how do I tell my brand new job I’m leaving for a better offer?

A reader writes:

I was laid off back in April. After months and tons of interviews, I took a job that I was fairly happy with, though it wasn’t in the exact field I wanted to be in. After three weeks, I’m feeling very okay-ish about the company. It’s a smaller start-up so I’m a little worried about stability, but the workload is light and everyone is very nice.

I stopped interviewing with all other companies once I accepted this offer, but a company that I had previously interviewed for just let me know that they will be sending me an offer by the end of the week. This company is much larger and I would be working directly in the field I want to be working in. The salary is also substantially higher and the benefits are cheaper and better. The only downside is this position would likely be a lot more work and stress than my current position. But it’s an amazing opportunity for me to grow professionally.

While I would feel terrible for quitting this job after only three weeks, I know that I would feel worse passing up this opportunity. I’ve read some of your past responses on the issue, and I understand that you’d likely advise me to take the new job but understand that I’m burning the bridge with my old company and that they obviously won’t be thrilled with me.

I’m feeling very anxious about letting my current employer know. We’re currently remote so I will likely let my supervisor know via Zoom after I sign the new offer. I’m planning on just being honest and letting them know I received a better offer that I can’t turn down, but what’s the best verbiage to use? Do you have any tips for making the conversation less awkward? Or do I just have to accept this will be a very awkward meeting I will need to suffer through?

You are exactly correct about my advice: do what’s best for you, but accept that the bridge will be burned.

And yeah, it’ll be awkward, but it’ll be okay. This happens, people do it, and everyone gets through it (managers too).

The easiest wording to use is “this fell in my lap and it’s not something I can pass up.” That wording is good because (a) it stresses that you weren’t out looking for other offers right after you took this one and (b) it highlights that expecting you to pass it up would be expecting you to act against your own strong interests, which a reasonable employer will know they can’t expect. Your manager might be annoyed/disappointed/upset, but when she looks at it clearly, she’s going to know it’s not an outrageous offense. She might stay highly displeased with you — you can’t expect that not to happen — but a reasonable person will get that it’s just a hard situation, not an act of treason.

So: “I had no plans for this to happen and everyone here has been great, but a company I’d interviewed with before I accepted this job just made me an offer that I can’t responsibly pass up. It really fell in my lap unexpectedly, and I apologize for the inconvenience I know this will cause.”

If your boss seems flustered/upset/angry or there’s a long, awkward silence or things otherwise aren’t going well, try moving the conversation along by talking about logistics: “What would be easiest on you as far as how I should wrap things up? I can of course give two weeks notice, but I’m guessing that might not be very useful since I’m still so new. Would you prefer I wrap things up sooner, or what makes the most sense on your side?”

It will be uncomfortable and then it will be over and you’ll be at your better job.

Read an update to this letter here

{ 90 comments… read them below }

  1. CR*

    One thing to note is that when you give notice at your current job, be prepared to be walked out immediately (so clean up your files and emails, send yourself anything important, etc in advance).

    1. 867-5309*

      I was thinking that even if OP is not walked out, they might not want her to work out the notice period. Three weeks is not generally enough time to be deep enough into work that major transition planning is needed.

    2. MissDisplaced*

      They may. I actually did stay on for 2 weeks because they really needed help with their website and graphics. I just took less of a “project lead” mentality and more of “what can I help you with in a short amount of time?”

      It’s hard to get involved too much on projects, but it depends on the work. Sometimes just helping out another employee with a few tasks is appreciated.

    3. Tisiphone*

      That happened to me. I’d been on the job for less than a week, and the other job I applied for at the same time offered me the job for better pay. I told them I’d accepted another offer, and they offered me more money and would wait out a two-week notice. I said yes.

      When I gave notice, the owner told my coworker to tell me I could leave at once and not to come back.

      It’a the only time I’ve ever been fired.

