My manager told me I should feel comfortable about telling him if I want to leave the company. Should I tell him?



I work as a software engineer and have been at my company for almost 3 years now. I have recently started considering other opportunities outside of my current role. There isn't anything particularly wrong with my current role, but I just feel (after being at the company for 2 or so years) that the product doesn't interest me as it used to.

Recently a lot of people have been leaving my company and I believe it's for similar reasons and/or their own reasons for leaving. My company has been through some rough times in the last few years and there was a problem with people leaving the company at one point but it seems to have gotten better (not sure if relevant but could help explain things).

The topic naturally came up in our 1-on-1 about people leaving and he told me that I should feel comfortable letting him know if I want to leave and pursue other opportunities and that he would support whatever decision I made. A part of me feels like I want to tell him I am actively interviewing but at the same time I also don't want to throw myself under scrutiny if I can help it.

Is it common for management and employees to be open about whether they are looking for a new job or not? I guess to be more clear, if you are close to your manager, is it better to be open about the topic? To be clear, I feel I have decent relations with my current manager (not bad, but there are times where I have openly disagreed with him on things). I ask this question because given the number of people leaving, I wonder if he simply tells me this so he can find out if people are leaving within his team and if it would be professional or within my best interest to let him know.

EDIT: To clarify a common question people have been asking is what benefit do I foresee I will be getting by telling him? Not sure if my thought process was naive, but I thought that if my current boss supported me he could potentially give me a recommendation, as awkward as that might be, since he has a strong understanding of what I do. I've asked previous managers I have had to give me recommendations but those were jobs during school and the expectations were clear that the job was just temporary. Hope that helps clarify things.

Kevin Xu

Posted 2017-05-09T20:30:43.627

Reputation: 1 945

235Nope. Do not do that ever.Mister Positive 2017-05-09T20:41:45.147

66within my best interest to let him know What, specifically, do you hope to gain by telling him?Caleb 2017-05-09T21:02:45.020

248Folks, please don't use the downvote button as "No" button. This is a good question. A lot of people are tempted to tell their boss that they want to leave the job. The answers here show why that is a bad idea. The OP should not be penalized for asking a useful question, just because he doesn't know the answer already.Masked Man 2017-05-10T01:14:32.190

25I did this once and it turned out okay. That said, I agree with the 'no' answers here, there is no upside for you.jcm 2017-05-10T02:16:30.597

9Try the reverse situationist "he (manager) should feel comfortable letting you know if you are to be let go/fired". Do you think you manager would divulge anything?chux 2017-05-10T03:48:42.130

51You should always be a bit suspicious of people who tell you "you can trust me", because if you could, they probably wouldn't have to tell you that. Especially for people you've known for a while.Erik 2017-05-10T08:01:18.140

9Some people here state don't ever. For protection you could avoid so. But if you like me, live in a country like the Netherlands there is nothing they can do to make your life horrible without jinxing themselves. In this case it might be good to notify to keep a good relation anyway. I would do it, as I did with my last job, but I wouldn't if there was risk for me.Mathijs Segers 2017-05-10T09:12:41.447

7What they are actually saying is "if you're unhappy please tell me, and why". That's a more reasonable thing to say (although still to be treated cautiously)Richard Tingle 2017-05-10T09:25:27.937

9At my current place, people have been given pay rises and new roles within the company when they've threatened/mentioned they may leave. It's not always a bad thing to be able to say 'ok, this is no longer what I want to do'. - That said, you need to be sure you're happy with them letting you go, if you do so (as they may lay you off there and then, depending on the legalities).djsmiley2k 2017-05-10T12:27:55.680

4The answers below give a good overview of things to consider, but one thing they seem to leave out and which Erik's comment touches on is that given the high stakes involved, you can't just take your manager at his word here. All sorts of employers say a variation of this to their employees but good managers will actually have shown that they deal with people leaving or giving notice correctly. You can only base your decision to share this info on how your management handled situations like this in the past, not on vague promises or expressions of trust.Lilienthal 2017-05-10T12:56:05.617

1I learned my lesson on this in college. I asked my boss for more responsibility, he said "no", I told him I was going to find somewhere else that they would give it to me. Within weeks, my replacement was hired and I had until the end of the semester to train him. Fortunately for me, my replacement's incompetence was well documented within our ticketing system, so he actually was asked to leave and I got to stay. I, however, took the lesson to heart. Your boss, no matter how nice a guy he is is looking out for (in order) #1) himself, #2) the company, #842,193) you.FreeMan 2017-05-10T13:22:01.933

