should I tell my boss I’m job-searching?

A reader writes:

I have a question about how much notice to give my boss before leaving my role. While I have not received any offers of employment yet, I have begun to actively apply for jobs. My boss, with whom I have a very close working relationship, had previously asked me to give her as much notice as I could before leaving (her requested time was 2-4 months) so they can hire and I can train my replacement before leaving. At the time I was fairly certain I would be leaving this role to go to school, which would have a firm start date, and so I agreed to generally give as much notice as I could.

I have since decided not to pursue school right now. I would like to keep my word but I also know how unpredictable the job search is and I don’t want to lose my job without a new job lined up. I also don’t want to damage my relationship with my current company. Do you have advice on how to bring up that I want to leave but without losing my current job before I’m ready?

Don’t do it!

It’s not reasonable for your boss to ask you to give months of notice that you’ll be leaving, let alone expect you to tell her when you haven’t yet accepted another position yet.

Granted, as managers we’d all love a ton of notice! It would make life a lot easier on your boss’s end if she weren’t blindsided by you quitting and instead had time to start looking for a replacement before you’re gone. What manager wouldn’t want that? But it’s not how things normally work; two weeks’ notice is the standard for a reason. Reasonable managers understand that (a) expecting months of notice isn’t in line with typical business conventions, and (b) providing that much notice wouldn’t be in your best interest, even if it’s in theirs.

Here’s the thing about providing an unusually long lead time: It can result in you getting pushed out earlier than you’d planned. Once your manager is alerted to your job search, she’s likely to start making plans for your departure and looking for your replacement. And if she finds someone she wants to hire, maybe it’ll be okay for you to have a lengthy overlap with that person … or maybe she’ll start pressing you to set an end date before you’re ready. Even genuinely supportive managers who don’t intend to push you out can start getting antsy when you’ve told them you’re not sticking around but haven’t actually left yet. The whole reason they wanted that heads up is so they would be able to plan — and that planning depends on you leaving, so at some point they’re going to expect you to do that, whether the timing is ideal on your end or not. You risk experiencing a great deal of pressure if your job search takes longer than you initially expected and you find yourself a few months down the road with your replacement waiting in the wings.

Moreover, once your company knows you’re on the way out, you’re more likely to end up on layoff lists if they need to make cuts, or to be overlooked for a raise (since wage increases are retention devices and you’re leaving anyway) or high-profile projects that might benefit your résumé during your search. It’s just not in your interest to give notice before you know your exact end date.

And despite how much managers might like the idea of being able to hire and train a replacement before someone leaves, that’s not how it typically works in practice. The usual amount of notice provided is two weeks, and that’s a very, very standard convention. In some fields, three or four weeks is common, but it’s rare for multiple months to be expected or granted. Those few weeks between giving notice and departing aren’t intended to be enough time for your employer to hire and train someone new. They’re just supposed to be enough time to transition your projects and tie up loose ends.

Now, all that said, if your manager has established a solid track record of accommodating long notice periods without ever pushing anyone out earlier than they wanted to leave, you might not need to take quite as hard a line on this. But even then, I’d be cautious. Your circumstances — or the company’s — could end up being different in some way this time around, and the stakes are pretty high for that gamble.

If you were leaving for grad school, providing months of notice would make more sense (although even then, I’d consider what you know of your employer and your manager and make your decision accordingly). But for a job search, with its uncertain timing and no guarantees, there’s just not much upside to giving early notice.

You might be worried about your relationship with your manager: She asked you to give her more notice, after all, and you agreed to give it. But when you made that agreement, you were planning on leaving for grad school, which is a different set of circumstances — and you can explain that when you do eventually resign. It’s fine to say something like, “I was planning on giving more notice when I was thinking I might leave for grad school, but of course with a new job, I only got the offer recently and they want me to start in a few weeks.” If she’s dismayed that you didn’t notify her that you were job searching, feel free to say, “It really fell in my lap without a lot of warning.” It’s not unreasonable to use a white lie when someone with power over your career is pressuring you for something they don’t have the right to expect from you.

By the way, none of this is to imply that your manager was a monster to ask this of you. Managers often don’t realize that what sounds to them like a reasonable request can put employees at a disadvantage. And it’s easy for managers to think, I’d never push a good employee out earlier than they wanted to leave, without considering the ways the employee could end up feeling pressure to do exactly that, or simply without considering the risk they’d be asking the employee to take on in doing so. Often, power dynamics blind the person with more power to the risks inherent in the other person’s position, and that’s likely what happened here. Hopefully remembering that will help you feel more confident extracting yourself from an agreement your boss shouldn’t have asked you to make in the first place.

Originally published at New York Magazine.

{ 147 comments… read them below }

  1. Gracely*

    DON’T DO IT.

    Every time I see a question like that, it makes every fiber of my being scream.

    1. HisotryLlama*

      I think it really depends on your relationship and the work that you’re in. My current boss knows and is very supportive of me job hunting. He wishes he could do more to keep me but his hands are tied and completely understands why I want to leave.

      1. Magenta Sky*

        The devil is always in the details. One former coworker gave two *years* notice – but that was for his retirement, and it really took that long to get his replacement completely up to speed. (We how have three people doing the same job.)

        And most important, it was *his* idea.

        1. CR*

          Retirement is way different from what we’re talking about here. That is something that everyone should rightly be aware of.

          1. Coenobita*

            Right, exactly. There are a few circumstances where this sort of heads-up can make a lot of sense, including retirement and school. I’ve also seen it work in term-limited positions, e.g. where someone’s post-grad fellowship or whatever is for a two-year period with the potential to extend for an addition year, and the person basically says “FYI I plan to leave when the original term is up.” But I think those are all exceptions that prove the rule!

            1. Esmeralda*

              Eh, even with retirement, I wouldn’t say a thing until I really had to. You could stop getting interesting work, stop getting promoted, etc., for the same reason — well, you’re on your way out.

              And unless there’s a required written in stone retirement age, you might have to postpone retiring. My original plan was to retire at ## = two more years now. But my husband has health issues and will likely need to retire pretty soon (rather than working another 5 – 8 years), we have a college aged kid who’s likely to go to grad school = I’m not retiring in two years.

              I have a colleague who gave notice they were retiring when we were required to see students in person again. They are caring for a frail family member. So that was that.

              1. Public Sector Manager*

                Exactly this! Only let people know when you’re ready. As managers, we have people leave all the time for a variety of reasons. And there is no way we can have a great employee transfer all their knowledge to a new hire after a couple of weeks. Even if someone gave 3 months notice, we might not be able to hire someone in time to meet that schedule.

              2. Reluctant Mezzo*

                You may retire sooner than you think, if your husband has health issues (kiss your health insurance goodbye, too, if that happens.

        2. After 33 years ...*

          I have done exactly that, for a similar reason.
          However, I agree that giving a long notice isn’t necessarily advisable in this case.

        3. L.H. Puttgrass*

          Retiring and applying to schools are the two main exceptions to the “don’t tell your boss” rule. The former because, well, retirement is just different—saying you’re thinking about retiring will get a much more positive reaction than saying you’re thinking of getting another job. I don’t know if retirement parties are still a thing, but I’m pretty sure that “leaving for another job” parties are a lot less common.

