At most places the common wisdom holds and you should keep your job seeking activity a secret until you are ready to resign and give your two-weeks (at least, I've given more than two weeks in a few cases where the circumstances warranted it).
As soon as you even hint that you're thinking of leaving you will be seen as "the other" and a bit of a traitor up and down the chain except perhaps by your peers who will envy you (in most cases the things that drive you away are likely making their job overly stressful as well).
A lot of companies (even dedicated software shops, which is kind of mind boggling, but true IME) like to delude themselves into thinking programmers are just human resources like box lifters and with the proper amount of process you can just easily fit someone else into the role being vacated. They maintain this illusion even while knowing their people are thinking about leaving. In my experience it isn't until you make it official with a resignation letter that they snap out of this and go into "oh shit" mode and then attempt to offer real change. But by then it is too late, you've probably already accepted another job and mentally prepared to leave and unless the concessions are extremely, extremely substantial (and guaranteed somehow in your favor) you should virtually always just stick with leaving.
I agree that the last-minute counter-offer can be way too late. (It's also pretty unfair if you've already accepted another job - I've heard of several cases of startups trying to hire people employed at larger companies who had the hire fall through due to a generous counter-offer.)
Most of the things that drive you to leave are unlikely to change, and if you have to quit to get the money you think you deserve, what will you have to do to get raises in the future?
But let me tell you a little story about giving two weeks notice. I quit a startup this year because I wanted some things addressed and they were never addressed. Mainly dispute over equity and control of IP I had brought to the business from my previous startup. I laid this out in conversations, meetings, and in emails. They knew I wanted something done. But nothing happened. So I put my two weeks in and got an email back from the CEO almost instantly - I wouldn't have to wait two weeks they were letting me go immediately. And he cc'd almost everyone in the company. That's what being a nice guy gets you, a walk out the door.
We still had him work out his last two weeks and took him out to happy hour his second to last night... and then his last day he never showed up to do an exit interview and finish some handoffs.
This is why companies should always be proactively adjusting compensation, perks, etc to retain the people they can't afford to lose, though very few actually do this. In the end though, even if a company does keep up on the retaining side there are lots of reasons (eg. more interesting technical stack, new project instead of maintaining old one, etc) why someone who is mostly happy may still leave a job for another.
Having said all of that, it sucks that the dev didn't show up for the last day. I hate exit interviews, but I'll still do them.
Precisely. It's amazing how quickly some companies will only take a reactive approach to retaining top employees, then sit stunned when they walk out the door.
The last job I left, my current employer counter-offered to match my new salary, and tossed out a "discretionary bonus" they supposedly had been planning to give me as an incentive to stay. I politely declined.
What's funny is if they had taken me aside before I even considered looking for a new job, and simply said something like, "Hey, you're doing a great job. We want to give you /raise|bonus|perk/ to let you know you're appreciated" it would have meant the world, at least in my eyes, and I wouldn't have begun considering other opportunities.
As was pointed out earlier in the thread, sometimes good work finds you, and in cases like that there really isn't much your employer can do, but I think the larger point is often there are a lot of things they CAN do to retain good employees and a lot of companies aren't doing them.
"Exit interviews fascinate me like cockroaches do. An exit interview is the meeting a company's human resources department has with an employee who has been terminated or who has resigned. Like the Top Ten Stupid Interview Questions, exit interviews are the cockroaches of the human resources world: no one knows why they exist, no one can justify or eliminate them, and they will likely survive into the third millennium."
My feedback provided a written-down justification for investing in some much-needed improvements to the way they built software. A few things tangibly improved as a direct result, and that is valuable to me.
At that point you have a risk/reward trade off, and an absolute "NO!" rule that's based on the generally correct perception there's no reward is less relevant. BTW, did you give this feedback to HR or to a manager type? Headhunter Corcodilos is particularly inveighing against the former, although a lot of his points apply in all circumstances. And he does allow for doing this with the right person, with a strong recommendation of waiting a couple weeks after you're gone.
To finish, there's always the question of "Why will they listen this time?", but, hey, I was born, raised and have retired to Missouri, where we're famous for our mules. And I was told the first rule in interacting with them is to get their attention with a sturdy piece of wood. I'm sure in some situations, especially the ones where you know all the players, that can actually work, even if it takes something even more drastic like resigning.
Hmmm, you might even point out that they should try playing this game before they lose the next person....
I suppose the flip side is that people will say I should be eliciting that feedback all the time, and I do, but there's a difference between giving feedback to your superior and your former superior.
