Ready to quit your job? Don’t make any sudden moves! Your number one concern should be protecting the professional relationships you’ve been building with your colleagues. These people may be valuable professional contacts and references for you in the future…but only if you make the transition smooth and easy for everyone. In my recent segment with Fox 31 Denver’s Good Day Colorado, I address this topic and provide some simple tips for quitting without burning your bridges. Watch the video below!
Posts Tagged: quitting
Remember on Seinfeld, when George Costanza’s dad decided to rebel against the commercialism of the winter holidays and celebrate a holiday called Festivus instead? One tradition was to stand around the Festivus pole and air your grievances.
Well, the spirit of Festivus must be in the air because lately, it seems, quite a few people (including top level executives) are being very vocal about their employment grievances.
Take, for example, the Goldman Sachs executive, Greg Smith, whose scathing resignation letter hit the opinion pages of the New York Times.
And then there’s the former Google employee, now working for Microsoft, who took to the Microsoft blog to rant against Google’s deteriorating corporate culture.
Of course, let’s not forget about the most legendary display of employee dissatisfaction—the Jet Blue airline employee who cursed at his passengers over the loudspeaker, pulled the chute for the inflatable evacuation slide, grabbed a beer and made a dramatic emergency exit.
So, here’s the question: Are public displays of this nature helpful?
The answer is NO.
I’m sure some people will disagree, but I’m coming at this from the angle of a career coach. And this is what I know: Employees get disgruntled. It happens. Companies make poor choices, leaders don’t treat their staff with the respect they deserve, life isn’t perfect.
Who among us hasn’t dreamed of pulling a stunt equal to that of the Jet Blue flight attendant? Who hasn’t silently drafted a scathing resignation letter? These are fantasies every employee indulges in now and again.
But only a rare specimen acts on the impulse.
In some cases, such as with the Goldman Sachs executive and the Microsoft employee, it seems these folks honestly believe their vocal complaints will some how, some way make a difference. They seem so fed up that they can no longer sit idly by and watch the company they once loved dissolve in front of their eyes. It’s as if they believe that “taking the fight to the streets” will change the outcome.
Perhaps in these cases, the publicity will have an impact. How much is yet to be determined. But of course, these are very high-profile situations. In the average person’s life, a scathing resignation letter probably won’t hit the pages of the NY Times. The average person storming out of the office crying, “Who’s comin’ with me?” probably won’t make the evening news.
The sad truth is that these kinds of things (usually) have very little impact on the business. The person carrying out the wild, vengeful act is usually the only one harmed. Their reference is destroyed; their reputation tarnished.
But for the company, it’s barely a tiny blip on the radar.
If you choose to leave the company—whether in a dramatic, irresponsible fashion or in a more professional manner—your vote no longer counts. You can scream and shout about the injustice, but you’ve taken yourself out of the equation. What does it matter to the company? You’re a quitter. You’re no longer any of their concern. You’re disgruntled. These are the ramblings of a mad man, they cry! It’s just emotional nonsense! And thankfully, you’re a problem they no longer have to deal with.
If you really want to make a difference, why not be the calm, rational, reasonable voice of dissent from the inside? Why not be an advocate for change while you’re still in a position to do something about it?
If that doesn’t appeal to you—or if you’re convinced you’re powerless in this situation—then, yes, it’s time to leave. The problem is bigger than you. A public display isn’t going to change that. It might make you feel better…for a minute or so. It might make you the talk of your town (or office building) for about 15 seconds. But, chances are, the company will come out unscathed.
And let’s face it: Your public display wasn’t really about changing things. It was an attempt to “punish” the company in some way—for doing you wrong, for failing to be what you wanted it to be.
But in the end, you only hurt yourself.
I’m not trying to discount the importance of speaking your mind. But the way you do it impacts how clearly your words are heard.
The debate on my morning news show today was about whether the Goldman Sachs executive’s letter will change anything. One commentator said, “Why are we talking about this? What’s the headline? Wall Street is greedy? We already knew that.” Another said, “This sounds like a disgruntled employee.”
I don’t think this is the reaction Greg Smith was looking for.