          School is in a similar category—you’re not leaving for another job, you’re going [back] to school! It’s exciting! It’s career growth! And your current employer is less likely to see it as being about them. Plus, ideally you’d like to get a recommendation letter from your employer.

          But if you were thinking about going back to school and then decided just to get a different job instead? Yeah, that’s not news most employers will appreciate hearing.

          1. Certaintroublemaker*

            Unfortunately, it can still leave people vulnerable to early layoff if there’s a budget crunch. Better that the person retiring/leaving for school is let go than someone who planned to stay, but those months of income are still lost for that person.

          2. ArtsyGirl*

            I would say even when applying to school, don’t inform your employer until after you are accepted into a program. If you don’t end up getting in or deciding that is not a viable option, you don’t want to put yourself on the chopping block.

          3. Iron Chef Boyardee*

            “School is in a similar category – you’re not leaving for another job, you’re going [back] to school! It’s exciting! It’s career growth! And your current employer is less likely to see it as being about them.”

            Unless your current employer is the type of person who won’t give you two hours off to attend your own graduation.

          4. On a pale mouse*

            I have had it work out okay. As soon as I had confirmed to the school that I would be enrolling, and had an apartment lined up (because that gave me date boundaries), I gave notice. I think it was early May and I would be leaving late July, so almost 3 months notice.

            I think I was naive about the possibility that I could be pushed out or suffer other consequences, but in my specific context I didn’t have a lot of reason to worry. It wasn’t an easy position to hire for back then, and – on my team of 3 – another person had also recently given notice, so they weren’t in a position to kick us out early, or at least not both of us. Plus I was in academia (IT staff) where layoffs and firings are less common.

            I think they appreciated it, since we were already doing interviews to replace my colleague, who had the same job title as I did except less senior, so we were able to just pick two from the candidate pool instead of one. They let us have some overlap with the new hires, too, so we could start getting them up to speed.

            That said, I’d still be pretty wary. My situation was quite specific and it was a pretty good workplace overall – and I was planning to live off my savings for a while, so a couple of months extra wouldn’t have been disastrous even if they had pushed me out. Maybe I didn’t get a raise (I have no memory about this either way), but those happened on July 1 at that place so I didn’t miss much.

            And for sure don’t do anything until your next move is settled, confirmed, etc. “I’m thinking of going to school” or “I’m looking for a new position”? Hell no, say nothing until you’re sure. Even in my good workplace where it all went well, I didn’t say a thing until it was a done deal. My boss called me while I was on vacation visiting one of the schools I was considering, and I about jumped out of my skin, with that momentary “does he somehow know what I’m doing right now?”

            1. On a pale mouse*

              Have just remembered that he also called me right after I got done taking the LSAT. Maybe he was psychic.

        4. OtterB*

          I’m also thinking about retiring in about 2 years. We’ve hired a new boss for me who will be starting in July, and I’ll almost certainly raise that with her when we start 1-1 discussions about goals, etc.

          We are a higher-ed related not-for-profit and have had several employees leave to go to graduate school. Multi-month notice is pretty common. As far as I know, nobody who was leaving for a different job announced that before they had the new job in hand, but if it had been raised with their supervisor and not publicly announced, I wouldn’t know.

      2. Gracely*

        The issue for me is that while it *might not* hurt you if you have the rare boss where it’s okay, the chances that it could hurt you are so much higher, and the risks/downsides so much bigger, that the default should be don’t do it.

        Not everyone is actually good at gauging what their boss’s response will be (and not everyone realizes they aren’t good at that), and even some bosses who are otherwise great get weird when their employees leave. The risk of it blowing up in your face is too high, especially since people rarely gain anything from saying something.

        That said, if you are a boss who wants to get extra notice, the thing to do isn’t wring promises out of your employees, but to set an example by being gracious with anyone who gives their notice. If you’re in a situation where your employees need to move on in order to move up, proactively let your employees know that you want them to grow, even if it means leaving, and that whenever they do choose to do that, you’ll always be happy to be a reference for them.

      3. ThatGirl*

        Two jobs ago I told my manager I was applying for an open position in a different department. It wasn’t a surprise to her because we knew my talents were being underused in my current job, and we’d both tried to expand my role to no avail. And for that matter, she left a few months after I changed jobs. But that’s a very specific circumstance. I do think *in general* one should not tell one’s boss they are job-searching.

        1. Ace in the Hole*

          Yes, the only time I’ve told my boss I’m job searching was when said boss had already told me she was leaving by month’s end.

      4. Koalafied*

        Yes, in OP’s situation – definitely don’t, what boss is asking for is unrealistic.

        We do have an entry-level role on my team that doesn’t have much internal advancement potential, so we’re usually up front with candidates/new people coming into the role that while we’d love them to stay indefinitely, we understand that we’re likely to lose them in 2-3 years. The woman who manages the role has offered to serve as a reference for employees who have been around at least a couple of years with a good track record. But she doesn’t do that with any intention of listing the person’s job (let alone hiring and training a replacement) before they’ve given formal notice. At most she maybe gets an extra 1-2 weeks of notice that an employee is a finalist in a hiring process and has slightly more time to think about what documentation needs to be updated, or slightly delay plans to launch a major new initiative in the next month, but generally she’s not getting enough extra notice for it to benefit her very much. And the field we work in is a somewhat small community where having warm relationships with your ex-staff/ex-colleagues who have moved on can sometimes be professionally useful. But for the most part she does it simply because she wants to support good employees even if that means they leave for a while. (And at least one of her former reports that I know of left with her blessing/reference and came back to us 3 years later for a higher level role!)

        If the boss’s stated reason is “I know this isn’t a forever job and I want to support your career development,” and she has a track record of doing that without pushing people out, great! If the stated reason is “I need the extra lead time to plan for your departure,” nooooo. The only way she gets “extra lead time” that’s in any way useful is if she is able to know your last day before you’re ready to give notice.

    2. KayDeeAye*

      If you can’t say when you’re leaving, I just don’t see the point of giving notice. All other considerations aside, what possible good can it do? If the OP’s boss is a good boss, they presumably can’t hire anyone else, so all the OP is doing is giving them some extra weeks of what-do-I-do-now?-type stress, and that won’t help either the OP or their employer. If they’re bad, they’ll push the OP out as soon as its convenient for them. There’s no way to make this a win-win.

      I mean, isn’t that what the term “giving notice” means – to tell your current employer when you are leaving that employment? So if you can’t say when, why say anything?

    3. usernames are anonymous*

      Yes – At the end of the day make sure you look after your interests first because the company won’t.

      You could prepare FAQs documentation so that anyone stepping into your role knows what you do and how you do it. I have something similar for when I go on vacation so if my cover needs to do carry out a task they will find detailed step by step instructions for it in the FAQs.

  2. glitter writer*

    I’ve now been a people manager for about 18 months and I have to echo the “don’t do it.” Not because I want to shove people out the door — I enjoy supporting my direct reports, and sometimes the best way for them to grow is to leave, and that’s okay! Maybe I’ll see them again in the future at this or another company, who knows. But because having to sit with that knowledge is just incredibly unhelpful to me. I can’t start a hiring process, I can’t really share it up the chain, but I also can’t not share it, and it just puts me in an incredibly weird limbo.

