How to leave a job (my story of how I did it)

Reader dj_lissamonet asked for the best tips on how to leave a job on my post about what your deal breakers should are in love, life and work.

I don’t know if this can really be used as a solid, general guide, but this is the thought process I went through and the reasoning behind why I did what I did:

Ask self why I want to leave

Make sure it’s a list of true problems that are inherent in the company, and embedded in their processes so much so that you can’t fix it, and you feel like it’s gotten to be out of hand.

I collected evidence from about 2 years of problems, and not just small little problems like I don’t like the way the project manager formatted his word documents, but big glaring problems like From what I know about the market, they’re not paying me enough, I’ve asked for a raise, and got a pat answer about how there wasn’t enough money to go around – yet our stock price was at an all-time high.

What do you want to do after?

Meaning, what would make your second job more enjoyable? Do you want to stay in the same industry/job, but just switch companies (like me)? Or do you want to switch into something completely different?

If it’s something completely different, you have to ask other more experienced people on how they broke into the industry, how long it took, and what kind of contacts you needed. It isn’t going to happen overnight, but maybe with breaking into advertising you need to intern for a year and a half or two years before you can get a job as an assistant. Or you nave to go back to school to get another degree or certification.

Whatever it is, you need to figure out what you need to make the next move in terms of your skills and abilities.

And, how much it’ll all cost, which brings me to my next point:

Assess your Financial Situation

My second bit was to “Take stock of what you’ve gott”.

I made note of what I owed, what I had in assets, what was in my Emergency Fund, any significant upcoming expenses I wouldn’t be able to avoid such as going to the doctor, or the optometrist.

Then I took a look at my bills and my expenses. How much could I realistically live on without resorting to peanut butter & jam or beans out of a can? A regular inventory of bills from the last 6 months, and averaging out how much I spent on each category – Rent, Transportation, Food, Utilities, Clothing, Miscellaneous (oh and mark them as Fixed or Variable too).

After making that list, I went through it again and really assessed each category. Clothing for example, I could cut down to $0 or $50 if I wanted a buffer. My retirement savings, I could put on hold if need be.

After I got my final number, I multiplied it by 3 months as my BARE MINIMUM of what I needed, then by 6 months as my IDEAL situation.

They say it takes about 3-6 months before you find a job.

And if you need to go back to school – don’t forget to tack that on to the cost of leaving.

Take a look at your pay periods

I was paid bi-weekly, so I made a note of what days I’d be paid on, and had a list of dates of when I could leave (I wanted to leave on a PayDay so they wouldn’t have to owe me anything)

Take a look at your vacation times

I didn’t want any outstanding vacation, so I took all my days before I left, but I had to calculate all of that.

Assess your Mental/Work Situation

I’m a consultant, and I was in a middle of a project. I had to assess the timing. I didn’t want to leave at a critical time and leave my team lead in a mess. So I had to plan the right time to leave, that there was a lull in the project to let me create the documents and do the appropriate knowledge transfer so that my quitting would be as smooth as possible.

Assess your Living Situation

If you have a spouse, significant other or dependents to think about, you have to make sure that you take them into account (duh). Will they be able to support you, or deal with the situation while you’re off work?

Do you rent an apartment and have a lease for 12 months? In that case are you able to handle the rent if you are out for longer than 6 months? Can someone else help out? Or can you put your rent payments on hold? (I was living with my parents, they’d understand).

Do you have a Plan B

If nothing works out for 6 months, what’s your plan B to get a job and get money flowing in?

At what point will you implement Plan B? What’s the threshold to trigger going back to work in that capacity?

Mine was to work for another consulting company if I didn’t make it on my own as an independent contractor. I was going to give myself about 2 months before I started to really apply to consulting companies to join, because I knew I’d be able to find and secure another corporate job within a month or so, and I had enough money to tide me over in that time.

But that may not be the same situation for you. In your honest opinion, how fast would it take for you to get another job, AND are you willing to roll up your sleeves at Starbucks if the going gets tough? And with working at Starbucks, will you be able to make your bills without going into debt for a little while? If not, how much debt COULD you incur?

Take a look at the job market

What is out there right now?

I did a short, quick and dirty search on what was out there for what I wanted to do. I saw a LOT of job offerings which indicated to me a lack of supply, with great demand. I asked around, and it sounded like if you wanted to go independent, this was the time to do it, because the market was just too good to ignore if you were so inclined to work for yourself.

BE REALISTIC. Don’t think you’re going to get a Marketing Manager job if you weren’t even in Marketing before, and were just a manager. You may have to start off at entry level in the beginning.

And don’t put all your eggs into one basket. Try to apply to a wide range of different things. You may surprise yourself that you’re interested in Career A (Marketing) over Career B (Advertising), or Career C (Public Relations).

Ask around, give it a try and don’t be shy to go to ALL interviews. Even bad interviews for jobs you don’t want (truly don’t want, not because you don’t like the title), makes for good practice for the REAL job you want to land.

2 Weeks or not 2 Weeks, that is the question

Don’t forget to do the right thing before you leave – decide to give 2 weeks notice or not. I’m not giving advice either way – you have to make the decision, but I didn’t give 2 weeks (with a different employer I may have).

I didn’t give 2 weeks notice, but that was because I knew what I could get away with, and they really pushed me too far (I warned them). But as a courtesy (if they were good to you), you should give 2 weeks notice to keep good relations.

The thing was, I knew I didn’t have to give 2 weeks because the two (my abilities and skills) and the lack of courtesy were unrelated and irrelevant for my industry later on – they’d look at my experience (especially as an independent) over whether or not I was kind to my last employer. In my industry, they don’t really care.

They only care that I can do the job, and I can prove myself at a client site (which I can), and since it was the consulting company I worked for that screwed me over, that has no bearing on me as a consultant, unless I wanted to try and work for that company again, OR go to a client that has that consulting company that holds the contract to get the job.

However, if they’re really hard up for consultants, they’d take me, even if I left in a ‘bad’ way because the client wants what the client wants. That’s the nature of the beast.

It MAY affect a couple of jobs, but in the end, I wasn’t rude or uncivil, and they gave me the perfect opportunity to say: I’m done without repercussions, and I was perfectly polite and accommodating afterwards.

However, be prepared that if you DO give 2 weeks notice, they may oust you earlier just to get you out of there and not to pollute the office environment in case you spread rumours about why you left, or give the real reasons why you left. And/or they may treat you a LOT differently before you go.

Just consider the consequences of NOT giving 2 weeks and really analyze the situation and the contacts in the industry, and how closely they work together or are linked, and their relationships with one another. You’ve worked there long enough to know the situation.

Decide on a day to go

I decided on a day to leave, I had it planned perfectly, but then a monkey wrench was thrown in, and I left 2 weeks earlier than expected.

Be prepared for that. And roll with the punches.

It ended up being better than I could’ve ever hoped or dreamed for so in the end, it all worked out.

About the Author

Just a girl trying to find a balance between being a Shopaholic and a Saver. I cleared $60,000 in 18 months earning $65,000 gross/year. Now I am self-employed, and you can read more about my story here, or visit my other blog: The Everyday Minimalist.