Leaving a current job entails many different steps. But one common dilemma is whether or not you need to let your colleagues know where you’re going, especially your boss.
While it’s normal for people to ask, is it necessary to tell them where you’re headed?
To help you decide, we asked experts to share their insights:
Table of Contents
- In all honesty, all they really need to know is that you are or are planning on leaving
- Courtesy demands you tell your boss where you are going, but professionalism doesn’t
- It depends on the type of relationship you have with your boss
- This question depends on your relationship with your employer, including your boss
- Be mindful if you have an employment contract as it may require you to disclose it
- As a lawyer, with many questions in life, the answer is “it depends”
- It depends on the situation
- Check your job restrictions
- You are not bound to tell them where you are going but may want to consider doing so if asked
- A positive experience with your current employer makes it acceptable to tell them where you’re headed
- It’s up to the employee to share with their employer their next moves forward
- It’s best to leave this one to yourself
- You are not legally obligated unless you’ll be working for a competitor
- Legally, you are not obligated to give an answer. Morally or ethically, you really aren’t bound either
- The short answer is ‘no’
- It will be great even from just a colleague and friendship point of view
- Whether you should tell your employer entirely depends on your relationship with them
- It’s a matter of personal choice whether to let your employer know where you’re going
- If you’re leaving on good terms, you should let your boss know where you’re going
Ron Auerbach, MBA
Educator | Career Coach | Job Search Expert | Author, “Think Like an Interviewer: Your Job Hunting Guide to Success“
In all honesty, all they really need to know is that you are or are planning on leaving
Is it necessary to reveal this information to your employer? No. In all honesty, all they really need to know is that you are or are planning on leaving. But where you are thinking of or actually going is, quite frankly, none of their business. So if you were to keep this information to yourself, that’s perfectly fine.
But would it be wrong if you chose to reveal your new employer? The answer is not necessarily. For example, you might have a really good working relationship with your boss(es) and have been treated extremely well by your employer. And they may even have been quite supportive in your job search. So here, you might feel comfortable in telling them where you are going.
This was the case with one of my recent employers. We had such a close and good relationship that I felt comfortable in letting them know why I was leaving and where I was going.
And while they were unhappy I was going somewhere else, they also were extremely understanding and supportive of my decision. And we’ve maintained close ties and a good relationship ever since. In fact, I had pretty recently run into my old boss while grocery shopping and we had a lovely conversation.
Now in other cases, it may be best to keep where you’re going a secret. For example, you are concerned that your current employer will try to sabotage you when it comes to giving you a reference or bad-mouthing you elsewhere. So you might not be on very good terms with your employer or happen to be working for a place that speaks negatively about previous employees.
You may also prefer to keep your new employer’s name hidden because you have a non-compete agreement and are worried they will attempt to prevent you from working there. And if you’re one of the other employees who have recently left, perhaps leaving to work at the same new employer, you might decide not to reveal where you’re going.
So if your current employer knows or suspects that you and/or others have left to go to X employer, it can put you in an uncomfortable or awkward position. One that you may prefer to avoid entirely.
So as you can see from all this, you are under no obligation to let your current employer know where you are going when you resign. But depending upon the relationship you have with them, there might be nothing wrong or hurtful if you did reveal that information.
Then again, revealing this information may put you in an uncomfortable position or end up hurting you. So it’s up to each individual to decide for himself or herself whether you have the kind of relationship where it’s better to make this information known or just keep it to yourself.
Global Management Expert | Director, Fresh Results Institute
Courtesy demands you tell your boss where you are going, but professionalism doesn’t
Quitting your job can always be an emotional moment: the tear-filled parting hugs, the beautifully crazy send-forth parties, and the non-binding promises to stay in touch. However, the bigger question is: do you tell your boss where you are going to when you resign?
To point this out clearly: courtesy demands you tell your boss where you are going, but professionalism doesn’t. There is no hard and fast rule regarding this; it is largely subjective, depending on your specific circumstance and your boss’s personality.
Yes, your employer would be naturally curious but take note that your next destination after resigning is largely personal stuff.
Now, the strongest determinant here is the relationship you have with your boss consequent to his emotional profile.
If you have an understanding and exciting boss who you know your relationship spills past professional boundaries into friendship, you shouldn’t mind telling them. Why?
Because you trust him enough to be happy for you (since you are mostly resigning for professional growth) and not sabotage your move behind the scenes.
