when’s the best time of day to quit your job?

A reader writes:

I expect to get a job offer soon and will need to give notice to my current job. But my boss is in the office kind of sporadically, so I never know how long he is going to stay.

Is it a bad idea to talk to him as soon as he comes in (and then having to work there for the rest of the day) or should I wait until towards the end of the day? Is there a standard “time” for this kind of talk?

I answer this question — and four others — over at Inc. today, where I’m revisiting letters that have been buried in the archives here from years ago (and sometimes updating/expanding my answers to them). You can read it here.

Other questions I’m answering there today include:

  • My manager doesn’t care that our new hire is awful
  • Can employers blackball you from working in your field?
  • Should I tell job applicants about errors on their resumes and cover letters?
  • I cried in front of our director

{ 92 comments… read them below }

  1. Stop That Goat*

    1. I’ve always done it at the end of the day personally. Largely because if the reaction is poor, they have some time to calm down and there’s less awkwardness through the day. That viewpoint is shaped by my previous managers though.

    1. Karen D*

      Yeah. A manager who’s cool and professional? They get every courtesy I can give them, including notice as soon as I can practically provide it. But if it’s someone who’s likely to get angry or emotional (or frog-march me to the door and toss a box with half my stuff after me) then they get the bare minimum, or at least, a night to cool off.

      1. spellyzunkles*

        That is why I handed in my notice at the end of the night. I knew my manager was going to be really upset so I handed him the letter on the way out the door. He did calm down a little later but it was also Black Friday and he had to cover for the baker I was working with that night so he was understandably cranky.

  2. NPO Queen*

    1. I literally just quit my job on Monday. I tried to go for the morning, but my boss had surprise meetings, so he got the afternoon instead. And then he left for the rest of the week. But at least he knew before he left! I think I’m good with HR…possibly…

  3. It's all fun and dev*

    This couldn’t come at a better time, since I’m planning to resign today! That is, assuming my boss doesn’t change our meeting time again…

    Which reminds me – this is odd timing to resign. I just got back yesterday from a week-long vacation, and while I was gone my boss put a meeting on my calendar called “One-on-One Supervision”. She’s terrible at managing so this could be anything from just a check in to yet another conversation about how I seem disengaged and she’s heartbroken over it….yes, we’ve already had two of those conversations. My dilemma: do I cut her off right at the beginning with my news (“I’m so glad we have this opportunity to talk today because there’s something I need to tell you…”), or hear her out and then awkwardly transition to “Actually I’ve got something to tell you…”?

    1. HisGirlFriday*

      I would be pro-active and just say to her, ‘I’m glad you called this meeting, because I have something I need to tell you…’

      There’s no point in letting her waste her time and energy on whatever she’s going to tell you if it doesn’t matter.

        1. Czhorat*

          A good rule of thumb – always – is never waste anyone’s time. If you know you’re resigning, then there’s no reason to let your boss give you a discussion about something else. Be respectful.

          1. Angelinha*

            I had a staff person resign during the end of our regular 1-on-1 meeting, after we had spent 40 minutes working through the logistics of a new project she was going to be heading up!

            I managed to congratulate her on her new job first, but then was like, “…what the heck? Why would you have me waste time going through that whole planning process with you if you knew we wouldn’t be able to carry out any of it?”

        2. Marillenbaum*

          I have a story on this! At my first job after college, my boss was pretty clearly unhappy with the direction the department was taking. She quit during her performance review. Like, they’d gone through half of the stuff, and when her boss said “Let’s talk about the priorities for you and your team next year,” she said “We can, but I won’t be here because I’ve accepted a new position and my last date is X”. Grandboss was STUNNED, and my boss–this sweet Carolina church lady–just glides out on of the office and became the stuff of legend.

        3. Artemesia*

          But what if the manager were going to institute a PIP or otherwise chastise her; it might be delicious to be able to quit on the spot given that she has already hassled her a couple of times.

    2. Em Too*

      Oh, cut her off. Otherwise you’re going to have a conversation that’s less useful than it could be. I can think of very few conversations I could have with staff that wouldn’t be affected by a piece of news like that (even if it’s just an update, I’ll be thinking differently if you’re about to leave and I need to transfer it to someone or pick it up myself).

    3. It's all fun and dev*

      Thanks everyone for the advice!! You’re all right, I’ll definitely do it right at the beginning. Wish me luck!

      1. Karen D*

        Good luck :) I’d love to hear how it went.