      1. Kyrielle*

        You weren’t fired! You resigned. They asked you to leave at once, but that’s changing the time table, not the event. “You can’t quit, I fire you!” isn’t a thing. If they called it a firing, that’s incredibly sketchy and not okay, IMO. If they didn’t, you’re doing yourself a disservice – being walked out early happens all the time, and it’s not equivalent to being told you’re gone when you were planning to stay, in any way.

        1. tiasp*

          Yes, I just looked this up for someone. At least where I live, that situation is just them moving up your ending date after you have resigned.

    4. allathian*

      Interesting cultural difference there. Given that I’m in an environment where employment contracts are a legal requirement, I’ve never had a job without a notice period. But I’ve also never had a job without a probationary period, usually 3 to 6 months. During that time, you can resign or be let go with very little fuss and no other reasons given except “this isn’t working out”.

  2. I'm just here for the cats!*

    One thing I would add to the script that Alison gave is if you had interviewed a while ago and maybe a few reasons why you are accepting it. Something like

    “I had no plans for this to happen and everyone here has been great, but a company I’d interviewed with 6 months ago and I thought had moved on contacted me with an amazing offer. As you know my field of expertise is X and this is such a good opportunity for me.” …..

    Good luck and don’t say anything until you’ve accepted at the new place!

    1. Shiara*

      I think short and sweet would be better, honestly. LW doesn’t need to justify to them that it’s a better offer, or highlight all the ways they’re currently”subpar”. It’s enough for them to know she’s made the decision and won’t be staying. All the ways it’s better for her personally just don’t matter to the company she’s leaving.

      1. calonkat*

        They may not be ‘subpar”, they are in a different field, so the pay may be fine for the field, just not comparable to the desired field.

    2. Dino*

      I don’t think you need to explain why the offer is better, but I definitely think mentioning when you interviewed with the offering company can help emphasize that you didn’t continue interviewing after being hired.

      1. Cats cats cats*

        As a manager, I would appreciate knowing why the employee was leaving. Otherwise I would assume it was a company and leader issue- culture, training, team, etc. Aka, the things I control.

        I did have someone leave shortly, and they assured me it was a dream job, that aligned with this long term career. I was happy for the person, and relieved it wasn’t an issue I was responsible for.

    3. Sara without an H*

      The first sentence is fine, I wouldn’t go into additional detail unless asked (nicely). If your manager asks, maybe then you could assure her that it’s not money or anything else she could fix, that your colleagues are great to work with, etc., just that the other position gives you a chance to use your degree in llama management software development.

      But don’t go into a lot of detail — that will just confirm in her mind that you weren’t serious about the job in the first place. Shift the focus as soon as you can to what you can do to smooth the transition.

    4. no hard feelings*

      This happened to me once. I started a job and 2 weeks in got an offer from someone else I’d been interviewing with. I’d been on these interviews months before and had not reason to think I’d hear back from them whenI accepted the other job. But I went to my boss and gave notice. I simply said, “This wasn’t expected. I interviewed there months ago. They are offering me X more money with more benefits and the commute is shorter and it’s a role where I would get to work on Z. So you understand I have to take this opportunity.” She agreeded completely because she knew they weren’t offering much in benefits and that my pay was embarrassingly low. Instead off having me work out my notice, I worked until the end of the week. I honeslty don’t remember her or the company’s name, but every time we drive by that office I say, “I worked over there for almost 2 weeks once…”

  3. Eldritch Office Worker*

    “It will be uncomfortable but then it will be over” is universally good advice, whether it’s difficult conversations or colonoscopies. Moments arise where we really don’t want to do a thing, but the best thing is ultimately just to power through and get to the other side.

    Congratulations on your new offer. Taking it is the right choice and it’s normal that you feel bad. But get it over with so you can focus on your exciting new job and leave this awkwardness behind you.

    1. Free Meerkats*

      Too many people get stuck mentally on the first part and completely ignore the second part of that sentence.

    2. GrooveBat*

      I was just coming here to make a similar observation. Another really good piece of advice I got once was “Do it scared.” In other words, if you have a task or conversation coming up that you’re dreading, acknowledge the dread and do it anyway, knowing it’ll suck.