6Please tell us what country you are in? In countries with good employment laws this is far less risky than in countries where they can fire you on a whim. In most (all?) EU countries, firing you for saying you intend to leave would be illegal and you'd easily win a tribunal against the company.Jack Aidley 2017-05-10T14:07:41.280


Its a Trap

Juan Carlos Oropeza 2017-05-10T16:10:35.553

1What is the point of telling him?Ares 2017-05-10T17:57:59.130

4You gain nothing by telling and you stand to lose a lot. Never trust HR or your management when it comes to stuff like this.ApplePie 2017-05-11T10:45:05.423

2I don't have the reputation to answer. However I've done precisely this on a couple of occasions, though not in those exact words. One manager asked me to stay to a set date if possible to finish a project. No problem there. Another one convinced me that I could leave the country and retain employment. I feel like its worked out well for me. That's not the same as recommending it.Wes 2017-05-11T15:48:10.227

@Erik, why is it "Especially if you've known the person for a while"? Does knowing person for a longer time make it a reason to trust them less?Dennis 2017-05-12T14:08:58.127

@Dennis no, if you know someone for a while then you should already know whether or not they are trustworthy. If you have been working with someone for 3 years and they STILL need to tell you that you can trust them, then something is off. That should have gone without saying, unless you cannot in fact trust them.Erik 2017-05-13T07:30:32.123

Well, he's going to find out when you hand him your resignation anyway, so sure.Paul Draper 2017-05-14T00:30:00.387

"I wonder ... if it would be ... within my best interest to let him know." What possible upside do you see in telling him?Andy Lester 2017-05-14T01:29:43.043

I think the desired upside is that the boss will help fix any conditions that are in the way of continuing the employment at the company. Boss cannot always fix company culture or politics, but sometimes can help with salary, benefit negotiation, or task re-distribution, etc. In other words, my guess is that "potential loss of employee" is a negotiation tactics to help change something employee is not happy with, and here boss encourages you to use it.Dennis 2017-05-15T15:06:19.607

Thank you all for the overwhelming support on this question. I came back to this and the detail in the answers have been great. I am also glad I wasn't the only one interested in this. I'll be honest I was a little afraid of asking this question but glad a lot of people were curious as well.Kevin Xu 2017-05-15T20:08:24.627

1A manager who will give you an honest answer to this question is probably a manager who will already know that you're not satisfied. Honesty and awareness correlate closely here. If you think there's a chance you want to stay, tell your manager what you'd like to move towards and let them try to keep you.Jon Kiparsky 2017-05-15T21:11:39.863

1Communicating that you are considering other opportunities can be used as leverage if he thinks you are particularly valuable and you have certain desires that can be met. But it can also backfire. This is just to say that it can be beneficial, but only if you approach the situation with a business mindset. If you get an offer you want to sign it may not be a bad idea discussing it with him before you sign it and seeing if he does something to keep you that you weren't expecting.Ian 2017-05-16T02:31:02.027

1Work is not real life although it will effect your life. Business is war and Management has primarily one interest: protecting the interests of the company. So, Management is not your friend. Co-workers may be friendly but that doesn't mean they are your friends. If you need to share how you feel about your job talk to your family or trusted friends in your personal life. At work you need to watch what and how you speak so that you can manage impressions and thus influence the perceptions of your superiors, subordinates and co-workers to achieve your professional goals. Good-luck!slevy1 2017-05-16T09:00:05.850

@Caleb I realize I never addressed your comment which is a good context. I feel the benefit would be he could give me a recommendation during my job search, as awkward as that may be. I don't have issues with finding other people to recommend me but I feel I have done good work under him and he can vouch for those things. Not sure if that sounds stupid or naive but that was what I thought could be a benefit. I'll update my question.Kevin Xu 2017-05-17T00:50:51.407



First, there do in fact exist managers who will not fire you just because they think you might want to leave the company, and who will not withhold plum assignments or otherwise mistreat you either. I am such a manager, for example. When I had people who were growing faster than I could help, I didn't blame them for wanting something I couldn't give them. Say you're ready to be a team lead but I don't have a leaderless team to put under you. I'm not going to go hire more people to get you that team; I can't afford it. But I'm not going to begrudge you wanting to have that opportunity. I have offered to give a reference to someone who applied for a position I thought they were great for, and who told me about it in advance. I've also recommended a former employee (who quit) for a role at a client, years later.