        Funny story: Back in my retail days, I decided to hand in my resignation on the day of my performance review. This was a job that had been pestering me, along with any sales associate that showed a flicker of ability, to go into their management training program, although I was clearly going to college for something else entirely.

        The pressure got to be too much and they started ignoring scheduling conflicts with school, I’d be graduating soon (well, so I thought) and I knew there’d be more arm-twisting at the review, so I told the manager right at the start that I was quitting.

        She just kind of blinked, said “I’m sorry to hear that” …. and segued right into the review, complete with expected pressure to go into the management program! I interrupted her a few times to say “you do realize I just quit, right?” and she would give me the equivalent of “yeah yeah we gotta do this anyway” and go right back into her spiel. It was … surreal.

    4. CoveredInBees*

      Say it immediately, both to spare you both the waste of time but also to Prevent the impression that you’re quitting because of the conversation. People shouldn’t assume that to begin with, but another reason to be immediately forthright.

      1. It's all fun and dev*

        Good point. Plus, and I know this is petty, I don’t want her to feel like she “won” by forcing the info out of me – like I don’t want my news to be in response to her asking “why are you so disengaged”.

        1. JS*

          Well to be fair, if she has already had the conversation with you twice and you told her “there was nothing to worry about” she could feel like she forced that info out of you regardless as now you are only telling her “I want to leave” because you have a new offer. I’m not saying you haven’t been more frank about your unhappiness but just in general the fact that she probably didn’t think you were resigning and now you are after speaking with you twice, will likely feel like she forced it. Hopefully that doesnt negatively effect the transition.

    5. Red 5*

      Yes, I’d stop her before she gets going if you can. I once had decided to resign but thought I’d wait until the next week because of timing (we had a big event coming up and I thought I’d give my notice after that was done so that the boss wouldn’t be distracted from the big event).

      Which led to several days of SUPER awkward conversations with co-workers trying to work out schedule issues and asking for things where I kept going “can we talk about this next week please” and they insisted on figuring it out RIGHT THAT SECOND.

      They were all very grumpy at having to redo the work when I gave my notice a few days later. But I also knew I couldn’t tell them before I told my boss because they’d go running to her in a hot second, so it was a rock and a hard place.

      1. It's all fun and dev*

        That’s so similar to my situation! I literally had an hour long meeting about all our upcoming events with my two coworkers and all I could think was “we’ll just have to redo all of this in 4 hours after I meet with Boss”.

    6. the gold digger*

      Cut her off. My boss, Waylon, called me in for a one on one the day I was already planning to give notice. This was not a good job situation and I was not looking forward to more complaints about how I didn’t identify myself on the phone properly (not Waylon’s complaint, but a complaint to another manager, Willie, from Willie’s subordinate that Willie had relayed to Waylon and that Waylon repeated to me even though

      1. Anonymous complaints? With grownups? Really?
      2. It was none of The Boys’ business how I identified myself on the phone* and if it were, The Boys could have spoken to me directly)

      Where was I?

      Oh. Right. Not looking forward to my one on one. Had a new job. Walked into Waylon’s office and said, even before he could say anything, “I have accepted a new job in Luckenbach. My last day will be X date. Thanks for your support** and let’s keep in touch.***”

      * My company changed its name right before I started from “Ghostriders, Inc,” to “Highwaymen United.” I knew if I called customers and said, “This is Goldie from Highwaymen United” that they would have no idea who I was or why I was calling, so I introduced myself as “Goldie at Ghostriders.”

      ** That was just me being nice. Waylon had not been supportive, but in his defense, NotSergio, the CEO who has since been fired by the board, was a horrible boss who screamed at people in public.

      ** We have.

    7. It's all fun and dev*

      Well, I just gave my notice. It went better than expected – almost anticlimactic. I imagine my boss had a feeling I was ready to move on.

      Although she did send an email to my entire department telling them I was leaving before I’d gotten the chance to tell anyone in person, which wasn’t great….

  4. Jamey*

    If you’re putting in notice, why would it matter if you have to work there for the rest of the day? Presumably you have to work there for the rest of two weeks.

    1. MindoverMoneyChick*

      This makes the most sense to me. For me my managers were so busy it was just whenever I could find them. Also I have had employees resign to me. Never really made much of a difference to me on their timing.

    2. BritCred*

      It depends on the manager,their policies and if you are in a high competition field and going even loosely to a competitor.

      Is the manager going to be grumpy and awkward all day. Or is policy to walk you the second you admit you are leaving and no notice will be served.