      1. Filosofickle*

        There’s a new year’s resolution alternative where you pick a word that sets your intention for the coming year. One year I chose “Anyway”, as I tend more towards doing too little than too much in life. Tired? Go anyway. Sounds hard? Do it anyway. Afraid to speak up? Say it anyway. It was a helpful mindset!

        1. Galloping Gargoyles*

          I love this! I usually do that where I set a word for the year. I didn’t this year but I think I know what my word is for next year. :-)

      2. AndersonDarling*

        Yep, I’ve learned to move forward as soon as possible. The longer you dread the unknown, the bigger it grows.
        The sooner you get it over with, the sooner you can party/relax.

  4. Bee Eye Ill*

    Most everywhere I have worked had a 60-90 day eval type period when you started, which was sort of an insurance clause that let them cut you if things didn’t work out. Well, that goes both ways. Don’t feel bad about it.

    1. irene adler*

      Candidate #2 may still be available as well. Might even make their day to receive contact from this company. But that is entirely their option to do this.

      1. Mainly Lurking (UK)*

        I’m the person whose day has been made this way in a few jobs over the years! Admittedly most of my career history has been contract work, which is why I have had so many jobs, but you would be surprised how often this happens.

      2. WellRed*

        Yeah. Three weeks is awkward but to me, better than 6 months in. They’ve also invested little in her training at this point.

  5. Heidi*

    Congratulations on getting two job offers, OP!

    I really don’t think it’s such a bad thing to be leaving after 3 weeks. The first few weeks of a job are often a tryout period. I think it’s a little bit expected that some new hires aren’t going to work out. Plus, if the workload hasn’t gotten too heavy yet, it won’t be as difficult for them to absorb it while they find someone new.

    1. MissDisplaced*

      Generally, the earlier the better. Within 1 month is usually not such a big deal.
      2-3 months is a bit harder, but still understandable. And sometimes you are still in a probationary period anyway.

    2. Lolwhoops*

      I absolutely agree! I once quit a job at the one month mark (first and only time ever) as it was clear the fit was very bad—“we’re a family” doesn’t even cut it and I wanted to hide the whole time.
      I explained the fit thing and I did not offer 2 weeks as I had contributed nothing and there was nothing to wrap up. I finished out the week and left a manual of what I’d learned and gathered but the bridge was burned either way. I heard all about second hand despite me trying to be professional and kind.

      Op, consider your future. You owe them nothing

      1. Curious*

        “You owe them nothing” is an interesting view.
        By that logic, if a better candidate becomes available during the new employee’s “probationary” or “tryout” period, it would be fine to let the new employee go (perhaps with two-weeks severance?) because the employer has to “consider [their] future. You owe them nothing.”

          1. anonymath*

            No — when my employer has filled a position and someone better becomes available, we say “well that’s unfortunate!”. We have never ever fired a decent employee at the two week mark to pick up “someone better”.

        1. I should really pick a name*

          It’s not really a parallel.
          The company isn’t going to interview more people after they’ve hired one. They’ve already picked the one they thought was the best.

          Also, letting go a person has far more impact on them than a person leaving has on the company.

          1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

            I could see a parallel happen, though: The top candidate declined the offer, then comes back a couple of weeks later asking if the role is still open.

            Though, as I write that, I’m seeing that it’s still not entirely equivalent. The company has already invested in the candidate they did hire and the company may have some concerns about TopCandidate’s level of interest in the position.

            Regardless, I can see it happening where the employer ends a new hire’s probationary period early in favor of a stronger hire. It sucks, but it is what it is.

          2. Analytical Tree Hugger*

            Actually, I’d like to rescind my comment above. It’s not parallel, because an employer has a pool of candidates they are choosing from, where as employees tend to have one, maybe two offers at a time. So, it’s very different for a new hire to leave within a few weeks (the company has a good chance of hiring from their pool), while an employee doesn’t likely have other options if they were booted.

