on how to quit your stupid job
March 22, 2010, 6:39 pm
Filed under: advice, career | Tags: , , , , , ,

Dear Spoonah,

I have never had to quit a job before and want to know the proper etiquette. I have tried everything to make it work and have reached my last wit. I have started losing sleep, and praying for an illness just not to go in! I have had problems with my boss for a while and when I confront her it’s like talking to a brick wall and I’m told “I never said that or you’re just being over dramatic…” I no longer want to go there and I feel that the only way to keep my sanity is to leave. I don’t want to burn any bridges (even though I never will return) and want to leave on good terms if possible. Any advice would be excellent!


Sick & Tired In Maine!

dear sick & tired,

first allow me to say that you have the right attitude about this. leaving on good terms, while really difficult to do when you’re so fed up, is really important. if you leave on good terms you can use that person for references in the future, and just generally it will feel better to be nice, if you can.

the other thing that is really important in leaving a position (that you didn’t mention here) is to have something else lined up before you leave. I don’t know if that’s something you’re working on as well, but (especially in today’s economy) I can’t really stress it enough. if you’re not sure what you want to do, check out my previous post, on what you should be, now that you’re all grown up. even if you hate it there, quitting without another job lined up is almost without question a terrible idea. it will take probably a good several months to a year to find another one (no joke) and unless you quit because of a really good reason (i.e. you have filed a claim with the Department of Labor that it is a hostile work environment) you will not be eligible for unemployment. line up that new job first. I can’t stress that enough.

but to get to your question—how do you keep yourself from blowing up and just quitting when your job is terrible? how do you stay nice when you are leaving due to real problems in the job?

the first issue here is that while you’re looking for a new job, you may have to stay at this job for a while. so in the meantime, how do you keep your cool? I’d suggest trying to find things about the job that make it somewhat bearable. perhaps things used to be better and you can remember those things. or maybe you have great co-workers that you can enjoy this time with before you’re done. this might be a good time to think about the aspects of your job that you do enjoy (and what you don’t) so that you can be sure to find a job next time that works better for you. if there isn’t anything about your current job that puts even a little smile on your face, I’d suggest daydreaming about what it’s going to be like when you don’t work there anymore.

the other side of this is the actual quitting. depending on how much and how often you’ve talked to your boss about problems you’ve had before, it may not be much of a surprise to her that you are leaving. important: wait until you have a new job lined up before you tell her you’re quitting. you want to be able to give her a firm date that will be your last, and to have strong ground to stand on if she tries to get you to stay. when you do get to that point, I’d suggest writing down what you want to say ahead of time. I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time remembering my points when I get flustered (such as when, say, I’m quitting a job that I hate and that makes me upset to think about). write down the date you’re leaving, and be prepared for her to ask why you are leaving. she may not ask–again it may not come as much of a surprise–but be prepared if she does. I would not advise telling her “this place makes me crazy”, which is something I’ve told bosses before when quitting places I hated. it didn’t go that well. you might say something like “I have been offered a position that I think better suits where I am in my life right now”, or “I no longer feel that [insert name of your company] is the right fit for me.” if you can muster it, I’d let her know too that you have enjoyed working there (whether true or not). you probably already know this, but it is appropriate to give at least two weeks notice (or whatever is specified in your company’s HR policies, if any). when you’re ready, make an appointment to speak with her in person, and tell her (simply, firmly) that you have decided to leave the company to pursue other opportunities.

the next thing you will probably have to do is submit a formal resignation letter. this is usually for HR purposes, and should include your name, the date of your last day, and the fact that you intend to stop work on that date. this letter should be professional and polished, but generally contain no more information than the fact that you are leaving and when. here are some guidelines for writing a resignation letter and some sample ones.

finally, the most important things to remember are to be polite and firm. keep your real feelings about the job and your boss to yourself. do not brag about your great new job. thank her for the time with the company. say goodbye to everyone when you leave. and hopefully, if you find a great new job, you’ll never have to quit a job again!


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