Photo Credit: rakkhi (Flickr)
Out of everyone in my group of college friends, I was the only one who still had the same job two years after graduation. Everyone else had changed jobs once, twice, even three times. So, I felt somewhat smug—as if I knew something they didn’t. It wasn’t until many years later that I understood the positive side of job hopping. It hit me when I suddenly discovered that I had forced myself to stay in a job I hated for five years. If only I had just left at the very beginning when I realized it wasn’t for me…maybe I wouldn’t have wasted all that time being miserable…
Of course, job hopping also involves a few pretty serious downsides. In order to make the best decisions in your career, it’s helpful to understand both the positive and negative aspects of bouncing around from one job to the next, and how it can impact your long-term goals.
Clearly, no one expects you to know exactly what you want from your career the minute you graduate from college. But, as you gain experience, you should become more astutely aware of what your idea of “the right” job looks like. If you find yourself stuck, feeling like nothing will ever make you happy, it’s time to do some self-reflection. If you need help, download my free mini-workbook which walks you through a process to determine what’s working (and what’s not) in your current career so you can begin pinpointing the things that may provide (or detract from) career fulfillment the future. Once you know more about yourself, you can be more discerning in the job search process.
Proactively searching for a job that matches your unique career wants and needs should help prevent job hopping, but there’s no guarantee. Sometimes, the only way to really learn what works for you and what doesn’t is to simply step in there and give it a try. I always recommend that, unless things are really unbearable, it’s a good idea to stick with a new job for at least a year. This gives you enough time to really get a feel for it and make an informed decision.
Most of us enjoy routine…up to a point. Then, it becomes monotonous. Job hopping certainly provides variety. You end up learning about many different businesses and industries; you gain a variety of skills and meet a wide range of people. This is what many job hoppers crave when they bounce around. They just want to escape the boring everyday routine. Be cautious of this! While it’s nice to experience new things, most jobs will have some degree of monotony. When you’re being paid, it won’t always be exciting and new.
If you’re a job hopper, or if you end up being one, you can always frame your scattered experience as being a good thing: you have a wide range of capabilities and broad point-of-view. However, in reality, your experience in each area is rather shallow. If you only stay somewhere for a short period of time, you’re not getting a deep understanding of what’s going on. That usually takes several years to accomplish and prospective employers may be concerned about your skill level.
Lack of Loyalty
Inevitably, once you’ve job hopped a few times in a row, employers will start seeing it as a red flag. They’ll wonder about your loyalty. They’ll worry that it’s not worth the time, money and energy needed to train you because, in a year or so, you’ll be gone. This can be a hard stigma to shake so you better have some strong justification for why you left each position and proactively address it in your cover letter. Don’t try to ignore it and hope they won’t notice.
You Don’t Know What You Want (‘Till It’s Gone!)
The other thing prospective employers will assume is that you don’t really know what you want. When you tell them why you’d be perfect for the job and why it’s a position you’ll be thrilled to have, they’ll doubt your motives. Your past doesn’t indicate that you really know what will please you. Again, with a little clever maneuvering, you can frame it in such a way that your past actually proves that you know exactly what you want—and DON’T want.
But, ultimately, many job hoppers end up regretting their decisions. They fall into the “grass is always greener” syndrome. Once they’ve moved on and fallen into another monotonous routine somewhere else, they realize that the last job wasn’t so bad after all.
If you ever find yourself labeled as a “serial job hopper,” take some time to evaluate why it’s happening and how it’s affecting your long-term career objectives. Create strategies to overcome this issue so you can settle into a job that feels right and keeps your interest. Working with a career coach or participating in a group coaching program may also be helpful.
Photo Credit: stuant63 (Flickr)
This post is part of my Bad Career Advice series in which I expose outdated, clichéd, and counterproductive advice for exactly what it is.
I understand the sentiment behind this piece of advice and clearly, its intent is to push you past your own perceived limits. While its heart is in the right place, I believe the advice to “never give up” also ignores the blatant reality of life and instills the idea that quitting for any reason is an unacceptable act of defeat.
The truth is, we often have to give up in order to move forward. And there’s no shame in this. Life is full of beginnings and endings. If you refuse to give up when things clearly aren’t working or ignore signals that a natural phase of completion has been reached, you only end up wasting your time and energy.
It’s Not You…No, Really. It Isn’t.
All too often, people blame themselves for giving up. It’s seen as a sign of failure. Instead, quitting (at times) can and should be viewed as an empowering act of triumph. There’s honor in recognizing that one course has reached its conclusion, just as there’s strength in allowing another to begin.
