Kissing Your Job Goodbye: How Do I Quit?

Posted October 13, 2011, by Annie Dang

Leaving a job can be just as hard as leaving a relationship. Knowing when to cut your losses and start anew is instinctive for some, but for others it's a slow, painful and drawn out process.

Packing up your desk and striking out for fresh terrain might be a scary experience, but the pay-offs can be enormous. The most important thing to remember is that, if you do decide to make the break, you’ll need to go through a process of negotiation so that both parties can minimise animosity and tension.

To leave or not to leave

As with relationships, most of us stick around in a job long after we know we should. It’s familiar, it’s comfortable and sometimes it’s just easier to stay. Even if all the signs point towards the exit, we continue to drag ourselves through the daily grind, pretending that everything is just fine.

So how do you answer the all-important question 'Should I stay or should I go'? Writing a list of pros and cons can often sort out mixed emotions and help when people are making decisions about their love life. Why not do the same with your job? It will help you decide whether to stay or go and will save your work colleagues from sitting through hours of listening to your grievances. Remember, working relationships have expiry dates as well.

Excuses for staying

Often we stay in relationships (personal and professional) because of fear – fear that we won’t find something or someone else, fear that no-one else will want us, and sometimes fear of not knowing what will happen next. Other times we stay because we’ve invested time in the relationship and don’t want to go through the hassle of starting all over again. We know all the little nuances of the job – how everyone at work likes their coffee, how to use the quirky filing system, and what all those in-house acronyms mean.

This is where the question of the ‘old and familiar’ versus the ‘new and exciting’ arises. New relationships bring interesting challenges and exciting opportunities, which give you a new lease of life. Current relationships, like current jobs, may be familiar, but if it isn’t working then maybe it is time to be brave, overcome your fear, and make a move.

SOS – relationship therapy

Like relationships of the heart, working relationships are a two-way street. But what happens when we reach a crossroad or even hit a dead end?

Before you consider ending the relationship completely, you might want to pull over and get some therapy. First step – talk it over. Sit down with your boss, discuss your concerns and talk things through – you might be surprised; he or she may really want to keep you and might even look at ways you can both improve your work situation. If your relationship with your boss is on shaky ground, you can always call in the career advice experts – human resources (HR) – to mediate discussions between you and your boss.

Saying goodbye

Once we’ve made the decision to leave, making sure the break-up is as smooth as possible is what most of us aim to do. But what do we say to our soon to be ex-boss at the end of a working relationship? Awkwardness and uncomfortable stand-offs can become the norm in work break-ups just as in relationship break-ups.

Telling your boss that he or she is an inconsiderate, insensitive imbecile is neither helpful nor professional. Making a dramatic exit may be tempting but burning your bridges will only hurt your career in the long run. So forget the idea of sending a text message or leaving a post-it note stuck to your boss’s computer. While it may be easier to do this, such goodbyes won’t help your chances of getting a future job reference.

When it comes to making an announcement of your departure, avoid the temptation to spread the news around the office before you have informed the boss. Organising a time to speak with your boss about your decision is better than abruptly announcing it as he or she is rushing out of the office.

A face-to-face discussion with your employer with a well-constructed resignation letter in hand is a simple and stylish way of saying goodbye. No matter how bad your relationship has become, your boss will appreciate that you have been honest. Furthermore, it is professional and your employer will have a good lasting impression of you – no matter what difficulties you’ve had in the past. People don’t remember how you started but they sure remember how you left. And while you’re at it, it’s a nice gesture to leave your contact details in case your employer has any questions about the work you were doing before you left.

While there may be 50 ways to leave your lover, there really is just one right way to kiss your job goodbye!

Already got one foot out the door, and on the hunt for a new job? Here's how to get the most out of your job hunt

Annie Dang

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