Hate your job? Want to quit?
OK, so you’re fortunate to have worked several years for the same employer. Perhaps your working conditions have worsened or you’re ready for a vertical move, and you’ve been offered a better job.
Congratulations. Before you resign, however, take precautions to make sure your resignation enhances your career, not hurts it.
(One of the most-important precautions is maximize your communications with your boss’s boss — what follows are two lessons why you should, and five valuable tips.)
Furthermore, quit your job in a professional fashion, especially if you’re facing adversity.
Here are two case studies:
Lesson No. 1
During the early 1980’s recession — as an out-of-work news broadcaster before working my way into management and later as a consultant — I worked for six months in sales on a commission basis for a telecom in southern California.
Abruptly, the company announced it planned to change its compensation plan (cutting commissions by 60 percent), which was unacceptable and shocking to me as I routinely ranked in the top five percent of the company’s 100 salespeople nationwide for each of my six months at the company.
The employer’s justification was that it was going to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in advertising in my territory, which would supposedly make it easier for us to sell products.
Perhaps the company’s new policy was applicable for 95 percent of its sales force, but not for me. I had confidence in my selling ability as I literally closed every lead, and was already thinking like a consultant — I knew that my time was valuable.
Unfortunately, the time required in my vast sales territory didn’t afford me the opportunity to search for another position. So I felt trapped, abused and angry as there were too-few good jobs. (Between broadcasting jobs, I had taken this one temporarily in order to meet my expenses. I had already been looking for a better job or for a foray back into broadcasting. Meantime, I had also become disenchanted with my immediate supervisor’s toxic-management style.)
At the time, I didn’t know the strategies to get the best available job. I shared my dilemma with a retired executive who gave me a puzzling but innovative solution:
“Deposit your check, then resign but cite ‘personal’ reasons as to why you’re quitting,” he advised.
His counsel defied logic as it seemed it would be easier for me to land a job if I already had one. But I wasn’t about to work the same hours for less commission. So the next day I did as he suggested. Without any rancor, I calmly quit and the employer reluctantly let me leave immediately.
At a subsequent job interview, a more-desirable prospective employer shared with me the result of his reference check with my former telecom employer:
“When I called ______, the regional boss told me: “Terry resigned for personal reasons. We don’t know why. He was our most polished salesman. We’d love to have him back.”
The most-polished? I was thrilled to hear such feedback, and the interviewer said it was the only reference he needed.
“When can you start?” he asked.
Three seemingly miraculous things had just occurred: Firstly, I was immediately offered the new job. Secondly, I got a boost in self confidence from a source I least expected because I had maximized my communications with my boss’s boss. Thirdly, professional the tactic led to other dividends in my career pursuits.
The moral: Find a good mentor, keep an open mind and remember it’s a small world. You can expect good things will happen if you resign in a professional fashion.
Lesson No. 2
Years later at a startup broadcast station in Salt Lake City, I was terminated by a boss who seemed to be a reincarnated Adolf Hitler as he had been frequently abusing me for a couple of months. It was frustrating because I worked hard in his turmoil-ridden department and I knew my work was the most-productive at the station.
Soon, I was surprised when the company’s CEO called and asked me to come back. I agreed on one condition — if I could report directly to him instead of my former boss.
But the CEO replied that I’d again have to report to that abusive supervisor. So, I declined because it would have meant working again for a supervisor who behaved unacceptably.
In my mind, I quit but I left the meeting on good terms with the chief executive, which proved to be pivotal in my career.
Meanwhile, my former employer’s competitor, which was the No. 1 station in the market, hired me. To my surprise three years later, I had become bored as a newscaster and my mentor advised me to become an entrepreneur. So, I began trying to figure out how to become an entrepreneur.
But before I was able to figure out how to put his advice to work, I was laid off with five co-workers. We were all approaching 40 years of age of older. It appeared to be age discrimination, but I called the CEO, who was nervous about taking my call. I explained I wasn’t angry. I knew his decision was strictly a business decision and that I didn’t take it personally (ha-ha).
“I’m out of options here in Salt Lake City — you’re a CEO and I’m not,” I told him. “What advice would you give me?”
His answer: “Go to the the National Association of Broadcasters’ convention next week in Anaheim where all the major broadcast employers will be.”
“Hmm,” I thought. Instead of becoming an entrepreneur because I didn’t feel I was ready to start my own business, I journeyed to the convention to find another job.
There, in the convention’s hotel lobby, I met some prospects and I unexpectedly met my first employer in Salt Lake City who asked me to return to the job working for the abusive boss. He was stunned that I was available because I managed to get No. 1 listener ratings at the other job. Shaking his head is disbelief, over and over, he kept asking: “They laid you off?”
I became impatient: “Yes, they did! I’m available.”
Again, he asked, “They laid you off?” Then, he surprised me: “If you don’t find a job, call me in three weeks because I have a second under-performing station at which I want you to be our consultant,” he offered.
After the chat, I traveled the nine western states but couldn’t find a job. So, I called the CEO who became my first business client. The station doubled its revenue in six months and quickly led to a second contract.
Find a good mentor, keep an open mind, don’t give up, always maximize your communications with your boss’s boss, and remember it’s a small world. You can expect good things will happen if you resign in a professional fashion.
Use the Golden Rule in resigning professionally:
1. Give your employer adequate notice. It’s still customary in resignations to give a boss two weeks’ notice. However, if you’re a key employee or you have unfinished assignments, more notice might be in order.
2. Give a dignified reason for your resignation. Unless you work for a reincarnated Adolph Hitler, do your best to take the high road.
3. Talk with your boss. Ask to meet with your supervisor. Thank your boss for the opportunity to work at the company. Cite any examples that would make your boss smile. Diplomatically explain your intentions.
If, however, your supervisor is based in a distant location, make a telephone call. Don’t make the boss feel as though suspended by a thread in mid-air. Treat your boss as you’d wanted to be treated. So, no surprises.
4. Think like a manager and be empathetic to the company that’s put food on your table. What do I mean? Make sure your departure will be a smooth transition and the work is completed successfully.
Your boss might not accept your suggestions, but it’s up to you to do the right thing.
Take every precaution to make sure it doesn’t appear you’ve burned any bridges. Even if you’re contacted after leaving the firm, be helpful.
5. Use tact in an exit interview. Be graceful in your answers. Don’t lie but you don’t have to be brutal either. If you have legitimate beefs, balance them with positive comments. Even in toxic relationships, both people behave badly, at times.
From the Coach’s Corner, here’s a potpourri of proven career tips:
Discouraged in Job Hunting? Powerful Tips for the Best Job – Whether unemployed or under-employed, a person needs two things: A sense of hope and the right tools to negotiate a job. Here are both.
Is Your Career Stalled? Turbo Charge Your Personal Brand – Perhaps you’re struggling in a job search. You’re ambitious but underemployed, or worse – unemployed. You’re not alone.
7 Tips to Tweet Your Way to a Great New Job – Seriously – If you play it smart, you can take advantage of the 500-million Twitter account-holders to get a new job or career.
HR – Interviewers Give Higher Marks to Applicants Interviewed Early in the Day – Study has implications for HR professionals and job hunters, alike Interviewers often mistakenly give higher ratings to job job seekers – whom they interview early in the day – at the expense of other applicants.
“…may you always remember that obstacles in the path are not obstacles, they are the path.”
-Jane Catherine Lotterâ