‘J.T. & Dale Talk Jobs’ is the largest nationally syndicated career advice column in the country and can be found at JTandDale.com.
Dear J.T. & Dale: I’m about to purchase a home 100 miles away from where I presently work. Should I tell my current boss that I plan on moving as soon as I find a job in my new city, or should I just wait until I find a new job? (If I tell my boss in advance, I think I could get a good reference from him, maybe even a letter of recommendation that I can use in my job search.) — Mary
Dale:Well, Mary, you wouldn’t be asking the question if you didn’t feel that you had a great relationship with your boss. However, even if you two are friends, when you announce that you are leaving, a switch gets flipped. You’re no longer a part of the department’s future — you instantly go from helping the boss with his problems to being his problem. The boss starts to think about the department’s future, post-Mary. And maybe he moves into that future before you want him to, before you’ve found another job.
J.T.:That’s likely, considering that finding a new job is taking longer these days. Meanwhile, he is going to look for your replacement right away, and if he finds one — a strong possibility in this economy — he may need to fire you in order to hire someone new. Or — another strong possibility in this economy — he might just eliminate your position and distribute your responsibilities amongst other employees as a way to save money. So, do NOT tell him. The risk of losing control of the timing is not worth the advantage of a good letter of recommendation. Instead, find a new job and then ask your new managers if they will allow you to give three weeks’ notice, instead of the usual two. This will give your old boss extra time to find a replacement, and will show how concerned you are about a smooth transition, thus leaving on good terms.
Dale: Speaking of which, I believe the odds of doing that — leaving on good terms — actually are higher if you wait to announce that you’re leaving. Doing so sets a definite time period for your “lame duck” time, eliminating the awkwardness for your boss. Just be sure to offer to pass off your crucial assignments to co-workers and to be available to answer questions after you leave. That way, even as you depart, you are making things easier for your boss. Or, more poetically, in the words of Hada Bejar, “The fragrance always stays in the hand that gives the rose.” The graceful exit is the gift of helpfulness.
Jeanine “J.T.” Tanner O’Donnell is a professional development specialist and founder of CAREEREALISM.com. Dale Dauten’s latest book is “(Great) Employees Only: How Gifted Bosses Hire and De-Hire Their Way to Success” (John Wiley & Sons).
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