    By all means tell me if there’s something we can change to make you want to stay, or talk with me about growth potential, or even talk with me about other roles inside the company, but “I’m planning to leave eventually” is just not a helpful thing for someone to fill my brainspace with, for either of us.

    1. cee cee dee*

      YES! A thousand times this. It happened to me with my direct report, they told anyone who would listen that they were going through a background check and up for a new job, but never gave a true notice. Upper management decided to move on from them so the company could move forward. We waited 3 months to see what was happening with this employee before this. We have a small department and this person was not even doing the full job. We had to move on.

    2. generic_username*

      Agreed. The job hunt process can take very little time or a lot of time – it really is difficult to know upfront. Just do things you can to make things easier once you are able to give notice – for instance, negotiate a later start date so you can work out a longer notice period and start taking detailed notes for the person who eventually gets/covers your job.

    3. Susie Q*

      Agreed! As a manager, I tell my team to prioritize their career not the company. BUT I also don’t want to know you’re actively job searching, etc. It puts me in an awkward place.

    4. Yarrow*

      Yeah, that’s my thing. It’s not actionable information and it may put you at risk. Since the LW has already informally agreed to a 2-4 month notice period, they should just search for jobs and give a longer notice than usual. That’s it.

    1. Rose*

      This is perfection.
      You don’t need to scree yourself over just because someone has asked you too

  3. HugsAreNotTolerated*

    You agreed to give as much notice as you could. When you give her 2 weeks notice, you are giving her as much notice as you can. Your boss can request 2-4 months notice, she can also request you dye your hair pink and wear your clothes backwards. YOU ARE UNDER NO OBLIGATION TO GIVE HER THAT AMOUNT OF NOTICE.
    Would she or the company give you any notice if they decided to lay you off or fire you? Unlikely. There is LITERALLY no benefit to you telling your manager that you are job hunting.

  4. Will*

    Reading this from a UK perspective was very surprising! Over here, one month notice is the accepted standard for most positions – and in many organisations, grows to three months for more senior positions, which is baked into the contract and applies to notice either the employer or employee can give to terminate employment, barring gross misconduct. At my current role, that I just started, it’s no notice at all for the first month, one month’s notice for the second month, and three months notice thereafter.

    Of course, employers expect this and it’s taken into account when starting a new role – having a three month notice period is not going to count against you if they want you for the position.

    1. The OG Sleepless*

      I think the question is not how much notice to give when you are leaving, but rather whether to tell the boss you’re thinking of leaving.

    2. Kimmy Schmidt*

      We don’t usually have contracts here in the US, so there’s no protection from being pushed out or let go immediately. There’s also much more of an expectation that you’re able to start relatively soon after accepting a new job.

    3. Roscoe da Cat*

      There are no employment contracts generally in the US – it is at-will which means either party can leave at any time without notice. Assuming the OP is in the US, the convention is no more than 2 weeks. Any more is considering generous.

    4. Anonymous Hippo*

      Even in the case of the U.K., the notice period isn’t to hire and train a replacement, because presumably, any replacement would have to give the same level of notice to their old place of work. It seems just a misunderstanding of the manager of exactly what a notice period is for.

    5. StudentA*

      Does this mean when you accept a job, you’re expected to start a month after you sign your acceptance letter?

      1. sunglass*

        You’d usually say when you can start once you have a formal offer (in writing or over the phone – oral job offers are official here, though you’ll usually get an oral and written offer). I don’t think I’ve ever had an acceptance letter to sign!

        I have a three month notice period because of my seniority and how long I’ve been at my company, and any job I applied for would be expecting that. If I were offered a job tomorrow they would be operating on the assumption that I’d start in May or June (and probably the person I’m replacing would have a similar notice period).

        But the notice period isn’t for training the new hire. If it works that way it’s a bonus, but usually you’d be hiring people with similar notice periods.

        1. introverted af*

          Just out of curiosity – how is that affected if there is an internal promotion to fill a role? I.e. VP of Administration retires with long notice, then the director of HR is promoted to the VP role, and then no one from HR is promoted to the director position so there’s an opening there to fill.

        2. Anon attorney*

          I once gave six months notice but I was working in government and I was leaving to take a short career break then go to law school, so there was no risk to me. I would not and have not ever done the same in any other role. I get wanting not to screw a boss who has been good to you but losing good people is normal in business life and managers need to just cope with it. You have to put yourself first here because nobody else will.

    6. Isobel*

      Yes, it’s a huge contrast. I told my “boss” I was thinking of leaving because I knew I’d need him to give me a reference – it is expected in my field that one of your references is your current employer. So they knew I was looking, then I gave three months notice, which gave them time to advertise and interview (training, not so much, it’s the sort of job where you have a day or so getting up to speed then you’re up and running).
      I had no problems with asking my employer for a half day to go for an interview, either. It’s a very different world.

    7. Anon for this*

      And of course at a certain level there is garden leave (so called because sometimes senior people are told not to come into the office and potentially poach clients while their notice period runs down, so they spend the time gardening). I’m hoping I’ve finally got to the garden leave stage in my career, although my current employer would probably pay me off instead (which is fine with me).

    8. AcademiaNut*

      The last sentence is key – if the standard is one month, three for more senior positions, then everyone operates on the same standard and you don’t have your current employer asking for three months notice, and your future employer expecting you to start in two weeks.

      I think reciprocity is important too. In the US, it’s already unbalanced, as a departing employee is expected to give two weeks notice, but an employer can fire or lay off someone with no severance and no warning. The period of warning/severance should be comparable to the period of notice.

  5. RJ*

    Never, ever, ever do this. I can understand having a close working relationship with a manager and wanting to give them enough notice to fill your position, but it’s incredible how quickly that closeness can turn around once they realize you’re leaving for another opportunity. Don’t give any boss a window into your career or you’ll never be able to close it.

    1. Quiet Liberal*

      I have to agree with this. I thought giving nine month’s notice of my retirement date was the decent thing to do because my job was very specialized. I also thought I knew my boss, who I’ve worked with at different levels for about 20 years. They weren’t supportive at all! I believe they took my leaving personally and made my notice period difficult. That was a long nine months.

  6. Heidi*

    I wonder if the OP trained with the person they were replacing for 2-4 months. There are some work environments where a long training period like this makes sense, but the OP doesn’t seem to indicate that. If the OP really wants to help the new person, it might be a good idea to start working on transition documents, updating contact lists, writing out procedures, etc. so that the new person has references. But no, they don’t have to give a really long notice. It’s the boss’s job to train the person in the role, not the person leaving.

    1. Curmudgeon in California*

      IMO it’s a good thing to do some of this anyway because of bus syndrome (what would happen at your job if you were hit by a bus?)

      I’ve been the “irreplaceable person” who couldn’t even take a long vacation because some of my work wouldn’t be done. It sucks.

      Document all the things, even if you’re not leaving.

    2. WantonSeedStitch*

      This is exactly what I came here to say. There’s still plenty of time to do a whole lot to set your replacement up for success, without telling your boss.

