Leave a job with style
Finding it hard to shine in interviews? Don’t fret. Why not make a lasting impression when you quit? Type funny resignations into YouTube and be inspired by hordes of creative workplace quitters.
There’s the frustrated insurance worker giving notice wearing a hired banana suit, a bored barista singing his goodbyes with backing from a hired barber shop quintet and a frazzled flight attendant who snaps one day, grabs a beer from the aircraft fridge and walks off the job via the emergency inflatable slide.
(Yes, he was promptly arrested).
Last month a United States bloke gave formal notice on a cake topped with his resignation letter, each word expertly written in icing.
Michelle Pascoe has seen the great and the ugly of employee quitting in her 20 years in business as boss of Optimum Operating Procedures and Services in Sydney and the corporate trainer, speaker and coach, who currently heads 60 staff, says there are three resignation types:
– Surprise and delight: ‘‘This is the employee from hell . . . when they hand over their written resignation you can hardly contain yourself from shouting ‘hooray’,’’ Pascoe says.
– Unexpected and vindictive: ‘‘This employee has been smiling and says everything is wonderful until the day you receive an email telling you how bad you, the company and other team members are . . . then they work for a competitor and you are left in a state of shock as there was no warning.’’
– Planned: ‘‘This is the employee who you least want to leave, however, you have to accept they are moving on, there is no animosity and the door is always left open.’’
In the past year Pascoe’s experienced a planned resignation, because of pregnancy, and one that floored her.
‘‘We hired someone who always came to work happy . . . then I returned from a business trip to find her belongings all packed up, the office lights off and the key wedged under the door.
‘‘With no letter of resignation or any explanation . . . two days later I received an email detailing every day she had worked with us for the past eight weeks, like a personal journal, saying horrible comments about others and myself.
‘‘It was a sudden departure and I will admit hurtful, [but] we are so glad she left when she did.’’
Dean Minett, founder of Minett Consulting, services executives in the hotel and hospitality industries including training and outplacement coaching.
Asked how to quit with aplomb, he says: ‘‘It is all about maintaining a good reputation and retaining positive relationships.’’
Once you’ve decided to resign, think about how you want to be remembered, advises David Reddin, general manager of recruitment, development and coaching company Reddin Partners.
How do you want to be the exemployee who went to lunch and never came back or the former staff member who worked diligently right up to stumps?
‘‘In this business we’ve seen it all,’’ Reddin says.
‘‘We’ve seen the person who hasn’t received a promotion, rant and rave and resign, storming out and then have to return when their temper has cooled to collect their personal effects and say goodbye, feeling embarrassed.
‘‘The problem is that person painted themselves into a corner from which it is difficult to come out and the lasting memory of them is of that angry person. A referee has a long memory.’’
Here are expert tips on how to deliver a first-class resignation:
– Ask to meet in person – wherever possible, deliver your news face-to-face as a sign of professionalism and surety.
– Prepare – list your reasons for leaving and prepare for your manager’s reaction, which may involve offering you more money, getting angry or going quiet, Reddin says.
– Script your resignation – it is better to read from a script than choke in your meeting and fail to give your notice.
– Adopt a positive, friendly voice – this can help your boss cop the news you are splitting up.
– Write a formal letter of resignation – email or post it to your boss including today’s date and your proposed final date of employment reflecting your work’s minimum notice period.
– Offer to help train replacement – this shows consideration, as does asking when they’d like keys, security passes and car returned.
What are the sure-fire ways to a burn-your-bridge quit?
– Do ‘‘a runner’’ – you know the colleague who went to lunch and never came back? They are still running.
– Quit via Facebook – using social media to break the news you’ve quit is an emerging trend with disgruntled Gen Xs and Ys, according to Anne-Marie Orrock, managing director of Corporate Canary HR Consulting. Usually the employee doesn’t come to work and then posts they have quit their job online.
Former co-workers see it and break the news to the manager or employer.
– According to Orrock, technically it could be construed as abandonment of employment but it is a grey area because depending on what the employee says on social media it can be giving notice in writing.
‘‘Small employers need to have clear policies and guidelines around resignation procedures and what ‘written notice’ now means,’’ Orrock says.
‘‘There are legal implications around how an employee resigns that can impact the business.’’
– The meltdown – never ends well. Ending up in a screaming match/punch-up with your boss – and then slamming the door for dramatic effect – may fast-track your departure but may also end your career.