Wednesday, May 4, 2011

What to do when you’re ready to leave (your job)

Don’t let anyone convince you that your reasons for leaving are stupid.  Whenever you’re thinking about jumping ship at your current company remember that everyone around you has made the decision to stay.  If you tell people at work why you’re fed up this will piss off most and irritate some.  This is like trying to tell a room full of Catholics that you’ve stopped believing in Jesus.  Don’t expect a lot of sympathy from them.  They will try to guilt you into staying.

Take some time off.  I prided myself on working weekends until the day I left my job.  This was stupid.  I wanted to prove to everyone that I was still loyal to the cause until the bitter end.  And in the end I handed over my badge and got my last week’s pay check just like everyone else who had ever left.  My company got the better part of that deal.  They squeezed more work out of me and the last piece of my soul.  I lost valuable time that I should have spent with family and friends.  And in the trade off between the people you care about, your soul, and a Fortune 100 corporation you should think long and hard about which choice you make.

Don’t take the first thing that you’re offered.  When you’re in a shitty work situation you’re like a starving man at a buffet.  You’re going to run for whatever will fill the hunger void, no matter how delicious it is.  Naturally you’re not going to want to wait in line for the prime rib because you’re freaking starving.   But once you’ve got a mouthful of soggy grilled cheese regret will settle in.  Recognize that literally anything is going to sound better to you when your work sucks.  I had moments before I quit my company where I would dream of packing up my car, driving back to Chicago and working at Starbucks.  It seemed like a fantasy but it wasn’t a bad idea.  Instead of giving myself some time to figure out what the hell I wanted, I dove head first into a nicely titled job.  Never mind that it wasn’t the industry I wanted to get into and it wasn’t the type of environment I typically thrive in. It was an escape from my current shitty situation.  Now I realize that if I packed up my civic and headed home the world wouldn’t have ended.  Time would have marched on.  People would have helped me get my life back together.  And my mind would have benefited from a month unplugged from a blackberry, a boss and a deadline.

Tell your mentors how much they meant to you because you’ll probably never see them again.  The one smart thing I did on my exit was set up a face to face with anyone who had ever given me sound advice.  And for those that weren’t in the area – I sent them a card or an e-mail.  I wanted to make sure that they knew just how much they had helped me in my career and how much they had shaped me as a professional.  Some person from or Yahoo! Hot Jobs will tell you to do this because it’s smart networking.  I’m telling you to do this because it shouldn’t be optional.  People get rewarded in their careers for all kinds of crazy crap.  Rarely do people get recognized for the work they did on building the next generation.  Take the time to let people know the value of their wisdom and while you’re at it send emails to old teachers that you loved as well. 

Figure out what you did wrong.  Because nothing is ever one sides’ fault.  Allowing myself to get to a point where I was well beyond miserable meant that I was a participant in my own demise.  For a long time I had refused any help from anyone.  And in the end my friends and mentors rushed to get me what I wanted to stay at the company but it was too late.  Had I let them help me much earlier in the game, things may have improved.  When you’re miserable, recognize that you were involved in some choices along the way. 


  1. I'm about to start a new gig, and this is very poignant advice about leaving the old place. Very well timed!

  2. This is great advice. I would add one more point - regardless of the current situation, never burn bridges, and always take the high road on the way out. Whatever industry you're in, it's a small world, and you're bound to run across those people again. You might even have the bad fortune to have them be in charge of your career at another job down the road.

  3. Hi Jennifer! Great and timely topic with loads of great advice! I also think it's extremely important to know what your non-negotiables are for your next job. It will make finding that next right role much easier!