So it’s a new year, and you think it’s time to move on to a new job too. Perhaps you already have an offer elsewhere, or you’re quitting to pursue education or to travel. Whatever the reason, it’s usually not in your interests to burn bridges when you resign.
We may fantasize about quitting with a “mic drop” moment. And as tempting as it may be to write an epic speech calling your employer out for every way they’ve ever wronged you and yelling it at the top of your lungs for the whole office to hear, it’s almost always better to leave things on a positive note.
Sure, one of the reasons for your resignation may be because you were underpaid and overworked, but unless your workplace was criminally toxic, it can be advantageous to keep your old employers on side. If you’re continuing to work in the same industry (or a related one), you could cross paths with your old boss afterwards. And do you really want them badmouthing you as the girl who quit by screaming a sea of obscenities, then knocked over a bunch of tables in the boardroom and had to be escorted out by security? No, you don’t.
When it comes to your career, maintaining a professional reputation is key, and it’s a small world. Your past job performance can affect your chances of getting hired somewhere else in the future.
Not only do you not want your old employer as an enemy, in today’s competitive economy, it can’t hurt to have them as a friend. Who knows when you might need them as a reference? Hell, you may even end up applying for another job at the same place in the future. Anything is possible in the wild and wonderful world of working.
By this point, I think I’ve made it clear how crucial it can be to leave on good terms. But the question remains, how do you quit your job like an adult lady person who isn’t an asshole?
Says Amy Marlene Robichaud, Director of Partnerships and Engagement for The Minerva Foundation, you should remember, “Quitting your job is not a breakup.” That means the type of tearful recriminations you may throw at a lover in the heat of the moment have no place here. Instead, you must consciously quit. Robichaud argues it is absolutely essential to resign in person, so unlike with a Tinder fling, no, you cannot ghost your boss. She adds, “Be attuned to how your boss/employee prefers to receive information. If they are a no-nonsense person, do not give them a long-winded personal explanation.” Similarly, “If they are a sensitive person, do not be a blunt instrument.”
While proper and respectful communication is essential, lawyer and Carlton University professor Rebecca Bromwich advises you protect yourself by not giving notice “until you are absolutely sure” you plan to leave. You want to balance your employer’s need for a smooth transition with your need to not be unemployed and floundering.
In the end, quitting your job can be daunting. It is, however, also an opportunity to put on your big girl pants and prove just how professional you are.