BUT -- I am indistinguishable from a manager who would make this claim but in fact is lying. So I recommend you answer the question a little differently than it was asked. Some examples:

While I'm not looking for a new job, I am looking for some new opportunities in this job. I'd really like to [start leading projects, do more architecture, be on call less often, have more flexible hours, whatever]


Well, if someone contacted me out of the blue right now with a great offer I might be a little more vulnerable to it than I would have been a year ago. I'm glad we're talking about this; perhaps there are some changes we could make here that could get my comfort level back where it was.

Don't talk about what you might do or why you might leave. Talk about what you want in a job. This manager may be able to give you that. Or be able to look you in the eye and say "we are never going to be able to give you that" -- and you know what that means. There is possibly some upside to saying what you want. There is absolutely no upside ever to saying that you will leave if you can't have it, or that you are already looking elsewhere. Even if you have me for a boss.

But didn't I say you can tell me? If you come to me and say "I think I am ready to X" and I can't offer you that, and you later tell me you're applying to be an X elsewhere, that is not the same as "if you don't give me X I am leaving". Don't give anyone ultimatums.

But, and this is key, you require precision. Not a vague discomfort or wish for something newer, more fun, more interesting. What tasks do you want to stop or start doing? Do you want to be on a different project? To have more responsibilities? To learn a different language or platform or framework? To attend more conferences, take more courses, interact with customers more? Your manager has started this conversation but if your only contribution is going to be "well not this because I'm kind of fed up and bored" then your wishes cannot possibly be granted. And in that circumstance, confirming that you might have one foot out of the door may have cost you dearly -- for no benefit. The only way this conversation is worth having if is there's a possible benefit. That can only come from knowing what you want rather than what you don't want any more.

Kate Gregory

Posted 2017-05-09T20:30:43.627

Reputation: 95 749

Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.

Lilienthal 2017-05-16T14:44:26.850


In the strongest possible terms, NO!

Management is NOT your friend and having "decent" relations with your manager does not make him so.

You gain nothing by revealing your intentions and have your job to lose if you do. Do not lie, but do not reveal your hand.

Say "thank you" and "I'm not thinking of leaving". Of course, you won't be thinking of leaving until you have an offer in hand. While this could be a friendly reaching out to you, it could also be them asking if they should go looking for your replacement.

The bad news for you is that once they find your replacement, they will not hesitate in getting rid of someone who has told them that he does not want to be there.

Richard U

Posted 2017-05-09T20:30:43.627

Reputation: 63 004

19Never ever say this to your in ever ever...Mister Positive 2017-05-09T20:42:15.667

4This answer should've stopped after " Do not lie, but do not reveal your hand."Martijn 2017-05-10T07:04:45.120

20You can always count on RichardU to provide the cynical answer :)Mehrdad 2017-05-10T07:28:39.000

31@Mehrdad Every silver lining has it's dark, dark cloud, you know.Richard U 2017-05-10T10:58:45.820

28It is not possible to overstate this: "Management is NOT your friend".xxbbcc 2017-05-10T13:57:15.803

1@Mehrdad I like richard's answers as much as I like kilisi's. Straight to the point and eye opening like a bullet's hand slapping you in the face, both of them.Mindwin 2017-05-10T15:10:08.700

10I was and am friends with several previous managers—and I still didn’t say anything to them until I had an offer I was going to go with. I know for a fact at least one of them was aware I was looking (I was apparently not sufficiently subtle about asking for time off when I needed to go to an interview), though, and never suffered for it (then again, he was looking himself). So it turned out that those managers were truly my friends—but as you say, pretty much impossible to determine that while they were my managers.KRyan 2017-05-10T15:41:28.830

4I would like to note that there may be country specific deviations. It very much depends on the question how easily the deployer may fire you. In Germany, for example, laws are quite strict, and it is difficult for an employer to fire you just because he wants to. Of course, there are subtle ways to make the daily work experience so unenjoyable that the employee might quit on his own, but then he wants to leave anyway, so what should be the point of doing so?Nebr 2017-05-11T05:57:37.893

I'd like to reinforce the heavily related ideas of only stating your intentions to leave once you have an offer and, once you have an offer, stating your intentions to leave. Give your two weeks'; if you're in a critical role, see if you can get more time to train your replacement, or be pulled off of actively working on the system you're building to write the documentation your replacement will need. Please. For the sake of the next guy.Nic Hartley 2017-05-14T21:37:09.307

You shouldn't be naive, but you also shouldn't be above discussing leaving if it will work to your advantage. Your presence at the company is a bargaining chip and your boss knowing that you are open to better options outside can be advantageous, if you're careful. So the answer shouldn't be an unconditional no.Ian 2017-05-16T02:33:39.653

My manager has been helping and supporting my will to leave. She's been a manager for years and is quite experienced, she just considers that defending the company is also ensuring that the people working in it are happy with it. From that perspective, you can either try to make them happier still staying in the company or ensure support in them leaving. You can't anyway "force" them to stay with you, even if you want. Some managers are reasonable enough to understand that...Laurent S. 2017-08-14T07:09:57.000


From personal experience, I would argue for YES.

