your unused PTO, discontinue your benefits, and wrap up any loose ends pertaining to your financial ties to the company. It’s understood that transitioning your existing projects and responsibilities to other coworkers should normally take less time than that.

        This varies heavily by job and whether there is someone to transition things to.

    2. hayling*

      Also the first few weeks of a new job are really exhausting. I didn’t have energy for anything else when I started my current job, let alone more work!

  3. Joey*

    Don’t feel guilty for saying no to your old employer. In fact, Id probably feel more guilty for saying yes since instead of it resulting in one cluster fudge it’s likely to result in two clusterfudges. It’s really not fair to your new employer to come in with ongoing baggage from your old job.

    1. AMG*

      Precisely! Don’t start in a bad position with you new boss by allowing your old boss to manipulate you. This is a well-worn path she is walking and should handle it like a normal adult.

  4. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

    “Should I just tell my boss that new job has said no to a 4-6 week transition period?”

    ” How do I decline requests to work part-time from home on my evenings and weekends for as long as I’m needed?”
    They may always need you if you don’t make the break, as AAM suggests you should.

    And if they valued you so much, did they make any legitimate attempt to keep you, so you could continue to grow your career with them? If not, how much do you (professionally) owe them?

    “Is it reasonable for me to offer to be available for a finite period of time (say 3 weeks?) after I leave? And how do I make a firm break after that time period?”

    Yes. And just say “you’re too busy to help them now” after the three weeks. In my world (IS/IT), it is common for people to occasionally call and ask “what did this (function) do?” or “how do you do this?” — but — not a few hours on the phone.

    ” I’m actually concerned that they will put off hiring a new person for as long as I keep myself available to them. On the other hand, this isn’t a bridge I want to burn.”

    As stated before, I had a job where I was laid off, and they were calling me nearly every day on the phone for months for help. When I started in a contract job – I advised – “I can no longer help you, unless you recall me.”
    And when I moved on to a permanent job, I finally had to slam down the gauntlet.

    As far as “burning a bridge” – did they make a credible counter-offer? The promotion? What was up with that? Were you turned down for it? If so, they will understand that you are moving on – and forward and upward.

    1. AdAgencyChick*

      “I had a job where I was laid off, and they were calling me nearly every day on the phone for months for help.”

      Yeesh. It’s already bloody obnoxious when a job won’t stop calling when it was the employee who chose to leave. But to ask for help after you’ve laid someone off? Not cool.

      1. EvilQueenRegina*

        I know someone who chose to leave but then found out that when they advertised for a replacement they offered more money than he’d been paid. He wasn’t happy when they kept calling on him for help before the replacement arrived.

      2. Adam*

        That is indeed a special brand of “Are you kidding me?”

        To borrow Puddin’s very apt analogy below: that’s like if you got forced out of your home for some reason but the new owner of the property rights kept calling you back to keep up the lawn. Sometimes it is very imperative to say “Not my problem anymore.”

      3. lowercase holly*

        if i was laid off and then called for help, i think i would laugh so hard. and not help. what is that about?

        1. Liane*

          Happened to me once at a very small company. Even though it was years before AAM & only my first or second job out of college, I had enough sense to call back & leave a message that I’d be happy to help them with Issue & anything else but I wanted consultant’s rates for doing so. Never heard back. (I had no idea at the time what I should charge if they had gotten back to me. I may just have thrown that out there because I assumed consultant=lots of money.)

        2. long time reader first time poster*

          I was laid off with no notice, and then they called me for help in figuring out where I’d left off with an important client. I was at the hospital at the time, with my father who was on his deathbed.

          I was so jarred by being unexpectedly let go, I complied — I was worried about finding a new job and I wanted to avoid burning bridges. They had the nerve to tell me on the call that the silver lining to my being let go was that I’d get to spend more time with my dad.

          That was a few years ago and I’m still furious about it. Jerks.

