You Quit! Take This Job And...
You’ve made the decision. You’re quitting your job. Maybe you’re moving, maybe you’ve found another job, maybe you and your family have decided day care is not worth the expense and it’s better for one of you to stay at home, or work only part time.
Maybe you can't work there with your ex anymore. Or the commute is too far. Or the hours and pay stink.
Maybe you don’t have anything lined up at all but you just hate this stupid friggin' job so much that it is sucking the will to live out of you and you have to quit now or you’re sure you will lose your soul.
Wouldn’t you just love to walk in to your boss’ office and tell him EXACTLY what you think of him? Wouldn’t you love to tell her where she can shove this job, and that you’re quitting because she’s a retarded weirdo?
And maybe you’d just really like to be honest and say calmly that you’re quitting because reasons a, b, and c were never addressed despite your repeated requests for help. Maybe you have an organized, professional list of problems and you feel it will even help your employer if he’s made aware of the problems in administration, procedure, or personnel.
If you’re thinking any of these things, think again.
There’s an old saying about not burning bridges. It happens to be very true.
You may be thinking you don’t need this job as a reference, you have this new great job. Or you may be thinking you made a big career change, nothing that happened while you worked in fast food will haunt you in your new job with a not-for-profit.
Anyone who’s been in the job market for a couple decades can attest to this. You just never know.
That new job could wind up being with the next Enron. Or it could be a company that has to fold after a major government imposed recall. Or an earthquake. Or a new invention on the market, or a new turn in consumer buying. As great and stable as you think your new company is, anything could happen.
Something may happen in your life where your finances change and you need to find a better paying job, or a job with different hours that would allow you time to care for a sick family member. Emergencies come at all times, in all shapes and sizes.
And it may not happen immediately. It may happen a year or ten up the road. A new employment situation may present itself, or be sought out for whatever reason.
In today’s job force were you are competing against thousands of applicants for each job, now more than ever it is important to have your references all lined up.
Here’s 4 tips, no matter what your reasons, on how to quit.
1 - Put It In Writing, To More Than One Person
This helps if anywhere up the road there is ever a question as to whether you quit or were asked to leave. This also makes the reason you left clear. Years from now this may matter.
If you’re working at a large enough company, you want to be addressing the letter to your immediate supervisor, and cc’ing human resources and the head of your department.
You should hand deliver the letters. If this isn’t possible, then email is acceptable, but should be accompanied with a phone call. As the person answers the phone, hit the send button and state, "Listen I just emailed you my resignation and I wanted to talk to you about it."
2 - Keep It Positive
It’s so hard not to tell them exactly what you think of them, but force yourself.
It doesn’t matter if what you have to say is true, or if you’ve worded it professionally, or if you think it will help anyone, it will only hurt you.
Ten years from now when a new company calls this company for a reference, your letter will be pulled. This removes the possibility of the only side of the story of why you left being the HR rep’s notes at your exit interview.
The resignation letter is not for the benefit of the employer that lost you. Nothing you say in it will make them redesign their procedures. You’re not writing it for them, you’re writing it for YOU.
And that’s all you need to be thinking about when you’re writing it. You want to sound professional, grateful, and strong – not bitchy, controlling, or difficult. No matter how professionally you think you’ve worded your criticisms, they are still criticisms, and a new company a decade from now doesn’t need to hear about that during it’s evaluation process of you.
3 - Don't Give Details
Your letter should not list grievances. And it should not name names.
Obviously there are extreme situations that take precedent over the norm. But in general, your resignation letter should be brief, succinct, general, and positive.
Maybe there is a certain person that made your life there difficult. Maybe they’re the reason you’re leaving. Maybe you complained, tried to work with them, repeatedly asked for interference on this, and no one helped. But you can’t name them in your resignation letter.
First of all, it isn’t going to change anything. You may think this will help you to feel better or that someone at the company will listen to the word of someone that bailed instead of working with the remaining employee. I guarantee you, whatever you’re thinking about this, you’re wrong. Nothing will come from pointing fingers in your letter: not at the company, and not even just for you.
