Before running out the door, make sure you’ve covered everything with your soon-to-be-former employer.
Hate your co-workers? Hate your boss? Just can’t figure out how to quit your job? While resigning from a position can be stressful and require some serious guts, several simple tips from a human resources expert and lessons learned from a past employee could help make the process a whole lot smoother.
So before you pull a Lester Burnham from American Beauty and write your boss a letter spelling out all of your deepest frustrations, threaten them with a faux sexual harassment charge or con them into giving you an undeserved year’s salary with benefits, take a step back and — for your own benefit — walk away gracefully.
Colleen Hamilton, a recent graduate of Missouri State University, learned the hard way that her not-so-graceful exit from her on-campus lifeguarding job was certainly not the way to go.
“I wasn’t getting paid enough money and my lifeguarding certification was about to expire, so I decided it was time to quit,” the public relations and broadcast journalism major said. “It was summer, so it was kind of a weird transition period where my boss wasn’t really in her office. So, after trying to get a hold of her for a week or so, I sent her an email letting her know I was quitting.”
Barely giving two weeks notice, Hamilton said she felt she had cut all ties to her lifeguarding job. That is, until the second day of school rolled around, a day she would usually work. Unexpectedly, Hamilton received a phone call from a supervisor questioning why she hadn’t come in to work. Clearly, the chain of communication was a bit flawed.
“The way I wrote [the email], I understood and thought I made it clear that I was done working there and they just didn’t get that,” Hamilton said.
While Hamilton said she wished she could have communicated with her boss in person, the situation made it difficult to walk away gracefully.
“You’ve got to be clear and open about it,” Hamilton said. “It’s not that big of a deal; everyone quits their job once in their life. But down the road, I really regretted doing that because I basically burned all the bridges I had there that could’ve helped me with references and job opportunities in the future.”
After quitting her job on campus, Hamilton moved on to a serving job at a sushi restaurant that, eventually, consumed too much of her time. After cutting back her hours in the middle of her final semester of school, she realized that quitting altogether was the only option to finish her college career on a high note.
“After having a bad quitting experience with my previous job, I definitely learned what to do and what not to do,” Hamilton said. “I told my boss nearly three weeks in advance that I would be leaving, explained why and she was completely fine with it.”
So what lessons did Hamilton have to learn the hard way about quitting?
“Do not be shady. Be honest and tell them why you are quitting or if you’re moving on to a different job,” she said. “Definitely communicate in person and lay it all on the line so there isn’t any confusion. Really think about the future and any bridges you may be burning and make sure you’re giving them enough notice.”
“Give your employer as much advanced notice as possible and be respectful of their needs by presuming that they’re going to try and fill your spot,” Kane said. “If it’s less than two weeks, you need to think hard and fast about the importance of taking a different job, if you do have an offer, rather than giving what is customary notice.”
As for receiving an attractive job offer while you are employed, the seasoned human resources expert said it is extremely important to notify your supervisor that you may be leaving.
Rather than telling your co-workers the news first, Kane said privacy is crucial. Hearing news straight from the departing employee is usually the best approach in ensuring that no bridges are burned and that no hard feelings are developed.
Other tips from the expert? When you need to discuss anything important, face-fo-face communication is the way to go, Kane said. Give legitimate reasoning behind your departure, never badmouth employers and put respect at the top of your list.
“Just as they say you can tell a lot about an employer by how they fire employees, you can tell a lot about an employee the way they leave a job,” Kane said. “Always be as respectful as possible and leave a good taste in your employer and co-worker’s mouths.”
Although writing your boss a letter that spells out all of your frustrations may sound oh-so appealing, down the road regret will more than likely fill your veins rather than relief. So, chill out, observe the situation and — especially as a college student — keep your future in mind.
After all, it’s a pretty small world.
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