      4. Witty Nickname*

        Yep. This happened to a former coworker of mine, who was laid off. She applied for a position on another team (that was taking over one of her former duties) and wasn’t hired. Almost a year later she told me they had just called her and asked her how to do that former task because they didn’t have anyone who knew.

        I told her to give them an outrageous consulting rate. ;) Our former boss had a talk with them about how inappropriate that was (we were all very upset to have to lose her, and our boss did everything they could to try to find her another position in the company).

    2. MK*

      I think the OP told them she had accepted the new job before they even interviewed her for the promotion.

    3. davey1983*

      Concerning any counteroffer, it is almost never wise to accept one, even the ‘I would be an idiot to turn down that offer’ kind.

      Once you have indicated your intent to leave, the organization will take that into account in all future decisions– you are permanently tainted. Additionally, most employers would start looking for your replacement (because you are going to leave anyway, right?), and once they found one you would then be fired from old job with no new job.

      1. Worker Bee (Germany)*

        Sooo agree!! I would never accept one but that is due to the fact they by the time I am ready to leave, I have tried to negoiate the things I want from the employer (as in better pay, work from home etc). If I have to quit to get the raise I want it leaves a sour taste. Someone said this here before and I have to agree. If an employer would just every now and then take the time to think about for whom they are willing to make a counteroffer and they do come up with people: rethink what you are paying right now, because it is obviously to low./rant over

      2. Liane*

        In this case, I think the reason a couple commenters asked if OP got a counteroffer is to help her see how much or little the job she’s leaving values her, not suggesting she should say Yes to one.

        (But a good idea to mention here, because it is such an important point)

  5. Malissa*

    Another option would be to say you will be available, but only as a contractor. Name a rate that’s at least double your current hourly rate, enough to make it worth your lost hours, and high enough to really make them think twice about continuing to use you.

        1. Jerry Vandesic*

          Better to get a retainer agreement in place beforehand, with payment up front. The agreement would guarantee availability for a certain number of hours per month. If they don’t use it, they lose it.

  6. Cath in Canada*

    One thing you could do is offer to have a one-time meeting with your replacement once they’ve been in the role for a couple of weeks and know what kinds of questions to ask you. (I’ve done this with my replacement in the last two jobs I left, although there was no pressure to stay longer or anything like that in either case, and both meetings were very productive). That way you’re demonstrating a willingness to help (and hopefully preserving the relationship in the process), but aren’t committing too much time.

    1. MissDisplaced*

      I started a new job once and the only time I had with the person who was leaving was a few hours on a Saturday. We both came in and spent the day together on some very specific training and questions (they had some weird proprietary software). While it didn’t cover everything, I found it very helpful and I was super appreciative. It was nice of her to do so, especially considering that she hated the place and the owners, but she didn’t want to leave a fellow designer hanging in such a high pressure environment.

      If you’re on good terms with your employer and want to offer this, it really is nice for the incoming person. I’ve offered my services (paid of course) in this way as well, and find it helps to alleviate some transition fears and the urgency to get someone else in the door “right now.” But, of course you’re not under any obligation to do so.

  7. Jubilance*

    “No” or “I can’t do that’ are perfectly acceptable answers here. You don’t have to do this and frankly it sounds like way more trouble than it’s worth. If you suddenly couldn’t work there tomorrow, they’d figure it out. Do what’s best for you.

  8. puddin*

    It sounds like your boss is putting you in the position of alleviating her anxiety about the transition at the old workplace. She can handle this and she has to – Because you have to handle your transition to a new workplace and role.

    I liken the job move to moving homes. You tidy up the old place as much as possible, pack up, and hand the keys over. You wouldn’t go back to clean or maintain that property instead you want to/should spend your time on the new place. Old job is not your concern anymore in much the same way.

    1. fposte*

      Oh, nice, I like this. Yeah, you really don’t want to be stuck mowing lawns at the old house just because the new owner’s antsy.

    2. AnonAnalyst*

      I love this analogy!

