You want to say, "Take this job and shove it," but should you? The best way to resign has become a hot topic in the wake of Wednesday's high-profile departure from Goldman Sachs of executive Greg Smith. "It makes me ill how callously people talk about ripping their clients off," Smith wrote in a scathing New York Times op-ed, "Why I Am Leaving Goldman Sachs."
Just a day before, James Whittaker, an former engineer at Google, took to Microsoft's company blog to badmouth his ex-employer and explain why he quit to join a rival. "The days of old Google hiring smart people and empowering them to invent the future was gone," Whittaker wrote.
Whether the pair of resignations changes the culture at either company remains to be seen. And these men, because of their professional stature, may not suffer negative consequences. But for most people, career experts say, such bitter exits are extremely risky and can cause lasting damage to their reputation in their industry.
"Does this guy think we are morons that we don't know Goldman Sachs is about making money?" asks Penelope Trunk, the founder of Brazen Careerist, a professional networking site. "It's like if you go to the tobacco industry and you realize you made a mistake. It's not OK to trash everyone around you for your change of heart."
Career counselors say that if you have serious concerns, a more productive approach is to have conversations with your supervisors early on. "The point is to not wait till you get to a boiling point," career coach Deborah Brown-Volkman said in an interview. "Instead, have a constructive conversation with your boss about your problems. People respect it, and if you can't reach an agreement, find a constructive way to leave."
So what is the best way to exit your company? Here's what experts recommend:
- Send a mass e-mail to colleagues telling people what you are excited to be doing next, no matter the circumstances. Even if it's knitting, because no one wants to hear it's because you "hate your job." Have a positive spin to leave a good impression with coworkers and colleagues who might have work opportunities for you.
- Leave right after something quantifiable, such as a sales period, so you can walk away from the job with tangible results for your resume. Saying you left after a project's successful completion can also distract from any negativity related to your exit.
- Be a grownup. Instead of blaming the company, admit the job or industry was a bad fit for you.
- Offer to help find and train your replacement. Your colleagues will remember that and appreciate it.
- Provide at least two weeks' notice, but don't assume management will take you up on that. Protect yourself by downloading all the relevant contacts and information you will need (and are legally entitled to) as soon as you give notice.
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