I am a senior software developer with 13 years of experience. I have always told my employers when I started looking for a new job, as a matter of personal principle. I have never had any negative repercussions from doing this.

Benefits to your employer include:

  • Having time to start looking for a replacement.
  • Starting handover processes early.
  • The understanding that long-term tasks should probably not be assigned.

Personal benefits include:

  • I conduct myself with integrity according to my personal principles of being honest and open.
  • I leave on really good terms.
  • I can be open about taking calls, and taking leave to go for interviews.
  • I leave the project in a good state.

I don't disagree that the safe answer is not to tell your employer, but it's not always ethical or professional to do the safe thing. Engineers have professional codes of ethics and conduct, and can lose their engineering licenses for breaking those codes, rather than just their job if their employer asks them to do something unethical. Programmers generally don't have such professional codes (aside from the ACM's), but that doesn't mean you shouldn't hold yourself to a higher standard. (NOTE: As KRyan observed, there's nothing in the ACM or other engineering codes that requires you to give extra notice, but I personally consider it professional to be open about my intentions to my employers.)

I also recommend against using this as a negotiating tactic. I ask for raises at my reviews. If my employer doesn't feel I'm worth paying more, I simply start looking for other opportunities, and I don't hold it against them. It is your responsibility to look after your career development and remuneration, not your employer's.

An employer will generally* not give you notice before firing you, and you shouldn't expect them to. I don't feel that should change how I behave. It's not a personal relationship, so I don't expect any loyalty, and I'm not doing this out of loyalty. I'm doing it because it's professional.

*Note that employers in some countries (like South Africa) are legally obliged to put you on a performance improvement process first if they are firing you for performance, and at least two companies I've been at have openly talked about the need to reduce staff before starting any retrenchment process. These things are cultural, and I don't expect this will be true everywhere.

EDIT: As Sebastian pointed out, he got great references, got into interviews because previous colleagues recommended him, and was even invited once or twice to work at new places by ex-bosses. I think that those are significant benefits. I also like his idea of getting a written agreement if you're looking at a long-term job search.

Gustav Bertram

Posted 2017-05-09T20:30:43.627

Reputation: 1 404

14If the employer wants to have more time for finding a replacement, they should have specified a longer notice period in the contract (e.g. here in Germany, senior devs usually have a notice period of multiple months – enough time to professionally wrap up their work in a project). I don't think giving notice beyond what's required is professional, it's naive and you got lucky (so far).amon 2017-05-10T07:23:44.600

1I think longer notice periods are a good solution to this problem. I don't know of many companies that have such a policy here in South Africa.Gustav Bertram 2017-05-10T09:02:02.783

14I absolutely agree with you. However, I'd argue that it also depends on what country you're from and what your occupation is. If you're a software engineer or any other occupation that is high in demand, I'd say yes for all the reasons you mentioned. However if you're someone who's easily replaceable, You'll simply get fired before the time you intended to leave at. But for non-replaceable people, they will gladly take the time that is left to get you to pass on your knowledge to a possible replacement.Migz 2017-05-10T10:15:47.093

11This is not good advise IMHO.Mister Positive 2017-05-10T13:08:20.170

5This may not be correct in all cases, but I strongly agree if the situation permits. Honesty and trustworthiness are important measures of character. If you're working in an Us vs. Them environment, then perhaps this isn't the best option. But in a team environment, secrets don't help anyone. Personally, I'm not going to screw over my team or management by blindsiding them. My references reflect that and I feel that's a marketable trait: I care about our success, rather than mine alone.TemporalWolf 2017-05-10T19:19:57.507

Personal experience is not really good advice because there are simply too many variables between yourself and countless future visitors to this question.user30031 2017-05-11T01:18:05.673

8My experience and advice isn't universally applicable (the situation varying by country, job and value of the employee), but I feel I have an opposing perspective to everyone just shouting "NO". Most of the negative answers seem to be doing it from a place of fear, rather than experience. Luckily, the top voted question has an even better perspective - talking about what you want in a job with your manager is universally good advice.Gustav Bertram 2017-05-11T06:08:41.537

not entirely sure that "wanting to leave" and "looking for a new job" (with the intention of leaving - and with a good guarantee you will find a new job, being in an in-demand field) is always the same thing...ycomp 2017-05-13T01:42:44.900