      I’ve been in the OP’s position: I made the mistake of doing contract work for my previous employer while I was moving and starting grad school. Similar to the OP’s situation, my boss felt that she would really need the help with the transition and I really liked her, so I agreed to do it. In addition to just being hugely stressful to try to juggle with the other things I was taking on, it often kept me from feeling like I was able to move on to my next opportunity because I was still dealing with work from my old company most days of the week.

      I think if I had the moving homes analogy it would have put the request into more realistic perspective, rather than the way it I viewed it at the time, which was was that I’d make extra money and help my old manager with no downside. Live and learn!

    3. Adam*

      Perfect analogy. You are no longer reaping any benefits from working there, so they are not entitled to anymore of your efforts.

    4. BritCred*

      As I’m currently in the last week between homes I can say “so much this!” trying to keep new home clean as we move stuff in in bits and also trying to still live in old home and pack everything up I wish I’d gone with what I said last time I moved with my Ex : “Next time we are employing a full service company, giving them a plan of how stuff is to go in the new home and going away for a week on holiday!”

      I can’t commit to either effectively at the moment because of the duality and I can’t imagine being in that situation with two jobs!

  9. fposte*

    I think it’s really inadvisable to be invested in the old job when you have a new job to start, so I’m strongly against working for your old job after you leave for the new. It’s just a big psychological object that interferes with the transition, as well as being tiring.

    It’s both fine and advisable for you to clearly tell your soon to be ex-job what you can give them beyond conventional notice, and it’s utterly up to you what that is.

  10. Mike C.*

    I just want to point out that even if you’re able to give more than two weeks to a transition, you’re under no moral or professional obligation to give them all of that time. The last time I moved jobs, I purposefully scheduled a week or so in between so I could have some time to decompress, relax and get rested for a new challenge.

    I would highly recommended you do something similar if the opportunity presents itself.

    1. Colorado*

      I definitely agree. I’ve always tried to take a week off in between jobs (usually using leftover vaca pay). I’ve had 4 jobs in my career. It allows you to stop, rest, and then start. My most recent job, I broke this rule under pressure from current employer and boy that was one of the many red flags I chose to ignore! Never again, unless it’s just financially impossible.

    2. fposte*

      I think this is also a really good point, and it underscores one I want to emphasize. OP says this is her first resignation experience, and she’s talking about what the soon-to-be-previous manager wants and what her new job wants. This is about what *you* want. It doesn’t matter if your new job says they’re fine with your working for the old job or waiting for months; the limit isn’t what they’re okay with, it’s what you choose to do. You have that authority.

    3. Golden Yeti*

      I’ve actually kind of wondered about the obligation thing. I think here, legally you only have to give 2 weeks notice (provided you’ve been with the employer at least a year). But, I did sign a company contract for 30 days notice. I’m guessing the legal requirement would have precedence in court if it came down to that, but the employer would probably be very angry. It’s a bit of a catch-22, because 30 days also tends to deter hiring managers.

      Taking a small break between jobs is a great idea. I’ll have to remember that for next time!

      1. fposte*

        You don’t legally even have to give two weeks in the US; it’s just a convention. If you sign a contract for more notice, you’re bound by that contract.

    4. Joey*

      Maybe you wouldnt, but I know most managers who treat employees well would be a little put out if you gave the minimum notice and could have given more.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Depends on the specifics though — a manager shouldn’t have a problem with “I want to take off a week in between jobs.” But I’d definitely have a problem with someone giving two weeks notice when they’d known three months earlier (assuming I was a manager who makes it safe for people to give lots of notice, which I am).

        1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

          Depends, AAM. Depends.

          At one job I left – to go to another – if you had given your notice, and your annual bonus was to be paid in that two week period, you would lose the bonus. I gave my notice the Monday after receiving my annual bonus check. My immediate manager was a good guy – asked “I hope you picked up the check, because I would have to call HR and tell them not to hand it to you…” I informed him I collected it, CASHED it – put the cash back into my checking account, it’s all said and done…

          “THANK GOD! Good!” They sensed that a number of people were going to be giving a two-week notice – I *had planned* a two week notice with a week in-between, but when they announced they were “delaying” the bonus payments due to a “technical glitch”, I stayed the extra week.

