Whatever You Do, Don't Join This Club
Career Growth

Whatever You Do, Don't Join This Club

ACCORDING TO PAUL SIMON, THERE ARE 50 WAYS TO LEAVE YOUR LOVER. LEAVING YOUR EMPLOYER, HOWEVER, IS ANOTHER STORY. HERE’S HOW TO QUIT A JOB WITHOUT MAKING A HOLY MESS OF THINGS.

Sniff, sniff. Do I smell burning bridge?

Yes, it’s that time again, when a disgruntled employee leaves her job in a way so spectacularly ill-advised, she becomes a media sensation. Last month’s Quitter Extraordinaire was Charo Greene, a TV reporter in Alaska who put the “green” in her name by outing herself on-air as the owner of a marijuana business. Then she plopped the F word atop her resignation speech—the cherry on the sundae, as it were—before leaving her stunned co-anchor to finish the newscast. What, no lighting up on a bong? I feel Greene missed an important opportunity.

Drama-filled quits aren’t limited to TV. One can quit in semi-stately, old media fashion, like Greg Smith slashing-and-burning his way off of Wall Street with a piece in the New York Times subtly titled, “Why I Am Leaving Goldman Sachs.”

Others turn to radio to share their message. Deejay Inetta “the Moodsetta” Hinton, for example, announced on Alabama’s 93BLX, “If you’re confused about what I’m saying, listen very carefully. I quit this bitch.” The sentiment is now available on a T-shirt.

New-media quitters, like Sun Microsystems CEO Jonathan Schwartz, choose Twitter: “Financial crisis/Stalled too many customers/CEO no more,” while old-school quitters go with mixed media, scrawling “I Quit” in Cheez Whiz on the front window of a Seattle grocery store.

My favorite remains Steven Slater. Remember Steve? He’s the JetBlue flight attendant who cursed out a planeful of passengers, grabbed a beer and rode the evacuation shoot down to the tarmac. Who hasn’t wanted to do that? The FAA was not amused, but everyone else in America was, and the guy became a folk hero.

Now the reason these stories make the news is that they are unusual. Do we at Career Contessa advise using the F bomb on live TV or wasting Cheez Whiz? Absolutely not. What comes around goes around, so if you’re leaving a mess behind you, that mess will eventually catch back up with you. Consider the intern who simply left our newsroom one day, never to return. Did I keep running into her at industry events? Oh yes. Was it awkward for her? Oh yes.

Here’s how to quit with class and grace, keeping your reputation as pristine as one of those Duggar sisters.

First, address the paperwork. If you have another job offer, make sure you have it in writing. Also, read that non-compete clause you signed when you started, to ensure it won’t preclude you working at that great new company. Okay, now you’re ready.

WHO: Your immediate supervisor.

WHAT: Be as polite and upbeat as possible, even if you are dying to engage in trash talk. Give two weeks’ notice. If you’re asked to stay longer, don’t go for more than one additional week. Things get awkward really fast at the end of a job stint, so it’s better to just rip off the band-aid.

WHEN: Friday, late afternoon. Both you and your boss can recover emotionally over the weekend.

HOW: Focus on what a great learning experience the job has been, then ask how to proceed. Is the boss is going to make an announcement, for example, or are you in charge of sending the team an email? What steps will come next with HR?

WHY: Because it’s time to move on. You can always dance it out to Kanye West, like this editor did.Do you have a good quitting story? Or perhaps fantasize about quitting in a most epic way? Tell us in the comments section.