      I’ve had managers who’d make your day hell because of it, some who would walk you out if principal and one who treated me so bad during the notice that I didn’t finish it out….

    3. Kyrielle*

      If your manager is reasonable and has your trust, it probably doesn’t matter. If your manager is completely unreasonable, it probably doesn’t matter except that you might want recovery time from the initial reaction. But if your manager can be a little over-emotional in the moment but recovers well, doing it at the end of a Friday and having a whole weekend’s buffer on their reaction might be welcome.

      Me, like MindoverMoneyChick, I just gave notice whenever I could actually get time with my manager. But that was dealing with a reasonable manager.

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Exactly. I spoke to reasonable managers at healthy organizations in the morning at a convenient time for both of us. I told my toxic employer in the mid-afternoon on a Thursday so that there was limited time for them to be weird with me (but I also didn’t want them to stew over the weekend).

      2. Mallory Janis Ian*

        I gave my notice at my last job first thing in the morning at a meeting I’d set up the previous afternoon. My bosses (the firm’s two married founding partners) were out of town on a client visit and would be returning the following morning. I wanted to give them my notice right away, so I let them know that I’d like to set a meeting with them at their earliest available time, which happened to be the start of business the next morning. It went like this:


        I am laughing because giving notice at my last job entailed an awkward, painful, hour-long conversation with my two married bosses about why was I leaving, where was I going, what exactly were the benefits and pay at the new job versus the current job, etc. There was the wife-boss telling me that I only wanted to return to the university because no one can ever get fired from there, and the husband-boss defending me by telling his wife that she doesn’t understand what a good assistant is and that I was the only assistant he’s ever had who understands what it means to be in a support role. There was a spousal argument, right in front of me, about whether I gave the job at their company a fair chance. There were tears and recriminations and a whole barrel of drama. The only positive part was that the husband-boss was on my side at every turn.

        To think that I could have avoided all that by just sending a text saying that I quit. Lol.

        And then we all returned from the conference room to the office and had a fairly normal rest of the day (and a fairly normal two weeks while I finished out my notice).

    4. Turquoise Cow*

      My previous employer had a habit of firing people when they gave notice if they were going to a competitor. There were exceptions to this, but usually they immediately walked the person out right afterward. I thought this was silly, because if they were going to pass on information to the competition, they would have done so already, but I suppose in some situations, it made sense to think that they wouldn’t be able to focus on the company’s best interests.

      Anyway, when this happened, it was usually pretty early on in the day, and the same with mass layoffs, to spare the people involved having to waste a day. They also always did layoffs on Fridays, usually ending by noon, and then most people got almost nothing done the rest of the day – just sat around feeling shell-shocked and whispering about certain people. We then got to feel anxious all weekend, too.

      All this to say, might as well get it over and done with first thing in the morning, just in case they don’t want you to work through your notice period.

    5. Czhorat*

      Yes, and various horror stories here notwithstanding, most managers will handle it professionally. I really think that the question on time of day is overthinking it.

  5. k*

    I vote for resigning at the end of the day for a kind of pessimistic reason. If for some reason they pull that thing where they make you leave immediately, they’ll have to pay you for that full day. If you resign in the morning they might only pay you for an hour or half day.

  6. Anonymuos*

    I just wanted to share a guilty pleasure of mine: Scrutinizing the resumes of people who claim to have excellent written communication skills for typos.

    I don’t hold a typo or two against applicants, especially if English isn’t their first language, because the jobs I hire for don’t require that particular skill. But if you’re going to put written communication as a skill on your resume, your resume had better not have any typos or errors on it.

    1. Cookie*

      But that’s not what people mean when they say they have excellent communication skills. What I mean is that I can convey complicated, technical information to a lay audience such that they understand the material. Others might have different meanings, but it usually isn’t meant to mean perfect typist.

      1. k*

        This is why I get so paranoid about my resume. I pride myself on my communication skills in the way that you describe, being able to give people clear and concise instructions, writing strong project proposals, using a compelling turn of phrase in a written piece, etc. I’m also terrible at spelling and suck at typing, so the chances for making mistakes and not catching them runs high.

      2. Liane*

        Anonymuos did say “written communication.” ;)

        I am very quick to pick up on typos–part of what makes me a great proofreader. However, if I were reading a resume/cover letter from an applicant who said they had “very good communication skills,” unclear sentences or badly misused words would be much bigger red flags than a missing letter or misspelled word. Using the wrong words or unclear writing are NOT hallmarks of “good communication.”