          1. fposte*

            But that’s not about not taking a week off, that’s about how you time your two-week notice.

      2. Apollo Warbucks*

        I gave my boss months worth of notice last time I left a job and it blew up in my face and I lost out big time, next time I’ll meet my minimum contractual obligation and nothing more.

        Contractual notic periods (or business conventions for at will employees) exist to offer some protection to employees so they have time for training replacements, as the old saying goes there’s no friends in business.

      3. Mike C.*

        Eh, in my case I was leaving a toxic workplace for a week and a half of Starcraft 2 and a 70% pay raise afterwards. I bought cake for the office, left that day with a bunch of great references and haven’t looked back since.

        I think it’s one of those things where if the manager is good enough to treat their employees well they’re good enough to be able to handle someone giving two weeks notice even though employees are going to tend towards being more helpful, and vice versa.

        I guess the converse would be to ask, “of those managers you mentioned, how many would appreciate that their new hires had a week or so to relieve some stress and prepare for their new role?”

        1. Joey*

          Honestly, I’m too excited to get a new person on board to want them to take a week vacation. Id rather have them a week earlier if I had a choice. But it’s not a big deal if theyd rather take time off.

  11. Colorado*

    Excellent advice as usual. Do what is best for YOU! Do not feel guilted into doing something you are not comfortable with. The company will take care of itself but who will take care of you if this transition affects your new job? At 42 years old, this is still a difficult concept I have to remind myself of . Your employer is obviously looking out for themselves, do the same for you. Best of luck with your new job!!

    Not sure how relevant this is but my favorite analogy is putting the oxygen mask on in case of emergency. You can only save others after first saving yourself.

  12. MommaTRex*

    Time to move on!

    I once worked as a temporary replacement for someone who only gave me her phone number because she trusted that I would only call her with questions like “Where is the Warbucks file?”, etc. It worked out well.

    I’ve also once did work for a former client even after I started a full-time job, and I really should have cut them off sooner than I did. It was hard to give the work the full attention it deserved and it was distracting for my regular work.

  13. Jules*

    Do what is right and best for you. While it’s true that you have a new job, your previous supervisor will probably be your reference when you job hunt again in the future, you don’t want to burn any bridges.

    I was at the tail end of my project when I was offered a new job. I extended my notice to 3 weeks since my prior employer asked and it would do no good to my reputation if I left before I closed out the project and tied up loose ends. My resume has a lot of projects on it and it’s part of my professional reputation. It’s a lot shorter then the 4-6 wks they asked you so it felt right for me.

    A nice middle way would probably if you offered to make a transition list for whoever that needs to pick up your work. I did that when leaving so that nothing fell through the cracks accidentally and it makes previous managers remember me fondly and give a strong recommendation when asked by future employer.

      1. Chloe Silverado*

        I’m not sure what Jules’ transition list consisted of, but the person who moved out of my current role left a list of all of her current and ongoing projects, as well as projects she anticipated boiling up in the near future. She included a brief project summary/status when necessary. My boss and I kept a printed copy at our desks and checked in regarding all of these projects during my first few weeks to ensure that nothing fell through the cracks. It was very helpful!

        1. Jules*

          Yes, what Chloe said. Plus where the location of each file is. Nowdays that we have a shared drive for a team, so I would list out the work/job/task, where it’s at, who works on it, where you can find all the files you need for it on shared drive. As a rule, I don’t delete my work file because ‘OMG it’s mine!’. I let them go, you are going to a better bigger place. I only delete my personal research because no one really cares about my reaserch stuff anyways. It’s good for my personal growth but irrelevant to the job/position.

        2. Connie-Lynne*

          I did this sort of thing and reviewed it with my VP before I transitioned to a new role within the company. It gave both of us a really good sense of peace of mind.

          At previous companies, I had gotten into the habit of essentially doing a “job duties and how to do them” list before I left for long vacations. I did this again this summer in my new role and it was _so useful_ when I got back from my four weeks off. I’d forgotten some of the fiddlier bits of what I was working on and this let me jump back into things much more quickly.

