How To Quit A Job

I came across a great post by Jake Behrens where he talks about the relationship between employee and employer. In short, he states it’s up to the individual to look out for himself, and employers need to understand talented employees will look for new challenges. He says:

At my last job, I did the typical personal-sick day to interview routine. In my exit interview my boss gave me this lovely quote, “I think it was immature of you to lie about being sick, you could have just told us you had an interview.” Wow. I was shocked. Don’t ever let an employer pull that card. Anyone knows that you have to look out for yourself, and eventually your family too.

I agree 100%. Nobody will care about your career more than you will. You have to take control of the situation and do what’s best for you (and your family). Sometimes that means using vacation or sick days. I can’t picture my boss or company executives sitting around dreaming up ideas to further my career. I view my job as just that: a job. My company pays me a salary as long as they feel I’m worth more than what it costs them to keep me. The less they have to pay me the better because, any compensation they save increases their bottom line. I know this sounds brutally cold to some people but this is how I feel. Basically, I’m a free agent working for the company I feel will compensate me well for the amount of work they expect me to perform.

There’s no such thing as company loyalty. No company cares about me or you. People care about other people. Companies do not exist to take care of their employees. Companies exist to increase shareholder or owner value. I’ve felt loyal to a manager or two, but never to a company.

I’ve had a number of jobs since graduating from college and I left all but one on good terms with my former boss. Along the way I’ve learned a thing or two about quitting a job without burning bridges. Here are a few suggestions that have worked for me:

  1. KEEP IT TO YOURSELF Don’t tell your coworkers you’re looking for a job. That only causes a scene. Go about the process in a discrete and professional fashion. If you blab it will get back to your manager. You want to be the one to break the news. You don’t want your coworkers putting their own spin on the situation.
  2. FIND A JOB FIRST – You’re welcome to tell me you’re looking for a job. I may act understanding. In fact, I’ll probably encourage you. Just don’t expect perks such as promotions, raises or plum assignments. I hold those for employees who plan to stick around.
  3. TELL YOUR BOSS – The time to tell your boss is ONLY once you’ve found and accepted another job offer. You don’t have to go into specifics. Once you tell me you’ve accepted another job the only thing I really care about is how much longer you plan to stick around. The shorter the better.
  4. LEAVE WITH CLASS – Badmouthing the company or boss on the way out is a poor reflection on you, and could come back to haunt you. Why spend years building a good reputation only to tarnish it on the last day?

What have you learned by leaving a job that I’ve missed?

My brother-in-law wrote about this topic as well. He decided to tell his boss he was looking for another job and it worked out for him. Lucky dog.

3 thoughts on “How To Quit A Job

  1. i’d say you hit the major points, and my addition is to always remember that the people you’re leaving behind will be an inextricable part of your network, especially in the world of social media. expect to run into them again. don’t just leave on good terms with the boss; go out of your way to leave on a positive note with your coworkers too.


  2. I just finished writing a small post on work. I only half agree with you here. I agree with your general premiss that companies exist to make money for the ownership. People work for companies to make money for their families.

    I disagree the separation of company & people. When people invest themselves day after day in a company they become a part of that company. That kind of investment can create a bond with the company. I have seen many examples of companies being loyal way beyond any legal requirement to employees when there was no financial value for them.

    Companies are reflections of the people that create them. If you work for a good company it pretty much goes without saying it is because you work for a good person.


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