do I have to tell my boss where I’m going when I quit?

A reader writes:

I wanted to ask how one can avoid saying where they are moving to after resigning at their job. An ex-colleague (let’s call him Jake) resigned and the boss insisted on knowing where he was going despite Jake trying to avoid saying. In the end, Jake gave the name of the company and the boss reached out to the hiring manager to badmouth Jake (the boss had not been a reference because we KNOW what he is like!). Luckily the hiring manager ignored the boss.

I would like to avoid that whole drama should I resign, but I don’t think I can just not say where I am going. Can one give a false company name? Is that wrong? What are the options if you absolutely have to answer that question?

You don’t need to say where you’re going if you’d rather not.

It’s pretty normal for people to ask what you’ll be doing next when you resign. With reasonable people, it’s usually genuine interest, or even just politeness. It will generally come across as strangely chilly if you flatly refuse to answer, but there are lots of ways to be vague and not give information that would allow someone with nefarious intentions to do what your boss did.

Some examples:

* “I’ll be doing accounting for a small company.” (Focus on the role, not the company.)

* “I’m not ready to announce it publicly yet, but I’ll let you know once I do.” (This can sound a little mysterious; feel free to imply the company you’re moving to keeps such announcements confidential. That can be a thing, especially if your new role is part of a restructure that hasn’t been announced yet.)

* “I’ve got a few options I’m considering — all similar to what I’m doing now.” (However, be aware that if you’re talking to someone other than your boss, saying you don’t have another job lined up yet can sound like you’re not leaving by choice.)

* “I’ve got a few options I’m considering but haven’t made a final choice yet.” (Same note here.)

* “I’m taking some time off before moving on to the next thing!” (Here too, although if you sound excited, that will counter it.)

Keep in mind that with a vindictive boss who’s shown she’s willing to call new employers about you (!), you should probably wait to update your LinkedIn with the new job too.

{ 303 comments… read them below }

    1. GelieFish*

      We had an employee leave who had always been super private. She just kept saying I have plans.

      1. Alto Power*

        I left a terrible contract job with no benefits the same day I got confirmation of a new permanent position. They were expecting me to stay another month and cover holidays and vacations. The manager, director and someone from the contracting company asked me several times where I was going, did I have a new job, etc. All I said over and over was “Today is my last day here.” It felt good.

    2. LinuxSystemsGuy*

      Under the circumstances I don’t think there’s anything wrong with “I’d prefer not to say. I know what happened to Jake.” Simple, direct, and to the point.

      1. New Jack Karyn*

        I think that remark to this supervisor will open a can of worms the OP would prefer remain sealed.

        1. LinuxSystemsGuy*

          How so? I’m legitimately curious. You’re clearly not using this guy as a reference. If he fires you so what? If he tries to make your life difficult, well, that’s the end of your employment with XYZ Corp. Tell HR that you’d planned on two weeks notice until the hostile work environment started. I honestly see no downside.

          In the words of a funny meme I read once: “I opened a can of worms. They don’t do anything as it turns out. A little disappointing. Not nearly the chaos I was expecting”.

          1. Rose*

            I have been running through this in my mind and I can’t figure out where I stand. On the one hand, I totally agree that it doesn’t really matter if OP is “fired” and this boss should provoke never be used as a reference, no matter what.

            On the other hand… there’s something anxiety provoking about “instigating” (by saying something totally reasonable) a fight with someone this vindictive and stupid. I can’t think of what specifically might happen. I guess it’s all about how you feel about awkward conversations, dealing with bananas people, the joy derived from subtly telling someone to go f themselves when deserved, how easily stressed you are by a boss reaction, etc.

            1. learnedthehardway*

              The OP wouldn’t be the one instigating. She’d be simply handing the awkwardness back to sender.

                1. Rose*

                  If you wouldn’t feel awkward, great! A lot of people would feel awkward telling their boss “I’m not going to share information with you because I don’t trust you to act like a reasonable human.”

              1. Rose*

                Really? I had it in quotes. I had the caveat that it was totally reasonable. Obviously the boss is going to see it as instigating. I’m not as yo if I do, or anyone reasonable does.

          2. New Jack Karyn*

            Because this is an unpleasant, vindictive man, and your line is provocative. Saying this is likely to result in exactly the kind of encounter the LW doesn’t want. Plus, she may not be in a position to walk out for the remainder of her notice period.
            Also, this isn’t a hostile work environment.

            1. RabidChild*

              And I wouldn’t put it past Petty Boss to call OP’s new boss once they’ve gone and they update LinkedIn.

              A colleague of mine told Toxic Company they were going to grad school (after I hired them, with our former manager’s approval of course).

              1. Database Developer Dude*

                Of course, the day they leave, they should block Petty Boss on LinkedIn and everywhere else.

              2. Splendid Colors*

                I think this happened with my account rep at a local company. He left suddenly, they complained about how they left him in the lurch to go to grad school out of state… and then he showed up working for a different local company where I just happened to bump into him.

            2. Erin*

              I think it’s worth drawing a line between the legal definition and the human definition. Personally, I’m in the UK, and I value AAM while having to internally tag much of the advice as “non-relevant”.

              It might not fit the legal definition of a Hostile Work Environment, but it’s certainly a work environment, and it sounds pretty hostile to me.

      2. Rose*

        Ha this was my thought too. I’d say it in an extremely cheery/casual voice, the o e Alison always suggests for correcting names and asking coworkers to keep the music down. “Oh, since you called Jakes new employer to badmouth him when he was leaving, I’m not sharing that yet!” With a friendly smile.

      3. WoodswomanWrites*

        I wouldn’t go that route because you don’t have Jake’s permission to do so. It might result in the boss harassing him further at his new workplace.

    3. Whoo Girl*

      I don’t understand how this boss thinks anyone else will tell him the truth, knowing what he did to their former coworker! The combination of sheer gall and cluelessness…it takes effort to be *this* terrible, truly.

  1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

    If Alison’s excellent advice fails, your new job is with Vandalay Industries–assuming you don’t change your mind and accept a different job offer 5 minutes after you leave your soon-to-be-former employer’s office for the last time as an employee.

      1. RVA Cat*

        “I’m going to work at the *family* business. Little club called the Bada Bing….”

    1. The boss of me*

      “I got a job with the Department of Labor, in their Wage and Hour Division.” Ha! That’s complaints division.

      1. Goldenrod*

        Lumon Industries.

        You can add that the company does biotechnology research, but due to their patented and extremely safe Severance procedure, you won’t be able to provide any details about your work.

    2. Eng Proj Mgr*

      Join ACME in the shipping department – they need additional support due to demand from Wylie E. Coyote

        1. cityMouse*

          Remember, no matter where you go, there you are.

          (please note I swooned when I read these comments)

      1. WormStache*

        Maybe you should recommend this one to your boss. “Yeah, they’re a real cut-throat kind of company…”

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          “Fierce competition… they’ll eat you alive if you don’t get results.”

      2. Mongrel*

        Just getting some love in for Veridian Dynamics
        “Diversity: just the thought of it makes these white people smile.”

    3. Safely Retired*

      How about this example?
      “When Jake told you where he was going to be working you called them to bad mouth him. After that, why would anyone open themselves up to that sort of abuse?”

      Yeah, I know. But it could be fun!

      1. Koalafied*

        When someone asks a question that feels like a trap, one of my favorite responses is to stare hard at them for a beat, and then say, “Pass,” with the same upbeat tone of voice I’d use if I were playing a trivia game and didn’t know the answer.