  14. Tornader*

    I would also caution that your feelings at the beginning of your two week notice may change drastically by the time you actually leave.

    When I left my previous position I had an amazing working relationship with my supervisor and the other manager of the department. I was willing to do anything to help alleviate the transition headaches, even after my official departure date. I would have run myself ragged trying to help them. However, the “joking”/snarky comments and backhanded compliments about my new job began to increase as time went on and began to weigh heavily on me. My favorite comment was when the other manager said that my newly repaired car (accident a few weeks earlier) breaking down on the side of a mountain was karma for me leaving them…I was too stunned to even respond.

    I almost lost my composure a few times toward the end, but held it all together and was happy to get out of there. I’m still happy to answer the “where is this file?” questions but I’m so thankful I didn’t commit myself to more. It was a tough but good lesson to learn.

    1. MissDisplaced*

      Wow! That’s a pretty rude thing to say, even if said jokingly (and some people do like that type of black humor-but you have to know them really, really well). Talk about foot in mouth!
      Yeah, it’s pretty amazing how things can go once you give notice. Perfectly nice and formerly sane people can become snarky and even hostile over your decision or worse, pile on so much extra “work” and pressure to complete things before you go.

      1. Tornader*

        Yeah, I don’t mind a bit of black humor, but this was another event in a nightmare chain of events in which everything was going wrong and both insurance companies were screwing everything up. So my car breaking down after being repaired, and sitting on a blind curve of a mountain for 2 hours wasn’t the highlight of my life.

        I think a lot of it was part jealously and part bad timing. The other manager was someone who loved throwing her title around and letting people know how important she was. It had taken her 15+ years to work her way to that position and I think that she resented me leaving for a similar position after less than 2 years. Also, the new position also included a succession plan to take over the next level a few years later. To make it worse, it didn’t help that I gave my notice the morning it was announced that the company was acquiring a smaller one, as well as opening a new branch. This meant a ton more work for everyone in my department.

  15. MaryMary*

    OldJob was terrible about internal transitions (promotions and transfers to other teams/departments). We’re talking 10-12 weeks to transfer from one role to another, with time shared between the two roles. Once I actually split my time between two different campuses to transition from one business segment to another. Monday, Wednesday, Friday at main campus and Tuesday and Thursdays at the suburban campus. However, when someone left the firm, we managed to transition the work in two weeks. It wasn’t always pretty, but we never lost a client or had a project go down in flames because of it.

    There’s a huge difference between the amount of transition time a manager would like to have, and the amount of time she needs to have. Two weeks is fine, three weeks is very kind of you.

  16. Elizabeth West*

    This is not the OP’s problem. It’s the boss’s problem. She should leave when she’s scheduled to leave. If you agree to be available for questions afterward, OP, please, get it in writing and set a time limit on it.

  17. neverjaunty*


    It would be iffy for your boss to ask for a 4-6 week transition period, if it were just that – but the “part time” indefinitely thing makes it clear that your boss simply wants to cling to you as long as possible. Add to that the fact that you have seen this happen before with ugly results.

    OP, your boss is probably going to try to play on your inexperience and feelings of responsibility to try to guilt you into staying. Ignore this. You have a new employer in two weeks. You owe your boss your full attention and good work until you leave, just as you did before you gave notice. That’s it.

  18. resigning OP*

    Hello! OP here, and thank you to Alison and the AAM community for your always helpful advice!

    My boss ended up actually cornering me in my office this morning (first thing, before anyone else was around) and strongly encouraging me to email/call HR at my new employer right away to ask about this. I honestly think she would have composed an email for me/made the phone call, she was being quite insistent about it. I ended up telling her that I frankly wasn’t comfortable with making this request- it’s a big ask for a jr. employee to make, especially when they originally wanted someone to start mid-January. My boss was definitely not pleased. Unfortunately, I did indicate that I would make myself available after my last day, because I felt sort of backed into a corner….I’m regretting that a bit but I also think I can agree to one in-person meeting after my replacement has started, like a commenter suggested, and then make polite excuses for more demanding requests. I agree with others that maintaining a lingering connection to old job will be counterproductive as I start a new one. I’m also not so desperate for money that additional contract work will be worth my while.

