There’s a certain satisfaction to leaving a job on your own terms. After years of being told what to do and how to do it, the tables are turned, for just a moment. I am now 2 weeks away from having that conversation once again. I’m heading off to South America in June with the kids for a Family Gap Year. All of our friends and family have known about our plans for a long time. Now it’s time to let my employer in on it too. I’ve rehearsed the conversation over and over, but you still never know exactly how it will go down. I’ve put this off long enough – it’s almost quittin’ time! But, first a recap of my most memorable quitting experiences, or “How to quit your job in style”.
Young and Free
When I was 19 or 20, I held a retail job at a video rental store (remember those?). It wasn’t a bad job at all – it helped get me through college. But, one night I just had enough. Fed up with some customers and who knows what else…. I just walked off the job in the middle of my shift. It was a spur of the moment thing. I told the other clerk I was quitting, clocked out, and never looked back. Immature? Yes, of course! Selfish? You bet! Did it feel Good? Oh yes, it did!
I knew I would never again have another chance to just walk off a job without giving fair notice. I also knew there would be no long-term consequences to doing it. Once I graduated from college, I would never look back. It seems kinda nuts, but I really did it for the experience – to just walk off a job in a giant hissy fit. Looking back, I definitely should have put more DRAMA into the show that night. Perhaps some sparklers or an air horn? I could have made it seriously memorable!
My first “serious” job after school was with a small consulting company in Virginia. The pay was crap, and the experience wasn’t much better. It was a dead-end job, and I was ambitious, so it wasn’t a great fit. Plus the company President was a bit of a maniacal dictator. If there’s one thing that I won’t put up with, it’s a bad boss. Once I realized the situation, I started looking for better opportunities.
Well, at that point the quality of my work started to suffer. The company President was no fool, and he called me out on it. He beckoned me into his office one Friday afternoon, and told me:
“Jojo Bobo, you’re a sharp young man, but your work lately is total crap! Are you a Team player? I want you to seriously think about it. I’m going to call you back in ONE WEEK, and I want your answer. If you don’t want to be part of the Team, you need to leave the company. If you do decide to stay, then I expect a lot more from you!”
The guy was on a serious power trip… but he was the President, so some people think that’s OK (I don’t). What he didn’t know was that I had already been applying to various jobs. I had met some recruiters and had some interviews… Things were already starting to move.
One Week Later
Wouldn’t you know it, during that next week, I had two last minute interviews which both went very well. By Friday, I had 2 JOB OFFERS in writing. One offer came the night before I was scheduled to meet with the President again, and the other arrived that same morning!
So, I walked into the President’s office that afternoon and told him:
“I’ve taken serious consideration to what you said last week. I understand that my work has suffered, and I see where you’re coming from. I thank you for the opportunities you’ve given me, but I’m going to go ahead and take the first option: I quit! Is two weeks sufficient notice?“
Ooooh, the look on his face – not what he was expecting at all! BOO-YA! I will forever cherish that moment.
Fast-forward 12 years and 3 jobs later, I was working in corporate accounting at Giant Silicon Valley Tech Company when they decided to outsource the entire department to India. Since I was the #2 guy in the department, I had a heads-up this was coming. It was not a surprise to me the morning HR called us all in to tell us the news. By that point, I was already actively searching for my next gig.
The severance offer they gave me was generous – 2 weeks for every year in service, plus accrued vacation, and vested stock options – it came out to over $100,000 total. CHA CHING! And the best thing about it? I could just take the money and run! They wanted me to stay on for several months to help close the shop. But, there were no hooks written into the severance – no financial incentives to stay – other than more time with the same salary.
Well, I’m not one to stay on a sinking ship. Less than 2 weeks after the big layoff announcement, I had an offer in hand at my next company. I just got paid 6 figures to move to a better job! Sign me up for the next layoffs, please!
My Next Adventure in Quitting
So here I am again – two weeks away from once again quitting on my own terms. I originally was going to tell them back in January. I wanted to tell them early to ensure a smooth transition. But my good wife slapped some sense into me. Nothing good can possibly come by telling your employer that you’re leaving several months before you actually leave. So, it got pushed out to February, and then to April – and here we are. All along, I’ve been struggling to stay dedicated to my job.
I know my boss is not expecting it at all, and neither are my colleagues. I’ve been careful to make sure nobody at work is aware of my plans. What makes this one unique is that I’m actually sort of retiring – I don’t have another job waiting for me, and I may not ever rejoin the corporate accounting world.
Also, I may not actually be quitting… I may continue working for my current company in some capacity. I am willing to work part-time while we are off exploring South America – if we can work out a compromise – I am just not willing to work full-time. And I can’t possibly get all of my current job done while working part-time. So, I don’t know how this conversation will end – perhaps they will choose to replace me, and perhaps we will find a way to make it work part-time while I travel the world.
Which is better? I can’t say. They both have their advantages. I guess I can’t go wrong. No downside? My own terms? That’s really how to quit your job in style.