            1. Lolwhoops*

              This! When I did resign from the on month job, they moved on to (presumably) their second choice and she’s been there for years. Seems it worked out for everyone! Who knows what arbitrary reason led to my being selected first. It ultimately didn’t matter.

        2. Lolwhoops*

          Actually, deciding someone is or appears a better fit happens all the time. If someone is in their probation period it stands to reason the employer can opt out of continuing the relationship for any reason without mitigation or correction if they wish. In terms of not owing them, yes, the employee should act in good faith but when it comes to long term decisions like turning down an opportunity, no way. Would you want an employee who regretted staying on with you? It’s a recipe for future issues.

        3. Too rich for their blood*

          Happened to me. They found someone who would do the “same” job as I was hired to do for $7 an hour less. I say “same” because I had 20 years’ experience and the other guy had 2, but it was the same job on paper.

          I was fired on the spot and walked out after 3 weeks on the job.

  6. 867-5309*

    Hi OP, Congrats on the great offer!

    This line in your letter jumped out at me, “The only downside is this position would likely be a lot more work and stress than my current position.” The last 18 months have been brutal on mental health for many people, so I would only suggest that you take a pause and make sure you feel mentally ready for the workload increase. I accepted a new role with significantly more responsibility and much higher pay earlier this year, having left a startup where I was a company leader, there for several years and the workload was much lighter than what I do now.

    No regrets but I had not fully prepared myself mentally for the transition to high pressure and it has been difficult at times, and there are moments when I miss the flexibility of my previous role. (I wouldn’t go back for culture reasons but…)

    1. Budgie Buddy*

      That jumped out to me too. Only OP knows what OP wants, but low stress is pretty high on my list of priorities right now.

    2. MadisonB*

      Heh, I’m the opposite. I purposely jumped into a low stress, high flexibility, can-knock-out-my-entire-job-in-30-hours-per-week (but must be there for 40), awesome work/life balance type role that I theoretically love because it’s technically a complex, difficult, clinical-type position and miss the high pressure/high workload of my former work life. I’m so bored. So, I would say to the OP: thoroughly consider if you thrive in low-pressure or high-pressure (but healthy) environments. And thoroughly consider where you will be challenged and where you will grow and be happy. Good luck!

  7. Anonymous Koala*

    Congratulations on the new offer OP! I’ve had to do this before, and it’s uncomfortable, but as Alison says, then it’s over. Please remember that in any position with at-will employment, you have to put your needs ahead of your employers’, just as they will put their needs above yours. I think sometimes as job seekers we forget that employment is always a two way street. Enjoy your new job!

  8. Starchy*

    As a manager I had an employee leave after working with us for two weeks. She was offered a job in her profession that made twice as much. I wasn’t upset when she told me. I told her I would do exactly the same thing if I was in her position and congratulated her. These things happen and as a manager we just have to roll with it.

    1. MissDisplaced*

      Were you able to go back to your other second or third choice candidates? Or will you start all over again?

    2. irene adler*

      Nicely done!
      Your response was no doubt appreciated by this soon-to-depart employee as it took away the awkwardness your employee felt when they informed you of their leaving.

  9. sbeeee*

    I could have written this letter! I was in this exact same situation just a week or two ago. I fretted over giving notice, but I told my boss that the offer was unexpected and that I had met with them before accepting my current job. I was nervous, but she was gracious and understanding. I am lucky in that I was able to work out a timeline with both organizations that includes a short Labor Day holiday break too. Best of luck Situation Twin! I hope things go as smoothly for you as they did for me!

  10. MissDisplaced*

    This happened to me a few years ago and honestly I had a lot of hand-wringing over nothing. You interview with a lot of companies, and those companies don’t hire on the same timelines. It very well may be that you receive an offer after you start somewhere.

    Just pick the place you FEEL BEST about: Whether that means money, commute, fit, or field of interest. Be professional and try to give as much notice as possible to current company. It is even possible if you’ve just started they may go back to one of their other candidates and may even catch them with an offer knowing you’re leaving so soon.

