Quitting a job: dealing with the guilt

Hello. Long-term poster a long time ago, now largely just lurking under a different username (not for any dodgy reasons, honestly!)

I’ve been in my job for over three years and it’s worn me down. So I’ve applied for another job elsewhere and have been offered it. Better money, fresh start, probably more interesting – seems like a no-brainer.

I’m having serious difficulty with the prospect of telling my current company I’m leaving though, my manager in particular. The project I’ve been working on is very complex and the prospect of trying to hand it all over is mindboggling. I’m feeling overwhelmingly guilty at ‘abandoning’ my current manager in particular, as she has been incredibly supportive and kind to me and is the one who will have to deal with a whole heap of shit caused by my leaving.

Attempting to reassure myself that ‘it’s just work’ / it’s the company’s problem / I’m making too much of it / the sun will continue to rise etc etc but it’s an extremely stressful thing to be dealing with.

Anyone been through something similar and/or have advice? Cheers

Never put a job before yourself


This is something that i can fully understand. It’ll be easy for a lot of reflexive answers to be like ‘focus on you!!’ but in truth dealing with leaving when a company has been good, supportive, friends even is crap, and i totally get why it’s hard.

All of the things you’re reassuring yourself are true, but i guess the short answer is that (much like a breakup) telling them now rather than letting it linger because you’re nervous about it is a lot better thing to do. If one of my team was sure they were leaving, I’d be extremely grateful to know about it quickly rather than be kept in the dark until the last minute, as it’s a lot harder on everyone to sort out an absence without warning

(i’m saying this assuming you’re working to a leaving date you’ve already fixed but fair play if not the case).

But yeah, if you’ve accepted the new job, just tell 'em quick and they’ll be fine.


Hello and welcome (back) to the boards!

I’m in a similar situation at the moment - I’ve been in a job for three and a half years and have accepted a secondment elsewhere. You can go back through my posts on the “how’s your career / existential crisis” thread, though I think as a new member this might be hidden to you at the moment. Unlike you, I wasn’t really looking around for work, but it was too good an opportunity to decline.

I had some really useful advice, which was along the lines of: your boss will see you as irreplaceable for a while, and it’ll be tough, but then they’ll find someone else to do the job and that person will have a fresh shot at the role and you’ll have a chance to throw your energies at something new. In the end, everyone wins even if the short-term is difficult.

If it helps, you can do a certain amount - maybe offer an extended notice period if your new employer allows it, make sure your handover notes are excellent… and emphasise to your existing boss what a great support she’s been. But ultimately, guilt isn’t enough of a reason to stay in a job.


I dont have advice but I do go through this over every decision I make. My dad used to tease me for it but it’s a terrible feeling. If I don’t buy something from that empty shop there the people working might lose their job etc. So I can imagine how it feels on this level for you and sorry you’re struggling with it.

Suppose its just a sign of you caring and no matter how hard it is not to feel guilty you should at least appreciate the positive trait you have by being so empathic.


Lovely response, thank you sir!

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once bought a large plunger i didn’t need from a hardware shop because they were really nice. just picked up the first thing i saw. now we have a plunger at home, and a backup plunger.


Fuck 'em.

This is going to be a bit morbid and CW: death:

A few months ago one of my colleagues retired at very short notice. Nothing was said of it at the time, but reading between the lines I suspected illness was involved. Not long after they retired, we were told that they had passed away

And… work carried on. Usual tributes, of course it affected people who were personally close to them more, but… that’s it. Now it’s a name that gets mentioned with a touch of sadness but that’s it.

Work is more important to you than you are to them. This was a very sobering reminder of that.


think it’s gonna be one of those threads where depending on whether people work in a huge company, a tiny one, or somewhere in between, there’ll be different levels of friendship at stake in terms of feeling odd about leaving. there are two colleagues/friends in particular who i would be absolutely devastated to lose.

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Tell them that you’re considering leaving, decide a figure that you’d be willing to stay for. Make sure this figure is a lot more than you’re being offered elsewhere as you’re not getting another pay rise any time soon after this one whereas pay rises in new places tend to happen more quickly.
You’re giving them the opportunity to meet the value you put on yourself, if they don’t meet it that’s their problem.