In this case, he would give you his blessings and possibly wet the ground for you where you at your new job with his influence, making your transition easier. When you tell him, ensure to plead with him to keep it as private as you can as you don’t want the news plastered around the tabloids.
Regardless of the coziness of your relationship with your boss, it is not advisable that you tell him if you are specifically resigning to go to a direct competitor.
Nonetheless, it is a complete no-no to tell your employer where you are heading after resignation if you have a strictly formal relationship with him. This is because it could get provocative, either making him undermine your move or even fire you outright from your contractual period officially elapses.
In this case, if your employer asks, you can keep it very brief and vague by saying you are not going to a direct competitor. Your employer lacks the right or legitimacy to press you further than that as it you have substantially insinuated that you prefer to keep your next destination private.
CEO & Career Coach, Terry B. McDougall Coaching | Author, “Winning the Game of Work: Career Happiness and Success on Your Own Terms“
It depends on the type of relationship you have with your boss
It depends on a few factors, including what type of relationship you have with your boss, why you’re leaving, where you’re going, and whether you’ve already taken all your personal items from the office, among others.
If your relationship with the company and your boss is positive and supportive, it probably does not hurt to tell them where you are going. At many workplaces, they will wish you well and maybe even give you a farewell party.
However, at some companies and with some bosses, if you let them know where you are going, there is the chance that they may do something to sabotage you at your new company before you even begin.
If that’s the case, you are better off telling them that you’ve been asked to keep the new employer confidential for now. (You may be the one asking for this “confidentiality” but it has the effect of providing an answer without divulging information that could be used against you.) If you want to soften the message, you can offer to reach out and provide your contact information after you’ve gotten settled in.
Finally, if you have taken a job at a competitor and/or you’re in a role where you have access to customer data or other sensitive company information, the company may ask you to leave on the spot as soon as you’ve given notice.
That’s why it’s critical that you have taken all your personal items and anything else that is rightly yours, like personal contacts or files, before giving notice. In some companies, HR will have Security walk you to the door as soon as you give notice.
Michael Trust, MPA, SPHR, PHRca, SHRM-SCP
Human Resources Director, Michael Trust Consulting
This question depends on your relationship with your employer, including your boss
If you have a good relationship, there is no reason not to share this information if you feel comfortable doing so.
However, if your relationship is not good, or you’re going to a hated competitor, it is likely best that you not share this information as it could jeopardize your future relationships with your current boss, and in the worst case, your current employer or boss could poison your new job. It happens, unfortunately.
Be mindful if you have an employment contract as it may require you to disclose it
By the same token, if you have an enforceable non-compete agreement, it also may require disclosure (amongst other items). Always remember that if you have signed a confidentiality statement or Non-Disclosure Agreement, those typically remain in force past your employment end date.
There is no law in the United States, absent a contract, that requires you to tell your employer where you are going. This is totally discretionary on your part.
It’s always good to keep in mind that you might need this employer or boss for a future reference, or you may want to come back at some point, and so how you handle this requires tact.
If you choose not to share, you can politely say something like “I’ll let you know once I officially start” or “I prefer not to share at this time for personal reasons”.
Attorney | Mindfulness & Relationship Expert | Transformational Speaker, Lawyer Lifeline
As a lawyer, with many questions in life, the answer is “it depends”
Legally, you have no obligation to tell your employer where you are going. There is no need to let them know where you will be working if they know where you live. Any correspondence, notices, or benefits can be mailed or delivered to your residence.
If you are leaving under unpleasant circumstances, it probably isn’t a good idea to let them know where you are going. Abusive employers can make trouble for you in your new employment if they are so inclined.
If you have an employment agreement, make sure you don’t have a non-compete clause or a non-disclosure obligation to your old employer.
If you are going to work for a competitor, you may be creating a problem for yourself and your new employer. Telling your old employer that you are about to breach your employment agreement may not be wise.
If you are on good terms with your employer and co-workers, and have no contractual obligations, you may wish to let them know where you will be going.
Again, there is no legal obligation to do so, but you may wish to keep your lines of communication open with friends and colleagues you have a good relationship.
Emily Kikue Frank, M.A.
Career Reinvention Specialist | Founder, Career Catalyst
It depends on the situation
My answer is always this: It depends on the situation. If you’re leaving a position on good terms, and your employer has been supportive and trustworthy, telling them where you are going is probably appropriate, and your colleagues will enjoy celebrating your success.