  7. Amy Farrah Fowler*

    I really appreciate all the caveats here about knowing your employer. I have been working in my current role for about 5 years now and I have seen my company respond extremely well to long notice periods and also to allow people to move to part-time or have other flexibility. It’s really remarkable. That said, even with all that evidence, I don’t know that I would give more than a few weeks notice, definitely not 3+ months.

    1. Squeakrad*

      I have worked in a number of industries and have never heard of a long notice like this, and especially not a notice that someone is looking.

      The only two exceptions to that have been executive director positions, where it was clear that the person was transitioning out of their role entirely. One who retired and one because of ill Health. No circumstances it’s not just telling their boss it’s announcing to the organization that they will be transitioning out of their role and actively helping the search committee to replace them. If you’re not in that situation I don’t see any advantage to giving a long notice. And not just no advantage but it’s really not done.

    2. Rolly*

      Just as another data point, at my nonprofit organization we absolutely do not pressure/ask staff to give super-long notices, but plenty do anyway, simply because they know it’s a nice thing to do. It helps the work.

      It’s extremely common for staff leaving for school to give six months or more lead time (a previous report to me did). And I can think of recent departures for other jobs giving between four weeks (a junior person) and three months for several fairly senior people. Two other junior people gave just two weeks – one I know was softly searching, then got a job very suddenly. Which we totally understand.

  8. Commenter*

    UGH when I started reporting to a new person last year one of the first things she said to me was ‘and I hope you won’t blindside me if you decide to leave by not telling me until you’re leaving.’ Um, yeah that’s how it works. I can understand that there are some angels on earth that could effectively manage someone who is looking to leave but my current manager is not one of them – if I end up having to tell her I’ll leave I’m sure to get the ‘I’m disappointed’ speech!

  9. Jennifer*

    I’m in a large online group of women and someone asked a similar question last year… and I was flabbergasted because most of the people responding were telling the asker to tell her boss! I could not believe anyone could ever recommend that. One person was even a manager and said they told their direct reports that they should tell them when they start job searching.

    1. Just J.*

      OMG. This and WTF? Who is giving this advice? I have heard it echo’d by some 30-something women in my extended family.

      No matter how friendly your manager is, they are NOT your friends. Business is business. No matter how generous the company, no manager wants to hear you are leaving. You are in essence, breaking up with the company, and no matter how professional we are, that still smarts. It says that management has failed. And maybe that’s the message you are sending. But be advised of the repercussions. You better believe, while your manager plasters a smile on their face and tell you it’s ok, they will be cutting you off from every plum project in the office, denying you your bonus, and looking for every way possible to get you out of the company sooner faster rather than later. You’ve turned your back on the company. Don’t be surprised that they turn their back on you.

      It’s one thing to tell your boss that you are unhappy and can you discuss ways to fix that? It’s another to tell them you are job hunting. There is an invisible line in there. And once crossed, cannot be uncrossed. It’s the same as Alison’s advice regarding counter-offers. Just don’t do it.

      1. Jennifer*

        Yeah, these were mostly 20 to 30 something women… but I’m in my 30s and have known since I started working that you *absolutely should not* do this. I pushed back and got a lot of “sorry that’s your experience but my manager is ~amazing~”

      2. dontusuallypost*

        I agree with everything you said except that leaving says that management has failed. Many people genuinely leave because they want to work for a different type of company, not get too comfortable for too long (to avoid finding it more difficult to find work later), or just try out something new. Not everybody who leaves a job does it because they’re unhappy with something the company should have fixed.

  10. Onetwozeee*

    Does the advice change any if you’re in government and thus have more protection against being pushed out?

    1. Bob-White of the Glen*

      Maybe. I gave a long notice at a government job in 2001 and it was very uncomfortable. I did it again in 2019, but only to my boss and a couple of close friends, and keeping it under wraps helped a lot. Hopefully when I leave this job it will be at retirement, and people have a good attitude about that here. (IF you can get out, without being pulled back in as “interim” because it’s a hard market to sell.) But I would error on protecting myself, versus lots of notice, if the situation seemed to warrant that.

      1. Bob-White of the Glen*

        Also with the 2019 job – it was my second time applying to my dream job, and part of making my application competitive was listing my current boss as a reference. So he knew I had applied and (I’m guessing) had given me a good reference. So it wasn’t unexpected.

    2. anonymous73*

      I would still say no. You have no idea how long it’s going to take you to find a new job. I was out of work in 2020/2021 and it took me 7 months before I had an offer. The point of providing notice is to wrap up your projects and provide any relevant documentation for whoever is going to cover for you until they hire your replacement. A manager needs to set up their team in case someone is suddenly out for a long period of time/permanently.

    3. Public Sector Manager*

      No. I’ve been a manager in government service for 12 years. Even though you can’t get pushed out, there are things your manager may not do for you anymore with the advance courtesy notice without a firm departure date–no more career development, no training and travel (which is one of the few perks we have to offer people), no more giving you engaging and cool projects to work on, shifting more work to you because you’ll be gone soon, etc.. I’ve known some managers at my office who will stop giving you priority when it comes to last minute vacations and they may not be as flexible if you are running late on a particular day or want to leave early.

      Only let your boss know you’re leaving when you’re actually leaving.

    4. doreen*

      Possibly if you are planning to retire or looking for another government job in the same or a different agency – but even then , the long period typically isn’t exactly notice. I didn’t give notice in the sense of “Jan 26 is my last day” or even ” I’m retiring in January” until I actually filed the retirement papers that said that was my last day (which I filed at the end of November) but people (including my manager) knew that I would be leaving a few months before that.

      But a lot depends – someone else said they know managers who stop giving priority for last minute vacation when they know someone is leaving and it was absolutely the opposite at my job – people who had a definite date to leave would get last minute vacations approved routinely. Partially because no one, including the managers wanted to see people lose their vacation time and partly because if people were going to lose the vacation time , they would just move up their departure date. And actually, one of the reasons I did give a lot of advance warning was because I didn’t want to be assigned to any new projects that I wouldn’t be around to complete.

  11. Maybe Relevant*

    I am not the norm. My position is not the norm. Do not recommend what I’ve done for others

    I’ve told my boss that I’m looking to leave. My boss also told me that he is looking to leave.

    Neither of us have told anyone else.

    In my prior roles, I’ve not given notice until my signed offer letter is in hand, but typically give 3 weeks notice instead of the standard 2 weeks.

  12. Bunny Girl*

    Does this apply when you are applying for an internal position? I gave my boss a head’s up that I had applied for another position in the same department. Our office can be a bit gossipy so I’d rather she found out from me than someone else.

    1. Zephy*

      Usually for internal postings you need to loop in your boss at some point, right? Like they need to approve the transfer? It’s probably a good idea to make sure she hears it from you, though, I think your instinct is right on that front.

    2. sunglass*

      Does your company have any policies for internal transfers? At mine you need to let your current manager know if you make it to the second round of interviews. Plenty of people say before that, because moving internally *is* a bit different to changing company, but there might be a specific point where you need to inform your manager.

  13. Justin*

    I try to give slightly more than 2 weeks if I can to be overly nice – and last time I was going on a trip before my new job so there was a lot more lead time – but otherwise, no. Get that offer agreed to then tell her.