This only makes sense if you are not looking for new conditions, and are absolutely leaving. Many people will not be confident till they have a firm offer.Sean Houlihane 2017-05-13T17:11:03.670

2+1 While I generally agree with the conventional wisdom of not telling, this answer is a useful counterpoint, particularly to some of the overblown warnings. In fact, telling your employer is not necessarily a disastrous or even bad choice. Not everybody is out to get you and just looking for an excuse to fire you. – None – 2017-05-15T12:55:45.873

1I think there is a serious problem if any employer objects to not receiving more than contractual/customary notice; in effect, I don’t think the benefits you describe are (or should be) due to the extra notice you offer. I have received hearty letters of recommendation, I have had co-workers return after leaving, and so on, all without anyone offering extra notice. Your moralizing (suggesting that extra notice means you have more honor and integrity) is inappropriate, and your allusion to the ethical requirements of an engineering license is disingenuous, since those don’t even mention notice.KRyan 2017-05-15T17:42:56.703

1You should also note that personal benefits include your boss being able to demonstrate what they will do to keep you when all the chips are on the table. Showing your hand can be both ethical and a clever business move.Ian 2017-05-16T02:36:13.580

@KRyan I think you're right about the answer presenting "extra notice" as universally professional rather than my own conception of it. I've tried to amend it to reflect that. I may definitely be misattributing what causes me to receive those benefits, but I only have my personal experience to judge from.Gustav Bertram 2017-05-16T08:12:11.137

At your level of experience it is probably not that risky to tell your employer in advance before you even start job search because they might have hard time finding your replacement but at less experience level specially less than 5 years it is very risky because there are lots of replacements available in the market.Rolen Koh 2017-07-10T05:25:37.753


A big NOOOOOO! would be the official answer.

I just created an account to answer that question, because I feel you need to know how management reacts in this kind of situation.

Once they identified an employee as a "risk", they will interview candidates to replace him (or her).

The correct way to handle this would be to announce your leave AFTER you found something else.

think of it this way: would your employer tever tell you "We are actively looking to replace you because you don't satisfay our needs anymore." ? I don't think so. They would rather inform you that they found someone else, hand you a 2 weeks notice's check and politely ask you to leave with your box of personal stuff.

This is how the game is played. I've been in your position and decided to tell my employer, thinking he would give me a raise or modify my working contract to suit my changing needs... oh boy, was I young and naive. He found someone before I had time to get another job. Didn't give me a warning or a heads-up... "Thank you for your time, and we wish you good luck in your future projects".

Only if you are very close to your employer, like a cousin or a brother, you could maybe risk talking about that kind of things... but otherwise, keep your interactions professional and your intentions (and emotions) to yourself.

Steve Nadeau

Posted 2017-05-09T20:30:43.627

Reputation: 435

4A "proper" employer would hopefully first attempt to make you improve and only when they consider you no longer "salvageable" look for replacement. Anything else would be a waste of money for them since they'd have to train someone else anew.Tobias Kienzler 2017-05-10T09:19:48.550

4Of course, working for a relative comes with its own set of caveats.Michael Kjörling 2017-05-10T11:03:08.697

But this isn't true. That's the main problem with it. – None – 2017-05-11T12:08:05.000

You must have nicer brothers than I do; I'd say especially if you're working for family, keep your interactions professional and your intentions to yourself!Meelah 2017-05-11T14:06:12.873


The answer is no. It should be fair, when your manager wants to fire you, nobody will tell you:

We are trying to fire you. Please be prepared.

Then why should you give a notice to the company? It will never work well, and you gain absolutely nothing by speaking about your intention.


Posted 2017-05-09T20:30:43.627

Reputation: 1 403

14I have been at two companies that openly discussed the need to reduce their staff before starting retrenchments. I believe one of those companies even offered better packages for people that volunteered.Gustav Bertram 2017-05-10T06:47:12.590

8Also, I have told people "being able to do [the thing they are once again not doing] is a condition of employment here". This is literally warning them to prepare to be fired. Don't say nobody does that: some people do. See also all the questions here about PIP, Personnel Improvement Plans.Kate Gregory 2017-05-11T16:33:34.843

@KateGregory, PIPs aren't a favor - they are issuing a PIP for legal reasons - to reduce their exposure to lawsuits. They aren't doing this in any sort of a friendly way. I have never seen a PIP that was not, one way or the other, career-ending.Tony Ennis 2017-05-13T14:43:38.770

@GustavBertram That happens. But if not enough people volunteer, then the remainder of the reduction happens without advance notice. By any rate, 95% of the layoffs I have seen have been without any warning.Tony Ennis 2017-05-13T14:45:21.630

@TonyEnnis no argument. The answer claimed nobody is told "we are preparing to fire you." A PIP is just that warning. So is being repeatedly called into your boss' office and told "this cannot continue." So is getting a very bad performance review. Many companies give all kinds of warnings before firing people. The claim in the answer isn't true. Nothing about my statement suggest that PIPs are nice or friendly or a favour.Kate Gregory 2017-05-13T14:49:01.073


I think the safe answer is no like others said but everybody have their own life guideline.