    I have a start date of my new job now, so I’ve given my official notice (>2 weeks) and have started to let some team members know. When I realized that my departure was imminent (before the holidays) I spent some time during otherwise quiet periods working on a transition manual/document of sorts so whoever replaces me will have SOMETHING (there was nothing written down when I started). And, as some commentors mentioned, I am taking a vacation before I start my new position- my first vacation in two years & first vacation with my SO, so I’m pretty excited!

    With respect to the promotion, it was an internal thing (moving from analyst I to analyst II, which comes with a small pay increase). It was done by my boss to keep me happy, essentially. I’ve been working at a project co-ordinator level for a while, but for silly reasons receiving that title/salary isn’t possible so this was a consolation prize. The promotion could not match the new job in any aspects (not in quality/interest of the work, job security, salary, benefits, vacation, etc) so I didn’t want to waste current employer’s time by going through the motions of the interview when I knew I would resign within a week.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Unfortunately, I did indicate that I would make myself available after my last day, because I felt sort of backed into a corner

      You can absolutely go back to her now and say, “I’ve been thinking about your request for me to be available for help after I leave. I want to be realistic about what will be possible, and I can do __ but beyond that I don’t feel comfortable committing to anything else because I know I’ll need to be focusing fully on my new role.”

      And then hold firm. If she pushes, say, “I really want to be realistic and fair to my new job. But I’ll leave things in good shape here before I go.” Repeat as needed.

      (Say this now though — don’t wait a week or anything, because that really would be unfair to her — you don’t want her planning on help that she won’t get.)

      1. KJR*

        You might even consider role playing this scenario with a friend or family member. It may really help you to stand your ground if you’ve become comfortable saying the words out loud, especially if you’ve had problems standing up to the boss previously. Plus, whoever is helping you can come back with different responses so you’re more prepared. They can also tell you if you sound wishy-washy or not sure of yourself.

        1. fposte*

          Absolutely. I’d really like you get out of the notion that you have an “excuse,” polite or otherwise, for this. You’re being asked to do something considerably above and beyond, and the default to this kind of query is “No, I won’t do that.”

          1. fposte*

            Sorry, the way I wrote this could be misleading. I mean the notion that you *have* to have an excuse–you don’t.

      2. Jean*

        >my first vacation in two years & first vacation with my SO

        Taking care of yourself includes **protecting your vacation from a gazillion phone calls and emails from your former employer! You don’t owe your old boss any explanations beyond “during this time period** I will be 100% off the grid.” Period. (**Expand that time period to include several days each before & after your vacation so you’re not fielding messages while you’re trying to pack or unpack.)

        Your old boss is NOT going to die just because your job is briefly uncovered or your successor is on board but still learning.

    2. AdAgencyChick*

      GOOD FOR YOU for refusing to ask your new employer to meet your boss’s demands.

      And, as Alison says, you can and should go back to your boss and tell her you’d like to define exactly what kind of help you can and cannot offer. Otherwise, expect a LOT of “but you prooooomised!” in the coming weeks.

    3. Mike C.*

      It’s a weird, rough thing leaving your first real job. Just keep doing what you’re doing, stick to your (quite reasonable) guns, and start counting down the days until you get to vacation with your SO. You’re going to have an amazing time and you’ll come back refreshed and ready for the new challenges ahead.


      1. Worker Bee (Germany)*

        Just now realizing that I was lucky. My first job ended when the contract was up and they had a hiring /renewing contract freeze at the time. But they loved my work and recommended me to their partner company in the US. My work and time in the US ended with the expiring visa, which you couldn’t renew. And now the first time I have resigned, I am a reader of AAM of 2 years. So I was very well prepared. (But then again we/I have 3 month of required notice periods) My exit Interview is actually something I look forward to. Thanks to Alison!!