    2. Anon for this*

      I do this if they claim to have attention to detail. It feels like an invitation to look for errors! I think my attention to detail is pretty decent, but I don’t put it on a resume just in case there’s an error somewhere.

    3. Nan*

      I won’t interview someone with typos, grammatical errors, or flowing in/out of tense on their resume. All of our job descriptions include attention to detail. The resume is the time to shine, and if you tell me you have detail and you have typos, you are automatically in the No bin.

      1. AwkwardKaterpillar*

        I just declined to interview someone today because of this. Past duties at the same job were in different tenses, missing words from sentences, etc. The job does require attention to detail, if you aren’t going to proofread your resume enough to avoid this many errors – why would I think you would give enough detail t your job? I’m new to hiring, but am glad this is not that unusual.

    4. A. Non*

      I’ve been on the internet too long, I can’t tell if your user name’s meant to be a joke or not!

  7. De Minimis*

    In the morning, but not first thing when your boss arrives. Wait an hour or so, depending on the schedule.

    I feel like it’s not good to give people information [of any kind] when they first arrive, because they usually need time to prepare for their day, put stuff away, check e-mail, etc. I guess instead of “decompression” it’s more like “compression.”

    1. Turquoise Cow*

      You’re nicer than my old boss. He was practically waiting for me when I walked in and didn’t even give me time to sit down first.

      Granted, he came in an hour earlier than me, but that wasn’t my fault!

      1. De Minimis*

        I’ve learned the hard way…I used to slam my supervisor with info/updates as soon as they got in and I could tell it was a really annoying, so I don’t do it anymore.

        1. DecorativeCacti*

          There was a supervisor at my job who was annoyed by the same thing, so there were some of us with a code word to use. That way she could tell everyone else to wait but if it was really urgent, she would know.

  8. Anon for this*

    When I quit my job two jobs before the current one, I knew my boss was going to be in at around 1pm so I was planning on doing it then. The clock slowly ticked on to 2pm, 3pm, 4pm and finally 5pm and she still wasn’t there, so I ended up going to HR and resigning to the director because I wanted to give my two weeks’ notice to /someone/ but my boss just refused to show up! I checked her office one more time before leaving for the day and she’d finally arrived at around 5:30pm, so I was able to resign a second time in person to her at that point. I found out later that she was late because she spent the afternoon buying a new car!

  9. Jen*

    #2 could have been written by me. We have a new hire that’s awful, and when we tried to bring it up with our manager, she turned it around on us and said she’d give us more projects where we’d all have to work together and “get to know each other better”. She’s never addressed any of our concerns with him and he continues to be a constant screw up

    1. Lora*

      I can see it from the other side – I inherited a couple of people from a dude who couldn’t have trained Lassie to sit. Training adults who have been out of school a long time, who don’t necessarily have a ton of motivation to learn, who aren’t awesome students in the first place, and ensuring that they retain the information, is a skill like anything else, something you have to learn to do well and there’s not a lot of people who are intuitively great at it. And I’ve seen people get written off as stupid when they were really thrown in the deep end and expected to sink or swim, because literally nobody in the company had ever learned how to teach adults – it’s very different from teaching children – nor did they see any value in giving people proper training.

      I work in a field where the training requirements are highly regulated, so I’ve seen training done quite well vs. how unregulated environments train people. It’s hard to convey exactly how different it is in words.

      1. Jessesgirl72*

        This is very true, but there are people out there who just can’t retain anything, despite the varying ways you’ve tried to convey it. I actually have had good success with getting through to people where others have failed- and goodness knows I’m better at it with my own Fergus than his Manager is! But no matter how many processes I and checks I put in place (he will forget to use them!) and explanations and coming at it from different angles I try, nothing works!

        1. Lora*

          Oh I agree. Plenty of people who just…you wonder how they manage, day to day.

          Bless their hearts.

    2. Tuckered Out*

      Ugh. Yes. Ours is new-ish (has been here for a couple years) and is still making mistakes as if they’ve never been trained on it, even though I know I trained them on it… twice. And they hate having to work and feel like they are above everything.

      But my office is not a cutthroat competitive environment or anything and the boss just hopes this person will improve. By this point I kind of figure there’s not much I can do about it and I should stop taking it as a personal affront that I could work really hard at my job to try to ensure my professional success, but the whole time I could’ve been doing literally half the work, with a horrible attitude about it, and still gotten to the same place.