Depending of your relation with your boss, the company culture, how fast you want to leave, how if the market for your job and how is your finance if they fire you immediately. And be sure you really want to leave the company because there is no come back, no possibility to get a promotion, etc.

Often, employer do not have any gain to fire you on the spot. I heard story about people fired on spot for security reason and whatever, so it can happen. Personally, I do not understand the logic behind this because you are already a trained and skilled employee. The more time you spent with your employer, the more they gain. Depending of the time your want to leave, you boss can manage his project in consequence like assigning to you stories that required more training and keep the easy stuff for your replacement.

My relation with two of my boss became personal after 3-4 years of works. I told them in advance that I wanted to leave, we agreed to something like:

  • I wait for them to find a new candidate
  • We train the new guy and validate he can do the job
  • The employer give me the time I need to find a job that I like

The first time, I exited after 3 months and it took 8 months the second time.

I have great reference, I was surprised how many time somebody getting part of an interview know somebody I worked with in the past. And sometime, I have a call from a previous boss offering me a job at his new workplace.

If you decide to talk to your boss, I recommend you to agree something on paper with maximum deadline, like employer have 12 months to find somebody, you have 12 months to find a new job, etc. I cross the path of a few guys that negotiated their exit by a salary increase like +25% the time they do not change job. So it is not common but it can be done with mutual benefits.

In conclusion, what is the vibe with your boss? How do you feel? Are you prepared of the worst case? What is your project state? Is there a presentation a big employer customer soon?

Good luck!

Sebastien DErrico

Posted 2017-05-09T20:30:43.627

Reputation: 455

4It's hard to find any benefit to the employee in this answer beyond maintaining a good relationship with your manager. And while a manager would probably appreciate advance notice, a good one won't hold it against you if you don't give them more than the traditional notice. That's really why the usual notice period exists, after all.Caleb 2017-05-09T21:30:31.030

12As Sebastian pointed out, he got great references, got interviews because colleagues recommended him, and had previous bosses offer him jobs at new paces. That doesn't sound like "no benefit" to me.Gustav Bertram 2017-05-10T09:00:22.157

5Especially in higher paying jobs, it becomes really important to have great references. This advice won't apply to code monkeys.Shautieh 2017-05-10T12:46:39.867



  • You are secure about your employability, that is if you get fired it's no big deal, and
  • if wish to keep personal contact to the boss after you've left, and
  • want to give impression of trustworthiness, and
  • are otherwise comfortable discussing about your reasons (because that will come up), and
  • could see yourself coming back to the company later,

then I think yes, it is worth the risk to tell.

But realize that it is a risk. It may get you fired sooner than you want, it may get the boss to hate you, it may make the remaining time in current job painful.

If you are willing to take those risks, then go for it. Of course don't reveal everything, especially I'd definitely keep the next company explicitly secret until I had my name in their paper with set date. Keeping this secret removes the small but real risk of your current boss calling them and telling bad things about you.


Posted 2017-05-09T20:30:43.627

Reputation: 270

4The first bullet point is especially important. I believe that spells the difference between the two completely opposite views on this question.Wildcard 2017-05-12T02:23:16.523


Context is important.

Recently a lot of people have been leaving my company and I believe it's for similar reasons and/or their own reasons for leaving.

That sounds like the manager is really anxious to loose yet another (hopefully competent) employee. As the other answers already hint at, their motivations could be anything between two extremes:

  • They want to be prepared in time to replace yet another loss (and once they found it, your "considering leaving" becomes "being let go")
  • They want to avoid you (and maybe also others) leaving, and thus need to understand why recently many left maybe without giving helpful feedback.

In either case you could start with something like "I guess you're wondering why many others left recently? I don't know their motivations, but to be honest there are things that could be improved."

I feel the product doesn't interest me as it used to.

The manager might not be able to perceive this, from you or anyone else. There might be a more constructive way to put this (as in, maybe the product needs improvement, since a lack of interest by the developers might correlate to a lack of interest by customers), or at least more details. If you state it like that, yes, you could as well say "Yes, I am considering leaving, and there's not much you can do about it". Just make sure you don't make it sound like blackmailing!

