by Judy M McCutcheon, MBA
Really, that’s how you want it to end? This article is a little bit different from my others, but I am writing it based on repeated request from a friend that’s very near and dear to my heart. He has expressed to me on many occasions, that he does not understand why people just walk out of a job without giving any notice and not having any other job lined up. Talk about burning your bridges.
Things happen yes, you have the boss from hell (check), the hours are nothing short of ridiculous (check), and what about those crazy co-workers. With all those reasons in hand, you are very tempted to quit – don’t. Unless of course you are a good saver and have enough money to tide you over until you find another job in maybe 3 to 6 months or even 12 months, no problem. And if you must quit because your health is in danger or some other pressing reason, then there is a right way and a wrong way to do so, and I am sure you do know that there are consequences attached to every action – just ask your kids.
There is that little issue of references, if you are still employed, most prospective employers won’t contact your current employer, but what about if you have already left? What would you have your past employer say about you? Do you really want them to be your most important reference? Because your last place of employment is your most important reference. And what about money – you remember that not having money coming in when you have your bills to pay is a real bummer. Unless you are independently wealthy, have a sugar daddy or a sugar mammy, then you need to have money coming in.
I remember my first job interview after not having worked for about 3 years, and one of the first questions that I was asked when I got to the second stage was “What have you been doing since you last worked”. I hope your answer to that won’t be watching re-runs of Law and Order (my favourite TV show); there are companies that will not employ you if you are unemployed. When I worked for one of the largest insurance companies in the region, one of the senior executives told me, he would think twice before hiring someone who’s unemployed – so I know there are bosses out there who will not hire you, depending on the circumstances surrounding your unemployment. That being said, let’s look at some of the ways to quit with grace:
Be professional – It’s your last day, you’ve gotten paid, and you want to tell your boss what to do with the job. However tempted you might be, don’t do it. In my early working years, I worked with a young lady that overturned the boss’s desk and walked out. Even if you are itching to deck your boss (because of course to you they deserve it), it won’t turn out well in the end for you. Instead, thank them and wish them well and genuinely mean it.
Watch what you say – I know you are upset and want to vent your frustration, please do that off site. Better yet don’t do it, things have a way of going where we don’t want them to go. You know that saying “make your words soft and sweet, because you never know when you will have to eat them”, well that applies here, as well as “the walls have ears”, be careful.
Don’t burn your bridges – Whatever you do, don’t do this. I know someone who walked off their job, as a matter of fact, they phoned off the job – they did not even have the courtesy to do it in person, and then when they were not able to find another job, they went to ask for their job back. Really? Have a long-term view of things; you never know where you might end up.
Make your exit interview count – I am sure you would have some negative feedback to give, don’t make it personal. Be as positive as possible and keep your emotions at bay.
Help with the transitioning – If you must train someone to do what you were doing, then do so with grace, no grumbling, no bad attitude. Don’t go on a systematic go slow, work your best, be your best until the very last day.
Quitting your job may turn out to be the best thing you’ve ever done for yourself. However, you need to weigh the risks, rewards, and your financial situation. When thinking of quitting your job, give your employer the required time, they can only do one of two things – pay you in lieu of time or let you work out the time. Look at various ways to network, figure out exactly what you want from your next workplace or maybe you can figure on starting a business (careful consideration here), but you can do it. Whatever you do, don’t panic and take the first offer that comes your way – I did and let me tell you, it was a very bad decision. Transitioning could be difficult and it takes time, go easy on yourself.
Judy McCutcheon is a partner in the firm Go Blue Inc, a Human Development Company.