If you’ve worked for a terrible boss and had unkind, backstabbing co-workers, you’ve probably dreamed of this day: the day you quit your job. You’re going out in a blaze of glory! You’re telling them what you really think! You’re walking out at lunchtime and letting them figure out how to clean up the chaos they create! You have a new Utopian job awaiting you and this nightmare is about to be a thing of the past! Except…wait.
As large as this world is, you’d be surprised how small the work world actually can be. Your work history and your reputation will follow you, even if you move across the country and never see a single soul you worked with again. How? While legally, your former employers can’t outright bash you to a perspective employer calling about you, what they can do is say that you’re not eligible for rehire. This might not be a big deal if one former employer does it, but two or three or four? That’s not good. Sadly, even if you were a great employee and did everything wonderfully, many companies won’t comment period if you’d be eligible for rehire because they don’t know. Things may be different now. That’s not a flag, but a lot of “not eligible for rehire” are definite flags.
Something else to remember: everyone knows someone. When you start bashing someone in the breakroom, don’t be surprised to find out it’s your coworker’s husband’s brother you’re verbally destroying. That’s the way the world works.
5 Steps To Quitting Your Job Without Burning Bridges
- Make sure you’ve passed background checks and have a “start date” on a new job before you quit your old one
- Start to clear out personal effects without being conspicuous
- Have a face to face with your boss
- Give proper notice
- Never bash your company or co-workers as you leave or after you leave
Some people get a little overzealous and quit their new job the second they get a conditional job offer, forgetting about that misdemeanor charge they caught for that bar fight four years ago, the marijuana they smoked on vacation last month, their bad credit score, etc. Some companies are extremely thorough with their backgrounds and drug screens. Don’t quit your job until everything is back squeaky clean and you’ve signed on the dotted line, filled out your W-2s, and have a hire date. If in doubt, ask your perspective new employer if things are definitely a “go” and all has checked out. Get things in writing and keep copies.
We all acquire little things in our offices or workspaces – pics of our dogs, children, etc. Now is the time to start taking things home little by little. If you do It all in one day, that’s pretty obvious. If you have company issued electronics, such as computers, phones, etc., it’s time to start deleting your personal emails (they shouldn’t have been there to begin with!), your pictures, contacts, etc. Some places will require you leave the premises the second you give notice. Be prepared (emotionally and in other ways) for this.
Even though we are an electronic-friendly world, unless you are a 100% remote worker, you need to sit down and have a heart to heart with your boss. Now is not the time for grievances (that time has come and gone). Contrary to pop culture, you don’t need “closure” for everything. You don’t have to say why you’re leaving other than you got a job offer that you feel is a better match for you, closer to your mom, will pay for you to get your master’s degree, or something of that nature. If your boss becomes angry/emotional, remain calm. Thank them for what you have learned while working there (you’ve learned something, even if it is that you never wish to work there again – just don’t tell them that!)
Two weeks notice is enough in most sectors – sometimes it is appropriate to give four weeks. Err on the side of caution if you aren’t sure. Put it in writing, keep it brief, date the letter, make sure to include the last day you will report, and sign it. Provide a copy to your boss, human resources, and keep one for yourself. Some supervisors may tell you not to bother to come back after you give them the letter. That’s fine – make sure you still give a copy to human resources and report that your supervisor told you not to come back.
On the way out, don’t make any scenes, but tell coworkers and the administrative assistance goodbye and thank them for their help. If you really liked some of them, you could have an edible arrangement or something similar delivered. This will leave your name in a very good light for many (and could be helpful when a prospective employer calls about you in the future!)
Remember, jobs come and go, but people transfer, and sometimes the past comes back to haunt you! Make sure your past serves you well. Here’s to new beginnings!
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