  11. From the receiving end*

    I literally just had this happen to me from the other side! A person was hired for my team and he quit unexpectedly four weeks in (I had JUST finished his training) when another offer fell in his lap.

    I wanted to say that Allison is on point. While this person’s resignation has put my team in a bit of a bind and I’ll have to personally cover the responsibilities until we can find a replacement, I and my own management all understood. We were perfectly cordial through his notice period and I wouldn’t be unhappy to work with him in the future (although in hindsight I don’t think he was an appropriate hire for the role, but that’s another letter! And unrelated to his resignation).

    I do want to caution that you be prepared to be asked to move up your last day. If you’re so new and maybe don’t have a lot of assignments yet, even if everything goes smoothly and cordially, if you don’t have work to do they might want to Wrap up quickly. I would hope they’d pay out your notice period regardless but be prepared for a quick cord cutting, as it were.

    1. MissDisplaced*

      Yes, a small company may not want to pay you once you give notice — I don’t blame them as those two weeks can add some back to payroll. Larger places generally have more wiggle room on that.

    2. Sara without an H*

      Yes, give them two weeks notice, but be prepared to leave earlier. Your manager may just decide that, the sooner you go, the sooner they can repost the position or circle back to some other people they interviewed in the original pool.

      1. WellRed*

        Well they don’t have to wait for her to physically leave before they do anything. I do think 3 weeks is better than 3 or 6 months in for all the reasons stated.

    3. Make Editing Great Again*

      This happened to me as a manager, and my employee was only at the company for three months. I agree LW: give 2 weeks’ notice, but prepare to be asked to move up your last day, especially if you are not currently assigned a project or are wrapping up a project.

      The wording Alison has given you in notifying your current company is spot on.

  12. Barbara Eyiuche*

    I was in this situation, but felt too guilty to take the second job offer. I stayed, and found out later that the position I felt too guilty to leave had been a revolving door, as another employee put it. The company had no problem getting rid of employees when it suited them, and I didn’t last long. I sure wish I had taken the second offer.

  13. TimeTravlR*

    My SIL just did this very thing. After being unemployed a couple months, took a job that wasn’t exactly what they wanted but then sometimes that’s how it goes. Three weeks later he gets a call from the exact job he would prefer to do (he had interviewed some time before). He had to give notice. They were gracious about it, but yep. That bridge is burned.

  14. HiHello*

    OP – it happened to me last year. I took a job and then another offer came 3 weeks later. I could not say no to the other one. It was more up my alley, better benefits, and in a better city (I wanted to get out of the one I was in). It was super awkward, not gonna lie. I just ended up having an honest conversation with my manager and was done the same day. I was very nervous, though. But I knew I had to take the other one.

  15. Shark Whisperer*

    I worked for an organization years ago that did some shady things to get around providing benefits like healthcare or PTO to the lowest level staff. I also work in a field where people move around a lot and everyone tends to know everyone else. After I resigned, the person they hired to replace me left after about 4 weeks for a job that actually had benefits. It was the same sort of situation as above, she had interviewed with the other organization before she accepted the offer with OldJob. OldJob was just the first with an offer. My old manager was pissed, but everyone else on staff was happy for my replacement. She burned a bridge with that particular manager (who was a grudge holder), but not with the people at the job. I think you’ll find that most people are understanding in this situation.

  16. Budgie Buddy*

    This may just be me, but I’m not a fan of the “this fell in my lap” phrasing. I see the reasoning behind it. But It does set my “Not a good look, Gorge” radar pinging (as per Contapoints phrasing).

    For unhelpful phrases, It’s kind of up there with

    “Amazing offer”
    “Once in a lifetime opportunity”
    “Offer I can’t refuse”
    “Hope you can be happy for me”
    “I realize I’m so incredibly privileged”

    Like ooof it’s well meaning but wow that privilege flag is flying proudly.

    1. AskJeeves*

      It’s a nice way of conveying that they weren’t interviewing after accepting the job. I don’t see anything privileged about the situation? OP applied, interviewed, and was offered the job. The timeline didn’t match up, but it’s not like OP has received any unearned benefit.