  10. MicroManagered*

    #1: When possible, I shoot for mid-afternoon, the day before my notice period begins. I’ve found that, if you have a really toxic manager, giving them an evening to cool off is helpful. So if my last day were going to be 5/31 (a Wednesday), ideally, I’d want to have the conversation on the afternoon of 5/16, and my notice period would be two weeks and a day long. I try to go for 2-3pM, to allow a buffer for questions, interruptions, not looking like I saved it for the very end of the day, etc.

    OTOH, if I need the day I’m resigning to count in my notice period, then I’d go with as early as possible, but giving my boss a minute to get through the door.

    1. Bwmn*

      I’m with you on this approach. Something like 2pm, so it’s not immediately after lunch.

      I had a boss who I was terrified to quit to, but at least one benefit was that whenever someone quit and she’d throw a loud fit – at least she’d give some indicators on what irritated her. Anyways, she made a very big deal about people quitting at the end of the day somehow being spiteful. Like they were doing it to ruin her evening? Couldn’t tell you exactly why, but she definitely made that opinion known.

      While it was terrifying to give her my notice – I also knew that she wouldn’t be technically nasty in regards to making me quit immediately. If a place of employment has that history, my preference would be to do it in the morning – give myself an extra day off before starting a new job. (provided finances didn’t demand having that day of pay)

  11. T3k*

    I resigned in the morning as I also had a boss that sometimes didn’t show up and I wanted to give them as much time as possible to get the ball rolling for my replacement. Unfortunately she happened to not be in that day so I gave my notice instead to the other manager (a relative of hers) so she got it later.

  12. Ramona Flowers*

    I once told someone that the spelling errors on his resume were a problem.

    He replied asking if I could let him know how many there were?

    I was hiring for A PROOFREADER.

  13. NotTheSecretary*

    Oh, the sick crying. That’s me, too. I feel your pain! I’m also an angry crier and a frustrated crier. Then I get angry about crying when I shouldn’t be and it becomes a loop. So awful!

    I have got it more under my control now that I am older but when I cried in front of previous managers, I handled it like Allison suggested. Making it a “Thanks for being kind, that was super awkward” thing helped smooth things over.

    1. Amber T*

      Me too! I’m a crier in general… super happy? I’ll cry. Super angry? I’ll cry (by the way, nothing is so fearsome and scary as a 5’0 crier). Sick? I’ll cry. My mom said that’s how she could tell if I was actually sick or faking it when I was a kid.

      I cried once in front of my old boss when there was a seemingly scary (but turned out to be painfully embarrassing and stupid) medical something going on, and I needed to go to an emergency doctor’s appointment, so when requesting some time off that day (basically saying, something’s wrong, my doctors are coordinating, I’ll need to leave some time today but I don’t know when yet), I burst into tears. She was super great about it, gave me a box of tissues, and left me alone in her office to gather myself (after, of course, saying I could go to the doctor whenever I was called). She also let me use her office for a couple of minutes to make a personal/doctor phone call later.

      New boss caught me tearing up once, but that was from stress overload (both work related and personal). He got awkward and kind of shuffled away. After one more awkward interaction, it was fine.

      So yeah, you shouldn’t cry at work on a regular basis, but sometimes stuff happens. Almost everyone will just shrug it off and move on.

    2. Annie Moose*

      I’m an angry/frustrated crier too. It’s the wooooooorst! Especially when you’re really, truly pissed off at a person/situation, but of course no one’s gonna take you seriously if you cry.

      I’ve worked on it, and I usually don’t have a problem at work/ordinary life, but if I’m particularly tired, it’s a lot harder. So I totally get the sick-crying thing. When your defenses are down like that, it’s more difficult to control physical reactions.

    3. Zombii*

      I am also a sick-crier and if you have a boss who isn’t a dick about that, you have a great boss.

      When I was on my second week of bronchitis during training at Toxic ExJob (call center) and was in a meeting with the manager of that training department, I explained I was very sick and that’s why I wasn’t meeting call times. She said if I was sick, I might want to quit until I could get my “health issues figured out” and then apply again after 6 months had passed (company policy: 6 months before rehire). I started crying because I was sick and desperately needed to have an income. I took a tissue and told her to ignore me because crying was my stress response and how could we work around this illness in a way that kept my job. She said “No. You’re crying in my office. Something’s obviously very wrong, probably in your personal life, and I need to know what it is.”

      I have never hit the BEC point faster with anyone I’ve ever worked with.

  14. Jessesgirl72*

    OP2: Oh, this one hits home. Only it’s been 18 months!