When we try too hard to hold on to what WAS, we’re unable to see what COULD BE and embrace what IS.
W.C. Fields put it best: “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Then quit. There’s no use being a damn fool about it.”
It is indeed foolish to continue devoting resources to activities that no longer serve you—or, activities that you no longer serve. While it’s hard to admit, we all have strengths and weaknesses. To expect that we are capable of succeeding in all activities equally is inefficient and unrealistic. There are times when we must put our hands in the air, surrender and allow others to take over. We have to be humble, accept that we are perfectly imperfect, and relinquish control in order to collaboratively take the next step forward. Giving up, in this sense, is often the most productive path towards achieving a goal.
Though it may strike you as harsh or uncaring, we must also give up on people at times. We’ve all experienced relationships that have grown counterproductive. There comes a point at which the pain of giving up is worth it when compared to the pain of pushing forward. And it’s only by letting go that we begin the process of healing.
Likewise, we must let others move on when the time is right.
In closing, let me also say that this is not intended to encourage you, my dear reader, to simply “give up” on everything the moment you encounter an obstacle. It’s just an option. Don’t deny yourself that freedom. Use your time, energy and resources wisely. Refusing to give up on something or someone that holds you stagnant is not an efficient use of your capabilities. Look at the true potential reward of sticking it out and weigh it against the risk of giving up. Be analytical. And be willing to admit that yesterday’s opportunity of a lifetime may no longer be worth the sacrifice today.
Life and everything we experience is fluid. It’s a perpetual cycle of birth and death and rebirth. Dreams change, people change; the world and everything in it is constantly evolving. Be willing to release the past and embrace your future. Give yourself the power to give up.
Photo Credit: katiew (Flickr)
Those who say “quitters never win” are fooling themselves. If you stick something out just because you’re afraid of giving up—and it’s something that no longer serves you—you’re wasting your time. And ultimately, you lose. Sure, you’re not a quitter. But you sure as hell aren’t winning either.
When it comes to work, quitting is sometimes the best move you can make. Often, it’s a necessary step for forward movement, growth, and pursuing your life’s purpose.
Still, as we all know, quitting sometimes really isn’t an option. Not because it isn’t the right thing to do; sometimes, you just can’t feasibly move on. Maybe you just can’t financially afford to leave your current job. Or maybe the health insurance coverage isn’t something you can give up. Or maybe the stress of leaving right now would be far worse than the stress of simply sticking it out for a while longer. These things happen. This is reality.
You can’t always pick up and move on the second you realize it’s the right thing to do. In fact, it’s rare that a decision to quit can be acted on quickly. It takes time and preparation. So, if you know it’s time to quit but doing so right now simply isn’t possible, try the following:
1. Emotionally disconnect.
Remember: It’s just work, it’s not YOU. Many people—myself included—think of work as an extension of their identity. So, if you’re in a job you hate, you can start to hate yourself. Now is the time to put it in perspective. You are not your job. Your job is simply providing you with something—whatever that thing is that makes quitting impossible. Focus on that and break the emotional connection.
2. Find a friend.
Happiness has a lot to do with relationships. Even if you’re ready to leave your job, you can still enjoy the social side of work. Find a person—just one is all it takes—who gets you. Having a friend at work makes every day easier.
3. Get out.
Don’t just hang around in an environment that feels like it’s slowly draining you. Get out and breathe some fresh air. Take lunch out of the office, go on walks throughout the day, or just take a few minutes to sit outside instead of stewing in the frustration that surrounds you. The more perspective you can get, the more you’ll be able to deal with the current situation.
4. Take steps.
It might not be feasible to quit right now, but circumstances will change. Start saving money, learn new skills, network and make connections. Prepare yourself for a time when you can leave this job and find something more fulfilling…because it will happen sooner or later.
5. Stress less.
I call this “managing the inner game” and truly, this is the most important point here. Believe me, once you know that quitting is what you’d like to do but it’s just not possible at the moment, your stress will skyrocket. This is a natural result of feeling trapped. Every instinct in your body is screaming, “FIGHT OR FLIGHT!” It’s also a result of feeling stagnant. You want to move forward and yet, due to circumstances beyond your control, you’re standing still. Don’t ignore these emotions; manage them. Actively work to get your stress under control so you don’t end up making some irrational, emotional decision you’ll later regret.
Photo Credit: Art Rock (Hennie) [Flickr]