      2. LinuxSystemsGuy*

        I honestly don’t know why everyone is beating around the bush. I’d say exactly that. It’s not like he can fire me, and I’d certainly never use such a person as a reference.

        1. New Jack Karyn*

          Because the boss in question called up that new company to badmouth the employee. Luckily for Jake, they paid it no mind. That might not be true for all companies who receive such a call from Jerk Boss about their new hire.

          1. LinuxSystemsGuy*

            I’m confused. Yes the boss did that. Which is why when he asks, you say “I’m not telling you after what happened to Jake”. That’s what I’m saying.

            1. Azure Jane Lunatic*

              Unless the boss walks OP out the moment they hand in their notice, there’s the entire notice period where the boss can make things miserable at work. Possibly without rising to the legal definition of “hostile workplace”.

              Since OP is asking this question, I’m going to assume that they’re probably uncomfortable with just not answering, or risking the boss verbally blowing up in their face.

              1. LinuxSystemsGuy*

                A boss’s ability to “make life miserable” decreases notably after you give notice. If they try, you ignore them. What are they gonna do? Fire you? I mean, maybe I’m coming from a place of privilege, but I think *most* people can afford a week or two off, and if not *most* new jobs would be happy to have someone start early if the opportunity came up.

                “They didn’t want me to work my notice, can I start a week early?” Has worked for me the two times it’s been an issue in my life.

        2. RabidChild*

          I worked somewhere where a colleague went to work for a competitor. The CEO called New Job after they left and threatened to sue based on BS trade secrets reasons, so they fired him. That’s why.

          1. RVA Cat*

            IANAL but it sounds like the *colleague* could sue. Non-competes are bad enough but it doesn’t even sound like he signed one?

    4. SixTigers*

      I’d come up with something absolutely ridiculous, and say it with a straight face.

      “I’ve always wanted to run away to join the circus so that’s what I’m going to do. I’ll be learning how to juggle flaming torches — ”

      “I’m going to play the violin at one of those cheesy Italian restaurants. I’ve got a bandana and they’ve promised to provide the violin.”

      “I’m going to be designing obscene chocolate Easter bunnies.”

      “I got a job working at a local winery as a trainee grape-stomper.”

      Nosy boss: “You’re going to WHAT??”
      Me: “I wanted a change. Excuse me — I need to go take Norbert for a walk.”
      Nosy boss: “Norbert? Who’s Norbert?”
      Me: “Ahh, that would be telling — “

    5. PotatoEngineer*

      One option is just to pick a *giant* company to work for: Amazon, Wal-Mart, Disney, Johnson & Johnson, whatever. It’s not nearly as fun as a fictional company, but those giants have *lots* of practice with dealing with legal issues, and boss is likely to get stonewalled — and thus won’t be able to prove whether OP lied about where they’re going or not.

  2. Mack*

    Given the manager’s history, I don’t see anything wrong with just saying “I prefer not to disclose that.” It’s chilly, maybe even rude, but really, do you owe politeness to someone who is trying to hurt you?

    1. Nesprin*

      There’s also the ignoring the question, and responding to a different question tack.
      i.e.:
      “Where’s your new job?”
      “Oh, I’m really excited about it- I’m going to do X, Y and Z”
      “Where are you working”
      “Locally, in City A”

      1. Rose*

        I don’t really understand this as a tactic. If Boss wants to call the new employer to badmouth LW, he will probably just ask the company name when LW says “locally.” Of course there’s a chance the boss just gives up but it seems more likely he would keep pushing based on the fact that he seems to be a vindictive garbage human.

    2. Show Globe*

      I would be very tempted to explain explicitly: “when Jake told you the name of his new employer, you called them up to badmouth Jake. Therefore I will not be sharing any information with you.”

      1. NotAnotherManager!*

        Same. When you do things like that, you lose any reasonable expectation people will share with you. (And I’m always curious what the badmouthing boss thinks will happen… they pull the offer and the employee comes back to the person who torpedoed them?)

        1. Me (I think)*

          I think the idea is that your disgraceful ex-employee who screwed you by resigning loses their next job and is unemployed for a long time, eventually dying of shame.

          I mean, I’m being sarcastic, but I bet that’s the manager’s motivation here.

        2. Antilles*

          It’s purely vindictive – you betrayed me, so I’m going to sabotage your future job since you’re such a traitor.

          1. Filosofickle*

            I am aware these people exist, in theory, but can’t imagine what it must feel like to live in a brain that thinks and chooses to act this way!

            1. LilPinkSock*

              Isn’t it childish?! When I left a company, my first manager there (who I hadn’t worked under for four years) told people I’d been fired for incompetency. They told former colleagues, board members, community members—anyone they could corner would be treated to a lecture about how stupid I am and how lucky the company was to be rid of me. I had to threaten legal action for HR to tell them to back off.

          2. Lacey*

            Yup. They’re just angry and they want the person to feel bad about it.
            My husband had to repeatedly talk an old boss out of calling employees who had quit without appropriate notice to berate them. It was pretty lousy that they didn’t give any/much notice, but also, how insane to call them to yell at them over it?

      2. Slow Gin Lizz*

        I was thinking the same thing. LW, you would be an absolute LEGEND if you did that. Seems like a great way to burn the bridge you obviously need to burn.

      3. Raspin*

        That’s what I would be very tempted to do. Or tell her and then say, “I’ve let them know you may be calling.”

        1. Sparkles McFadden*

          When I moved away from Ms. Vindictive Manager, I moved to another department in the same company, so there was no way to keep her from finding out where I was going. I told my future boss that my current boss would be calling to bad-mouth me. I told the current boss: “My new boss is expecting your call…” New Boss called ten minutes later to say “Wow. So she’s crazy, huh?”

        2. Caroline Bowman*

          I like this one. ”I’ve let them know that you might well call, so they’ve been briefed”.

          The ellipsis at the end of that is silent, but absolutely implied.

          Though honestly, my vote goes with a very cheery and level ”I’ll be doing something similar, but I wanted a change of scene / pace / completely new life because the current one is a dumpster fire”, and THEN if there’s follow-up insistence, just say ”oh you won’t have heard of them, and they’ve asked that I keep it private for now, you know how office politics goes!”.

      4. Goldenrod*

        This is a very reasonable suggestion. Yeah – why not??

        It goes along with the “stating out loud the behavior you are witnessing” strategy that Alison often suggests.

      5. eveningsummerbreeze*

        That’s exactly what I would do. Is he going to waterboard you until you give him the information? I’ve gotten to the point where authority figures no longer intimidate me. At all.

      6. She of Many Hats*

        Or too soften the response and still be perfectly honest: A friend once told his ex-boss where he was going and the boss tried to bad-mouth him to the new company so I learned never to tell employers where I’m going.

        I had a manager who tried to make me share my supervisor’s new employer. My supervisor refused to share with anyone because they knew the manager would do this and I’m glad because I have an awful poker face. In the 6 months that manager was there, they cost the company about half of their long-term, highly effective employees and then tried to enact (not enforce, add new) non-competes after they left.

    3. Magenta Sky*

      I think I’d be more inclined to say “I’m not going to tell you because when Bob told you, you called his new boss to trash talk him.”

      And say it to HR, as well, if he got pushy about it. And by push, I mean asking twice.

    4. Cheap Ass Rolex*

      You can counter the chilly vibe by your tone of voice- if your boss presses you to disclose, say “Oh, no thanks!” As though he had just offered you a donut, and you’re charmed but declining. That can throw people off in a useful way; your tone doesn’t have to line up with your content perfectly!

      If you’re on the way out, he can’t force you to say. You can maintain composure and he’ll be the one who looks ridiculous.