On the other hand, if things are difficult and unpleasant, it’s probably easier to tell a select few people (trusted and liked coworkers) where you’re going, and leave the info to the higher-ups vague– something along the lines of “a new opportunity.” You can use this line even if you are really leaving just to get out, and don’t have the next gig sorted yet.
That said, if you’re in the market for a new job, do make sure that you have people who can be your references set up. These trusted folks should know more about where you hope to go next so they can start thinking about what to say about you.
But you’re under no obligation to tell your employer why you’re leaving, so do what feels comfortable, and be sure that the people you want to remain in contact with have your info.
Ayesha Krishnan Hamilton, Esq.
Owner, Hamilton Law Firm, P.C.
Check your job restrictions
The answer to your question is “it depends.” If you have any restrictions on what your next job can be, such as a non-compete, then you need to know what those restrictions are and whether you need to disclose the new position to the employer.
Always err on the side of caution. If you fail to disclose your new position and your former employer finds out and believes it to be a violation of the non-compete, you and the new employer will likely receive a cease and desist letter.
Now, you are going to have to have an awkward discussion with your new employer about why you didn’t disclose the existence of the non-compete, even if you believed it didn’t apply.
You are not bound to tell them where you are going but may want to consider doing so if asked
In situations where you do not have a restrictive covenant, you are not bound to tell them where you are going but may want to consider doing so if asked. If you are worried that your old employer may interfere with your new employment, then there is nothing that requires you to disclose the new employer’s name.
As you can see, it is a very fact-driven delicate analysis that weighs the need to protect your new position from a surly prior employer, comply with a non-compete and not get sued, and maintain bridges with your former employer, especially if you are remaining in the same industry and need to preserve your network and relationships. Always act in a respectful, honorable, and ethical way and keep your emotions in check.
Certified Resume Writer | Career Coach | Founder, Seasoned and Growing, LLC
A positive experience with your current employer makes it acceptable to tell them where you’re headed
As with most career scenarios, “it depends.” If you’ve had a positive experience at your current employer, then it is acceptable to tell them where you’re headed. Most employers and good bosses understand that employees will move on and accept new roles that are either a better fit or help them reach their ultimate career goals.
If you have a positive relationship with your supervisor that is transparent, friendly, and professional, it makes sharing future plans easier. It also can open the door to asking for a letter of recommendation before you depart.
On the other hand, if you’ve been the victim of a toxic environment where you were bullied or harassed, it may not be the best idea to share where your next opportunity is. If you have a vindictive supervisor, it could cause trouble in your next role, if they choose to reach out to your new employer for any reason.
At the end of the day, go with your gut and make the decision that you feel is best for you!
Director of Operations, MyCorporation.com
Remember that not all resignations are for the same reason. Some employees may be moving on to work for different companies. Others may decide to go back to school and focus on advancing their education.
The most important aspect is that they resign with a courtesy of at least two weeks’ notice prior to leaving the company.
This gives their employer the time to train a new employee to assume their role within the company or to distribute the workload among existing employees in that specific department until they are able to hire new team members to join the business and fill the position.
Chantay Bridges, CNE, SRES
Coach | Realtor, Los Angeles Real Estate Now | Speaker | Writer
It’s best to leave this one to yourself
Once you begin delving into where you going, then it brings up other questions such as why are you going? How long have they been recruiting you? Were you researching for other opportunities on company time?
In lieu of your employer focusing on your past performance, farewell lunch, and vacation pay that may be due to you, now their focus could become distracted by the enlightenment of where you are going and why?
Are you going to a competitor? If so, telling your boss that tad bit of information is not going to put a smile on their face. Don’t forget, you may need them for a referral in the future. In addition, you don’t want to be looked at as providing trade secrets to the competition. Even though you once were the office hero now you could be construed as the Judas, betrayer. Be careful.
Have you heard of the word sabotage? Do you want to be bad mouthed or lied about before your first day of work? While your former company may be going through the protocols on the outside, they could be furious on the inside. You don’t want to begin with a major fight on your hand trying to prove you aren’t whom your last employer said you were or that they had an alternative motive when discussing you.
It’s best to leave this one to yourself. If your employer finds out later, that’s fine but you want to give yourself the best shot possible especially at the beginning and by that time, you would have had time for people to get to know you without anyone else’s input or opinions.
HR Manager, ResumeLab
You are not legally obligated unless you’ll be working for a competitor
In the overwhelming majority of cases, you aren’t legally obligated to disclose where you’re leaving unless you’re going to work for a competitor, and you have signed a non-compete clause.