    4. Joey*

      Similar to Alisons comment, saying you’d make yourself available after you leave is such a generic statement that you can easily go back and clarify specifically what you meant by that.

    5. Gene*

      IF you DO decide to help her out (and beyond “The Left-Handed Veeblefetzer file is in a subdirectory of Potrzebie, and the Right-Handed Veeblefetzer file is in a subdirectory of Cowznofski .” you shouldn’t ), you need a contract laying out the maximum amount of time you will dedicate to her a day, the times you will be available, your rate (at least twice your current pay rate, better close to 3X,) your invoice dates (not “at the end of the project”), your payment terms (cash is nice), and a hard end date. And bill her for every single minute of your time you are working for them; $60/hour is nice because she’ll be thinking, “This is costing me a dollar a minute!”, $120/hour is better. :-)

    6. Elizabeth West*

      When I realized that my departure was imminent (before the holidays) I spent some time during otherwise quiet periods working on a transition manual/document of sorts so whoever replaces me will have SOMETHING (there was nothing written down when I started).

      You are awesome for this–I once stepped into a job where the person in question had left before they hired me (she moved and had a specific deadline for that). The job was very exacting and detailed. My predecessor left exquisite notes spelling out how to do practically everything. I was so grateful that when she was in town visiting friends and stopped by, I nearly hugged her. It’s been my practice now to do this for every job I have, and if I take copious notes at the beginning, it helps me learn procedures much faster.

  19. Ed*

    In my experience, OP’s boss would be the same person that would tell a new hire “Screw your old company! I wouldn’t give any notice to them so you can start here tomorrow!” I can appreciate the huge difficulty of going without someone in a certain position that nobody else knows how to do but this is simply the way the world works. I would love to give 3 months notice when switching jobs but a) the new company would rarely wait that long, b) even if they said they would wait, I’ll bet the offer would often go away before your start date because the old person was staying or they found a better candidate and c) your current employer would often retaliate with that much time and potentially do something to screw up the offer.

    My basic rule is give the other person as much notice as reasonably possible without negatively affecting myself. When disclosing information, I will always err in my favor. OP’s boss is looking at all angles and then saying “my company is more important than your future career” just like you should decide the opposite is true. The difference is you have all of the power and your boss has none other than potentially giving bad future references.

    I was wishy-washy in my first resignation as well. I have since learned that before you enter the room, you need to know where you stand with a potential counter offer (rarely a good idea) and that your commitments to the other company regarding things like start date are firm. Even if my boss had a valid argument about extending my notice, I would never do anything to make me look bad to my new company. And it can also be very flattering to get a counter offer and your ego can get the best of you. I always expect a counter and know whether I would even consider it. If the answer is no, I don’t beat around the bush if one if offered. I don’t even need to hear the amount. Personally, I’m usually a little insulted and wonder why wasn’t I worth that much before resigning.

  20. Teresajs*

    When your old manager contacts you about working part time, set firm but reasonable boundaries. This manager sounds like she’s likely to push those boundaries. As far as good boundaries to start with, I would recommend not taking calls or responding to emails/texts from the old company during your new work hours; refuse to alter your work schedule at the new job to do work for the old boss; and you should negotiate a higher hourly pay (get it in writing) for any further work since they will no longer be giving you benefits (I’d ask for twice the old rate).

  21. Employment Lawyer*

    Be firm. Leave the door open for changes.

    Like this:

    “I’m so sorry, but it won’t be possible to extend my time here beyond my notice. I understand this may be difficult for you, and I will be happy to focus very heavily on the transition during my remaining time here.

    I don’t know yet how busy I will be when I start my new job. If I have time available and if it turns out that you still need help, I will certainly consider entering into a freelance contractor arrangement–I enjoyed working here. That said, I don’t want to make any promises yet. I won’t know my availability until after I have started there. So I think we should leave that open for now.”