    Here is how I handle it. First, CYA! All instructional/correctional information is sent via Email so that I have a record, that yes I did notice and ask Fergus to correct the error on Page 3 before sending it to be printed, and oh, here is the Reply All from Jane who also pointed out that same error to Fergus and explained what the problem was and how to prevent it from happening next time, so if Fergus still sent it to the printer that way, there wasn’t anything else I could do! It’s not just laying out that I did X, Y, and Z- I have proof that I did those things.

    The other thing is that if someone comes to complain to me about Fergus, I (politely) cut them off and refer them to the Manager with their complaints. I know someone who is going to return from his honeymoon in a week to people just waiting to make their complaint- but he tunes me out, and the others from my team who have raised concerns. And I have made it clear that I like Fergus and it’s not at all personal.

    At least my Fergus has a good attitude and doesn’t give me rude or defensive responses when there has been a mistake. The only thing I have to put up with is the “I don’t know why I haven’t been fired yet” to which I can only make “mmm” sounds.

    1. Tuckered Out*

      Or sometimes Fergus himself has half a mind to complain to the manager about the unreasonable burden he has to bear (spoiler alert: it’s not unreasonable, it is the easiest job, oh my god why can’t you just do it like everyone else in that position has) and I’m like GOOOOO RIGHT AHEAD, dig your own grave!

      1. Jessesgirl72*

        This year during the big high profile crunch week, Fergus decided that he didn’t need my help like we did for the last 3.

        I thought that was fine- I am not his Manager, and I can’t make him accept my help- but he was going to have to lie in the bed he made!

        The most his manager has ever admitted to me was “He’s not as detail-oriented as I would have wished”

        Again, all I could do was make polite “mmm” sounds.

  15. PepperyCatcusTea*

    I get that leaving under poor circumstances can be detrimental to one’s reputation. but this all seems pretty unfair. Sometimes people are in the wrong job and the employment relationship can go south, but the person could easily excel in other positions. HR people talking like this reeks of petty gossip to me. Of course if someone leaves under outrageous terms, that’s one thing but I’ve certainly heard talk about people that falls far below outrageous. Isn’t that unprofessional?

    1. AnotherHRPro*

      No one wants a poor performer in their organization. Just like you would want your professional colleagues to let you know if a candidate you are considering for a job is problematic, so do HR folks. Especially as they are the ones involved in bringing them them and in departing them. It is not like we maintain a master list of individuals, but if someone were to ask me specifically about “Jane Doe” as they know worked at my company and if I know that she was caused a great deal of drama, then yes I would pass on that information. But only if it was more than a job fit situation.

  16. Connie-Lynne*

    I have to go for a brief cry break most afternoons at work these days, and there are times when it’s obvious that’s where I’m headed. I sometimes tear up at weird moments in meetings, too.

    Most of my colleagues, including my boss, know what I’m dealing with and just say something briefly sympathetic and let me get on with things.

    I was worried it would be a big deal, but it seems not to be, after all.

  17. Minister of Snark*

    My boss waited until right before he was about to leave on a two week international business trip, one that I’D organized for him and several other people, to tell me that he thought that “maybe it was a mistake” to hire me two years earlier. He said that when he got back from his trip and I got back from maternity leave (Oh, yeah, I was eight months pregnant at the time) that we would have to review my employment and determine whether I would continue on with the employer.

    I wasn’t surprised by this. I knew that he wasn’t happy with my performance. He wasn’t going to be happy with anyone who wasn’t his long-time secretary, who had to retire for health reasons at 72. He wanted her to come back, and didn’t seem to accept the fact that I was competent and that it was impossible for the retired secretary to come back. I WAS surprised that he thought it was reasonable for me to spend my whole maternity leave wondering whether I would still have a job to go back to.

    How about no.

    The second he was out of town, I started filing profiles on employment sites. I had several interviews and secured a new job. (Despite my boss’s view of me, I was considered highly employable.) I spent the rest of my time making lists of passwords, vendors/orders, my daily, weekly, monthly and annual duties and instructions how to go about doing them. I worked through my inbox and left everything on my desk as organized as I could.

    The day he came back from his business trip, a Monday, I greeted him with a short, unemotional resignation letter about an hour after he settled in at his desk. He was shocked that I’d moved so swiftly and honestly seemed to expect me to take my maternity leave as my time to consider whether I wanted to continue on with him as my boss. I told him, calmly and civilly, that his behavior made it pretty clear that I could not continue on as his subordinate under any circumstances.