  14. StudentA*

    I’m just going to give a practical answer.

    There are many capable people out there who search for jobs for many months, if not a year or more. Please take that #GreatResignation noise with a grain of salt. Many people are still struggling to get hired. If you give her a “heads up” you’re job searching so she can “find a replacement,” and she finds someone in the 2-4 months you’re estimating, then it ends up taking you 6 months to land your next gig, then what? Is your wonderful boss going to keep you around a few extra months? Does she have the authority to do that even if she wanted to?

    You are very conscientious and courteous to consider it. But I think you should wait until you have an offer. If your boss ends up getting upset, she’s being unrealistic and selfish. If you are so inclined, perhaps you can arrange a consulting thing for a fixed period after you’re gone, then cut the cord, regardless of whether or not your boss found your replacement.

    1. Laney Boggs*

      this x1000000.

      Admittedly, 2020 was a weird year to start a job search, but that’s how long I’ve been at it.

    2. anonymous73*

      100% this. I got laid off in Oct 2020 and did not have a job offer until June 2021. Since I was unemployed I could dedicate all of my time to finding a new job, and while I’m not the best at interviews, I have 25 years of professional experience and a highly sought after certification and it STILL took me 7 months.

    3. Smithy*

      I think a lot of that “how much time” can sometimes be whether or not you’re getting offers – but sometimes it’s about whether or not you’re getting offers you want. My longest job hunt (when I had a job) ultimately ended up taking a year, and during that time I was assigned a few professional development conferences/opportunities that definitely would have gone to someone else had I been known to be actively looking for something else.

      Also during that time, there were a few jobs I was offered that I ultimately turned down because they weren’t really right for me – but likely would have taken if I hadn’t had anything. Depending on your sector and level of seniority, the job hunt can be slow for all sorts of reasons. Don’t put any undue pressure on yourself.

  15. Hailrobonia*

    My office treats us terribly and would rather hire new people rather than promote from within, then they have the gall to act shocked when staff leaves.

  16. Art3mis*

    I made this mistake once. My manager asked if I was looking and I was honest. She seemed fine with it, said it was understandable, it wasn’t a good fit, these things happen, don’t worry about it, if I needed time off for an interview, that was fine, etc. I know there’s people that start looking for a job and have one within a month. I’m not one of those people. Even in a good economy, it takes me months or years to find a new job. And this was 2009. The economy was not good. A few weeks later she asked for my end date. I hadn’t found anything yet, so I didn’t have one and didn’t want to give her a date since I didn’t want to quit and be ineligible for unemployment. So I made her give me one and she still fought unemployment. Which I eventually got anyway. Still. Wish I’d never done that.

  17. animaniactoo*

    Without having read Alison’s answer yet:

    What I would do is go back to your boss and say “I’ve realized that I may not be able to give as much notice as you’d like. But in thinking about this, I realized that wanting that much notice makes me nervous about my ability to take vacation and be disconnected while on vacation. Would it be useful to do some cross-training with others towards that?”

    Because the reality is that in our current setup (assuming that you are in the US) asking for 2-4 month’s worth of head’s-up is a wildly unreasonable ask on the side of the employer.

    1. I should really pick a name*

      I’m not seeing the connection between notice and ability to take vacation. Could you clarify?

      1. Lunch Ghost*

        I think the idea is to disguise “Let’s cross-train others on my job [so you don’t feel the need to hire and fully train a replacement for me before I can leave]” as “Let’s cross-train others on my job so my job can get done when I’m on vacation.”

      2. DisneyChannelThis*

        If you cannot do your job (quit, hit by a bus, on vacation, hospital, family leave etc) – what tasks need to be well documented or have multiple people know how to do? If manager wants a 3 month heads up so can have a month overlap with former employee and new employee for the new one to learn their tasks – it may mean that no one has any idea how to do former employee’s work. Susan’s the only one who knows how to reboot the servers and bring back the XYZ process. If Susan’s on vacation and the server crashes, we need to be able to reach Susan ASAP and have her have a laptop to fix it while on her trip. So if Susan and Steven know how to do it, Steve can be asked instead of asking Susan on the beach to find some wifi.

      3. animaniactoo*

        If someone wants *that much time* in order to train a replacement, it often means that the person’s tasks/responsibilities are not ones that other people in the office are trained in (and therefore able to train the new person). Or others do know them but there isn’t a lot of slack for being down a person for awhile.

        In which case, the ability to take a vacation easily (there’s never a good time) or be completely disconnected becomes harder – as witness many letters where LWs have this kind of an issue.

        So (having read Alison’s answer now), while I agree with everything that Alison said, the LW can try to gently push the office into a place where they’re in better shape if she can’t give the lengthy notice that her boss wants. And if it is the kind of situation where it would be an issue, it should also help head off issues of ongoing calls for help after they’ve left for the new job (which is another common issue that crops up).

        1. Rolly*

          In some of my field, a long lead time is nice not because of need for training, but for client relations. We have relationship managers with certain clients, and it’s so much better for the relationship if the outgoing person can introduce the new person in a hand-off call or even a meeting. That’s not possible with two weeks notice.

          I’m not saying we force or expect long notice periods – but it’s nice when it happens. The client appreciates it, the new RM can do a better job. There are even benefits for the outgoing person in their relationship with the client.

    2. anonymous73*

      If I were a manager and you told me this, I would automatically think that you were job searching. Managers should always be prepared for an employee to be out for an extended period time/leave for another job. Unless it’s a specific industry standard, a 2-4 month notice is a very unrealistic expectation.

      1. Fran Fine*

        If I were a manager and you told me this, I would automatically think that you were job searching.

        Yup. That isn’t remotely subtle, lol.

  18. Magenta Sky*

    When on is going back to school, it’s quite practical to give 2-3 months notice if one chooses. But how many employers are willing to wait 2-3 months for a new hire to begin? I’m sure there are some, but that can’t be common.

    1. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

      The only time I’ve given that much notice was when I was going back to school. My job required coverage (help desk), so I told the manager when she was making out the September schedule that I’d need to make an adjustment so I could attend night classes the first quarter, and that another co-worker had agreed to swap shifts with me. So she had about three months of informal notice, and then I gave official notice (with an end date) in mid December. In January I started going to school full time. And they still weren’t able to hire a replacement for me in that time. (They had problems finding then keeping people.)

      I like my current boss well enough, but if I ever move on, I’ll give two weeks notice like everyone else who’s left for a new job. (People who retire give more notice, but that’s a different scenario.)

    2. PT*

      I gave this much notice when I was moving away for my husband’s job. But that was a tricky situation because we were very short staffed at the level below me, and my boss the level above me was lazy and incompetent so I was doing half of his job too.

      When I left my boss got put on a PIP and was fired within a month.

  19. Ozzie*

    I’ve considered doing this in the past, then I remember that the people I would be telling have control over my current ability to pay my bills… It doesn’t matter how close we are – they still have this power.

    Don’t do it. You’re under no obligation to, even if you have an excellent relationship… and you stand to lose way more by giving the head’s up than they stand to lose by you not doing so.