    2. FD*

      I mean, how do you want them to say it, though? Or are you saying that the LW is somehow in the wrong to have received a second opportunity because some other people aren’t in the same position? Are you saying that you think the LW should decline a good opportunity because some other people don’t happen to get a second, better job offer soon after they get hired?

      1. Budgie Buddy*

        I think just that an additional offer came in from another place OP interviewed at before taking the job at the current place, that the decision is made, and that OP wants to let the current job know as quickly as possible so they can proceed in the way that works best. As other people have said, leaving within a few weeks is actually better for the company than several months in, and they may not prefer to have OP work out the notice period depending of logistics.

        I think the main thing is to remember that this is kinda a pain for the company and whoever has to cover for OP until a replacement is hired and minimize the inconvenience. OP doesn’t have to justify herself – this is business. Anything justifying the decision smacks of manipulation to me and seems out of place in a professional conversation.

        I’m not the kind of person who tends to have “once in a lifetime” offers “fall in my lap” so that language does come off as boastful to me. (Although I dunno – maybe there are people out there who think I’m a privileged twot who gets awesome career opportunities handed her on a silver platter. They haven’t told me to my face.) Like, good for OP but whoever she’s talking to is still at the company she’s ditching so I guess they don’t have her awesome karma or work ethic or gumption or whatever magnet is attracting the super awesome job offer she got in this shit economy. -\_(ツ)_/-

        It’s like when you’re dumping someone or communicating some other news that no matter how positive it is for you, is gonna be bad for the other person. Focus for the conversation of what will actually be necessary and helpful to that person. Your family and friends will be in your corner to celebrate with you. Until then be professional and exercise empathy.

        1. Sometimes supervisor*

          I think this is one where tone is important, possibly more than the actual words said. I’ve left a job under similar-ish circumstances (had been there longer than OP but less than a year, wasn’t working out from the beginning but wasn’t in the position to just up and quit, didn’t actively job hunt as felt that would be bad faith so soon in but somebody in my network told me about a job going which was much better suited to me and I got it). I can’t remember the precise words I used but they were very similar to ‘Sorry, this just popped up and I can’t turn it down’. But I made sure my tone conveyed that I was genuinely sorry, wasn’t making the decision lightly and was aware this put the company in an awkward position. Some of my colleagues were a bit frosty about it, but I sensed my manager, while disappointed and probably unwilling to rehire me anytime soon, ultimately understood. Equally, I had a peer who quit under very similar circumstances to OP (job offer was made from a company they had interviewed with long before they joined our company) and, although I obviously don’t know the precise words they resigned with, everything about his tone when explaining it to us screamed ‘I get this isn’t ideal and I’m really sorry for that’ – we all understood and there were no hard feelings.

          On the flip side, I’ve had peers and reports who have quit with ‘this just landed in my lap’ style offers and their tone has been very much ‘this is what’s best for ME – so sorry not sorry’. And while I don’t begrudge them for it – ultimately, they have every right to do what is best for them! – it has changed my opinion of them professionally.

          1. Budgie Buddy*

            That’s a good point – I’ve definitely encountered both types, and regardless of the actual phrasing it’s clear which people are doing their best to be professional and which are “sorry not sorry.”

            Someone recently left my company who was genuinely hard to replace, but it didn’t change my opinion of her professionally because I knew she wasn’t leaving on a whim. I’m just hoping she’s at a company that values her more now, because I know she was underpaid before.

        2. Analytical Tree Hugger*

          That’s not what “privilege” means in this context, so it seems odd that you’re applying that word in this way. The way you are using it, though, it is likely that others do think of you the way that you think of people in OP’s position, because envy is part of the human condition.

          As @Sometimes Supervisor points out, tone is important here. You say that you understand the reasoning. Then you say it’s a business transaction, so any justification seems manipulative, so I wonder if you do understand the purpose. It’s just softening language that most people wouldn’t notice, but those who do would be miffed if it was missing. Like the difference between emailing:

          “Send this by Friday, 3:00 pm.”
          “Please send this by Friday, 3:00 pm. Thank you.”

