How to become a grown-up in 468 easy(ish) steps.

Step 265: Transition between jobs elegantly

Got the following question in the ol’ in-box:

Hi Adulting,

Despite the odds, I’ve landed a well-paying job with benefits only a year out of college. I should be grateful, but I absolutely hate it. I’m miserable, and I want to quit to pursue another job I think would make me happy, but pays less. 

The company I work for is great though, and has made me feel valuable and appreciated. My question is - how do I quit this job like an adult? I want to leave this door open, and I don’t want to offend anybody for turning down this opportunity. Do I give the normal two weeks notice? Or is a month more appropriate? (Sidenote: I’m not obligated to give any notice at all. My contract stipulates that I can quit or be fired at any time.)

Thanks so much!

A not-bitter Quitter

Dear An-bQ,

Even though you didn’t ask, I’ll start with two general bits of career advice:

  1. Unless you are working in a truly toxic environment that makes you cry every time you go in, I would highly highly recommend you land that new job before quitting this one. Even though it’s self-evidently unfair and crappy, potential new employers are always more likely to hire people while they are currently employed. 
  2. If you’ve been there significantly less than a year, I would ask yourself if you can stick it out a little bit more. It gives your future self wiggle room to bounce out of a truly awful job without making you appear flighty on your resume. Caveat: If this job is in no way a career-builder and/or you find your dream job, then yes, duh, quit.  

So. That being said, this is what I would do. Start quietly, quietly looking for your new job, lining up people at your current job that they could call as a reference (hint: this will probably not be your direct supervisor, but rather someone you’ve worked closely with and are friendly with even outside of work, and can keep secrets).

When you are offered your new position, and have your offer letter in-hand (drug test/background check/etc. passed), ask if they have any flexibility on your start date. Ideally, you can ask for a month or more out.

Finally, you request a meeting with your kind boss at a time when they are not busy and appear to be in a good mood. You let them know that you are so, so grateful for your time at the company/their mentorship/a generally wonderful office environment/(anything else that applies, so long as its sincere). But after a lot of soul-searching you’ve decided that it just isn’t the right fit and have accepted a position elsewhere. BUT! You care about the company and don’t want to leave anyone in the lurch, so you can stick around for the next month and/or until they find a replacement that you can help train. 

Some will want you around as long as possible; others will just ask for your two-week notice. But this way, you’ve done the thoughtful thing.

Finally, don’t forget to submit a formal letter of resignation. You don’t have to be super emotional or effusive in it; simple is best. Here’s what’s in it:

  • You are resigning your position as (X);
  • You so appreciate the challenges and growth that you’ve experienced in the past (X) months/years;
  • Your last day will be (X) OR you are willing to work until (X) date to help smooth the transition.

Good luck!

30th Nov 2012 341 notes , Comments
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