    5. Manager IT*

      I think it’s also fair to say a version of that to at least some close colleagues – “Unfortunately, because of what happened with Jake, I’m not sharing where I’m going yet. Look forward to catching up later!” or another change of subject. For colleagues on your team, it’s a good way to make sure they don’t share information when they leave, and it’s a totally understandable reason to refrain from sharing from the point of view of a colleague from someone they otherwise know to be very reasonable.

    6. Hired Hacker*

      “I prefer not to disclose that at the moment.”

      Here. That’s a perfectly valid answer.
      Repeat as many times as necessary.

      1. Mf*

        Yup. Bartleby that conversation: “I prefer not to” is the perfect answer because it gives the other person nothing to argue with.

    7. JustaTech*

      The one I heard most recently was a cheerful “oh I’m not saying”.

      It completely deflected (in a friendly way) all the well-wishers and generally curious, while somehow also giving the impression that really they didn’t want their boss to know. (Given that their boss is generally considered to be the human equivalent of a tornado, that’s something we can all respect.)

  3. I should really pick a name*

    Please rethink the idea that you can’t just not say where you are going.
    You have a job lined up.
    You know your boss would be a terrible reference either way.
    You have nothing to lose.
    It will probably be awkward, but awkwardness is manageable.

      1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

        Lie by saying you don’t have a place lined up, or that you are taking time off. Not picking a company name at random so boss can call there.
        But it would be glorious if you had a friend who owned a business (someone in a secure economic and professional position) you could hit up. Say you are going there. Have your friend ask if boss was familiar with tortious interference and with slander (especially because boss is saying that friend is lacking intelligence and capability for hiring you).
        But if you don’t live in my dream world, just tell your boss that you are not ready to share.

        1. Slow Gin Lizz*

          Oh wow, that would be even better than just telling the boss you won’t share because of what he did to Jake. LW, you would be EVEN MORE of a LEGEND if you did this.

        2. Magenta Sky*

          Better yet, have the friend call up the company’s legal counsel and ask those questions.

          1. LinuxSystemsGuy*

            In the unlikely event I’m ever in this position, I’m going to tell them I’m going to work for my girlfriend’s firm and tell her to expect the call. Best idea ever.

            I dunno though, I still like just straight up telling him that I’m not answering because of what happened to Jake.

    1. Anonym*

      Yes, the discomfort will be temporary. It’s the perfect situation for “this too shall pass.” Telling them is a terrible risk, not telling a temporary inconvenience.

  4. tessa*

    What a terrible thing for that “boss” to do. Says more about him than anything he could say about an ex-employee – and about perhaps why that employee no longer works there.

    Hard agree with Mack. You prefer not to disclose and that’s it.

    1. Rose*

      It really does. Who in their right mind would take this seriously? My first question would be “did you fire him?” And if it’s a no, it’s obvious this person is just vindictive. If you that you feel the need to warn me about him, why are you employing him yourself?

      I would guess someone bonkers enough to do this would also be somewhat likely to lie, but even if boss said “oh yea, I fired him,” I would want to know the date because I would want to know if the candidate had a lied in the interview or if it was a recent development. And then I would want to fact check it because nothing about this is normal, unless you’re calling to warn some thing about some thing like a sexual harasser, which I assume you would lead with.

  5. alienor*

    This boss is never going to give you a good reference anyway, so I vote for looking him in the eye and saying “I don’t think that’s a good idea given what happened with Jake, do you?”

    1. DEJ*

      I’d probably make it closer to ‘I don’t think that’s a good idea given your history of using that information against us.’ Because Jake probably isn’t the only one he’s done it to.

  6. TiredMama*

    “Haha, like I would tell you after what you did to Jake. And I’ve already given them a heads up that that is something you do. They’ll be surprised if they don’t hear from you.”

  7. TimeTravlR*

    My friend knew quitting to go elsewhere would burn a bridge that she wanted to keep intact so she lied and said she was moving because her partner got a new job in a far away town. It has worked in her favor as that former employer wants her to do some freelance work for them. We are pretty sure that would not have been the case if they knew she left because SHE was offered a job in that far away town.

    1. gmg22*

      I’m glad it worked out for your friend, but I would be leery of continuing to work somewhere, even freelance, that WOULD burn me if management decided that I hadn’t left for the “right” reason. Quitting a job for whatever reason you want, as long as you offer sufficient notice and do a professional job of preparing any needed information for after you’re gone/your successor, should never be considered burning a bridge. I could see there being hard feelings if (barring having signed a noncompete agreement) you went to a direct competitor, but even then it seems to me that the professional thing is for your standing with your former employer to rest on the quality of the work you did.

      1. LinuxSystemsGuy*

        I mean, if it’s fairly independent work and they’re willing to meet my (exorbitant) freelancing rate, why not take their money. I fondly remember making about $3000 for basically two man days fixing up an old employer after the guy they hired to replace me broke everything. Granted I liked them, but I wasn’t working weekends for nothing. If I hadn’t liked them it could have been twice that ;-)

    2. the cat's ass*

      I did this too, with Hellbeast boss a couple of jobs back. I was ‘going to stay home with my new baby’, because that’s what proper mums did. That was in 2001. I then jumped over and worked with two former colleagues who had gone out on their own. I heard there was much gnashing of teeth when she found out but there was nothing Hellbeast could do because they hated her too. It was beautiful and i even got better hours and a little bump in $.

  8. Hills to Die On*

    I knew someone who said she was focused on staying home with her family, then went straight to a new employer.

    1. The OG Sleepless*

      I did that once. I had already accepted a new job, but knowing that my boss was a petty tyrant, I vaguely gave the impression that my kid’s medical appointments were becoming really time consuming and I was taking some time off.

    2. Gnome*

      I had someone say they didn’t have anything lined up at all… They were going to be dealing with some family stuff. They started a new job within two weeks of their last day… Based on when they updated theirs LinkedIn. I have no idea why they thought it would be A Thing as there is no history of weirdness like OP has, but the lie made it a little weird (in our industry it is not possible to be hired in that timeframe).

    3. dresscode*

      I’ve considered saying this if I were to get the job I’m applying for now. I’ve been working for only 6 months in my role and wasn’t actively looking. While my boss isn’t going to tank anything, I probably will take this job off my resume anyway since it was kind of a placeholder until I found something different. She’s also holds grudges, so I feel like she’d be more understanding about staying home.

    4. What She Said*

      Same here. I know someone who did this. If the boss knew she was leaving for any other reason than her family (it really was about the boss, she was horrible) the boss would have bad mouthed her to the new employer.

  9. LinesInTheSand*

    “Well, since you f***ed over Jake, I don’t think it’s a good idea to tell you.”

    I mean… you could. You’d be within your rights. I’m not saying it’s a good idea, but we’d all understand.

    1. Magenta Sky*

      Some bridges light themselves without any help.

      Spite can be very emotionally satisfying.

  10. Rick T*

    Given that manager’s record I’d answer with “my next job is not a topic for discussion.” and refuse to engage further.

    You don’t have to answer any questions, your old boss can only cut your notice period short. Not exactly a penalty when you are already leaving

    1. Caroline Bowman*

      Regretful expression and ”oh I’d love to say but for all kinds of reasons, I can’t”.

      The reasons are that A/ you don’t want to because, B, he’s a douchenozzle.

    1. NotAnotherManager!*

      Hee! I actually know a couple of people for whom that is actually the case. I have a general idea what they do, but I don’t know which three-letter agency they work for or in what specific job.

      1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

        Same! Those agencies hire folks from all sorts of backgrounds. HR, payroll/finance, IT, administration, etc. so it is entirely possible the LW could be at one no matter their background.

