“I Quit”: How to Go Out in a Blaze of Glory (Really!) | Lindsey Pollak's Blog

“I Quit”: How to Go Out in a Blaze of Glory (Really!)

exit-copyIn some small corner of our brain, many of us have mentally rehearsed the moment when we go into our boss’ office and dramatically announce, “I quit!” Maybe you picture a satisfying slam of the door (by you) or tearful begging (by them). Or, perhaps you’ve thought about simply walking out the door and never returning. (Unfortunately, ghosting is a real — and disturbing — new trend. This article refers to the UK workplace, but I have been hearing about disappearing workers here in the U.S. as well.)

I vividly remember the day many years ago that I planned to quit my part-time job to start my own business. I was as ready as could be; I showed up wearing my specially chosen “quitting-my-job outfit,” but the minute I arrived, I could tell my then-boss was not in a good mood and was not going to take the news well. So I waited a day, told her my plans, gave my two weeks’ notice and she was very kind and wished me the best.

Quitting isn’t an easy thing to do (especially if you’ve never done it before), and it requires some planning and flexibility. If you are pondering a resignation, I rounded up some advice that will help you do it while keeping your composure — and ideally, your contacts and network — intact.

In Person … Always

“You should give your resignation to your immediate manager in person. Not on the phone, not in an email, and definitely not in a text or tweet! Make an appointment to speak with her privately. Tell her verbally and provide a written copy in traditional letter format. Don’t tell any of your coworkers before you speak to your manager. In addition to being proper professional etiquette, this is especially important should you accept a counter offer to stay. Otherwise, it could be awkward.” — Read more at Ladders.

Don’t Say Anything You Will Regret

“Words spoken or written in haste could come back to haunt you, since you never know whether a former colleague or supervisor might be asked about your work or character in the future. Keep all communication positive, or at the very least, neutral. Employers tend to take the side of former supervisors over job candidates when checking references. Some organizations will conduct formal background checks, which will go back further than your current or last job so even if you have already secured a new position, it is not wise to alienate a former employer.” — Read more at The Balance.

Deal With an Unexpected, But Common, Question

“If your manager asks you whether your new company is hiring — and this is not an uncommon occurrence — smile and say, ‘You and I will keep in touch!’ Say the same thing if your workmates ask you to help them get a foot in the door at your new company. This is not a time for you to make commitments to anyone, especially since you haven’t even started the new job yet.” — Read more at Forbes.

Be a Team Player Until The Very End

“[A]s easy as it would be to check out, it’s important to be as helpful as possible as you finish your last few weeks. Distribute your unfinished projects to colleagues, along with sufficient descriptions of your progress so they can pick up right where you left off. If they’ll need background information on certain clients or projects, forward important emails and e-introduce folks who haven’t worked together before. And if you have specialized knowledge or a unique responsibility (e.g., running reports in SalesForce), create a how-to guide for whoever’s taking over for you.” — Read more at The Muse.

Know What You’re Worth — Even After You Leave

“If you agree to provide any continued help, get the negotiated terms in writing, [career strategist Mary Jeanne] Vincent suggests. It’s vital that you both you and your boss know exactly how many hours you’re agreeing to, the length of the commitment, and whether you’ll be compensated. For any ongoing consulting work, you should be paid at a higher rate than what you’re currently making, she says. After all, it’s going to cut into your free time right as you’re trying to ramp up for another job.” — Read more at Money.

What’s your take on staying in a job you hate? I’d love to hear what your turning point was — or if you stuck it out and were glad you did. Please share your stories in the comments below!

Lindsey Pollak is the leading voice on millennials in the workplace, trusted by global companies, universities, the world’s top media outlets — and, most importantly, by millennials themselves. A New York Times bestselling author, Lindsey began her career as a dorm RA in college and has been mentoring millennials — and explaining them to other generations — ever since. Her keynote speeches have audiences so engaged that, in the words of one attendee, “I didn’t check my phone once!” Contact Lindsey to discuss a speaking engagement for your organization.

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  1. How to get my attention? Start by quoting a Bon Jovi song … Ha ha!

    On a more serious note though … I always say “don’t burn your bridges”. That applies even though you may have had a terrible experience with your current employer. It’s funny how the world works. I have a very personal example where someone in my team resigned and in later years, when I was a consultant, she became my client (and one of the best clients!). The point is, don’t be short sighted and do something that may come back to bite you at a later stage.

    Thanks for a great summary of a very important point!

    • @Celeste – What a great example of the importance of leaving a job on a good note. Thanks for sharing, as always! – Lindsey