Despite some dramatic scenes in the movies, à la Jerry Maguire, leaving a company for any particular reason does not usually involve that much spectacle. You may have had co-workers who left quietly, without drawing attention to themselves, in a seemingly amiable departure.
Now it’s your turn to leave your current place of employment and you never really gave much thought before to how you’d do it. It may seem unimportant, but the outcome of your technique could turn up later like a bad dream. Quitting the wrong way can swiftly tarnish the reputation you spent time establishing and ruin your professional relationships in one foul swoop.
So what does leaving “wrong” really look like?
If you are a risk-taker or ne’er-do-well who likes living on the edge, walking out the door in a puff of smoke would seem fun. And there are many other effective ways to create drama and continue on your career path, cursing and flipping people off.
Rather than practicing your resignation delivery, giving substantial notice and being respectful at the end of your employment, you can choose the alternate route by being, for lack of better wording, kind of a jerk. The more hostile, angry and uncalled for your behavior, the better!
The first step is spontaneity. Instead of preparing yourself with what you want to say and booking a meeting with your superior to calmly sit down and discuss the matter, you will want to barge in and sing “I quit!” Never provide a thoughtful or well-constructed reason and always go off-the-cuff.
Better yet, toss the papers off your boss’s desk simultaneously, stomp back to your cubicle or office and collect your belongings – including a range of office supplies with the prominent company logo on them. Staying there will only force you to help out for the remainder of your role.
A quick escape will also help cement your new status as the ungrateful maniac who stormed out after abruptly quitting. Instead of giving the appropriate two to four weeks’ notice, leaving the same day will ensure your employer has insufficient time to look for a replacement or figure out how to redistribute the work that was once yours.
Cutting all ties to your former co-workers and bosses, even the ones you kind of liked, is the next move in your jaguar-smooth getaway. Remove everyone from your online social and professional networks so they have no idea where you are starting your next job or what your new role is going to be. That way you can avoid gaining connections to people who can possibly help you out later or even in the not-so-distant future.
If doing away with any references before you quit is one of your goals, you are going to nail it. Your future employers down the road will certainly take your word for it anyway about where you worked and the terrific job you did. And then failing to network with people you know, particularly from your work life, will keep you from scoring other potential opportunities too.
It can be selfish to storm out with your projects up in the air, and silly for yourself to not keep any relationships intact, but who needs colleagues when you are no longer at the company? Those folders with pending information on your computer no one knows about will just have to stay there hidden. Maybe someone will stumble upon them in a couple of years.
As you walk out the door, yell expletives about your employer and complaints about being overworked and underpaid. If you are planning to leave the job, whether you have been there five months or five years, it is obviously time to throw all decorum out the window and do away with your dignity and civility.
What does leaving “professionally” look like?
Don’t damage your professional reputation by storming out the door. Be that former employee that made an amiable departure. Write a professional letter of resignation and deliver it to your boss in person, or walk the letter to the HR Department and hand it to someone of authority. Specify in your letter a minimum of a two week notice and offer to help out with the transition of duties and works in progress.
Enjoy your last day of work. Go out to lunch with co-workers and share your exciting next big move with them. Invite co-workers to keep in touch via LinkedIn or other social media sites and then actually reach out to them in a few weeks.
Show up for the exit interview; be prepared to give honest respectful feedback. And last but not least, smile on your way out the door, shake hands, and wish your co-workers well in their future endeavors.