The question is, is there anything they can do about this? If they are trying to improve the whole situation of many employees leaving, this can become a very productive discussion which results in your job transforms into something enjoyable again. If they just want to gauge whether you also need to be replaced soon, well, you did already start considering other opportunities.

The important thing is, have a constructive discussion about it, and not a mere "Yes, I am" which leaves the manager to their own (probably harmful) conclusions.

Tobias Kienzler

Posted 2017-05-09T20:30:43.627

Reputation: 261


From my (admittedly limited) personal experience, you shouldn't feel compelled to tell your boss about it.

I had a great working and personal relationship with my previous manager, but really didn't feel like taking any risks with the president of the startup I was in. While I knew I could absolutely trust my manager, I also knew he couldn't just keep this to himself, and would have had to report it. So I kept it from him until I actually had to give him my resignation letter.

It was a shock for him, but he understood, and we kept close contact even after I moved. We're actually going to a concert together this summer.

While this is not be a proper answer to the question "should I tell my manager that I'm looking to quit", I feel it addresses the social aspect of the question.


Posted 2017-05-09T20:30:43.627

Reputation: 235


The correct is to not answer the question.

This way your employer is worried about you leaving but can't sure when or if you will start looking. So you answer like this :

Why would look elsewhere? (rhetorically) Are you concerned about that? You know you can make me finding a new job more difficult by upping my salary requirements. (Big Grin)


Posted 2017-05-09T20:30:43.627

Reputation: 2 885


I agree with those advising not to reveal your hand. And I write as a manager. But here's a little extra perspective.

Managers are human too, just like you. Their better, logical selves may want and aspire to being impartial and open. But they still have an emotional, less logical part of their brain (the limbic system and brain stem) that's more susceptible to human foibles and prejudice. And it's that less logical part that can easily spring into life and take control when they're under any kind of stress (say, from pressure from their own boss, tiredness or even trouble at home).

Now it could well be that your boss's intentions are true and fair when he tells you that you won't suffer any repercussions if you're open about wanting to leave. But that's his better, aspirational self speaking. Open up and you'll plant a seed of doubt that will germinate and start to grown. Deep down, in his less logical moments, he may start to think of you as disloyal or dispensable – even if he does so subconsciously.

Such judgements may be relative, made only in comparison with other employees. But when he needs to let someone go, they'll count against you all the same.

Rob Ashton

Posted 2017-05-09T20:30:43.627

Reputation: 309


Other answers bring a lot of relevant and important points already. However, I don't believe that this question has one universal answer that is correct for any situation. The most important question here is who has the leverage?

You mentioned that you're software engineer; from personal experience, as well from general knowledge, I see that software engineers, above a certain skill level, are in situation where the employee is more valuable to employer than vice versa. In other words, if I would quit right now (for whatever reason), I would find a new job quite easier and sooner than it would take my company to find replacement.

Therefore (given that this assumption is correct about your situation), the threat of you leaving the company (either voluntarily or being fired) is not a threat to you, but a threat to the company - and more importantly, this manager himself. So, admitting that this is indeed a possibility skewes negotiation in your favour. And since there're actually things that you're unhappy with and would want to re-negotiate, revealing this information to your manager looks like the right course of action.

Max Yankov

Posted 2017-05-09T20:30:43.627

Reputation: 133

1This all assumes a competitive negotiation posture is the right strategy, which it almost surely isn't, with someone you will have an ongoing relationship with. – None – 2017-05-11T12:09:32.487


There are a lot of good answers here, I'll add that once you say "yes", your advancement at that company ends.

Why would they promote you or send you to training? You're just going to leave. You'd probably spend some time documenting your responsibilities so your departure doesn't cause undue harm. And you thought the job was boring before!

Of course, the reason you are leaving could mitigate this. The OP is simply bored. That's won't cut it. But I knew a guy who told the boss he was looking because he was in dire financial straits. He had been laid-off and unemployed for a few years; he took the low-paying job because he was in danger of losing his house. After a couple of years, he told the boss he wanted an adjustment to get him near his pre-layoff salary. He was a good employee but was still completely strapped for cash. Understandable.

Tony Ennis

Posted 2017-05-09T20:30:43.627

Reputation: 2 259


I have been on both sides of the question.

