Not-Quite-Friday Frivolity: Quitting Via The Front Page

I know, I know…it isn’t technically Friday yet.  But it’s my Friday, so as soon as the ol’ quitting bell rings, I am dashing out of here to catch a flight home for a three-day weekend.  I’m looking forward to it – a little family time (but not too much), a lot of good eatin’ (tamales and kolaches and brisket, here I come!), and a little bit of do-goodery with an organization that I’ve been involved with since childhood.  All in all, I believe I’m in for a pretty stellar weekend.

Of course, the guy whose probably going to have an even BETTER weekend is Greg Smith, whose op-ed in the New York Times yesterday made quite a stir.  Smith, who was an executive director over at Goldman Sachs, quit in the most spectacular fashion – by penning a harshly-worded screed on all the ways his soon-to-be-former employer was terrible.  The diabtribe is a bit ridiculous – he doesn’t really say anything about Goldman Sachs that hasn’t been said before and he totally humblebrags his Rhodes Scholar status and a bronze medal at the Maccabiah Games but it does make an impact.  Many of us have said terrible things about past jobs but most of us do it over drinks, on a blog, or in an email – not in the largest local metropolitan paper in the country!

What’s truly great about Smith’s missive is that he gave me some great Internet finds for me to with you today.  The first is a brilliant spoof of the editorial, written from the perspective of Darth Vader.  With lines like “the Empire today has become too much about shortcuts and not enough about remote strangulation. It just doesn’t feel right to me anymore”, any self-respecting Star Wars nerd will be rolling.  And, over at NPR, they’ve pulled together a list of four great “I Quit!” moments that may just inspire you to pull a Greg Smith.  Naturally, Stephen Colbert had a few quips for Smith as well, reminding him that there’s a “sacred trust” on the Street.

[Update]:  Slate posted a series of “Why I Quit…” parody quotes that are just too funny not to share.  This definitely wins for concluding with a pretty hilarious Stringer Bell quote:

I sat in meetings that were all about taking over corners. How many corners do we need?
—Stringer Bell, “Why I Am Leaving the Baltimore Drug Trade,”

[FURTHER UPDATE]  I know, I know – two updates to one silly little post is a bit much, but a dear friend who wishes to remain anonymous as they do not have the kind of job where one should be reading Vanity Fair online pointed me to VF’s own parody – Why I’m Quitting Pinkberry.  Worth reading simple for the line that reminds us that Pinkberry is “world’s largest and most important remaining vehicles for Cap’n Crunch

Whether you’re inspired to quit your job, writing your own (never to be published) version of all the ways your employer is the worst, or just enjoy giggling at someone else’s public display of disaffection, let’s all thank Greg Smith for giving us a little frivolity for the weekend!

How To Quit Your Job (in 5 Easy Steps)

As you may remember, a few months ago I was struggling with my current job.  As with most jobs, it had its pros and cons but as I realized it was time to move on, I started job hunting aggressively.  It took a few months but just last week, I was offered a new position with a university- with a pay increase and tuition benefits!  While the job is outside of my field (more on that tomorrow…), it offers me the stability that my current job does not (I may have been facing a move to another city by summer, which is not part of my plan!) and the opportunity to possibility to go to graduate school.  This means a lot of change is coming my way in the new year but first, I have to get down to brass tacks…leaving my current job.

In the past three years, I have left many jobs but never in this circumstance – I’ve been fired, I’ve been let go, I’ve been in positions that were eliminated, and once I left a part-time/temporary gig for another temporary gig.  This time, I’ve had to sit down and plan how to leave my current position in the best way possible, which naturally involved making this handy list of the 5 steps to leaving your job!

1.  Find another job first.  In my particular circumstance, it made sense to secure another position and finalize the details before notifying my current employer.  This gave me leverage to negotiate a salary increase, choose a start date that would be beneficial to current job (to leave on a good note), and to buy myself as much time as needed to mentally prepare.  While this is not a necessity, it’s the best way to start this process.

2.  Tell your boss in person.  It may be tempting to send an email or leave a letter on someone’s desk, but a face to face conversation is needed when giving notice of your intent to leave.  I practiced what I was going to say with my mom during the post-Thanksgiving drive home and it really helped me work out exactly what I wanted to say and what I needed to ask.  Be sure to reiterate all the positive things you enjoyed about the job you are leaving, outline all tasks that need to be completed before you go, and to secure any future recommendations/references you would like to have.

3.  Follow-up with a letter.  If previous difficult employment situations have taught me nothing, it’s that you need to have everything in writing.  After your conversation in person, write a brief, one-page letter reiterating what you discussed and be sure to include all details (final date of employment, major tasks to be done, any necessary HR details like leftover vacation time, bonuses, etc.)  Be sure to keep a copy for yourself.

4.  Organize your business.  Have you ever started a new job and stepped into a mess that the person before you left behind?  DON’T BE THAT PERSON.  I’m convinced there’s a cubicle in the seventh ring of hell for those people.  Do your very best to leave your desk/filing cabinet/electronic data/coffee maker/pen cup/whatever in a more organized state than it was presented to you.  This makes a good impression on the supervisors you are leaving behind and it’s amazing karma for all the jobs you will start in the future.

5.  Leave no trace.  Just as you would never dream of leaving behind a granola bar wrapper in a state park, leave no trace of your personal life at your old job.  You would be amazed how many people feel comfortable leaving their old tax forms behind, just begging for someone to indulge in a little identity theft, or a trail of personal emails sent from the business email account.  Be sure to take or shred all personal data (except what is kept in HR records with the company), clear any private electronic data (trust me, the new person will dig through your old files), and any personal tchotchkes.

Above all, be sure to be gracious, resist the urge to say what’s really on your mind about your coworkers, and remember that your future references are based on those final impressions just as much as the first impression you made when you started.

Any other tips for quitting a job?  I would love to hear your stories of departure!