  20. jess is my name, pasta's my game*

    absolutely NOT!!

    give them your notice once you’ve accepted a position – 2 weeks minimum if possible since you’re on good terms with them.

  21. The OG Sleepless*

    I’ve given a courteously long notice period, and I have no problem doing that. 1-2 months is pretty standard for my role.

    But I would never, ever breathe a word to my boss until I had a new job and a start date. Telling them you’re looking can come across as a general statement of discontent or simply a threat.

  22. soontoberetired*

    rhe only people I know who told their bosses they were looking got fired before they found new work, fired because the managers went out and found a replacement immediately. So no is the answer.

  23. Kevin Sours*

    How much notice do you expect them to give you before your position gets eliminated in a layoff? The expectations for notice only go in one direction. Don’t play that game.

    1. Rolly*

      My small nonprofit has had two rounds of layoffs in the last twelve years, with warnings of far more than two weeks. I think it was six weeks to four months lead time for the people being laid off (how long depended on the position), though some left sooner when they got something else lined up, and one left sooner because she did not need the money.

      1. The Original K.*

        Someone close to me just found out they are being laid off (merger) and they’re getting three months notice, and their boss is actively helping them & the other laid-off people look. If anybody lands a job sooner, they’ll leave then, and everyone gets that. That’s very rare, though – I’ve been laid off twice and got no notice either time.

    2. Oh, the POSSIBILITIES!*

      I was only told that funding for my position will run out “soon”. After a month of no updates, I found another job. I tried to be nice to my employer by giving long notice and now I regret it even though my supervisor has been very supportive until now. DON”T DO IT.

  24. irene adler*

    Thank you for this!

    Our CEO’s message at our holiday luncheon was along the lines of: “if anyone is planning to leave, please give me lots of notice so that I can figure out what to do to keep things going around here.”
    (This is a company of less than 15 people. So everybody does lots of different things.)

    As much as I feel for his situation, I’m not gonna bite.

    1. Anonymous Hippo*

      See, this is the kind of thing that bugs me. As the CEO, he should be expecting some level of staff turnover, and should have a plan already, without having people give him ridiculous notice. People leave, and he knows this, so he should plan for it. That’s literally why he gets the big bucks. Not my business, not by job to figure out how to keep things running with no headcount.

      1. irene adler*

        The Plan, over the last decade, has been, to simply divide up the tasks of the departing employee among those remaining. It works until it doesn’t (Company is a bit shaky though. Somehow we muddle through.)

        You are completely correct though. No one is indispensable. Plan accordingly.

    2. StudentA*

      This just tells you that he knows he overworks his employees. They probably do the jobs of two or three people. So yeah, I don’t owe you a three-month notice because you can’t manage your workforce.

    3. Sara without an H*

      “if anyone is planning to leave, please give me lots of notice so that I can figure out what to do to keep things going around here.”

      Answer: document processes and procedures, make sure job descriptions are complete and up to date, and cross train as much as possible. Then the CEO won’t be caught flat-footed when people give two-weeks notice.

      It’s not that difficult, but a lot of executives seem to have problems with it.

      1. irene adler*

        Yeah, this is the way to do it. Unfortunately there’s resistance. Old school guy will not train anyone to do his job managing the manufacturing dept. So what happens? He gets sick and we have shipping deadlines and no one can make thing work.
        You’d think CEO would learn from this experience.

  25. JamminOnMyPlanner*

    I gave something like a month’s notice at my assistantship job when I was in grad school. My direct supervisor was on vacation at the time, so I decided to tell her when she got back and told her supervisor. Well her supervisor ended up telling her.

    My supervisor was so angry with me that she refused to speak to me for my final 2-3 weeks that I worked there. I worked under her, so that was super awkward. She’d still tell me what to do, but other than that, nothing. Not even “good morning.” It was nuts.

    I also got a lecture from both her and her supervisor about how I should have told my supervisor BEFORE I EVEN APPLIED FOR ANOTHER JOB. Yes, they were insane.

    1. wildcat*

      They audacity of an employee to apply without asking for permission! *sarcasm. They were clearly insane!

      1. JamminOnMyPlanner*

        RIGHT? The funny thing is, I had even already mentioned I was looking for something else because they only paid me $800 a month (before tax and my rent [with two roommates] was $500) and it was unsustainable for me because they also made me work through the summer and I had to turn down a really good summer nannying job. I had already told her that I literally couldn’t afford to live on what they paid me so it really shouldn’t have come as a huge shock that I was leaving, lol.

        I have so many stories like that. Looking back, I don’t understand how I lasted an entire year. I didn’t have as much of a backbone back then! I never said a word of complaint about the job to the head of my department, but the two people who had the job after me complained so much that they stopped recommending the position to people.

    2. irene adler*

      A co-worker gave a month’s notice that she was retiring.
      Her boss then stopped speaking to her- except for essential work talk. Her boss loved to talk to people so it was both obvious and surprising that he did that to her.

      Ya know, she – and you- should have just walked if that was the way you were going to be treated. Is the expectation actually going to be that you will work there forever? C’mon!

  26. SomebodyElse*

    It makes sense for the OP to give long notice in a case of going back to school. And I’m sure that’s why the manager asked. In that case the OP knows when they are leaving and they have concrete plans to leave. The information is actionable for the manager in that generally you can begin backfilling activities early and with a firm end date have the new person start with overlap with the exiting employee.

    The OP’s situation is different now. They don’t have a concrete end date, They could not provide one to the manager. The manager has nothing to action in way of replacing the OP*. The OP would still not be able to give a definitive termination date, so even with this long notice it doesn’t actually do anything for the OP or the manager except change the working relationship and increase the chances for resentment from both OP and boss.

    *unless they force a date from the OP, fire the OP, or starts to manage them out while posting the position – None of these are great but are real possibilities.

  27. the cat's ass*

    If you’re in the US: nope nope nopity NOPE. DO NOT DO THIS. Standard in the US is 2 weeks and hope they don’t escort you out the same day. I know you have a good relationship with your manager but she’s going to be your ex-manager right quick and her loyalty will be to the org, not you. With the exception of folks who are retiring, 2 weeks is the standard.

  28. Triumphant Fox*

    I inherited one of my direct reports and one of the first things I was told was that he was planning to leave. He still has the label of “planning to leave” 8 YEARS in. Recently he told me he was planning to leave and I’m like DO IT, but I just don’t think he will. Still, he said this to higher ups before talking to me so I couldn’t coach him on not saying this. UGH – you just cemented that status in their eyes.

    I worry my team stays because they like working for me and appreciate the flexibility, but the pay and opportunities that are outside my control aren’t great. I want them to move on and soar, but they just don’t.

  29. Strict Extension*

    I worked somewhere with the opposite issue with long notice periods: The longer it was, the more opportunity (at least perceived) to push back your leaving date. I saw a few different people give months-long notice, and they were either convinced to stay longer or talked badly about when they wouldn’t. I think it was a combination of thinking that if you were going to wait a couple months to leave, then what’s a little more time (this was a somewhat bohemian group who were rarely leaving for something concrete), and the owner’s reticence to replace anyone they liked, so they just wouldn’t move until forced. One person gave six month’s notice that she would be leaving at the end of the year. She was first convinced to stay one more month, then another two weeks before finally putting her foot down and going. She wasn’t replaced for another two and a half years, despite multiple rounds of interviews.