    Oh, and because the employer had a nebulous “notice” policy that didn’t really REQUIRE employees to stay for two weeks, this was my last day. He protested that wasn’t enough time, but I handed him a printed email he’d sent right before he left for his trip, in which he said I was NOT essential to the function of the office and was in some cases, I was a detriment. And I told him that he would be just fine. After some quick tutorials on my duties with the person who would be taking them on, I walked out at my regular quitting time.

    I stayed calm and polite and didn’t respond to any over-emotional/accusatory reactions on his part. I never said I was sorry, because I wasn’t. BUT, this was a company I had no desire to work for ever again, in an industry I had no plans to work in again. So you might want to set fire to fewer bridges than I did.

    By the way, this was the only supervisor I’d ever had who had a problem with my work. Every other supervisor I had – including the boss at the job I left for – praised my work ethic, organizational skills, interpersonal skills, etc.

    1. Robin Sparkles*

      Wow this is the kind of resignation people make movies about -kudos to having it work out so beautifully.

    2. Tempest*

      I really loved the ‘you can’t go so soon! I need you to tell me things!’ Oh – see right here where you EMAILED me and put it in WRITING that am no help and sometimes a hindrance? Have fun with that. You win the mic drop of the day award here. Kudos.

    3. The Cosmic Avenger*

      [stands and applauds]

      Good for you! If he went to all that trouble to tell you that you weren’t needed and you weren’t contributing, then why should he care if you quit? He was gaslighting you, and you called him on it beautifully. Bravo!

  18. GeekyDesigner*

    I just gave my notice a little over an hour ago. It was amicable, in fact amicable is the word I used twice. Explaining was easier though as I’m moving back to an area where I’ll have family.

    I was a little unsure how it would go as this company I work with hasn’t always been the most transparent when people resign but it went well. :)

  19. Laura*

    I’ve done beginning of the day to give them as much chance as possible. When I had an internal promotion, the director called my manager in the afternoon to request that he do my review and give me a 3% raise so that would be my base salary when they gave me the next raise. I couldn’t stand the current manager so all through my review I was singing inside my head.

  20. Contrarian Annie*

    IMO time of day doesn’t matter as much as how that conversation fits with the ups and downs, busy periods and stressful times of the day (which obviously vary by workplace).

    If you had to break some other piece of “bad news” to the boss when would you choose to do it? As “bad news” is essentially what this is, from the boss’s perspective (assuming you aren’t a crappy employee!)

    For example if you’re in the kind of work where you come in in the morning to a time sensitive list of customer issues that have to be resolved… they should be taken care of before you get delayed by ‘the conversation’.

  21. Red 5*

    When I resigned from a previous job, I was very specific about what timing I wanted, because I knew we had an event coming up so I wanted to wait until after that, but I also had another opportunity lined up and I’d need to resign two weeks before that started.

    My boss I think saw it coming because even though I set up an appointment with her the morning after the event (very specifically saying I needed to talk to her, when was she coming in, etc) because she basically no-call no-showed on me. I sat there in the office waiting for two hours after she’d said we would talk and no sign of her, no email, no text, nothing. Eventually I emailed and said hey, did you forget we had a meeting this morning? A while after that I finally got a reply that she wasn’t going to be in that day at all, we’d have to reschedule.

    I emailed back and said “I wanted to do this in person, but there’s no need to reschedule, I quit, my last day is in two weeks unless you say otherwise.” I was so glad to get out of there. This was a boss who had reprimanded me multiple times for being 2-5 minutes late when there was a traffic accident jamming the highway on the way to work. Of course she couldn’t make it to the office in time for a schedule meeting.

  22. Tuckerman*

    #5 This exact same situation happened to me. I was struggling with an asthma attack but my supervisor wasn’t around. I just started crying in the director’s office, saying I needed to get to the doctor.
    I was a little embarrassed, but it never came up again. If I had more contact with this director, I might have said something. But it was a one off thing and had no lasting impact.

  23. Still learning how to adult...*

    FWIW, my thought process is to give notice mid-morning. That way it’s not forcing your boss to eat a toad first thing in the morning if you give it when you walk in the door, and IMHO, it’s kinda sheepish & cowardly to do it right at the end of the day. Not that I haven’t done that; I gave my 2 week notice at a summer job at Radio Shaft, er Shack, at the end of the day, which was a bit of shocker to my store manager. But hey, I rationalized it as ‘It’s only Radio Shack, and by this time next year I’ll be farther ahead in school and have better summer job prospects in my chosen field’.

