I recently quit my job after seeing signs that the job I had was no longer right for me.
Signs it might be time to quit your job:
• Your friends get exasperated emails from you at least once a week asking if you can quit.
• Running was a difficult challenge until your job became so miserable that you can now run miles and miles working off all the stress.
• You turn to your mentors, even the ones that scare you slightly, asking for advice.
• Your search history is full of things like “how to write a letter of resignation” and “evil pranks to can play on your boss” and “job openings anywhere.”
• You call in sick one morning when really and then go back to bed until 1:30 p.m. It’s possible you had a cold, but let’s be real. You were tired and played hooky.
• When you think of the phrase “an exercise in futility” you realize it fits your job description exactly.
• To deal with your boss/coworker/whomever, you start imagining yourself as an actor in a play, to emotionally distance yourself from their comments.
• You fall and have to get stitches in your knee, and wish the ER was slower so you could justifiably go in late the next day.
• Getting an infected knee wouldn’t be that bad, because then you would be in the hospital and obviously couldn’t work.
When and how to actually pull the trigger and quit:
• Have an inkling of what you might do afterward. You don’t need a job, but you need something to keep yourself busy while you look for another real gig. If it involves volunteering or doing freelance work for a former employer, that’s great. Not so great is catching up on The Good Wife.
• Make sure there is at least some money in your bank account. Just a little.
• You’ll have to give some notice. Two weeks is the standard, but I got away with a week and a half. Try to end on a Friday, not a Thursday or Monday.
• Have a reason to leave besides “I hate your guts.” That’s a totally valid reason, but, you know, it’ll be on your resume and it’s possible someone will call for references. The reason can be “I got a better opportunity, and thank you for everything I’ve learned here,” even if what you learned was that you hate the work you were assigned to do.
• You tell the most senior person you report to—no need to call the CEO. In my case, I had two immediate supervisors, but they reported to a third person, and I went to her. Tell this boss first.
• Tell your boss in person. I was all set to send an email, but in person shows that you care. The phone is next best, and then an email. This is what I learned from one of my aforementioned mentors I got the nerve to speak to.
• Ask to speak with the boss in the morning, not before you leave for the day. If you have an open office like I did, employ other tactics to let them know you want to chat. Maybe you have to send your boss an email anyway and you ask for a moment to speak with her? Or maybe someone steps away and you can say, “Hey, can I get a few minutes with you?”
• The actual conversation should be something like, “Hi, boss, this is a little difficult for me, but I’m putting in my notice. A better opportunity has come up, and while I appreciate everything here, I think it’s time for move on. My last day will be next Friday” And then it will be a bit of Q and A; this isn’t a speech. Be prepared with mostly positive answers.
• When you leave, be sure you’ve logged out of everything. No need for your Gmail or Evernote to be saved as the default account. Change your password from your personal one to something generic like 10101010 that you don’t mind telling the IT guy if he needs it a week after you left.
• Good luck!
Rebecca Reeves’ knee hasn’t gotten infected, yet. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org