The right way to quit your job

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Recently, a local sports announcer provided us with a great example of how not to quit your job: he gave his resignation on air.

Qumar Zaman, a radio announcer for the Lake County Fielders, a minor league baseball team outside of Chicago, had just finished covering a game last week when he signed off his broadcast saying, “[The team] didn’t pay me all the money owed to me, and that’s why I’m leaving right now.” And he left.

A bad idea, for so many reasons (The first being that he didn’t have another job lined up).

It’s understandable that sometimes, the decision to quit just hits you. Your boss is a jerk, you’re underpaid, and most days, you’d rather get dental work than go to work. But, regardless of how strong your urge is to tell your boss where he can shove it, quitting your job should be a strategic and tactful move. What it shouldn’t be is impulsive or emotional. Or public, for that matter.

For one, you never know where an old colleague or boss will show up again in the future.

“Just like the song says, it is a small world after all,” says Jodi R.R. Smith, owner of Massachusetts-based Mannersmith Etiquette Consulting and author of “The Etiquette Book: A Complete Guide to Modern Manners.” “If you have specialized in a specific field it is highly probable that you will cross paths in the future with the people you are leaving behind today. So it’s important to keep relationships positive and the communication open. You never know when you might see these people again.”

So, before you go all “Jerry Maguire” on your office (“Who’s coming with me, besides ‘Flipper,’ here?”), take a minute to think through your decision. Smith, who has served as a business etiquette coach to companies like Fidelity Investments, Marriott International and PricewaterhouseCoopers, offers the following steps as a guide to a proper, drama-free and professional resignation.

1. Write a resignation letter: A resignation letter is still an expected formality at most companies. Yours needs only three pieces of information, Smith says. “Your last day, contact address and phone number, and your signature.”

No need to include details of why you’re quitting or a personal manifesto of what’s wrong with your company. “You are better served by keeping it simple,” she advises.

2. Time it right: “Once you have decided to leave a company you often become a lame duck,” Smith says. “Plan your announcement and your time remaining carefully. Be sure to factor in time for a replacement to be found and some training to take place, but do not linger.”

3. Set up an exit interview: As in a resignation letter, prudence is key in an exit interview. “Answer all questions judiciously. Some exit interviews are confidential, while others are not,” Smith cautions. “You want to be sure not to burn any bridges. Boomerang employees — those who leave a company only to be hired back a few years later — are becoming more and more common.”

4. Take the high road: “Leaving a company can be a stressful and unnerving time,” Smith says. “But it is at times like these that it is especially important to keep your wits about you. Do not yell at anyone, do not destroy company property, and do not disparage the organization to the media or to the clients. What you do reflects on you.”

For more on leaving your job, check out:

10 signs it’s time to quit

Have you seen someone quit their job the wrong way? Tell us about it in the comments section.

17 Comments
  1. Of course you are correct in everything you say. HOWEVER, if you have the balls and courage, despite the reprocusions it is somehow a feeling you can not obtain any other way. You are willing to toss it all into the wind to make your point. Yes, you’ll be forgotten by others in a few days, but you’ll remember the moment, good or bad, for the rest of your life.

    • It’s not something I would encourage; professionalism always works best, regardless of the relationship you feel you may have had with the employer.

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  4. In this day and age, anyone that quits their job without another job to go to, no matter how bad the existing job is, is a fool. For one thing, if you don’t have another job to go to immediately, it is difficult, in fact nearly impossible, to collect unemployment if you quit. Secondly, in this employment environment, there are few jobs available, especially if you are an older worker. Finally, you will likely find that if you find a job at all, you will be working for less money and less, or no, benefits. Think hard before you quit.

  5. While I would normally agree quitting a job without having a back-up is a poor idea, I did just that 4 months ago and have NEVER looked back despite only recently finding a new job. When unnecessary stress on a job starts to take a serious toll on your health and family relationships, I feel you’re better off quitting than putting yourself at risk of begin fired.

    Unfortunately, MANY employers are taking advantage of the job market situation and using it as an opportunity to treat their employees VERY poorly.

  6. Nonsense. I’m sure the company is going to inform you with a letter giving you advance notice of being released. By law, companies are not to discuss your reason for leaving to anyone unless they have your written permission.

    • Just about all employers these days have you sign a release of info and release of any liability when you apply or get hired….This allows them to get ALL info from previous employers… Either you sign it and work or you walk…

  7. I love how employees are expected to jump through all these hoops and grant a company every courtesy or risk condemnation. But when the company decides to kill someone they can do it on a Friday, or just before a holiday, with absolutely no forenotice and still remain well within the domain of civility. And even after such a slap the employee is expected to be nothing but gracious.

    • This is what many other people should be doing. Telling it like it is as you have with this comment. There is no such thing as job security anymore and if it is it’s rare to find. We are just a number and not human beings anymore to these white collar brown-nosers.

  8. the last comment is the only truth here. These dayz all empoloyer have the right to let you go without any NOTICE! At all, but you to give a two week notice. This is being a slave to the companys in this day and age of employment world. This is what you get for not having unions at your job. Company’s tell you all the reason for not having a union but not the reason for. And thiis is one of them so I say to you get together an a part of a company, who you dedicate years of your lives too. It’s all on tv now no rights for employee,. Please believe in yourselfs no matter what color you are be coming one is what really matter now,TAKE back your rights because in one year you see slavery on jobs

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