As an employee: In the early 1990s I worked for a defense contractor. The defense business was shrinking. I had known my boss for six years at that time, and he assured me that as long as he was employed, I would be too. Rather than making the weak overture that you relate, my boss suggested more:

  • He said that I might not enjoy the work for the next few years. He said that if would like to look around, the next year might be a good time to search.
  • He added that he would support my search by ensuring I could go to conferences, present papers, and raise my profile -- always something of a concern for those of us in the defense industry at the time.

It worked. I found a job with a big Silicon Valley company, and I moved on happily and on good terms. My boss had the advantage of knowing that I was one of the people who was willing to leave, and it saved him a layoff decision.

I have long felt that supervisors who say only "I have an open door," or "You can talk to me about anything," are taking the easy and low road --- it requires nothing of them except to say a few words. Something concrete should be offered before you accept the offer and run your mouth into career suicide.

As a manager: Time passed, and I found myself on the other side. I encouraged everyone who worked for me (engineers and later other managers) to let me know if they were getting what they needed from their employment. I went around and asked, and I asked much more often than the review cycle, or the monthly / quarterly / yearly 1-on-1.

My feeling as a manager is that the hardest thing to deal with is sudden unavailability. I had one employee die of a heart attack at 39. I have had others quit with no warning. Any information is welcome to a serious manager, even when it is an email that says "I need a day off" instead of calling in sick at 8:30am with no explanation. (Note: I do realize people become ill suddenly.)

Generally: I have found people are either essentially honest or they are essentially dishonest. If you have a good reason to believe your manager is in the first category, then you can both benefit by your being consistently honest, also. If not, be cautious.

George Flanagin

Posted 2017-05-09T20:30:43.627

Reputation: 81


Nice guys finish last. The 'best' manager probably makes his people feel like they can tell him anything which he can then use to maximize company profit while ditching the trusting employee like a hamburger wrapper. The old saying is "Every good manager has a little bit of bastard in him." The one's that don't usually don't last long. Being an employee sensitive manager is the kiss of death for the most part. The owner placed him in a managerial role to make the owner money, not make the employees happy. One of the burdens of nice guys is honesty, they hate not being forthcoming because they like thinking of themselves as dependable and trustworthy and someone others can count on. That's a good ideology to maintain with friends but your boss, I'm assuming, was your boss before he became an amicable acquaintance. That means you have a business relationship first, and thus, don't owe him a window into your soul. You don't have to feel like you must unburden yourself of any selfish career desires like you might with your wife if you felt guilty about an inappropriate attraction to another female. The employment contract likely wasn't for a term 'till death do us part'.

Managers are managers because owners promise them more stuff in exchange for loyalty. That means they are expected to operate in the companies best interest and since paying unnecessary salaries isn't in the companies best interest, they try not to pay more than they have to and minimize the damage done by mutiny by throwing people overboard first. There are companies that treat their employees more like friends but they usually enjoy some particular advantage that allow them to relax their paranoia, like having a lot of money to burn. Most don't.

So, the honest business answer is: I wouldn't be honest if I said I don't pay attention to the job market occassionally. I think everybody keeps up with the market if they want to survive. But I'm not pursuing anything specific right now. That doesn't mean that I might not be tempted by some particularly attractive offer if one were to present itself but I would let you know if something like that did pop up and I thought it might be a real possibility. I know you need time to shop for replacements so I would certainly extend you that courtesy since you've been so fair with me. But given my current mindset, I don't think that's something you need to worry about anytime soon, if ever. If things change though, I'll be sure to let you know.

I also like Sebastien DErrico's suggestion if the relationship is close enough to make it feasable. The hard part is figuring out what they think of you. You may think they're great but if they think you're just another lemming then suggesting an amicable way to make everybody happy might just be extra complications they don't want to bother with. It's kind of like suggesting to your wife that counseling might be beneficial for both when the marriage isn't working when all she really wants to do is screw the mailman and send you packing. You can project your civility onto them and assume them to be as nice and caring as you but if they aren't, and most in a superior position aren't, then you might be surprised with a termination if you suggest an everybody win's approach to your leaving. On the other hand, I think that would be ideal if it's feasible because it leaves the bridges intact.

Ed Would

Posted 2017-05-09T20:30:43.627

Reputation: 37

3While I am sure there are managers outside that are exactly as described in this post, I am doubtful about the generalizations here. For example, it is not a trait of the best managers to keep payment of employees just above the threshold of open mutiny, and I personally know counterexamples to the thesis that you need to be a bit of a bastard to last as a manager. It is a valid point to remind that there are managers outside that can be described as bastards (even if they don't look like that on first glance), but making it sound like most successful managers are seems a bit like a rant.Nebr 2017-05-11T07:02:33.993