How to Quit Your Job

Poor Conan.  Kind of.  He and his job are parting ways, but he’s actually been very lucky, in a sense, in the way it all worked out.  Depending on the source, he’s walking away from NBC without a non-compete and with close to $40 million. And he didn’t even have to look on Craigslist for a job.  Some of us, though, are not so lucky.  Or, as it stands, have not been so lucky in the past.  We’ve polled some of our friends (kept mostly anonymous for their sake) about their being fired, not fired, or quitting in the past, and what they learned from it.  Here’s what we found out. 

Get your foot in the door somewhere else

It’s almost never a good idea to quit a job without first finding gainful employment elsewhere. This is especially true in this employment-starved market, but it’s still true to a less severe degree in any market. Another friend of the site, let’s call her Cupcake, found this out the hard way. 

Inspired by the recent promotion of one of her friends, Cupcake decided that the job she had as manager of a food store was no longer tolerable. In her defense, the management was inept and abusive. But, she suddently decided that she, like The Lemonheads, just couldn’t take it anymore. She quit, and was quick to find out that jobs were not exactly raining from the heavens. After looking for work and finding nothing part-time gigs well below her expertise, she eventually got the same position at a competing chain for less money, 5 months later.

Don’t try to get fired

Friend of the site, let’s all him Drake, continues to work a job he is not passionate about because, in this economy, most people can’t afford to drop a steady paycheck. That’s a good idea. But, what Drake learned the hard way was that trying to get fired is not such a good idea. 

Being fired, in theory, offers several advantages: severance pay, of course, being the main one. However, companies (at least in California) are not required to pay any severance whatsoever. Definitely check your state laws before proceeding with this plan. 

Drake, was banking on severance, though. So, in a recent performance evaluation, his manager was suggesting that some of his behavior had not been ideal for a corporate environment (it hadn’t, but it had been hilarious in our opinion). His manager then asked if he was satisfied with his job to which Drake said:

“No.” 

But, it’s crazy expensive and ridiculously inconvenient for a company to fire anybody. You have to be a pretty substantial financial drag before it becomes fiscally responsible to fire you (one exception being Wall Street). But, from that day forward, intra-office relations between Drake and his supervisor have been strained at best. Now he gets a very close eye kept on him, and his work is closely ridiculed. In the end, trying to get fired will simply make your job worse than it is already.


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Give notice

You are not technically required to give notice. They call it “at-will employment” because you can leave at your own will.  And, if you don’t, the company can’t penalize you for it legally. However, in the interest of not burning any bridges (say, in case your next job doesn’t work out), you should give at least a week notice. Also, during this time, you should negotiate the terms of your leaving including how your sick and vacation days will be paid out as well as any kind of contractual work they might want you to do in the future – immediate or otherwise.

Offer to help

When you’re leaving, it’s going to be hard for the company to fill your shoes. A new hire, depending on the company and position, usually takes double the two weeks notice that you typically give to fill. That means, unless they’ve got somebody in mind to fill your shoes, they’re going to have a minimum two week lull where everybody is going to have to pick up the slack you’re happily dropping. It goes a long way in your employer’s eyes to suggest possible replacements and/or stay on in an advisory or freelance capacity until they can find a suitable person to fill your likely-large shoes. 

Be prepared for lunacy

Another jilted employee, and friend of the site, Jenny, once had a boss she considered a mentor, and whom she thought she had a good working relationship with. She decided to move cities and jobs, and when she gave appropriate notice – followed all the above steps, really – she thought it was an amicable breakup. But, and this has been happening with breakups since the beginning of breakups, one person went a little bit loony. See the excerpt from the email sent to the entire company after her departure, below. (Ed. note: this has not been corrected for spelling or punctuation).

"> SO,,,,, ALL i can say,, this young generation tries jobs for three to six 
> months,, get what they want from it then move to the next, she more or less
> just said that to me,, that this is the liberal arts generation,, they try
> things.. "

She continues,

"> THey all say,, they have learned soooooooooo much from me and admire me and
> this office so much, blah blah..   and that they will go away fully armed
> and educated for whatever else lies ahead for them.,, this is just not it.." 
 

Don’t do this

However satisfying it might seem, you don’t want to burn any bridges behind you. Bright though the conflagration would be, you never know when people from your old place of employ will meet up with you again at your new company, a different company altogether, or maybe just a bar. 

You know, unless you’re Conan O’Brien. Then you should do this: 

 

 

 

 

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