          1. Joielle*

            I actually legit like this as a response! If you say it with a (figurative) wink, it’s like… a plausible deniability joke. And bonus, if you’re a broken record about it, it would drive the boss nuts.

          2. SixTigers*

            A friend of mine legit works for one of the trigraphs, and they hear that all the time. All. The. Time. The last time we were out and someone said that to her about “you’d have to kill me, ho ho ho,” she piped up in a cheerful voice, “Actually, no, that’s not required any more, but I COULD slap you around a little, I suppose.”

      2. Richard Hershberger*

        I know a guy whose wife works at Fort Meade. Ask him what she does and his answer is “I have no idea.”

        1. Kevin Sours*

          According to a friend who did a summer internship there: “Algorithmic solutions to numerical problems”

  11. Moonlight*

    I would be livid and really upset if I had a boss who called a company to trash a former colleague; no wonder you are worried. I wonder: did you use them as a reference or does someone else do that for you? I have had jobs where I have similarly unpredictable/vindictive bosses, albeit in different ways, and have asked a colleague to act as a reference for me – if you’re doing that too, you might want to make sure that they also know to keep their lips sealed on the matter.

  12. KofSharp*

    There was a flood of people leaving my first job at the same time and everyone had a “I’ll tell you, a person who is also looking to leave, where I’m going in an off-office Lunch, but if you breathe that name in those four walls our friendship is over”
    Things and places those managers heard:
    1.) ANYWHERE is better than here
    2.) I’m leaving without a plan, I’ll let you know if that changes.
    3.) I’m not comfortable with saying.
    I used number 3, they tried to get me to stay until my “employment review” in November to “see if I’d earned a raise.” How much of a raise? 2 USD. I was going to be making 33% more at my new job, and I didn’t have to stay with a micromanager. I 100% believe they would have trashed me to my new company if they knew where I was going.

    1. Critical Rolls*

      Two whole dollars?! Well, don’t spend it all in one place!

      The EFFRONTERY. The AUDACITY. The STUPIDITY.

  13. Lenora Hallmark*

    “Because of my Security Clearance at my new employer I’m not allowed to disclose the info”

    1. Magenta Sky*

      Or “Drug dealers don’t like people to know who is working for them. Blood stains are *so* hard to get out of carpet.”

      But that’s really not a good idea.

      (Note: I know a guy who was offered IT work for a drug cartel in Columbia. He turned them down.)

      1. periwinkle*

        In his collegiate days, my father was offered a summer job running weapons. It turns out that his friend at college was a scion of a family in… business, shall we say.

        He said he didn’t accept, but you can’t help but wonder why he spent his entire professional career in the defense industry. Hmm.

        If I ever have a boss like the OP’s, I’d be tempted to adapt that story.

      2. SixTigers*

        I knew someone whose new boyfriend flew coke into Florida for one of the cartels. She didn’t say it in those words but that’s the only thing it could have been — and she was totally oblivious. She moved down to Florida to be with her new honey and I have no idea what happened to her. Or him.

    2. Blue Horizon*

      “If anybody asks, I’ve been advised to tell them I’m a temp at a staffing agency. So, yeah, can’t really say too much more, sorry. Pretty exciting though, ha ha!

      Between you and me, they are VERY interested in [boss], especially some of his financial arrangements. I think my knowledge of how things work here might really come in handy!”

      1. SixTigers*

        Oh, that’s good. That’s good! Ole boss is going to be sweating bullets — that’s beautiful!

  14. Jellyfish*

    I had a similar situation and kept repeating, “I’ll be doing similar work at another local company.” Almost everyone understood I was deliberately avoiding the new organization’s name, and most understood exactly why.
    A few people, including the rude boss, got pushy. I felt like that gave me the latitude to push back though. “That’s right, I’m not saying where I’ll be going. That information doesn’t need to be public knowledge.”

    1. Jean*

      I also had a similar situation at a previous (awful) job. HR manager acted like I was violating some unspoken rule by not telling her where I was going. “I just DON’T UNDERSTAND why it has to be some SECRET.” I just kept saying no, I prefer not to say. I just let it be awkward and held my ground, and I’d do it again in the same situation. No one is entitled to know my business unless I decide they’re allowed to. If that makes me rude or combative or any other negative thing that someone wants to dress me up as, I can live with that.

      1. Magenta Sky*

        “It isn’t necessary for *you* to understand why it’s secret. *I* understand.”

      2. Joielle*

        Yeah, if pushed, “I prefer not to say” is a perfectly polite (and complete) sentence.

      3. Goldenrod*

        “Let it be awkward” is one of the best strategies in life.

        Once you learn how to do it, you can actually even ENJOY the awkwardness.

        1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          Oh yes. When I was asked (I was part of what turned out to be a haemorrhage of personnel) I just sat still and smiled slightly and waited for the next question.

  15. Not Tom, Just Petty*

    And when boss tells you that you have to tell him where you are going, well, the best defense is a good offense.
    Borrow Alison’s patented “of course you aren’t asking me for a malicious reason, you must simply be confused” tone of voice, “Oh, I understand. There’s no problem thought. I have direct deposit set up and my last paycheck will go there and and HR/Payroll has my home address for my W2. So I won’t be getting any correspondence in my new place. I appreciate you checking in, though.”

    1. anonymous73*

      Too many words. Simplicity is key. “I’d rather not say.” Repeat ad nauseum.

  16. lex talionis*

    Since this boss is clearly an ass, instead of dreading it, why don’t you try to enjoy not telling him/her ? As you sit there getting grilled just think of every crappy thing they have said, done, every time they have been unfair, unprofessional, and bask in the afterglow of this bit of revenge.

    1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      “I’ll get back to you on that. Is there anything else you need?”
      Every time.

    2. Magenta Sky*

      Sadly, not everyone enjoys taunting those who thoroughly deserve it. The world would have fewer bad bosses if that were a universal human trait.

    3. Oakwood*

      This.

      It’s amazing how many people worry about people who have NO POWER OVER THEM pressuring them.

      You’re quitting. What’s your soon to be ex-boss going to do? Raise his voice? Stomp his foot? Hold his breath till he turns purple?

      Instead of fearing the moment, you should enjoy it. Yes, enjoy it. You are in charge, not your boss.

      Fun game: answer every question with a question.

      Boss: Where are you going to work?
      You: Why do you ask?
      Boss: I want to know?
      You: Why do you want to know?
      Boss: Why don’t you want to tell me?
      You: Why would I want to tell you?
      Boss: Because it’s polite, now tell me.
      You: Isn’t demanding personal information impolite?

      And on and on. Just always think: how can I phrase my response as a question? The point is to turn the conversation back on him. Put the pressure on him.

      BTW, this is a practical way to deal with nosey and pushy people (like salesmen). They often arrange the conversation so they seem like the reasonable and you are unreasonable for not agreeing with them.

      Boss: Where are you going to work?
      You: I’d prefer not to say.
      Boss: What do you mean you don’t want to say? Is it a secret? C’mon, tell me where you’re working.

      You see what has happened here? He has put you on the defensive. The conversation has been framed to place the pressure on you.

  17. Wisteria*

    You never absolutely have to answer it. You can say, “I’m not saying where I am going” with whatever facial expression you feel expresses your tone best. I said it with a smile when I left my last job, but an increasingly stern expression will work if you find yourself repeating it.

  18. Jean*

    “After how you treated Jake, I feel it’s best to not disclose that” is a perfectly acceptable response. He can INSIST all he wants, but in the end he has no actual power to compel you to do what he wants you to. Boss made his own bed on this one.

