How To

Should You Pull a Steve Slater? Dos and Don’ts of Quitting Your Job

(photo: iStockphoto)

We all have moments when we’d like to unleash an angry tirade, grab a beer and take a ride on the evacuation slide at work, but as JetBlue flight attendant Steven Slater’s resignation (and subsequent arrest) have taught us, that’s no way to quit your job.

There are few career moves that are more stressful (or cathartic, for that matter) than to hand in a letter of resignation. We forge close ties, for better or worse, with the people we work with, and it can be quite an adjustment to leave them behind as we blaze a new trail in our career path.

There is no shortage of reasons to quit a job. Fortunately, though, there is a universal list of tenets to adhere to when you do resign and move on to bigger and better endeavors. Keep these precious hints in mind if ever you feel like running out on the job.

Make sure you have a legitimate reason to quit

Strife with management or a coworker may not be suitable grounds to look for greener pastures. A job is like a relationship in many ways. And in our society, we know for a fact that the divorce rate is at an insane level. People just do not have the patience or the backbone to work together to find a happy resolution anymore. Everyone wants to point the finger and find a scapegoat to blame problems on. Keep this in mind when you feel like your only option is to quit. How can you be positive that your next job will perfectly free of trouble? You can’t. So really think before you take that scary leap of faith.

The lesson from JetBlue: Don’t resign on impulse

Deliberation before action never let anyone down. The way you quit is just as crucial as why you quit. And, as JetBlue’s Steven Slater’s example has underlined, the best way to do so is by an appointment with management in person. Do not communicate your intention to quit any other way. When possible, do it with class and not with the lazy, shortcut method of a screaming match. In addition, do back up your meeting with a professional letter of resignation to make it official and for the company to have it on the books.

Don’t storm out on the job

The proper course of action is to provide two weeks’ notice. This is a universal business standard that you must adhere to, no matter how informal the corporate culture and no matter how obvious your departure is to all. What can it hurt? If you do want to leave before the two weeks, you can and should raise the point with management when you meet with them.

Help your company make your departure go smoothly

If this means you have to train a replacement or hasten the completion of an important project or task, then do not lag in your work and think that it no longer bears any significance. You just never know what will happen down the road as you progress in your career. It is an old precept that time and again, we encounter familiar faces as we climb that proverbial corporate ladder. So do your best to make it easy for the next person to do your job.

Do not incapacitate the company or department in any way

No matter how contentious your departure, the sabotage or deletion of documents and vital data is a stupid move to make. Be the bigger person and leave gracefully and professionally. In addition, avoid anything that may constitute criminal activity.

Do take anything of personal importance

Whether the objects hold sentimental significance or can be used as ammunition against you, you never want to leave a personal reminder of your presence with anyone in the company once you have left the scene.

In the same vein, do not leave your work area a mess for the next guy to deal with. This is not only vastly unfair and disrespectful but it leaves a sour taste in the mouth of management and anyone else whose esteem you deem essential. The point, again, is to depart on a high note. You want everyone to miss you and almost regret that you quit, not curse you behind your back because your former workspace is now a biohazard. Just use common sense at the end of the day.

Most firms make counteroffers when someone with talent decides to quit. Our advice? Do not even consider a counteroffer unless it is much more generous than your new position. The sad fact remains that most people regret that they ever took a counteroffer and wind up back at square one a year later — with a resignation letter in hand.

Zip it up

Last but not least, it is crucial to keep your mouth shut about your former employer once you quit. The world is small and people just love to gossip. So don’t spread word of important or negative information about your old place of employment. Loose lips do sink ships in the business world, so, as always, be professional. Let other people talk while you relax, observe and just do your job. 

The Dos and Don’ts of Quitting Your Job was provided by AskMen.com.