    It is often courteous to be willing to put in a few extra hours, especially if they’ll pay you OT. If your business is only open on weekdays, then a weekend is usually the best time to train someone without constant interruptions. But that is not necessary, of course.

  22. Two Person Company*

    I’m going through my first resignation experience also at a two person non profit. I remember Alison mentioning in a post that two person companies are trouble, but I can’t find it to see why-maybe this is why haha. My boss (the CEO) doesn’t want me to leave until she finds someone else and I would feel bad leaving since she doesn’t have anyone to do the (admin assistant) job and can’t do it herself even temporarily. (When I was on vacation she took names and numbers of people who placed orders and had me call them back or just told them to call back when I returned. ) The new job I have is just some afternoons during the week at the moment because I wanted to become a teacher and I would need the days so I can go be a substitute or study or whatever to transition. However, I feel really bad because I can kinda work for my boss and help her while I transition I just don’t want to, and I want to get started on a different career asap so I can buy a house, start a family, etc.

    I know I need to just say “no”, but it’s hard!

    1. Apollo Warbucks*

      If you know you’re palnning on leaving you can start preparing now, get good documentation together and start thinking about what you will need to had over to your replacement.

    2. RoseTyler*

      I know it’s easy for me to say, but try not to feel too bad. Your vacation, when she had to basically put transactional business on hold (!) should have been a wakeup call to her that “hmmmm, we should probably get some more help around here.” If the budget didn’t allow it, then it’s the nonprofit’s business model that is to blame for the disruption that will inevitably ensue when half of a two-person team leaves – it’s not your fault.

      People leave jobs, people get hit by the proverbial bus. Good managers should anticipate these things and not make the employee feel like they’re responsible for any fallout.

  23. Confused*

    I tried to accommodate OldJob when I was transitioning to NewJob. BIG mistake! I think it really hurt how boss at NewJob saw me. Stay strong!

  24. Scott*

    As Joni Mitchell sang “Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.”

    I quote this because this has been my experience at many jobs I’ve left. LOTS of companies, large and small, have hard workers who come in every day, do their work and then some, yet never get any kind of recognition or promotion. Then, when those people find something else to do, the company suddenly wakes up and realizes the asset they are losing and tries to make it right, but by then it’s too late.

    To any managers reading this, look around. Find the people who have been reliable and stood by your company, the ones who rarely call in sick, who always finish their work on time, who take on extra projects–AND REWARD THEM. Don’t take them for granted.

  25. T White*

    If the situation where the other way around and they Laid you off and you asked them to provide you with a check for your rent every month you were out of work, how quick would they be to do that?? Not very. I would make a clean break. Start your new job with no baggage from the old one.

  26. Rachel*

    “my boss is pushing me to delay my start date at my new job so I can keep working at my old job”

    Send your old boss an email with the following text: “LOL!”

    That is all. Seriously, do you think they’d give a damn about you if they had to fire you? Give you half pay for a bit just for old times’ sake? No? Me neither. Never do something unreasonable just because someone has the cheek to ask.

  27. Not telling*

    How would LW feel if in her new job, the old coworker was hanging around looking over her shoulder for ‘4-6 weeks’??? Not good, probably. Everyone needs free space to find their own way, and define their own unique stamp on their new job. Don’t treat others in a way you wouldn’t want to be treated yourself.

    And not only would an extended transition hinder her replacement and possibly coworkers as well, in the end it’s not really helping the manager be a good manager either.

    The best departure is thorough and organized. If your manager won’t do it, write a transition schedule for yourself. Day 2: notify coworkers of departure. Day 3: identify tasks and temporary re-assignments. Day 4 & 5: meet with coworkers & mgr to review tasks and work status. Day 6: Notify clients or vendors of their new contact person. Day 7, 8, 9: step back and let coworkers handle tasks, stepping in to answer questions as necessary. Step 10: clean out desk, say goodbye to coworkers. Schedule a coffee or lunch for a few weeks out, to share stories of your new job and answer any lingering questions of either coworkers or your replacement.

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