  19. Lizard People Dear Reader*

    When I quit a toxic workplace, and was asked where I was going, I said “I have another position lined up, fully remote.” My boss shortened the 30 day notice period I gave to three days. A former colleague gave notice at that same toxic workplace and made the mistake of disclosing where he was going, that same boss contacted his new employer and got them to retract their offer of employment, and offered to allow my former colleague who gave notice to stay. There are some truly insane managers in this world!

    1. Me (I think)*

      Wait, how does this even work? Some random person calls the new employer, and somehow talks them into retracting the offer? WTFF? What was the new company thinking?

      1. Magenta Sky*

        If the new employer took a call like that seriously, I’d have to suspect that the employee dodged a bullet. Nobody like working for idiots.

      2. Lizard People Dear Reader*

        Old boss and new employer were friendly with each other so there was a pre-established relationship there, and it wasn’t unheard of for Old Boss to do this kind of stuff. For reference, we were lawyers working at a public defense non-profit, I went to private civil, former colleague went to another public defense org in the area.

        1. Critical Rolls*

          That’s kinda extra despicable. Public defense is so necessary, thankless, overworked and underpaid to start. And then you have lawyers, who ought to about conflicts of interest and credibility, taking a disgruntled ex-boss just at face value. I sincerely hope your colleague was in a position to tell ex-boss to stuff it.

    2. CW*

      Wow, I feel really bad for your former colleague. Your boss is such an ass. There are no nicer ways to say it.

      And a good and reasonable employer wouldn’t retract an offer just because of one phone call. I would say that was also a red flag, and a bullet dodged.

  20. RJ*

    Given the history with Jake of this boss, I say be as evasive as possible. A vindictive boss will find a way of getting back at you whether this be by trying to badmouth you to your new boss or through prospective clients/projects.

  21. MisterForkbeard*

    You are absolutely not required to tell ANYONE where you’re going. That boss is way out of line.

    I ask my employees when they leave with a “If you’re comfortable telling, can you say where you’re going to go? Otherwise, I’ll just wait until it shows up on LinkedIn and congratulate you there.” But every employee is absolutely justified in just flat refusing to notify anyone. They’re not obligated. The only exception is if they trying to use the offer at another company to get a counter-offer.

    1. TootsNYC*

      I say, “I hope you’re going somewhere great, and that you’ll like your new duties.”
      Then then can tell me if they want.
      They often do.

        1. Mrs. Pommeroy*

          See, the difference here being that you are not a vindictive, close-minded boss who feels personally slighted by the fact that your employee chooses to work somewhere else

  22. Blueberry Girl*

    I just wanted to let OP know that IF their Boss does call the new employer and bad mouth them, it reflects on the Boss, not the New Hire. I had someone do this once and I was so shocked by it (especially since the other references for the New Person had been glowing) that I just felt bad for the New Hire and thought the old Boss was unhinged. One of the oddest experiences of my work life and one that I will never forget.

  23. Ptarm*

    A guy who quit at our company just answered us all with “Home Depot, Aisle 11!” This was obviously false but served as a friendly way to convey that he wasn’t going to give us the real answer.

    1. a tester, not a developer*

      The Canadian version is “Tim Hortons. I figured since I’m there every day anyways…”

      That’s my former co-worker said. Bonus points for the fact that there’s dozens of Tim’s in any good sized city, so it’s not like you could check.

    2. Critical Rolls*

      Just, “I need to concentrate on my art.” Total deadpan, refuse to elaborate because your work can’t be discussed in its nascent state.

  24. ES*

    I did this when I left my last job and I was SO worried about it. In this case, I was following my boss to a new company, and didn’t want to disclose that, as the company I was working for could be very vindictive/boundary-crossing. In the end, it was a lot easier than I built it up in my head. I used a variation of “I’m not ready to share that!” or “I’m not disclosing where I’m going next, but I’ll keep you posted!” or “Yep, I’m leaving for another opportunity that I’m excited about.” I kept it upbeat and then changed the subject and 99% of people followed my lead.

  25. Managing to get by*

    Where I work, we do ask people where they are going, and if they are going to a competitor we may have them leave the same day that they turn in notice. If we do this we pay them for 2 weeks, as the usual notice period. This is due to confidentiality reasons. Realistically, if someone knows they are leaving and they are inclined to take confidential information with them, they would have already printed or downloaded the data before they turn in notice. But it is industry standard that if someone is going to a competitor we let them leave same day, and anyone with any tenure in the industry expects this.

    If someone will not tell us where they are going, then we treat it as if they are going to a competitor. We don’t get nosey or weird about it, we just follow the standard for the industry.

    I’ve actually used this to my advantage and gotten a 2-week paid break between jobs without burning my remaining PTO balance or savings.

    1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      My employer is almost identical. The only variation I’ve seen is if someone’s open to a counter offer and the employer wants to extend one, they’re not escorted out until that negotiation is complete.

      1. Bernice Clifton*

        This happened when I was at a financial firm in my division. A long-time employee quit in another office and his assistant wasn’t allowed to tell clients because they wanted to try to woo him back.

      2. Managing to get by*

        That might explain why a couple of management who have recently left our org were around for 1-2 days before leaving. Having worked in this industry for most my career it felt weird to have people there who we knew were going to a competitor.

    2. The Original K.*

      When I worked in financial services, standard operating procedure was not to ask where someone was going & to escort them out that day. Everybody knew this so if you were leaving and you wanted to get your affairs in order, you did that in the weeks leading up to what you wanted your last day to be and announced that you were leaving on that day.

      1. Bernice Clifton*

        Same thing as when I worked at financial firms.

        And if you were being let go, you weren’t allowed back to your desk, so someone would bring your coat and purse to you and anything else was shipped to you.

    3. Danish*

      This is interesting; as you say, if someone wanted to take information to a competitor they would do it BEFORE turning in their notice. As it stands, it sounds more like an opportunity to get two weeks of paid time off by just refusing to say. There’s basically no incentive TO say where you’re going if you’re going to pay people out for two weeks’ notice but have them leave same-day.

    4. CatWoman*

      I get this. When I gave notice at my previous job, I simply said, “I’d rather not say, but I can assure that it is not to a competitor or a company remotely connected in any way to this field of business.” (And it was true.)

  26. Imaginary Friend*

    I had a boss who did exactly this when someone left at my last company. When I went to leave, I used the ol standby “I’m not at liberty to say” until I left.

  27. The Original K.*

    One of my coworkers just resigned and I don’t know where they’re going or what they’re doing. Actually, of the four people who have resigned since I’ve been there (not all in the same department, thank God), I only know the names of the new employers for two of them. Re: the others, for one, I don’t know anything and for the other, I only know the new title and the industry (e.g. in-house counsel at an engineering firm). It’s totally fine to only share what you want to share, especially since your boss sucks.

  28. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

    I deliberately chose not to tell anyone, because I knew my boss at the time was dying to badmouth me and my current employer as soon as I left. Months later I got a LinkedIn notification saying he and the COO had checked out my updated profile.

  29. CW*

    If you know your boss is like this, then chances are you are not connected with him on LinkedIn either. And you are not obligated to say what company you will be working for. It is none of your boss’s business – that is, unless you want to use him as a reference. But in this case, you are not going to so it is none of his business in this situation.

    And if I were you, block him on LinkedIn. That way, when you do update your LinkedIn, he will not have the option to be nosy in the future and take a look at it – and call your new employer because of it.

  30. irene adler*

    So why not just lie and give the name of another company?
    If you’ve been hired by Company A, tell the soon-to-be ex-boss you’re going to Company B.

