Everyday Ethics

Everyday Ethics

How To Say “I Quit”–And How NOT To

First off, don’t do what I did.

I think I have mentioned
the mean boss I once had
. Well, after several months of being browbeat, the
day came when I couldn’t take it another minute. 

What’d I do? I literally packed up my things and walked out
the door that very day. I shot my intolerable employer a polite but firm
explanatory email (fingers trembling the whole time), removed any personal
files from my computer (there weren’t many), and shook the dust of that ugly
place off in search of greener pastures. Yes, I tied up my loose ends. I even
vacuumed the floor and watered the plants. But I didn’t give notice and I didn’t
return, despite knowing it’d put my boss in a bind. (My employer got her
revenge by not paying me for my last week of work, so I guess karma was at work
there.) I knew it wasn’t classy, walking out without notice. I’ve been taught
you always, ALWAYS give notice, show
gratitude, don’t burn bridges, etc.


So I don’t recommend doing what I did, necessary as it felt
at the time.

And definitely
don’t do what this guy did.

I won’t say where this happened, but this story came to me recently through a party who was directly affected by the unethical behavior of the quitter. Here’s what happened:


After being recommended for a position and having the wheels greased to ease his entry (at great expenditure of professional clout on the part of a friend of his), this person settled in to his cushy new position and made himself at home. However, after just a couple months, another opportunity presented itself. Rather than give his friend a heads-up that he was about to jump ship, this person simply bailed, without any notice, leaving his employer in the lurch and embarrassing his friend on the job. Now, I don’t know if this was, indeed, the opportunity of a lifetime, but it better have been, because he just totally burned his bridges, made himself look like a flake, ruined any chance of a good recommendation, and made his friend look bad for giving him the thumbs-up in the first place. And this was at a job where they’d treated him like gold from the get-go.


So, if you’re planning a career change, don’t do that.

Do do these few simple, ethical things:


1)     Find a good time to break the news to your employer. Schedule a sit-down if possible, and prepare a little script explaining your plans and answering any questions you can anticipate.


2)     Offer to help find and train your replacement, if feasible and desirable to your employer.

3)     Give as much notice as possible, but be firm and fair to yourself as well. The standard notice is two to four weeks.


4)     Want more tips?  Here are some great resources I found online:  

a)     Resigning With Class


b)     Leaving Your Job

c)    The Work Buzz


If you have a boss who gives you guilt trips, gets angry, or acts unethically in response to your ethical preparations to move on, take your concerns to HR, if your company has an HR department. Remember, you owe them allegiance, but you’re not their slave.

Have any words of wisdom for the working stiff?  Share your thoughts here!


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Comments read comments(2)
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posted August 25, 2009 at 7:42 pm

Excellent blog, Hillary. Never burn your bridges. The world is a
small place,particularly if you are going for a job in the same
industry. No, I never burned a bridge. Would have like to but did the
right thing.

report abuse


posted August 26, 2009 at 4:33 am

In leaving you should say it in a nice way, this can make the separation less troublesome.

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