Q: In February 2013, I finally landed the public library job of my dreams. I had been working as an on-call substitute for two years before landing this professional, permanent, full-time job. I love what I am currently doing, and I love where I work. Sure, there are difficult days, but as far as jobs go, I am really content with where I’m at. I am grateful to my supervisor for hiring me and for giving me this amazing opportunity to be a public librarian.
My husband’s job is eventually going to take us 60 miles north of where we currently live. The commute would be terrible if I stayed in my current position. Ultimately, we will end up moving north; it’s not a matter of if, but rather a matter of when.
A professional, public library job in this northern city has just opened up, and I’m tempted to apply. Problem is, my resume will say that I have only worked in my current position from February 2013-present, which is obviously a little less than 12 months. Normally I like to stay in a job for 2 years or more; I was in my last two positions for 2-4 years before moving on to new opportunities.
My question for you is: How do I go about telling my current supervisor about my family situation? I am new at this, and I know things come up in life, but how do I do this when I have only been in my current position for 12 months? I feel guilty. Thank you for your help.
SM: If you know (I mean, you are absolutely certain) that you will need to leave your current position, then the sooner you talk to your supervisor, the better. You feel guilty because you are a nice person and you genuinely care about your job and the people you work with; and you feel like (if you leave) you are not fulfilling your obligation to them. I get it. I’ve been there. I left a job after six months, not because I wasn’t happy, but because I decided (a bit spur-of-the-moment) to move to another state – to go to library school. I was terrified of telling my supervisor that I was leaving because she was so nice to me and spent so much time training me. But, lucky for me, she took it quite well, and ended up writing a very nice letter of reference for me, which helped to get me a new job in a public library in my new city.
You need to remember that you don’t have any kind of obligation to stay a certain amount of time at your job. And, one year is a pretty decent amount of time – enough time to get to know your job well, to learn new skills, to build new relationships, and to make long-lasting connections.
Our professional lives are often times interrupted by sacrifices and decisions that we didn’t expect to make; decisions that may change the course of our careers… but life happens and moves on around us, and we need to move with it. We can learn many great things in a short amount of time, and it is important to get the most that we can out of each and every job, because you never know when life will throw another curve ball and everything (unexpectedly) changes, once again.
So, here’s some advice on your current job:
Ask to meet with your supervisor and tell her about your situation and why you need to leave. If she is a reasonable person, she will not only understand, but be supportive of you during this stressful time. She may ask for a specific date of departure, so you should have something to tell her – not just “I will be leaving at some point in the future.” If you don’t have this figured out yet, then hold off on talking to her until you have a more specific time frame, but plan on giving her enough notice (at least four weeks, if possible) to prepare.
By telling her early, she can start searching for your replacement. And you can stop feeling guilty as you help her plan for your departure by completing projects and paperwork, writing up documentation on your job duties, and training others. By easing into your departure, you can continue to cultivate good relations with your supervisor, which is important because you need her to be a good reference for you as you seek out a new job.
On the other hand, if you think she might take it badly or make your life miserable while you are still employed, then I would hold off on the conversation until you have an exact date of departure (but still giving as much notice as you can, or is required — in this case you may want to contact your HR department).
As for the new job opening in the new city – you should definitely apply for it. Keep in mind that they may have a specific start date and if you don’t know when you are moving, or when you could actually start the job, then that might put you in a difficult position should they offer it to you. Don’t worry about being at your current job for only a year. This shouldn’t hurt your chances, as long as you explain it in your cover letter. Let them know why you are leaving your current position (moving for your spouse’s job), and let them know that you’ve done your research on their library and their city – and convince them that you are excited about all of it. And hopefully, with the support of your current supervisor, you’ll have an excellent reference to help with your job applications.
It can be both invigorating and nerve-wracking to start fresh, in a new place and a new role. Take time to get to know your new locale and meet new people by reaching out to professional networks and organizations and groups. Best of luck!
Here are some articles that might be useful:
An Employer’s Opinion on How to Quit Your Job
by Akhil Gupta
The Librarian Has Not Yet Left the Building: Resignation After-Effects
by Doreen Sullivan