          Are the “please” and “thank you” strictly necessary to conduct the business transaction? No, but they’re included because it comes across as more polite and warm, even though it’s transactional. Those phrases you highlight are the same. Also, to your point, they acknowledge the inconvenience this is causing.

          I realize you probably won’t be convinced or have your mind changed by this (as I’m guessing others have pointed it out to you before).

          1. Budgie Buddy*

            Yeah, I do use “privileged” to mean “lucky” and I realize that might be confusing if other people use it differently. :P

            I guess for softening language it is a quirk of mine that I prefer language that emphasizes how you’ve thought about the other person’s situation over language that focuses on bringing the other person around to your point of view.


            “I realize the timing isn’t ideal. I will wrap up X, Y, and Z. Is there any documentation I can leave for my replacement?”

            Rather than,

            “I’m sorry, but this offer is so wonderful and so much better than my current situation I just can’t turn it down. I hope you understand.” (Like, does this person think I’m going to tell them not to take a job? That ain’t my decision.)

            1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

              Well, I hope you recognize that your example is unbalanced, with the latter being hyperbole. In the latter, an equivalent would be:

              “I’m sorry, but I just can’t turn down this offer. I hope you understand.”

              And the way AAM has always advised framing it is combining both sentiments, not an either/or:

              “I’m sorry, but I just can’t turn this offer down. I hope you understand. I will wrap up X, Y, and Z. Is there any documentation I can leave for my replacement?”

    3. alienor*

      I mean, I think getting two job offers within a short amount of time is lucky, but it’s also something that can happen to anyone and isn’t inherently privileged. I recently switched jobs and had two offers, and it was pretty much a function of having applied and interviewed for multiple jobs in a very short timeframe. It wasn’t like I got one offer, and then Daddy arranged another one for me with someone he knew at the country club.

    4. fhqwhgads*

      I always take it as the polite shorthand version of “you were my second choice and I didn’t know if I’d get an offer from my first, so I went with you, but then my first choice did give me an offer after I’d started”.

  17. Observer*

    OP, you may or may not burn a bridge. Don’t over-apologize, because that turns it into a bigger deal. But do make it clear that you HAD stopped interviewing once you started the job and that you were not expecting this offer. In most cases, that will keep people from getting too annoyed and they will understand why you moved on.

    1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      Agreed, the “This was a job that I interviewed for several months ago” is relevant information that may help.

  18. herekittykitty...pspsps*

    OP, like others here, I had a similar situation. I was in a new job about 6 months, and not super happy with it, when OldJob called and offered me my former supervisor’s job, which came with a salary I couldn’t turn down. I think the key was emphasizing that I was not out looking for new opportunities, and apologizing/ acknowledging the bind I was putting my new colleagues in. Allison’s script is similar to what I said. Then I finished up the project I was working on (and they were worried I was just gonna leave that day). I know I did a good job because I saw they won that proposal. I don’t know how badly the bridge was burned, my boss and colleagues were very nice about (to my face anyway), and I tried really, painfully hard to be professional about it. I can tell you that turning in my resignation was absolutely terrible and awkward, but I felt SO much better after I bit the bullet.

    1. Budgie Buddy*

      Finishing up the project was professional – that would be hard for someone to take over in the middle but you saw it through, apparently very successfully. You couldn’t help causing them some degree of inconvenience but if I were at your old company I would remember that you did take initiative to minimize it.

      1. herekittykitty...pspsps*

        That is SUPER nice of you to say! And helps assuage the residual guilt that I feel sometimes :)

  19. Manager*

    Like all the managers who have commented, I’d suggest that you don’t plan to work out your notice period.

    If you really, really want to stay with your furrent employer for the last two weeks, expect to be doing routine admin.

    For example, if you were in a comms role I might take you off designing the new website and put you on cleaning up the CMS.