    1. 40 Years in the Nonprofit Trenches*

      This. 100% exactly this. I just gave MORE THAN 3 MONTHS NOTICE of retirement, and even though I accompanied my letter with a timeline incorporating as much as 6 weeks of [completely unnecessary] on-boarding, and I am documenting every detail of every single thing I do, I immediately got enormous reactive pushback that my letter specified I would not extend my departure date past MORE THAN 3 MONTHS FROM NOW. If this is how it is MORE THAN 3 MONTHS FROM NOW, I didn’t even want to get into a foot-dragging situation in 2.5 months where it’s like oh, we just didn’t have tiiiiiime to post the notice and do interviews, and it’s not like you have other commitments, you’re just retiring, so why can’t you stay through the summer, why are you making it so harrrrrrrrrd. Which is why I preemptively specified in my letter that I had a set departure date. Oh, and my boss is also 100% pissed off I didn’t discuss and “plan” it with her beforehand. Yeah, that’s a no from me.

  30. Lynn*

    LW I think at the very most, you should let you manager know that you are not thinking about grad school anymore. I think that effectively terminates any possible belief that they would get months of notice from you.

  31. Destroyer of Typos*

    I let my boss know that I was unhappy, and therefore job searching, seven months ago, and I kind of regret it!

    My boss responded the way you would hope – didn’t push me out, actively tried to take the things I hated off my plate, gave me a raise at year end, asked if I wanted a more flexible schedule. Ultimately, none of those things fixed the problem that the workplace was too chaotic and I don’t want to manage people anymore; I knew I was in the wrong role for me. He tried to get me a non management role at our sister company. He bent over backwards to get me to stick around in some capacity.

    I tried to keep him in the loop when a new job looked promising, but the experience of not getting that job and having to tell the boss that I didn’t get yet another job REALLY SUCKS.

    I think the only up side is that he stopped giving me new projects, which was kind of great because I didn’t want to do anything anymore.

    But I feel bad for him that he knew he had someone who was disengaged, but couldn’t hire a direct replacement for. If he had hired someone for my title, you can’t really have two managers of a department in a 20 person org. If he hired someone for a lower title, then it’s unlikely they will be ready for a higher title so fast. It’s a lose lose.

    We’re now in the awful spot where no one knows how to do half my job and it’s impossible to train on it in two days, which is all we have left…

    Even with lots of notice your two weeks can still be hell. Yay!

  32. Sara without an H*

    Hi, OP — No, don’t tell your manager you’re job searching, for all the reasons Allison and the commentariat have already given you. If you want to ensure a smooth transition when you’re ready to give notice, quietly begin cleaning up your files and documenting your work, so you don’t have to do it all in 2-3 weeks, when you finally do give notice.

    If anybody notices what you’re doing — which is unlikely — you can just say something like, “I wanted to write up how we handle the bid process for llama clippers, so I don’t have to reinvent the wheel the next time I do it.”

    Good luck in your job search.

  33. ecnaseener*

    The most I would expect anyone to do in this situation is casually mention that they’re no longer planning on grad school for the time being. A smart manager would understand that means the predictable months-long notice isn’t in the cards anymore. (An unreasonable manager could still get mad about this – “when you said you weren’t applying to school I thought you meant you weren’t leaving!” – but there’s no avoiding the unreasonable manager no matter what you do.)

  34. old curmudgeon*

    I am one of the very, very few people who have given months of advance warning of my intent to leave a job – not just once but twice! – and had it come out very well all round. In both cases, though, there were unique circumstances involved that are unlikely to happen for most folks. And in the third instance when I was job-hunting while still employed, I made very certain to keep that activity way, way under the radar, even to the extent of changing into and out of interview clothes in my car, and only gave notice at the moment when the offer letter was in my hand from my new job.

    The first long advance warning was for a job where I had worked for nearly two decades, progressing from a minimum-wage clerical job up to a senior role in the VP’s office. My spouse had lost his job, and the new one he was hired for was across the country, so it was clear from the circumstances that I wouldn’t be able to stay. In that case, I gave four months’ advance notice, wrote up a thesis-length analysis of all the company’s strengths and weaknesses, mentored two different candidates who applied to replace me for one full week each, provided a detailed analysis of their abilities to the VP with the result that one wound up with my position and the other was promoted into management. That was nearly a quarter-century ago, and I am still in contact with a few of the folks I worked with there, including the now-retired VP. The Board of Directors, who received my thesis about the company, implemented a significant number of the points I had identified as potential improvements, and sent me a formal thank you letter after I relocated.

    The other job where I gave plenty of advance warning was in a failing retailer where I was the Controller. It was clear to all of us in the accounting area that the handwriting was on the wall and that the company was in a death spiral due to the company president’s ineptitude. I was over 50 at that point, which is not a good age to be applying for jobs, and I wanted to land my next gig before I was both over 50 AND unemployed. I told the VP-Finance in confidence that while I was loyal to him personally and to the company in general, my primary loyalty had to be to my own livelihood. The VP was both a good manager and someone I counted as a friend, and he completely understood, including volunteering to be a reference for me. While I was job-hunting, I put together the same kind of thesis-length process manual for everything I did and all the enhancements I had implemented, which I later heard was used by others in the company until its demise two years later. There, too, I have remained in contact with multiple former co-workers – one of whom even followed me to my current employer when the company finally went under.

    So two of the three jobs that I have left in 45 years of professional work got multiple months of advance warning of my intent to move on – BUT both were very, very unusual, and I would never advocate giving that kind of warning in general. It can work very well, as my experience confirmed, but it is far more likely to be a trainwreck all round. You really have to know your employer and your immediate manager very, very well, and even then, you can still wind up with a less-than-wonderful outcome.

  35. oranges*

    What happens when they hire someone new, they give their job two weeks, and then they eventually start? Is this company paying both of you during the overlap? Does your boss have complete control over the budget to do that? Because if one has to go, it’s the one already on the way out.

    1. Beth*

      For the majority of jobs, hiring can’t be completed in two weeks. There ‘s almost never an overlap.

      1. oranges*

        But it can certainly be completed in 16 weeks. Our firm averages eight.

        So if OP agrees to stay for 16 weeks, then they hire a new person in eight, is the company paying BOTH people for eight weeks? Some firms can float a double salary for a single role, but many can not. (And many more well-intentioned bosses *think* they can, only to be vetoed by someone hire up who expects you to be gone in the standard two weeks.) I just don’t want the OP to be left without a paycheck.

  36. anonymous73*

    I would argue that if you have a really good relationship with your manager and you know you can 100% trust them, it’s okay to let them know you’re starting to look. (I’ve had managers support me in the past when I was looking). BUT (big but) this manager asked for 2-4 months notice so she could find a replacement and have them trained before OP leaves. This is a giant waving red flag to NOT tell them you’re looking. No new job is going to wait that long for you after an offer, and just because you’re looking now does not guarantee you’ll have a new offer within 4 months. So you could end up with no job.