  31. noname*

    Let’s come up with some fun responses! Here are a few suggestions:
    1) I’m going to work for the same company that Jake works for now. I believe you’ve already been in touch with that company when Jake left. They’re expecting your call.
    2) I’m going to work for a law firm that specializes in labor issues. They told me if you’d like to call them for a consultation, they will only charge you the heavily-discounted rate of $100 for the first hour.
    3) I’m going to work for a law firm that is super trigger-happy at filing lawsuits. Their specialization is slander. They seem really cool. Would you like their number?
    4) I’ll be one of Shakira’s background dancers.
    5) Taking time off to study Esperanto full-time.

    1. JustaTech*

      I’m joining the KPS. I’ll be working remote. Very remote.

      (Joke from John Scalzi’s Kaiju Preservation Society – fun read!)

  32. Fsas*

    We recently had several colleagues leave to work at federal agencies which cannot be named. So you could always leave in a cloud of mystery and intrigue.

  33. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

    Part of me would be very tempted to ask the boss “if I tell you, are you going to call them and badmouth me like you did to Jake?”
    The likelihood of that backfiring is not 0. But with this boss, the odds of her being unpleasant after you quit are high anyway, and this might not make it any worse…

  34. TTS*

    When I left my old job (manufacturing) my new job wasn’t well known as I was one of the first 10 hired to be sent for 6 weeks of training. I just said I was going to work at a new business coming to town.

    Several months later I found out rumors at my old employer had me all the way up to the production supervisor at this new company. I was actually just a production line worker.

  35. Lorelai*

    Other ideas: Say, you’re becoming a stay at home parent to your pet cockatiel. You’re leaving to become a missionary. Or give the name of a fake business, like the Umbrella Corporation or Dunder Mifflin. Say you’re selling everything to buy a truck to be a storm chaser. Covid made you realize it’s time to pursue your dream of dog sled racing in Alaska. You’ve accepted a position as head llama groomer at MYOB Farms. Tell him you’ve made it good as a Tik Tok influencer and need to devote your all your time to expanding your Brand. Go crazy.

    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      I once told a vindictive former boss I was headed to Dufenschmirtz Inc, and when asked gave 555-867-5309 as the phone number. And he bought it, hook, line, and phone number.

      (He was so not into pop culture that he missed the Disney Channel and Tommy Tutone references completely.)

  36. Observer*

    I don’t think I can just not say where I am going.

    Yes, you can. Of course you could also use Alison’s scripts if you want to, but you CAN also just not tell him.

    I realize that it may be better for you to use those scripts because it sounds like you (soon to be ex) boss is going to try to make your life very difficult if you don’t give him the information he wants.

    But please be very clear with yourself. You have NO obligation whatsoever to give him this information. He cannot withhold your last paycheck or any other money that is owed to you if you don’t tell him. He can refuse to “allow” you to resign over this – because he has no standing to “refuse” (or “permit”) you to resign. There is nothing he can legally do to force you to divulge this information other than throw tantrums and act like a juvenile jerk.

    Which all stinks! And I surely understand why you would want to avoid that. I’m just making the point that you won’t be doing anything “wrong” or even “unprofessional” if you don’t give him the info.

  37. Kevin Sours*

    Just say “I’m not able to disclose that” and then if there is any further questions mumble something like “you know, stealth mode”. At least in the right areas/industries that will shut down discussion without too many weird implications from fellow coworkers (like a lot the “white lie” options it might be awkward if the truth come out but coworkers should understand and management has lost the standing to complain)

  38. Policy Wonk*

    Follow the script of many a departing public official: I am leaving to spend more time with my family.

  39. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

    “I’m going to drive for Uber because it’s got to be better than this.”

  40. Phony Genius*

    If your new employer would fire you or take some other action against you based on your old boss cold-calling and badmouthing you, that also says something about your new employer and whether working there would be comfortable for very long.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      Yeah, if you work at any kind of decent place, the recipient of that phone call will likely think “Wow! I guess I know now why that person left their old position for us.”

  41. Kevin Sours*

    On reflection, giving your coworkers the impression that you are leaving involuntarily is not likely to cause a great deal of problems for *you*. And to the extent that it continues to be awkward once you leave, you can clarify it from a place of safety once you are established at your new position.

  42. Anonymous Hippo*

    To this boss I’d be very tempted to say “Since you bad mouthed coworker to their new boss, I don’t feel comfortable giving you this information.”

  43. MicroManagered*

    “After what happened when Jake left, I’m not sharing where I’m going.”

    Say it to anyone and everyone who asks. They already know what you’re talking about. If someone truly doesn’t know that story, you could say “Oh when Jake from Department left, someone actually contacted his new employer to badmouth him.”

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      Since it seems common knowledge in the company what happened to Jake, this is 100% okay to say. No reason to pretend there may actually be legitimate reasons the boss wants to know.

  44. Essentially Cheesy*

    If anyone can take anything away from this – please learn that you don’t have to share that information, especially with people that you don’t like and are leaving on purpose. It might be a good example of how to set healthy boundaries.

  45. irene adler*

    Reminiscent of the Great Resignation, I’d just say that I was quitting.
    No job lined up?
    Nah. Not for now.

  46. ticktick*

    I think I’d just respond with, “Why do you need to know?”, followed up with, “With all due respect, I don’t think that’s a valid reason that trumps my privacy rights.”

  47. Julia*

    My last company had the rule that if you were leaving for a competitor that your notice day was your last day (still got paid out two weeks at least). So sometimes it’s not just the evil boss. Sometimes it’s better to resign to HR or a higher boss if you have an evil boss and there are ending employment issues at the company.

  48. Essess*

    Since you are leaving and you already know that you can’t rely on that boss for a reference, I’d be honest.
    “I am keeping that confidential so that you won’t break the law again by employment interference like you did with a previous employee”.

    1. bryeny*

      I love this because you’re refusing to tell your boss where you’re going for his own good. You altruist, you!

  49. Anonymous Educator*

    I’ve been in a few situations in which I’ve resigned from a job before having something lined up (usually do to a cross-country move), so I’m very used to just answering “So what are you doing after this?” or “Where are you going?” with “I don’t know yet.” It’s not awkward. I mean, in this case, that would be a lie, but I’m just saying it’s not awkward to just not say.

  50. Keep it breezy*

    I heard a good one recently – “I just don’t want to jinx it, so I’m not saying until I start at the new place. You understand.” It’s polite. It’s breezy. It moves the conversation on.

  51. CatChaser*

    I would probably lie, and give a mega-company name, for example, Amazon, Boeing, Microsoft… These companies have so many divisions and subsidiaries, each with their own HR and hiring managers, your boss would never find the right one even if you were truly joining that company.

    1. JustaTech*

      Oh man, saying “amazon” would literally cover everything from high-level manager to warehouse worker and literally everything in between except culinary (they’re the only big tech that doesn’t have a cafeteria).
      “Oh, you work at Amazon, what do you do there?”
      “Put packages on the trucks.”
      “HR, long term leave”
      “Datacenter management.”
      “Botanist for the ‘spheres’.”
      “It’s classified.”
      “Account management.”

  52. ExecutiveRealness*

    I was told by HR that at one of my former workplaces (a large bank in Canada) that it was policy and you had to disclose where you were going. I think this maybe was in place so they could have recourse if Investment Advisors try to solicit current clients or take their book of business to to their next workplace. Didn’t apply to me but I still had to tell my manager.

    1. Observer*

      I was told by HR that at one of my former workplaces (a large bank in Canada) that it was policy and you had to disclose where you were going.