    I’ve just recently learned of a nice saying from the Chief of a fire department which sums up bad news in general

    “I like my bad news fresh.”

    Truer words have rarely been spoken. It’s always best to get it out in the open soon instead of letting it fester. Massage your own use as the situation demands.

  24. Chaordic One*

    When to resign really does depend on the reputation of the employer. If you have the misfortune of working for one of those employers that marches people out the door the minute they announce their resignation it makes sense to postpone your resignation notice until the last possible moment, like in the afternoon at the end of the pay period. Make sure that you have your personal items out of the office before making the announcement.

    If you don’t mind burning some bridges, you might even want to consider ghosting them, or if you feel generous, then calling them the first thing Monday morning and letting them know that you won’t be coming in. Ever.

  25. Augusta Sugarbean*

    #2 “She does not like to follow directions, argues, and makes mistakes frequently. She always has a bad attitude. We have tried training her on things she makes mistakes on in the nicest way possible, but she still makes the same mistakes and is rude.”

    Someone like this isn’t going to respond to nice. Time to be direct, blunt, stern. When she starts arguing or being rude, call her out on it.
    -Jane, I need you to stop arguing and stop [rude behavior]. XYZ is what you need to fix. Go fix it and bring it back when you are done.
    -argy-bargy ensues
    -This is not up for discussion. XYZ is what needs to happen.
    Rinse and repeat.

    Good luck.

  26. Delta Delta*

    When I most recently resigned I did it mid-morning because I knew a toxic co-worker was at a meeting off site. She had a way of making sure she eavesdropped on every meeting I had with the boss and I didn’t want her to interject herself so I waited until she wasn’t around. I was totally at BEC with all of them by that point anyway, so if she came in and started talking I probably would have told her to shut her yap and get out.

  27. Analysis Paralysis*

    Wow. That’s a bit of an oversimplified solution to a multidimensional physio-socio-cultural situation. Most people’s lives are a bit more nuanced and complex.

    I think this ‘solution’ (paraphrased: well just don’t cry!) actually buys into the stereotype that crying = too emotional = bad leader, because the solution is basically Change Your Behavior To Conform To Gendered (Male) Standards Because This Is “A Man’s World” And You Need To Shape Up And Act Like A Man To Succeed.

    A better solution is to fight the stereotype & demonstrate by example that people can exhibit a wide range of emotions (including those that are stereotypically viewed as feminine such as crying, compassion, caring/nurturing, etc.) and ALSO be strong, competent, capable and qualified to fulfill their job duties (leadership or otherwise).

    Of course I’m NOT advocating that we toss our internal behavioral regulators in the garbage and comport ourselves like embodiments of Freud’s id. However…
    We’re all human. We feel things. We go through situations that are nuanced and complex and sometimes the result is an unexpected outpouring of emotion.
    It happens. And *that* is pure and simple.

    1. Analysis Paralysis*

      Ugh. Not sure what happened but this comment was supposed to be a reply nested under a comment by Womonster (who commented under NotASecretary) and Womonster’s comment… seems to not be here anymore.
      Alison, please feel free to delete my now-orphaned (and subsequently awkward) remarks above and herein. Sorry!

  28. Bloo*

    I lived thru a situation like #2 a couple months ago. We had a terrible new hire and very few people ever get fired from my job. The silver lining was that she hated the work we do and she eventually ended up quitting.

  29. Red In SC*

    this has probably been mentioned, but it sounds like LW 1 is planning on leaving work that same day s/he gives notice. I really recommend giving 2 weeks if possible. It looks better for you, and gives your company a bit of time to get their ducks in a row to hire someone new.

  30. lazuli*

    I was working in a five-person office, where we all worked in one big room. People would use the storage room for private meetings. I needed to resign, so I turned and asked the owners if we could meet in back. “As long as you’re not resigning!” one of them said. “Umm…..”

    Last year, I was walking into the office at the same time as my supervisor and another (awesome) employee. I heard him ask if he could meet with her later in the morning. “Sure, as long as you’re not quitting!” she joked. He froze and said, “Well……”

    I think if you can avoid that level of awkwardness, you’re doing great.

  31. Shemika D Rios*

    I gave my last employer three weeks notice, with an end date on a Saturday night to help transition the new hire. They retaliated again at me by removing me from the group, placing me in an office shared by my manager and our supervisor. They took my phone from me and asked after each lunch, who I went with. That place was hell, but I still never expected that. Traumatic experience.

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