Quitting Your Job? 5 Tips On How To Do It Tactfully (Not Like That Goldman Sachs Guy)

quit your job gracefullyYou 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."

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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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Be a grownup. Instead of blaming the company, admit the job or industry was a bad fit for you.
  4. Offer to help find and train your replacement. Your colleagues will remember that and appreciate it.
  5. 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.


Next: Ex-Google Engineer Slams Former Employer On Microsoft Blog



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Dan Fastenberg

Dan Fastenberg

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Dan Fastenberg was most recently a reporter with TIME Magazine. Previously, he was a writer for the Thomson Reuters news service's Latin America desk. He was also a reporter and associate editor for the Buenos Aires Herald while living in South America.

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george

screw this article. Lies, lies lies. Why shouldn't the truth be told about demoralizing managers, a poisonous work environment, favoritism and all the other reasons an otherwise happy and productive employee would leave? Work sucks.

April 06 2012 at 11:56 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
tylercat

In the state of California, if you resign your job, you are not entitled to unemployment insurance. A huge group of former employees of Calif. State Fund are now going thru this in the courts.

March 23 2012 at 11:51 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
tylercat

Just remember, in the State of California, if you quit a job....you are not entitled to unemployment insurance benefits. This became a huge legal issue with Worker's Comp recently and many employees are battling EDD for benefits.

March 23 2012 at 11:50 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Mark

There's a saying -- "Never give up dirty 'til you get clean." Translation? Secure a new job first, then feel free to speak your mind to your current employer. Respect goes a long way. You can 'put them down' without hysterics and an adolescent vocabulary. How you exit will go with you through life wether it impacts your future employment or not. I guess it all depends on a persons character and which kinds of memories they want to create for themselves to reflect upon as they go through life.

March 21 2012 at 8:12 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
hyperstan

I have chores and stuff to do at home and I hate it. We hire people to do those things at our home. So I just quit doing chores. I don't fold my clothes and stuff. Thanks.

Stan.

March 21 2012 at 1:57 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
kim

I made the mistake of telling a big whig what a jerk he was and I just found out today that the "organization" is giving me negative reviews to potential employers. I was told that by a potential employer. That they received my resume but that I got a negative review. The guy was in the wrong but I should have just shut my mouth. But for me, that was my only way of letting it go...was to confront it!

I did not use them as a reference but I listed my time with them on my resume. I thought it was against the law or something....I thought someone once told me that you can only confirm that a person worked for you.

I left the place thinking he would keep his word that I was leaving on good standing...that's what I was told. I thought surely he wouldn't allow a personal issue to affect his professionalism. I thought wrong. Again, I didn't list them as a reference, only that I worked there.

I can't go into detail about it but there was nothing about my job skills or professional behavior that they can point to other than I stepped on the toes of the Big Man and his buddies. It's not that small of a small town but these places network so I screwed myself big time by speaking up.

So now I guess I suffer for it. There is a price to pay for speaking out against injustices.

Fortunately for me, there is a higher law and unfortunately for him, there is a higher law....I would really worry if I didn't believe that.

March 21 2012 at 12:07 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to kim's comment
Sammy

I am pretty sure it actually is illegal to badmouth an employee just due to personal issues, especially if he or she was in general a good employee. I think they can probably say that you left unprofessionally, but when referring to your work, they can't lie and say you did a bad job if you did not. You should look into it if you're not able to find work because of it.

March 21 2012 at 12:38 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
chris

I would never quit a job no matter how bad it sucked. that's what my last employer tried getting me to do so that they could get out of paying me unemployment. well I stuck it out and they ended up firing me anyway and then couldn't prove to unemployment that I had done anything wrong. Been out of work since aug of last year and still collecting unemployment because the market is so terrible..but if I had quit I would've never recieved my money and we would have been worse off than we already are! moral of the story is stick it out...and if they want you gone..they'll find a way and hopefully you'll get your unemployment benefits :)

March 20 2012 at 10:29 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to chris's comment
Kristen

I thought the same until a few years ago, when I was working for peanuts beneath a total control-freak who took great pleasure in tormenting both myself and my co-workers.

There is NO REASON why one should "stick it out" in the workplace if you are miserable. Bring the issue up to your higher-ups, if you can. If that doesn't work, and you are fired (in my case, it was over a sexual harassment complaint..gotta love the "boy's club"). I packed up, moved on, and collected for a scant month before I found another job.

March 21 2012 at 2:45 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
bfgm123

you mean kiss my ass is not appropriate?

March 20 2012 at 9:36 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply

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