      They can have all the policies in the world. But in the US at least, their policy doesn’t obligate you to do anything. You can leave an employer without telling them where you are going and there is zero they can do about it (except pushing you out the door before your notice period is over.)

    2. RJ*

      In Canada, some employment contracts have notification provisions that require disclosure. It is not, however, required by Federal Labour law or most provincial laws (which cover most employment law provisions). IIRC, some provinces do require that you disclose to your employer if you’re going to work for a competitor, particularly in financial/investment services.

      Two years of reviewing freelancer/employee contracts for my US based former employer apparently paid off.

      1. ExecutiveRealness*

        Exactly, and if you are going to a competitor they will likely walk you out before your notice period is over- at least in financial services. For some people (especially if you’ve given 2 or more weeks notice) its worth it to be walked out early and still get paid.

  53. Rusty Shackelford*

    “Where are you going?”
    “Why do you ask?”
    “Just curious.”
    “Oh.” {silence}

    “No, really, where are you going?”
    “Why do you ask?”
    “You HAVE to tell me. It’s policy.”
    “Huh.” {silence}

    1. FG*

      This is what I was going to say. “Why do you ask?” Is a great response to many nosy / inappropriate questions. You still don’t have to answer their question.

    2. Filing away*

      I really needed this script…. for anytime someone asks me an uncomfortable question… thank u!!

  54. dcer*

    “Given some a complicated personnel situation at my new employer, they have asked me to not publicly reveal where I am going.”

    He doesn’t need to know that the “complicated personnel situation” is that he might call them.

  55. CheesePlease*

    No need to lie. I live in a big metro area so there are multiple companies that do similar enough work that when I quit I simply said “I’m taking a role in the llama training department at a company north of the city” which was enough to satisfy anyone who politely was curious about my transition.

  56. Chelsea*

    I always said, “Thanks for asking! I’m really excited to start a new role doing X.” And if they then pushed for the company, I would say, “I’d rather not share that until I start – don’t want to jinx anything!”

  57. Hermione Granger's muggle cousin*

    If you should resign, please update us and tell us which response you decided to go with- you’ve got some fun suggestions here!

  58. Cass*

    This happened to me and a colleague. The VP of my department was chummy with the VP of my would-be department and she got them to rescind the offer before I could give notice. My coworker was livid when she found out, but I thought we dodged a bullet by not ending up in likely similar environment. VP is a bully and mean, and when I did end up leaving declined to share where I was going. She ended up getting fired about month after I left.

    I agree with Alison and others, OP. Given the history you have no obligation to share where you’re going and any vague response of I’m not ready to share, or taking some time to weigh options, etc. I said that I would be working for a company out of state in a remote capacity and left it at that. I hope you get the opportunity to keep that news to yourself soon!

  59. Avalon Angel*

    I once worked for an owner like that. She was FURIOUS when she found out I had given an ex-employee a very good reference. The employee in question left after doing the job of assistant manager for a year without the title or pay; my official AM was the kid of a friend of the owner who worked twice a week and did close to nothing (I was reprimanded my first month there for assigning her duties typically expected of an AM, which apparently made her cry and feel “bullied.”)

    The good employee was helping to support her family after the unexpected death of her father, and when another company offered her both the title and more pay, I could hardly blame her for taking it. The owner, on the other hand, saw it as a betrayal on her part for leaving and on my part for the reference.

    As you can imagine, I did not stay long at that particular job. I could tell stories for days about that toxic environment, including being screamed at for following police directives after a robbery!

  60. Oakwood*

    Is there a lawyer in the house?

    Wouldn’t the former boss calling up the new company out of the blue qualify as tortious interference?

    “Tortious interference is the act of intentionally interfering with someone’s business. This may be by directly interfering with a business deal, or by interfering with the day-to-day operations – or even by spreading false claims about the business.” – legaldictionary.com

    The former boss was not listed as a reference. The new company didn’t call him. Isn’t the old boss’s call interfering with a contract between the employee and the company?

    The LW may want to keep that in his back pocket for his conversation with the boss.

    “You know, I talked to a lawyer recently. They told me that if someone from this office calls up my new employer to give them info on me that it would qualify as tortious interference. I could actually sue them personally for big bucks.”

    There’s a reason a lot of HR departments don’t give employee info anymore other than dates of employment.

    1. Kevin Sours*

      Tortious interference requires a tort. You are allowed to contact people. You are allowed to express your opinions even if they are negative one and negatively affect somebody else. Defamation is very narrowly defined to making false statements of fact and in this context fact is, itself, very narrowly defined. “Bart is bad at his job” is clear opinion.

      There might be *some* tort, I’m not a lawyer, but generally people throw around tortious interference when they don’t have a case but want to talk big.

      The reasons HR departments don’t give out information is because just because you can’t be sued successfully doesn’t mean you can’t be sued. And there is basically no advantage for doing it. (With a side helping of treating everybody exactly and unequivocally the same is the easiest way to avoid discrimination claims).

  61. Gnome*

    When I’m in a mood I’ll say, “Oh, it’s more interesting to here where people THINK I’m going! What’s your guess?” And then refuse to let people know if they are right.

  62. Who Plays Backgammon?*

    I once dodged overly curious Previous Job asking when I was going by saying matter-of-factly “New Job’s City.” It worked. It was no deep dark secret, just none of their damn business, noseyparkers.

  63. Zan Shin*

    Honestly baffled by the need for suggestions. How can anyone “make you” tell?? The 500 yard stare and “I’d rather not say,” repeated as often as needed.

    1. Mr. Bob Dobalina*

      We see over and over again on this blog that employees think they need to do whatever their boss/employer tells them to do. It is very odd to me.

  64. Venomous Voice*

    Honestly, you’ll only have to deal with the fallout for a few weeks, so just say you cannot divulge at this time. Once you’re gone, you’re gone. If ex-boss texts or calls after that, just don’t answer and then block the number. Or better yet, block it ahead of time.

  65. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

    “I’ve been asked not to reveal that until I start, but I can say that the office is located on Turtle Island.”

    (You’ve been asked, even if that’s because you first asked a friend “hey, just for fun, please ask me not to tell my boss where I’m going.”)

  66. Esprit de l'escalier*

    I’d want to first carefully re-read OldJob’s employee manual to make sure it isn’t the kind of place that says exiting employees must divulge where they’re going to. Assuming it isn’t that kind of place, if current boss was pushy and didn’t accept my vague non-reply, I’d want to say (and maybe would say) “Can you show me where in the Employee Manual it says I have to disclose this?”

    1. F.M.*

      But it doesn’t really matter if the employee manual says that or not. The employee manual isn’t a contract; it’s a list of rules and policies written by the employer, and the recourse the employer has for people not following those is to… fire them.

      1. Esprit de l'escalier*

        Right, but if the employee is trying to figure out what to say to shut the boss up, and knows this is not in the manual, it could be a good ploy. You’d have to approach it differently if that requirement was in the manual, however unenforceable it might be.

    2. Observer*

      March 31, 2022 at 8:16 pm

      I’d want to first carefully re-read OldJob’s employee manual to make sure it isn’t the kind of place that says exiting employees must divulge where they’re going to

      Why? I’m assuming the OP is in the US. The employee manual can say what it wants. But that doesn’t obligate the OP in any way, shape or form. So they have nothing to look for.

      I’d want to say (and maybe would say) “Can you show me where in the Employee Manual it says I have to disclose this?

      Again, why? Why grant legitimacy to the demand? Why give the loon boss a chance to say that “This is MY policy and you have to follow it” or “This is an unwritten rule, but you have to follow it” or even update the handbook?