If you think they're useless (which they are), there's nothing forcing you to give them honest or straight answers to their questions.
After researching the topic online, I found that there's negative value to the employee in those interviews. For example: complaints will get back to managers, reducing their value as references.
They serve no higher purpose other than to make things easier for the employer in the event of a post-departure lawsuit.
Isn't it a good practice to only use references who are already in your back pocket?
>> They serve no higher purpose other than to make things easier for the employer in the event of a post-departure lawsuit.
In my mind, the only purpose they serve is to justify the existence/value of the HR department.
You guys must not have any management or team lead experience. I'm an engineering manger who does a lot more engineering than managing but that said, if someone is leaving my team I'd like some time to sit and discuss why for my own benefit. Feedback on things we can improve, things that work well, etc. I'm sure big companies have shitty exit interviews but if you're a team lead or manager and you don't want to discuss why your employee is leaving then you seriously need to reexamine your management philosophy.
You don't need an exit interview. I usually know when people are unhappy before they even quit. While I do not try to be friends with people who have worked for me, they've known me to be straightforward and honest and to not be a puppet of the higher ups. Most of them have had no issue letting me know their grievances as they occur during normal working life, and they have a good idea of what changes are within my scope of control and those that are not.
Also, the best time to ask those questions is when you're being handed the resignation letter. If your track record with the employee is good, i.e., they know you don't get bitter about them leaving, you'll probably get pretty honest and truthful responses. A formal exit interview in my mind is a waste of time.
A junior dev that perceived everyone else as being okay with the status quo probably thought it was easier to find another opportunity than to rock the boat. Add to it that strategic job hopping virtually guarantees a raise or promotion faster and better than waiting for your current employer to do so and I would totally do what your junior dev did.
If you start working as an employee without getting this done, you have zero leverage.
Where I live, if the employer waives notice and walks you out, you end up getting some free paid time off, without the drudgery of writing documentation and doing other boring transition tasks.
Sorry. That's just the reality of the situation. We could move back to employment contracts and you would have a much more stable employee base. I would openly discuss my plans for the end of my contract ahead of time. But that would probably be too stable and rigid.
Also regarding your "rage quit" and "try to change jobs when we're in a slow part" doesn't always work. Sometimes your job never slows down and you're pushed to the very point of a rage quit.
I'm not saying all this to promote ill behavior as a life choice. I generally want to give 2 weeks notice and not be in a position where I feel rage but that can't realistically apply to every situation and I should never feel terrible if I chose either. If I made a habit of it? I would have to seriously question my ability to acquire jobs because you shouldn't want to rage quit from every place you've ever worked...
That would let employers fire "mistake" hires (whose faults are obvious within a couple months) while getting stability in the long-term.
For "permanent" contracts, there is a 6 months experimental period where both the employer and the employee can terminate the contract with no notice at all.
This gives enough time to get to know a new hire and fix any mistakes. After that, both parties have a penalty for breaking the contract (an advance notice for the employee, or a severance pay for the employer).
Here's some, albeit free, advice. DO NOT do that.
If someone gives this kind of ultimatum and the employer doesn't want to give in, the employer will drag along the conversion while they start looking for a replacement. I'm sure that's a wonderful thing for this CEO... he'll find a replacement, get the naive employee to train the new guy in his role, and then fire him first chance he gets. WIN-WIN for the CEO, huh? Well fuck that.
On behalf of your employees: If you are contemplating letting people go, you should let them know at the thinking stage. Wouldn't anything less be hypocritical?
It is a great idea to tell your employer that you're looking around, because it frees you to tell friends and former colleagues that you are looking for a job without having to worry that your employer will find out. In my experience you can get great job leads this way. This also gives you the opportunity to control the job search process such that you have multiple offers available at once, which improves your leverage.
When I do this I let every company that I am interested in know that I have a deadline by which I need to receive a job offer or not. Typically this deadline is my search start date + 1 month. After that I have a 2-week negotiation window, at the end of which I will accept 0 or 1 new jobs. This gives me a lot of leverage in soliciting counteroffers and minimizing stupid recruiter games like exploding offers.
Do be aware that if you follow this strategy some recruiters will bitterly resent you. This is because they know exactly what you are doing and how it minimizes the informational asymmetry that is one of their most important weapons.
I am not sure if that's being transparent though.
