How To Quit a Job (Without Burning Bridges)
by Brett & Kate McKay
Art of Manliness
job can make a man surprisingly anxious. The roots of the anxiety
- Maybe youíve
never really quit a job before. You always had a built-in out.
ďWell, school starts again and Iím heading back to college.Ē
- Maybe the
company just hired you a few months ago and you feel kind of bad
about making them go through the hiring and training process all
- Maybe itís
a small company, youíve been there a long time, are close to your
boss and co-workers, and feel like youíre leaving them in the
- Maybe your
boss is a tyrannical hothead (thatís why youíre quitting!), and
you wonder how heís going to react when you tell him.
Any way you
slice it, when youíre quitting a job, youíre sort of firing your
employer. Itís somewhat comparable to breaking up with someone.
And just like with breaking
up with a girlfriend, thereís a right and wrong way to do it.
The wrong way
is to burn your bridges and leave a bad taste behind.
The right way
is to resign with grace and dignity, demonstrating that youíre a
man of respect and value until your very last day on the job.
the talk you hear about living in a globalized society, the working
world is a surprisingly small place. And whether youíre leaving
your current position for another company, or going into business
for yourself, you never know when youíll be working with, asking
a favor of, or needing a recommendation from a former boss or co-worker.
And donít forget about gossip. How you leave, especially if itís
in the negative, will be sure to reach many more ears than just
those whom you used to work with. Indulging your short-term desires
to Jerry Maguire your way out of a job can lead to some seriously
detrimental effects down the road.
To quit a job
with your bridges and dignity left firmly intact, follow the tips
below. Theyíre based on research, personal experience, and an interview
with Mugs Buckley, a colleague of mine and Vice President of Sales
Development at Federated
Media Publishing in San Francisco.
Be Sure Youíre Quitting at the Right Time and for the Right Reason
Before we get
into how to quit a job, itís important to make sure youíve thoroughly
thought through the reason youíre leaving, and that the reason is
a good one. Mugs advises that you ask yourself a very wise question:
talk to me about leaving a job, I ask them if they’re running
from their current situation or running to the one
they’re considering. If they’re running from, I counsel
them to weigh the pros and cons of the new situation. What does
the new job solve that you’re not getting in your current
situation? It may solve a key complaint such as compensation,
an undesirable boss, or a job function that they disdain, but
how much better is the new situation? If it’s much better,
weighing the cons of the new situation, then it sounds like it’s
a better situation than their current one. Go for it. But if it
solves one key complaint but introduces another, then it seems
more often than not that the person may be replacing one problem
for another one. ’Running To’ answers are easy: take
the job. ‘Running From’ answers need to be carefully
considered before quitting your current role.Ē
As far as timing
goes, I would add that Iím personally of the opinion that you should
almost always have a concrete offer in hand from a new employer
before you quit your old one. This goes for leaving a job to start
your own business as well. Make sure you can show three to six months
of a revenue stream that youíre comfortable with. There are definitely
situations where you just have to throw caution to the wind and
go for it, but thatís not necessary as often as people who hate
their day job wish it was. Iím a huge proponent of moonlighting
side hustle until itís become big enough that you can comfortably
quit your day job. Thatís how I went from corporate guy to full-time
Your Mind? Here’s How to Quit a Job
weeksí notice. Your contract or company handbook may specify
how much notice you need to give, but if not, two weeks is the standard.
Your employer needs time to process your departure, start looking
for someone else, and plan for as smooth a transition as possible.
Itís true that
at a big corporation, once you put in your resignation, they may
immediately and unceremoniously escort you out the door. Itís also
true that many companies, although they ask you to give them early
notice of your resignation, would not afford you the same privilege
when giving you the boot. This leads some to adopt the attitude
of, ďF that! I donít owe them anything! Iíll quit and walk away
the same day.Ē
I donít let my behavior and values be dictated by others. I treat
people with the respect I would wish to be treated with, regardless
of whether they would reciprocate. My code isnít based on tit for
tat. Even if your boss is a chump, and your company a hellhole,
jumping ship without notice will often greatly add to the burdens
of your fellow employees, who will have to scramble to cover your
responsibilities and figure out how to tie up your loose ends. Thatís
your job, not theirs. So out of respect for your colleagues, if
nothing else, put in your two weeksí notice.
boss before anyone else. No matter how much you trust your colleagues
to keep a secret, donít let it slip to them by the watercooler that
youíre about to bounce. Also be careful about announcing things
on social media before you give notice Ė basically, donít do it.
These things invariably have a way of getting back to the corner
office, and no boss wants to hear about your departure through the
grapevine. And you definitely donít want to hear him say, ďI know,Ē
when you finally tell him. Once you decide to quit, inform your
immediate supervisor first, your co-workers second.
the conversation in-person, unless circumstances make that impossible.
As Mugs advises: ďDeliver your news in person or via phone. It’s
best to schedule an in-person meeting with your manager to deliver
your news, assuming you work in the same office. If you don’t
work in the same office, then it’s best to talk via phone.
Emailing them is a last resort unless logistics are such that you’re
both unable to talk on the day you want to deliver your news. But
don’t wimp out and email them. A conversation is always best.Ē
Just as a respectable man wouldnít break up via a text, donít break
up with your company via email.
for the conversation. There are a few things you should think
through before you meet with your boss to let them know the news.
you have a transition plan? Nobody knows better than you
what projects need to be wrapped up and what responsibilities
need to be taken over. Come into your bossí office with a concrete
transition plan that you can share, and with a pledge to take
a hands-on role in smoothly passing over the reins.
will you do if they make a counteroffer? You need to be
prepared for your boss to entice you to stay on with promises
of new benefits or responsibilities. Think through as many as
these possibilities as you can before you talk to him or her,
so youíre not caught flat-footed. Would you stay for an extra
$5,000? $10,000? An additional week of vacation? You donít want
to be flustered and find yourself saying yes because heís being
so nice and generous, and you have tough time telling people no
to their face. If there are circumstances in which youíd stay
on, be crystal clear going in on what things would need to change
and donít budge unless those specific promises are made (and in
writing). If nothing will change your mind, simply tell your boss
how much you appreciate the kind offer but that the new opportunity
is something you just canít pass up.
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© 2013 The Art of Manliness