  67. Been there*

    This exact thing happened to me too. Boss was known for being an ass, so I took an extra day before handing in my notice. I was regularly the last one to leave (folks lined up at the elevator at 5 o’clock on the dot every day) so I just told them all “I’ll be right behind you”, waited 5 minutes, then cleared my computer and packed up my desk. (Every one was gone by the time I got downstairs.)

    Next day turned in my notice to the boss, who insisted I tell him where I was going. I declined with “I’m not ready to say yet.” He threw a fit “tell me right now so I can call them up and tell them what kind of person you are” (exact words I won’t ever forget it). I replied “and that’s exactly why I am not telling you”. He proceeded to have the office admin escort me to my desk to “pack”, I wasn’t allowed to say goodbye to anyone, and she slipped me my last paycheck when he wasn’t looking (I had given her a heads up the day before, he was known for dragging that last check out).

    Got to start my new job two weeks early, they were excited to have me :D

    1. Observer*

      He threw a fit “tell me right now so I can call them up and tell them what kind of person you are” (exact words I won’t ever forget it)

      How does someone that stupid stay in a supervisory position?

  68. Anonymouse*

    Where are you going?
    What’s your security clearance?

    Where are you going?
    Army Rangers. You want to call and complain to my Drill Instructor?

  69. learnedthehardway*

    Considering what happened the last time, I would opt for saying, “Why?- are you going to call the hiring manager and bad mouth me the same way you did when Jake left?”

    If they want to make you uncomfortable about it, serve it right back to them.

    I mean, what have you got to to lose? You’re clearly not likely to use this manager as a reference, given his track record of trying to torpedo people’s job searches.

  70. Daisy Avalin*

    I’d say something like “I’m doing the Dhaka Rally (driving from London to Dhaka for charity) or backpacking across the Andes, it’s been on my bucket list for years!” something that’s completely unrelated to work, but that you can sound really excited about.
    Bonus points if it’s something you’ve never talked about before or something you physically can’t do – I don’t drive so doing the Dhaka Rally would be a ridiculous thing for me to do!

    1. RabidChild*

      I like this–use any number of bucket list items–you’re still “going” to do them. Some day.

  71. It's true*

    No, you absolutely don’t have to say where you are going next

    instead, just have fun not telling him!!

    I’ll be making plans to do some travelling.
    Oh, where are u going?
    No idea.. I’m excited to start thinking about it after my last day.

  72. Grey Coder*

    “Nothing’s final yet.”

    Because really, in this uncertain world of ours, is anything really final until it happens? Maybe we’ll all get sucked into a quantum wormhole tomorrow. There are no guarantees.

  73. anonymous73*

    Keep it simple. “I’d rather not say.” If boss asks why, repeat and walk away. If you’re leaving, and you know he’s got a history of badmouthing people, you don’t need to spend anymore mental energy on him.

  74. generic_username*

    One of my coworkers said to me “I’m not releasing that information publicly yet” which made me desperate to know because it sounded mysterious and important, lol. But I think he was just being private.

    Honestly, for LW, I think you have the full right to say: “Jake let me know that you called his new hiring manager to sabotage his new job offer when he left. I would prefer to avoid that and will not be telling you where I am going. I will update LinkedIn once I start.” It’s not like this crazy dude is going to be a reference for you anyway… and to keep it secret I’d say to anyone else “Boss called Jake’s new job to badmouth him during his notice period so I am keeping my new company to myself until I begin to avoid that possibility.”

    1. allathian*

      I wouldn’t even say anything about LI, and I’d definitely make sure that he old boss was blocked from looking at my account in that case.

  75. Mr. Bob Dobalina*

    I never say where I am going while still employed at old employer. I say: “I’m not disclosing that at this time but will be updating LinkedIn later.” Very close to one of AAM’s suggestions.

  76. Kat*

    When I left a previous job I told everyone I didn’t want to tell them where I was going because I was superstitions and was afraid it would jinx me.
    Luckily I had a reputation for being superstitious so it worked out for me. I got away without revealing where I was going.

  77. Betty Pitch*

    I’d just tell them something outlandish, like “My husband and I are opening a bait & tackle shop in the Keys! We’re very excited about all the worms and crickets.” Actually, you have every right to just say “No” and stick to it; we (myself included) are so conditioned to be polite to rude people, or to give in and spill the beans to someone who keeps up the pressure.

  78. Alessandro Carpenito*

    On the other hand, why not just be honest with the boss?

    “I feel like you used the information Jake gave you to cause undue stress at his new workplace, so in my case, I’d rather not discuss this”

  79. Full-Time Fabulous*

    I had a coworker who just gave notice and refused to tell ANYONE where she was going but just that she did have something. I have to admit that I am impressed with her strong will. She knew all too well that this organization is one where gossip flies about quickly and there was no way to tell anyone and have it stay secret. Unfortunately, her boss has had it out for her for way too long so she was right to keep the information to herself. Even though the gossip is that her boss is “glad” she is leaving, there’s just no telling if having that info would be tempting for him to try something.

  80. Sam Von Schmamm*

    I had the same problem when I left my last job. I knew my boss and likely co-workers would contact my new company. I just told them that I couldn’t say because I was replacing someone who was being let go and they hadn’t been told yet. It wasn’t true; the position was actually created for me. If this boss is as bad as you say, you won’t have to worry about a little white lie.

  81. Don't kneel in front of me*

    How about “considering you’re a vindicitve asshole I won’t be telling you or anyone where I’m going.”

  82. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

    I only wouldn’t divulge a move ONCE. I had been retired for six months. I received a strange phone call under the guise of appearing at a professional conference in another part of the country and ex-employer was likely to pick up the tab for the travel.

    I explained that I was working part time in a retail store but couldn’t leave in December as the store depended on me.
    I *also* explained that I had signed a one-year contract with a software firm but was keeping the details confidential, they will be out there on LinkedIn the first of the month. “So how’s my replacement working out?” (long pregnant pause)…. “We never could replace you”…. rest of the call was cordial small talk.

    All of my other jumps, I did tell them where I was going next. No sense to cover it up, employment letter was signed, sealed, delivered, agreements, etc.

    If my soon-to-be-former employer attempted to sabotage the move, I would have taken legal action.

  83. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

    As I said – I would not fear a current boss calling your future employer and bad-mouthing you. Now, I am not a lawyer but in my working career I have seen managers pull stunts on departing employees, usually with consequences on the management.

    There are three concepts at play here… ASSUMING THAT A VALID NON-COMPETE AGREEMENT IS NOT IN FORCE….

    1) Defamation of character. If your current boss makes a call and spouts / volunteers bogus, bad info about you to your new potential employer, that’s defamation of character / slander. You have grounds for a suit against your boss. And the company’s HR/legal staff will likely hold their noses and allow your boss to be hung out to dry.

    2) Tortious interference. You have a business relationship with a new employer that your current employer wants to disrupt. If there were a non-comp on you and new company insisted on hiring you anyway – they could be hit with a TA suit for interfering with an existing business contract BUT — if there is no non-compete, your current management is interfering with a new business relationship. It’s contingency suit time!

    3) Restraint of trade. Your old boss is trying to keep you from leaving, tries to stop your new boss from hiring you. They’re trying to block your access to an open labor market. This is why sleazy deals between employers in the same area or city, not to hire the others’ people, can be held illegal if the existence of the deals can be proven. Managers like to call these things (ugh) “no poach agreements”. The correct legal term is COLLUSION.

    1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

      addition – 3) above – I’ve heard of stupid managers actually admitting to such agreements existence under oath, not realizing that they’re implicating themselves! Go figure!

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