It's the day you've been waiting for -- the day you quit the job you really hate. If you loathe your boss, the work or the whole package, you may be tempted to put into play that resignation fantasy you've been perfecting during your miserable hours on the job: giving your boss a PowerPoint presentation detailing his incompetence, telling coworkers who's been gossiping about them, or emptying the stockroom of Post-it notes and computer paper to take home. After all, you're out of there, right?
Wrong. According to Stephen Viscusi, host of the nationally syndicated "On the Job" radio show and author of On the Job: How to Make It in the Real World of Work, how you resign will invariably influence your career in the future. Don't get mad. Don't get even. Just get out with your hard-earned professionalism still intact. Here's how:
It's the oldest saying in the book: Don't burn bridges. While trashing your boss or coworkers may feel gratifying at the moment, once you speak the incriminating words, you can never take them back -- yet people will always remember them. Not only do you need your former employer as a reference, but it is very possible you will run into someone connected with your old job in the future -- either as a coworker, client or supervisor.
One caveat: If you have a formal exit interview, you can share appropriate grievances with HR. "Make sure the interview is truly formal in nature," Viscusi says. Venting your frustrations in a quick conversation with someone before you head out the door is unwise.
Leaving a job can be an emotional experience for you and your boss. When you tell your supervisor you're quitting, you are essentially stating that you are firing him as your boss. He may feel shocked, angry or defensive. He may have to answer to a superior about why you decided to leave. Don't get into an emotional interchange with your boss. Although tensions may rise, keep yourself in check and remain professional. By quitting, you've already gotten your revenge. Your boss will have to find someone to fill your position, train the new hire and wait for him to overcome any learning curve before being truly productive. You've already got the boss where it hurts.
Keep your resignation letter short and to the point and provide the effective date of your resignation. Don't send it by email. Go to the appropriate staff member in person and hand him the letter while you state you are resigning. Be aware that once you give your resignation, it's possible you may be immediately asked to clean out your desk before you're escorted to the door. Be sure you have already collected the things you really need the week before you resign, such as email addresses; business cards of clients, coworkers or supervisors; information you may need regarding projects you've worked on, etc. Once you've left the premises, consider all of this information inaccessible.
If your job was truly a horrifying experience, it can be hard to let it go. But bringing your old baggage to a new job is a surefire way to start building an unflattering reputation. Your new boss and coworkers don't want to hear complaints about your old job, no matter how justified you feel they are. Griping makes you look bad, not your employer. Besides, you've got reason to celebrate. You've got a new job. Get through your resignation as professionally as possible and move on to the greener pastures awaiting you.