That being said, it’s critical that you give your current employer the exit date. Two weeks’ notice is the standard timeframe, but you may want to double-check your contract to be on the safe side.
On top of that, it’s good practice to write a formal resignation letter that outlines your intention to leave, your official exit date, and your gratitude to the company to part on professional terms.
President, Ed-Exec, Inc.
Legally, you are not obligated to give an answer. Morally or ethically, you really aren’t bound either
Ultimately, the decision comes down to the context of departure and the employee’s relationships. To get to an appropriate answer, the employee should do a (relatively) quick check-in.
First, if you are switching industries, going back to school, taking care of family, or leaving for a non-competitor, you should not have any issues. Give your boss the opportunity to provide you the emotional support or encouragement you may need.
Leaving for a competitor, on the other hand, could be a touchy subject if you’re in a cut-throat industry. Second, if you have a good relationship with your current boss, don’t be afraid; your boss will want to celebrate with you.
Just ask two quick questions: 1) Why am I leaving, and 2) Do I get along with my boss? The answer will quickly reveal itself to you.
HR and Recruitment Specialist, Zety
The short answer is ‘no’
There’s usually no need to do so if you don’t want to, especially if you haven’t signed a non-competition clause that would prevent you from working for competitors. Note that if you have signed such an agreement and are moving to work for a competitor you will land in trouble.
Now, if you have a good relationship with your colleagues and they ask you where you’re going, you should consider whether hiding it from them could potentially hinder your chances of getting future references for instance.
It’s a calculation you have to make yourself and see which course of action is worth it. But ultimately, it’s usually not mandatory if you don’t want to do it for whatever reason.
CEO, MTD Training
It will be great even from just a colleague and friendship point of view
As an employer, I’d like to think that we’ve built up the trust and the relationship for the employee to tell us, just from a colleague and friendship point of view.
They have their reasons for leaving and we will always wish them well. We’d always find out anyhow because of references or changes on LinkedIn profiles for example so it’s not a big deal if they don’t but it’s nice if they do.
We want to part on good terms and if someone says to me “I’m not telling you”, I’d feel a little hurt because we’d have helped them progress their career in some way.
Of course, if there’s a bad relationship between employee and employer then I wouldn’t blame them for wanting to get out of there and for not telling an employer but all things being equal I would like to think they’ll let them know.
There are times when there are non-compete clauses in contracts so in these instances the employer needs to know to ensure there is not a breach of contract. Also, if an employee is going to a competitor there is a risk of them taking clients with them so knowing this, the employer can make an informed decision as to whether they should work their notice or have gardening leave.
CV and Career Expert, Career Addict
Whether you should tell your employer entirely depends on your relationship with them
If you have a good relationship and know that they will only wish the best for you, then there’s no harm in telling them where you’re moving to.
On the other hand, if you don’t have a great relationship, then your employer may potentially spread false industry rumors and hinder your chances at your new place.
So, before you hand in your notice, think about which approach you’d like to take. If you don’t want to give a specific answer, you can say that you have a few options that you’re considering and leave it at that.
Canadian Leader of Talent Acquisition, Amica Senior Lifestyles
It’s a matter of personal choice whether to let your employer know where you’re going
However, the decision is bound to be influenced by such factors as the grounds of resignation and whether you have any intention of maintaining contact with the employer.
You’ll probably be loathe to share such information if you’re leaving on bad terms. However, you might be keen to stay in contact if there’s a chance that the employer will be able to pass work your way or give a testimonial in support of a future application.
It’s quite unlikely that you’ll be under obligation to let the employer know, even if you’re joining a rival business. However, you might have to abide by the terms of a non-compete clause and see out the duration of your notice period for the avoidance of a conflict of interest.
You might also have to disclose your plans if there’s the potential for sharing confidential information or trade secrets with a competitor.
Insurance Expert, 4AutoInsuranceQuote.com
If you’re leaving on good terms, you should let your boss know where you’re going
You do not have to tell them, in most cases, but if you have a good relationship and don’t fear retaliation, letting your boss know where you’re going can help them understand the situation and, in some cases, improve the situation for whoever takes your place.
If you’re leaving because you’re moving, there isn’t much in the information that will help a boss make improvements. But if you’re leaving for higher pay, more flexibility, or an opportunity for more growth, that can make a good boss reevaluate their position in those areas and make the job more appealing and satisfying in the future.