How to Quit Your Job

Leave a Job Professionally

Maybe it’s because the job market is getting better, or simply because people are more frustrated with their work situations. Or maybe it’s because they are tired of doing more work for the same amount of money. I don’t know – but what I’ve seen is a lot more poor judgment being exercised when it comes to quitting and saying good-bye to an employer.

Sure, I get it that many employers aren’t loyal and aren’t winning any contests when it comes to treating their employees respectfully and professionally. But I also believe that you can’t let their behavior dictate yours. People may forget about you three weeks after you’re gone, but if you quit in a manner that is anything less than professional, this is how you’ll be remembered. All those years of good work and professional behavior will be forgotten because of the lingering bad taste you can leave when you exercise poor judgment.

Dramatic exits belong on stage, not in the workplace.

Showing up in a gorilla suit for an exit interview, however tempting, is dramatic. So is quitting in response to a situation or a moment in time. Walking out without adequate notice isn’t acceptable. So is quitting to prove a point or take a stand. Planning your exit for maximum dramatic effect is unprofessional. Frankly, your dramatic exit is going to be lost on most people; including the person you most want to impact – say a boss who doesn’t get how important you are to the operation. Instead, your dramatic resignation will make you look reactive, emotional and again, unprofessional. Your legacy had best be about your professional work, not the story about you quit.

Leave BEFORE you get bitter, cynical and angry.

I met with someone last week who has been through a dreadful workplace situation full of juicy legal action, a mentally ill boss and political shenanigans at the highest level of management. Yet, he diplomatically quit before he got bitter, cynical and angry about the situation. Despite everyone’s advice that he should stay and ride out the situation, he quietly quit (without another job, I might add.)

Why? He was wise enough to know that, if he stayed, he couldn’t feel good about working at the organization. He had lost respect for the leadership and his colleagues were miserable and complaining constantly. He knew that if he stayed, he’d have a hard time finding anything positive about his experience while at the organization. He knew that looking for a new job would be ten times more challenging if he emitted a negative and cynical vibe. So he left with his professional dignity intact which was far more valuable to him than a severance package.

Keep it off social media. Period.

Even though 29% of Millenials find love through Facebook while 33% are dumped via wall posts or text messages (oh yes – according to Brian Solis’ Future of Business 2013), some things just don’t belong on social media. Quitting your job is one of them. I don’t care if you feel liberated beyond belief at your decision to quit a job. Resist the temptation to blather on about how wonderful it is that you’ve rid yourself of your horrible job. Or how relieved you feel. Or how cool your new opportunity is.

Unless you are in a social media vacuum, with no coworkers or other former colleagues in the mix, it’s awkward and disrespectful. It’s like talking about the intimate details about your love life in a public forum. Sharing just makes YOU look tacky and unprofessional, not your former employer, bad boss or crazy coworkers. Just you.

My best advice on how to quit? Write a letter of resignation. Unless there’s a deadline (like you’re starting your new job in two weeks) — don’t send it or share it with anyone. Sit on it for a week and then edit it. Use the “less is more” approach and end it on a positive note. Take a cue from a former client of mine who mentioned in her resignation letter that she had enjoyed working in a very nice building in downtown. That’s was all she could say that was positive. And honest. You won’t regret being positive and honest too.