Don’t undersell yourself, if you’re on £40k and been offered £50k ask for £60k


I always just consider what they would do if suddenly everything went tits up. Would they do everything in their power to help out/support etc or would it be, sorry we’re fucked, here’s your notice good luck. Nearly every company will do the later to some degree so, don’t feel bad that you have a good opportunity and want to move on.

It is difficult but you have to look after yourself. Good luck and well done :slight_smile:


This has been interestingly reflected in the responses I’ve had from different friends who do very different things.

One is a lawyer and his advice was ‘F*ck them, think solely about yourself’, whereas someone else in a more, shall we say, community-spirited role was to talk through my concerns about the existing role with my current manager and fine a happy solution involving stayting.

i fall in the middle a bit coz you noted a fresh start, more interesting as two additional reasons to leave, which sounds like there’s no reason to stay even if they up the cash.

So from what you’ve said my gut instinct is – definitely bail, but dump em kindly :slight_smile:


We’re a team of sixish, and we’ve had a very demanding and high profile few months in the company since the beginning of the pandemic. At the very beginning we lost our manager who’d been applying for promotions before it all kicked off, although he stuck around for a few months to help us through. A few weeks back another of our colleagues, someone I actually recruited, told us all that he’d been headhunted through LinkedIn. He’s pretty much a public sector guy through and through and he doesn’t like change much so he rejected their first advance. Then they upped their offer and he felt he had to accept. Given that I know he has two very young children (one born during the pandemic) and have seen the place he’s trying to bring them up in I can quite understand how that was an offer he couldn’t refuse.

So the take away from your point of view is: we absolutely love him, like you he is deeply immersed in several of our most important and complex products. Losing him is going to be a big blow, and a massive headache when we’re all running more or less on empty anyway. But none of us wish him anything but the best, and if anything it’s losing him personally that we all seem to be feeling the most.

So don’t worry, this is life and work, people understand that and companies cope with it.


this is it innit, if good people leave you can’t help but feel happy they’re happy


Happy’s stretching it a bit with him. As an illustration I was considering giving him an empty honey jar with a deflated balloon in it as a joke leaving gift :smiley:

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Great advice all round folks, thank you. The situation feels somewhat exacerbated by the time of year because I’m going to hand in my notice just before the two-week festive break, which eats into the time needed to sort out a replacement for me and so on.

As someone suggested above, I’m going to try and negotiate a long-ish notice period and then work my nuts off during my remaining time to complete as much as I can before going, and provide the best possible handover.


in my experience they fuck about hiring someone for ages, so you never get the chance for a handover in person


It’s worth remembering that as nice and supportive as some businesses can be, the moment the worm turns they’d boot anyone they need to, and it’d be a business decision. Same should go for you.


Hej Greekdog

I could have written this post on this day 100% word-for-word. So much so that I thought it necessary to post here and clarify for everyone else that the OP isn’t me

As for your dilemma I totally empathise with your loyalty to your boss. Loyalty is a valuable trait and you should be proud of yourself that it sits with you.

Loyalty is less useful however if it limits you from reaching your full potential and could fully be a burden if you choose to stay loyal to someone at the cost of having to walk around forever thinking what might have been. That loyalty may quickly turn to resentment

You basically need to be loyal to yourself and take that step forward, it sounds like you’re most of the way there already

As for the practicalities of leaving a mind bogglingly complicated project over to someone else - hoo boy, I know about that one. I am also there right now, literally with a 35,000 word ‘Interim’ report open in another window which is almost impossible to finish and probably needs at least another 15,000 words to be at the level of detail required to properly understand the last 3 years and what might happen over the next 18-24 months

Thing is, once you quit it will be somebody else’s responsibility and your former company will hire accordingly. If your boss is as good as you say then they will understand & wish you well …or offer you a raise/better terms to stay

Good luck with whatever you do and remember that if you’re sought after you and you feel like a new challenge you deserve to move forward guilt-free