Photo: YAKOBCHUK VIACHESLAV (Shutterstock)
It might be the best time of your entire life to quit your job. Unemployment is hovering around 3% (as low as it’s been in like 50 years), employers across the county are reporting labor shortages, and they don’t appreciate you at that rotten place anyway. So get out now, while the getting is good! But don’t be dumb about it: Avoid these seven mistakes to quit with as much grace and professionalism as possible. (But don’t stress about it too hard; what are they going to do? Fire you?)
Burning bridges through bitterness
It’s tempting to walk into your soon-to-not-be-boss’ office on your last day and let them know exactly how you feel about their management style, but resist the temptation. There is no upside. You may feel a fleeting (or, OK, lasting) sense of satisfaction, but it’s not worth burning a bridge. No matter what industry you’re in, people talk. After the squash game, your boss will be like, “This nut started chewing me out after they quit,” to their friend Gary who owns the other wax museum in town, and you’ll quickly find yourself blackballed and unemployable.
That stapler or bandsaw may look tempting—after all, what are they going to do about it? You’re gone. But lifting company stuff beyond sugar packets and paper towels is illegal and petty. “Don’t steal” is obvious at physical workplaces, but a little trickier in the “remote work” world, where they’ll often send you a laptop or other equipment to use. They want it back if you quit. (Unless they are too disorganized to get their gear back. If so, there’s no law that says you have to bend over backwards to return company property they don’t ask for—but keep it in returnable form and send it back if they ask you to.)
Quitting without notice
If your job sucks, you might be tempted to drop the endless pasta bowl in the middle of the dinner rush and announced “I’m out!” to everyone dining at Olive Garden, but this is a bad idea. This isn’t about being super nice to the assholes who give you less money than you deserve for your labor. It’s to keep yourself employable. (Again, people talk.) There’s also your co-workers to consider. A sudden departure is likely to dump a lot on the people you work with, and they (probably) don’t deserve it.
There is one exception: If you work as a flight attendant, you should only quit by sliding down the plane’s emergency slide like this guy did.
Quitting at the wrong time of the month
Depending on how your benefits are structured, you might be leaving money on the table if you plan your exit for the wrong time. Often health insurance or paid time off is accrued on a monthly basis, so leaving on Feb. 28 instead of March 1 could cost you. Check with your HR department to see if this applies to you.
Leaving anything personal behind on your computer
Make sure you scrub all relevant personal files—letters, documents, photos, whatever—from your work computer before you go, and make copies of anything you want to keep. Don’t leave anything behind with your social security number or your driver’s license on it; who knows what will be done with your computer after you’re gone.
Not taking time off between jobs
You might be excited to start your new gig, but all jobs essentially suck—that’s why they pay you instead of you paying them—so take as much time off between jobs as you can. That space between leaving the job you hate and starting the job you haven’t begun hating yet can be the most fulfilling time in your life.
Not making a clean break
You’re awesome and all, but once you leave your job, you’ll be amazed at how quickly you are replaced, and at how everything doesn’t collapse into ruin because you’re not around to hold shit down. So don’t even find out. Make a clean break.
Sometimes, though, the opposite happens, and your work realizes that you actually are invaluable in some specific way. If they call you a week later and say, “Hey, can you come back for a week to train the new person on the backend?”, resist the urge to say either “fuck off” or “sure thing, boss.” Instead, go with, “Here’s what I charge for freelance consulting.” Then ask for double or triple your previous salary. The worst they can do is say “no,” and you’ve already established that you don’t want to work there anyway.