    1. Miss Ziggy*

      I had a great manager who I trusted, and because she was planning a long-term project that would involve me, I felt it was fair to let her know I was applying for jobs. She didn’t react badly at all, but she did tell her boss I was looking. That person was not at ALL someone I trusted or had a good relationship with, and I was foolish to think my boss wouldn’t mention it to them. Also, I didn’t get a new job for quite a while, so that was extra-awkward. Don’t do it!

  37. Beth*

    Last time I left a job, I gave two months’ notice. I had an insane range of responsibilities and I wanted to give my bosses time to find a replacement and have me train her (or him, theoretically, although 98% of people in my role are women).

    They didn’t hire anyone.

    After I left, I understand that they eventually hired four people to cover all the work I was doing. I don’t know how much flailing they went through in the process (although I did hear a few juicy stories from the IT contractor I had reccommended to them), but I’d bet it was epic.

  38. Mr. Bob Dobalina*

    Um, NOPE, absolutely not. Do not tell your boss that you are job hunting. Never do that. Do not say a single word about that to your boss *until* you have received and accepted a new job offer in writing and received confirmation from your new employer. Then you can give notice to your boss. Two weeks notice is standard and professional in the US (unless you are an executive). Three weeks notice is generous. Keep in mind that you may want to take time off between jobs, so factor that in when setting the start date with your new employer. Many new employers will want you to start within a month of accepting the job offer.

  39. Pomegranate*

    OP, you promised to give as much notice as you could. Stick to that. In case of a job search, you cannot give your notice until you fully accepted a new offer. If that leaves you with two or three weeks notice, then that’s as much as you could give. Just like with a grad school you couldn’t give a notice until you had your acceptance letter confirmed. And if the notice period you could give is shorter for a job offer than a school acceptance, well, that’s how it is. It’s not underhanded or sly, it’s just practical and common-sense and in line with professional norms.

  40. Gary Patterson's Cat*

    I’m sure there could be some exceptions, such as maybe if you’re an intern or a temp or contractor, but generally telling your boss you’re looking is not a good idea.

  41. tessa*

    Speaking from my own experience, I wouldn’t do it. It’s nice to be able to give 2-4 months notice or more, but you don’t owe that. Life will go on for your boss with a standard two-weeks’ notice.

    I wish you the best on this new chapter in your life! :)

  42. Nancy*

    Don’t tell your boss you are job searching and don’t give notice before you have an actual job set. Exceptions to me would maybe be if you are moving or going back to school and would be giving up the job regardless.

    2-4 months notice seems excessive to me if it doesn’t involve moving, going back to school, or a very high level position. The most I ever gave was 5 weeks and I hated it.

  43. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

    Mine would be another voice advising against doing it. My reasons are redundant to others’ already voiced.

  44. Cimorene-turned-Morwen*

    This is so often treated as an “all or nothing” decision, but it doesn’t have to be. When I worked at a small non-profit that sometimes had to furlough staff to keep the budget balanced, I told my boss I was going to grad school in time for her to write me reference letters, and so she could reallocate my salary in the budget. But she was a wonderful, honest person. In my current job, I told a few trusted colleagues as part of networking and so they could plan their projects to minimize my effort. But I only told people I knew would keep it to themselves. And I started all the documentation of my workload as I was job hunting. So when I accepted a new offer, I gave 3 weeks notice (I’m in the US, and my org specifically requests 2 weeks notice) and my director has done nothing but passive-aggressively tell how that “3 weeks isn’t much time” every. single. time. we meet. I know if I had given longer notice I’d have gotten nothing but trouble in return.

  45. Evelyn Carnahan*

    The only time I have ever told my boss that I was job searching was when I was asking to use that boss as a reference. I had been working for her for two years, and in that time finished my specialized degree in my field and started working two part time jobs in the field. I was also having a very hard time at that job (and didn’t know until after I left that she was having at least as hard of a time… it was not a pleasant workplace). It’s also not unusual in my field to require that your current supervisor be one of your references, even though that is a very terrible requirement for a job application.

    But I would never tell my boss I was job searching unless I needed them as a reference.

  46. MCMonkeyBean*

    When your boss initially asked for that kind of notice, did they know you were thinking of going back to school? If so I think it wasn’t wildly unreasonable for them to ask for that kind of heads up and it would not have been unreasonable for you to give that kind of notice if as you said you had a firm end date and you guys could work together on that kind of plan.

    But leaving because you are job hunting is a totally different and much less concrete beast. Not only should you not tell them that you are searching, but I would bet if your boss’s initial request was regarding you leaving for school they probably would not expect you to carry that over to a job hunt. So there is really no need to feel like you are going back on your word or anything!

    (Plus “as much notice as you could” is super vague and I think a reasonable interpretation when job hunting would be just pretty much normal notice once you have officially accepted a new job offer with a set start date.)

  47. PB Bunny Watson*

    If you had planned to go to school, then I suspect that was why your boss requested months of notice. Because you would (or should) theoretically know a month or two beforehand that you’d be leaving work to return to school. I don’t think they expect you to give that kind of notice to leave for another job though.

  48. Dasher Hadwick*

    I would say most of the time, no, you really shouldn’t. I’ve seen the nicest people do a 180 as soon as they hear someone is leaving the company.

    If you ARE going to tell your boss, just be ready for the social/emotional reaction they might have. I was blindsided by a boss who immediately began to distance himself – no more report, no longer asking for my input on projects – and it kind of hurt my feelings.

  49. BF*

    I have been in this EXACT situation twice. I fell for it twice because my manager and I were ‘close’. Both times it backfired.
    I believe managers mean well when they say this in advance – but they have to behave differently when it happens and ultimately their job is to protect the company and do what their boss tells them to do.

    Also – the minute you give your notice you start getting looped out of things and the company will move on from you. Dont live in that for 2 months. It feels awful.

  50. Snarkitect*

    Don’t do it! I had a colleague who gave a lot of notice because he was going to grad school. He was laid off several months before he actually intended to leave. He was an absolute rock star and the company definitely wanted to keep him, but he was at the top of the layoff list since they knew he’d be leaving anyway.

  51. Meghan*

    Nobody needs 2-4 months. Give 2 weeks-ish if it’s been a good place. If they’ve mistreated you or it’s toxic, less is fine.

  52. somebody or other*

    This depends so much on the workplace and on individual circumstances.

    I’ve worked with my boss for several years. We have a great working relationship, and he’s aware that I don’t want to stay where I am forever, which probably means leaving this org since there aren’t many openings here that would fit me. I’m also aware that he doesn’t want to lose me, because I have some specialised skills and institutional knowledge that are hard to replace.

    In my org it’s the norm that one would let the boss know when looking to move on. (It helps that we have a rotations policy, so they know they can’t hang on to us forever, and that we have pretty good job security here.) I told him when I was applying for a new job, he encouraged me and gave helpful feedback on my application, I kept him updated on the process, and he gave me a great reference and congratulations when I got the job.

    It’s a major nuisance for him – he’s already lost another experienced deputy in the last month – but it means he’s had several months to plan for this contingency, and I’m willing to work with him on making the handover as smooth as possible.

    I understand that this would be a very bad move in many workplaces, but there are decent managers around who are sensible enough to see the advantages of being trustable.

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