The analogy I use is rats know when to abandon a sinking ship. If you're a pirate sailing along and see a shitload of rats jumping off your pimp ass boat, you better be joining them lest you actually want to sink with it. That's reserved for captains (CEOs) not us regular folk.
You don't need any "reason" to consider other options, except for the obvious one: there always might be something better out there, and you'll only know if you're looking.
Your satisfaction in your current job is its own issue, and you should talk about that with superiors/etc. whenever necessary and possible.
But there's no reason to tell your boss about a job-hunting unless you already have an actual offer and you're contemplating taking it. Let's not hide the fact that the job market is built on negotiation.
I never did it. Not once. I conducted my search in secret, gave my notice, thanked them for the opportunity and moved on.
At the end of the day, despite all of the assurances from my manager and my employer about having an "open dialogue" about my concerns or reasons for looking elsewhere, there's simply no assurance that they won't walk out of the meeting already having me blacklisted as someone looking to jump ship. I have to take their word for it they will work to address my concerns, and there won't be any future resentment or even retribution. When it comes to something like my career, I just can't afford to make that gamble.
More often than not, this isn't nearly as much about employee satisfaction, retention and growth as it is protecting the employer from the potential impact of an employee leaving unexpectedly.
I've had mixed results here. The one time I did this and it was well-received, the company was already in the middle of hiring a swatch of new people, including some in my direct product/line. The other time, the manager/COO/CEO didn't take it nearly so well, despite my reason for leaving having little to do with them at all. I just got a better opportunity that I knew my employer at the time could never offer, including a 50% pay raise (to start). I'm pretty sure if I hadn't of found something, I'd have been out the door in any case...
And I'm sure that you'd fully reciprocate. You know, give me a heads-up that sales were down this quarter and you're considering laying me off? So I can be adequately prepared? Because that would be VERY PAINFUL.
Where I work now, the guy I replaced stuck around for a month or more to interview people (hiring me in the process) and transition and bring me up to speed. I'm not looking to leave but I've seen how (well) my employer treats someone in the "I'm leaving" situation so I would feel comfortable letting my employer know before hand.
I read a blog once where the author encouraged employers to treat past employees as "alumni", keep open future communication and even possibly hire them again at some point and benefit from the skills they've acquired in meantime.
First, my post was not intended to be general advice to employees of all companies on how to handle a situation where they're starting to look for jobs. Of course, many environments would not respond well to that approach. My point was just that that's how we encourage employees to handle the situation at Return Path, and we have created a safe environment to do so. By the way, it doesn't happen here 100% of the time either, by any stretch of the imagination. But I wish it did. When it happens, it's better for everyone -- the company as well as the employee, who either (a) ends up staying because we resolve some issue we weren't aware of, or (b) has a less stressful and more graceful transition out.
Second, the way we run our business is around a bit of a social contract -- that is to say, a two-way street. And just as we ask employees to start a dialog with us when they are thinking of leaving, we absolutely, 100% of the time, are open and transparent with employees when they are in danger of being fired (other than the occasional urgent "for cause" situation). We give people ample opportunity to correct performance and even fit issues. In terms of someone's question below about lay-offs, we fortunately haven't had to do those since 2001, but if I recall, even then, we were extremely transparent about our financial position and that we might need to cut jobs in 30 days.
Happy to jump in on other comments as well or respond individually at matt at returnpath dot com.
I can not say the same about how that would benefit any individual employee.
The flip side of this is the company can fire or lay you off at anytime. So while 2 weeks notice may not seem like a lot, the system we have here is actually potentially much harsher for employees than employers.
As with the 2 week notice courtesy from employees to employers, most places will offer some sort of severance pay to soften the blow, entice employees to sign an NDA and smooth over any legal challenges that might pop up despite the "at will" employment situation.
You have to give a month's notice because your employer can't arbitrarily show up at your desk, say pack up your stuff and get out of the building within the hour (with security hovering around you and your computer locked down) and this is the last day we're paying you for.
Reading about zero or two weeks notice here makes me thinking what that does for the job market. On the one hand it surely makes for more movement, on the other hand it must make for a more ruthless job market. One of the upsides that I perceive with the three months notice is that it makes you think long and well about quitting, and encourages you to work things out. You don't just rage quit, because you'll have some three uncomfortable months.
If however, things really don't work out and both parts acknowledges this, you often come to an agreement of parting earlier.
This enforced by law, so if you don't pay, they would just throw you in court.
Is not the same as loyalty.
They will drop you faster than you would drop them.