Willingly leaving your job in this market is a great privilege to your unemployed friends. What those less than fortunate friends probably don’t understand is that this economy provides employers great leverage to extract every ounce of hard work out of their employees at less compensation and even less appreciation – that’s why quitting feels extra special. Going out guns a blazin’ with middle fingers flying like a 6th grader with the window seat on a school bus is an overwhelming urge that needs to be avoided. If you plan on staying in the same industry I promise you it’s a smaller world than you think. If not for the poor reference you may get later on, recognize that you may work with some of the same colleagues at a future company – maybe even the same boss – who will remember your lack of professionalism.
Here’s how to not only go out in class but leave them thinking better of you now than they did as an employee, perhaps even make for a decent reference despite your mediocre performance.
1. Do it in person. Plain and simple; no emails, texts or voicemails. You don’t want to seem like a coward or disrespectful. Ask your manager if they have a free moment and politely pull them aside into a private area.
2. Ease into it. Don’t quit right away. Start by thanking them, letting them know how much you’ve appreciated working with them and that you’ve learned a lot. It might be true or it might not, but you have them in a good mood thinking you’re not so bad after all.
3. No negativity. There is nothing to be gained by having any negative comments. Don’t begin any sign of appreciation with “despite our differences” or “I know we didn’t get along sometimes.” There isn’t any need and only serves to highlight past disagreements. At the end of the day, letting them know what you didn’t like about your manager or the company is going to come off whiny.
4. Don’t ‘quit’. “I quit” or “I’m quitting” shouldn’t be said let alone used as a starting point. Go with something less abrasive; that you’re resigning or giving two weeks notice. Say it proudly with a mild hint of regret. You want to be confident but not arrogant.
5. Be vague and brief. No need to dwell on where you’re going or why you’re quitting. In most cases it’s best to avoid saying where your next job is and just that you’ve accepted another offer or you’re pursuing another opportunity. Going to a competitor could be insulting or, worst case scenario, hurt your new colleagues’ first impression of you on the job if they know someone there. It should be sufficient to say you’re moving to a better fit, something different, or to a change of pace.
6. Offer to transition. Don’t leave them high and dry. Two weeks is the typical advance warning and usually you’re expected to you stay on that for that time to transition your role to someone else. Offer to help them out in this process.
7. Prepare for a counter offer. Presume they may make a horrible mistake and actually want to keep you. Know in advance what it would take for them to have you stay on. This way you won’t make the wrong decision out of pressure. If you’re considering actually taking it, asking for time to think is not bad option. If you’re not taking it, tell them you’re grateful for their offer but have already made a final decision. Recognize that you’re not Lebron James and playing two companies against each other for your talents to the highest bidder probably could get you neither job.
8. Clean out your stuff beforehand. There a chance they could ask you to leave the premises immediately. Discreetly clean up of a few of your belongings beforehand and grab your contacts. I’ve even started to do it days before. If they keep you for the two weeks you will be under more scrutiny now that they know you’re leaving.
9. Have another job already. You do have another job lined up, right? Right!?!? Like a brand new car, your value drops the second it leaves the lot. Presently employed people enjoy a premium that unemployed don’t. Currently employment is a valuable bargaining chip.
10. Email to colleagues. Letting your colleageus know you’re leaving and thanking them for their support is a kind gesture. Leaving your personal email address is fine, telling them where you’re headed is not. Keep it short and sweet, sending it a day or two before you leave.
The best revenge is a good living.