  20. Jess*

    This happened once at a department I worked at. A team lead who had just started left for another (better-fitting) job. I don’t know what the (private) conversation with the manager had been like, but publicly she seemed completely fine with it and on his the last workday everyone said goodbye and seemed happy for him.

  21. RosyGlasses*

    I wonder if this is someone that recently left our company – similar situation. For my part, I understand that this particular dream job has a very long hiring process – so it made sense that they might not hear back for 4-6 months, and we did our best to make the person feel excited for their new job and not blamed for leaving early. Did it suck to lose a great team member a month in? Sure – but we now have a person out there that hopefully had a great experience with us and will recommend us in the future.

    It seems very counterproductive for managers/HR/bosses to get upset about these types of things – better to have a smooth off-boarding experience than to leave both parties with a sour taste in their mouths.

  22. question*

    Does being told to leave immediately after you give 2-weeks notice count as being fired? It seems to me like you resigned and they just moved up the resignation effective date.

    1. RosyGlasses*

      From a legal standpoint, you can argue firing because you gave a resignation/my last day of work date and they decided, nope, it’s today – so in effect they have terminated employment earlier than you gave notice for/were willing to work.

      But YMMV depending on state UI laws and circumstances of leaving.

    2. Feral Fairy*

      I don’t think the comment about LWs “privilege” in getting the other job offer is really warranted in this case, based on the details provided. The job didn’t actually “fall in her lap”- she applied for it while she was applying for other jobs, and they just happened to get back to her later. It’s not like she was spontaneously offered a job. It’s certainly fortunate to be offered multiple jobs but I don’t think it’s by itself an indicator of privilege. This kind of thing can happen when some organizations take longer to get back to their candidates than others.

  23. Grimstrider*

    “It will be uncomfortable and then it will be over” perfect phrase, and one that applies equally to most all awkwardness in life. Just get it over with, and then it will be done.

  24. Betteauroan*

    You’ve only been there 3 weeks. Hardly enough time for people to even remember your name. Don’t worry about it. They’ll get over it. You even get to do it on zoom, so you don’t even have to be there face to face. This is just a small blip in your professional radar. It will be all over soon and you get to move on to a better jib, better pay, better company, doing the exact work you want to be doing! Jump on this! Get the unpleasantries over with and celebrate your great fortune at being selected for your dream job!

  25. Two Weeks Notice*

    This happened to me last year. I was laid off due to COVID, took 6 months to get an offer, started that job, and another offer came a week later after another company re-engaged with me. Resigning was awkward, but it came down to money (new offer was 2x and significantly better benefits). I didn’t have a notice period with Company A because it didn’t make sense to. The irony is that I’m with another new company doing the same job as Company A but with a much better culture, pay structure, etc.! It’s an awkward situation but it happens.

  26. foolofgrace*

    I wouldn’t worry too much about burning this bridge. You were there such a short time you don’t have to list it on your resume, or use the manager as a reference. Good luck!

  27. ElleKay*

    I would add something like “I interviewed with them so long ago that I was sure I wasn’t under consideration but it just fell into my lap and it’s an opportunity I can’t pass up”
    (IE: I was fully committed when I accepted this job and I haven’t still been applying since I started)

  28. Anna*

    I once worked at a company for 2 weeks when I received an offer from my dream company. I had actually thought they may give me an offer but I had been job searching for over a year while temping so financially I thought I could not turn down a FT offer with benefits. My manager was extremely angry and I thought he was going to yell at me but he didn’t. He immediately told me to pack up and leave. HR was understanding and helped me wrap everything up. It was an industry I knew I’d never work in again. It sucked and then it was over. And, I actually went on a first date that night with the man who’s now my husband of 7 years! I still work at the dream company (though I had 2 other jobs in between, I went back).

  29. Poodle Mom*

    I did this exact same thing, right down to only having been there three weeks. I had panic attacks before, during and after telling them, and they were very unhappy and expected me to work every like a dog for every second of my full notice, but I got through it, it turned out fine, and I’m glad I did what was right for me and my family.

    I’m still at that took-six-months-to-make-an-offer job two years later.

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