How to quit your job (the right way)

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Letter of Resignation

By Kristin Marino, OnlineDegrees.com

There are many ways to quit a job, and some ways are nothing short of epic. There’s Steven Slater, a JetBlue flight attendant, who, at the end of yet another flight where he felt abused by passengers, announced that he was quitting his job, deployed the aircraft’s evacuation slide, and slid down it with two beers he had grabbed from the service cart.

Then there’s writer Marina Shifrin, who worked all hours of the day and night creating videos for her employer, a Taiwanese animator. Fed up, she created one final video, set to the tune of Kanye West’s “Gone,” showing her dancing around the office as she describes exactly why her job is so bad. Apparently her boss was obsessed with how many views the company’s videos were getting, which makes it quite ironic that her “I Quit” video has thus far garnered 17,399,027 views on YouTube.

And then there’s Gwen Dean, who may have just eclipsed all past epic job resignations smack dab in the middle of Super Bowl XLVIII. During a commercial for Go Daddy, the 36-year-old machine engineer from Yonkers, New York had just two words for her boss, Ted: “I quit.” One of her puppets, Mr. Frank, added “Ciao Baby.” According to Nielsen, the 2014 Super Bowl garnered 111.5 million views, which makes it the most watched game, and likely the most publicly viewed job resignation, ever.

So, what did Boss Ted have to say about being told he would no longer have the services of Gwen in such a public matter? “You’ve got to be kidding. Wow. Great commercial.” In an interview with the Today Show, Gwen said he was “laughing his can off. It was super cool.”

On the surface, it sounds like a reckless way to quit a job and a great way to burn those bridges down to the ground. But Gwen actually did some things right here.

Be prepared
Before Gwen gave her turbo-charged resignation, she got all her ducks in a row. She got her website up and running (PuppetsbyGwen.com — with help from Go Daddy, of course), so the minute she tendered her resignation, she could take her business live. She also built her clientele (and puppets) in her hours away from work. Don’t wait to line the stuff up you need to make a successful transition until after you’ve quit — get ready while you are still working and earning a paycheck, whether that entails furthering your education, starting a savings account, getting the proper licenses or certifications, etc.

Get pumped … but stay realistic
Gwen left her job to pursue her passion for puppetry. While it might sound a little “out there” at first, Gwen has been doing puppetry since high school and had imagined doing it for a living since then. Even if you’re quitting for another job and not striking out on your own, it’s important you understand that every workplace has good and bad things about it and you need to be realistic about what lies ahead.

Company rules still matter
Even though Gwen quit her job on a national stage, she still followed up immediately with a formal resignation letter. And even though her employer only requires a one-week notice, she is giving two.

Keep those bridges intact and fireproof
Aside from the sensationalistic way she quit, she still kept it short and to the point and didn’t belittle her job or her boss. Because she is entering a field where some of her business might come from word-of-mouth and because she is working with children, she wants to keep things on a positive, upbeat note. Whether you are staying in your current field or trying something totally new, remember there are only a few degrees of separation between your old job and your new one. Gwen has been careful not to give her boss’s last name or the name of the company she works for because she said it’s been a good work experience.

Tips from a pro for quitting your job
Julie Melillo, a Manhattan business and career coach, suggests the following when it’s time to move on:

  • Tie up loose ends. Make things as easy for the new hire replacing you as possible. If you have a system for doing things that may not be easily understood, write out instructions and leave them with your boss. If you’re training others to do your job, bring them up to speed as efficiently as you can. Leaving your workplace in a peaceful state means you’ll be remembered more positively. Leave your work station clean and organized, with clear labels for anything that could be confusing.
  • Follow protocol. Make sure you follow your company’s procedure for leaving, including giving the appropriate amount of notice. Read up on your HR materials if you’re unclear.
  • If you work in a profession where you have work samples or a portfolio, collect your important work samples before you go, but ask permission for anything you need. It’s usually easier to get these materials while you’re still in the office.
  • While it’s fresh in your mind, make a list of your work tasks and any important details, which may be difficult to remember later on. If you want to add things to your resume in years to come, you won’t have difficulty remembering important details.
  • Think about who you’ll use for a reference in the future. Before your last day, have a face-to-face conversation with each person, and ask how they’d feel about you using them for a reference in the future. If they agree, exchange personal contact information, and keep in touch with a friendly touch-base email every so often. It’s much more difficult to track people down, find contact information and ask for references later on.

This article originally appeared on OnlineDegrees.com.

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