Secondly, that name you’d love to target could one day be an important cog in a completely different company’s operations. I know you want to think you will never cross paths with this person again. But the world doesn’t work like that.
In the movie “Working Girl” Sigourney Weaver’s character Katherine Parker warns, “Never burn bridges. Today's junior prick, tomorrow's senior partner.”
And like it or not there is truth to that.
When I was working at that Fortune 500 I remember Patty, an employee who left prior to my leaving. This was a good 20 years ago. She made sure everyone there knew she was leaving because of her boss. She put it in writing. She listed her reasons in her resignation and she went on her merry way. Her boss was extremely upset that she left gunning for him. Extremely. There are always at least two sides to every story. And most people realize that.
At the time of Patty’s departure, her boss’s son was about 14 years old. Today, that son is a well liked vice president of a pretty impressive company. I remember bumping into Patty last year and hearing how she’s been unemployed. She mentioned a job interview she had at that company and how they never even called her for a second interview.
Honestly I don’t know what happened. But you have to consider the possibility of HR collecting her references, contacting her work history, and coming across a letter where she blamed that VP’s father for everything.
But let’s make this more general for argument sakes. Even if no one knows the names you’ve named in your resignation letter at the new place where you’re applying, consider the tone an exit letter will set when it points fingers and lists complaints. As a potential new boss, is that the kind of employee you’d consider?
People aren’t generally going to read this letter in the future and automatically assume sympathy for you. They probably aren’t going to take the letter in any way close to how you think your intentions will be received. They are more likely going to view you as a complainer, as difficult to work with, as the kind of person that blames others and as the type of employee that isn’t a team player.
4 - Give a Reason That Reflects Well
One thing you really can’t avoid in your letter is giving a reason for quitting.
Your reason may be one that will be looked down upon if and when a future potential employer is looking at this letter as part of your employment history.
As we’ve reviewed, reasons involving complaints and finger pointing in the work place are no-no’s. Other reasons you should not admit are personal problems, and financial problems.
A new employer doesn’t want to deal with someone who’s personal life so adversely affects their job that they’ve actually quite before. It’s unprofessional and it will never work in your favor.
If you’re quitting over salary, be careful in your wording. A person who doesn’t fully understand your situation could twist your letter into meaning that you mismanage money, or that you’ll be the kind of employee with your hand always out demanding a raise or you’ll quit.
Also be careful of reasons involving time about hours.
Stating: after 2 years of working with the commute time to and from your office to your home, you’ve decided that it would be best for you, your career, and your family, if you found placement closer to your home, eliminating the long commute time, will read professionally and inarguably.
However, the resignation letter doesn't have to be dripping with truth serum. Maybe you’re quitting because you had a failed office romance. Maybe the work is too hard, or too stupid. Whatever the reason, you don’t have to admit it for the record. You can say that you’ve made the decision over the commute.
And the best reason is the positive vague reason:
“I regret to inform you that I am resigning as your junior blankety blank as of today. My last day will be (2 weeks from today.)
I appreciate all the opportunities X Company has given to me. I’ve found many of my workmates here to be some of the best in their given fields, and I have enjoyed being a part of the X Company team. This was a very difficult decision for me, but I am at a place in my career where it is time for me to pursue some other options and career goals.
I wish X Company the best in all future endeavors.”
Really, that’s all your exit letter needs to say. You don’t have to give specific details of the other options or opportunities you’re supposedly exploring, even if asked.
Of course, you are free to engage in dialogue with your present boss and human resources people. You are also free to be more specific during an interview with a potential workplace. You can elaborate that those opportunities you were seeking involved less of a commute, better compensation, a different workplace environment, etc. But you really do not have to document those details.
It reflects best on you if you leave with some professionalism and class, no matter what the circumstances were.
Your discretion in your resignation will not be mistaken; it will be reflective of your professionalism, and your ability to be a broader thinker.
Veronica wrote this article for Hubpages
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