Natalie Dibsdale | Contributing Writer | Sunday, 29 November 2015

How To Quit Your Job Like An Adult

How To Quit Your Job Like An Adult

The Debrief: Don't set fire to your desk and give your boss the finger.

You've had enough, you're sick of your colleagues, if you take one more look at Sondra from accounts you will physically be sick, your inbox makes you incandescently angry and the thought of the office christmas party is bringing you out in hives. 

You gotta leave that job, and you've got to leave it with the grace, dignity and style that you possess, in the case of some of you, deep deep down inside yourself.

Here are some handy tips, from those who have been there, done it, and fucked it up royally, and from me, a fresh resignee. Read on, suck it up, and draft that resignation letter.

Don't use your resignation as a salary negotiation

My friend Ella (not her real name for reasons that will become blindingly obvious) tried this, with interesting results: 'My first ever grown up job was in a media agency,' she told me. 'Once when I came back from holiday, I marched in, called a meeting and handed in my notice. I said, I'm leaving because I want more money. I took that Sheryl Sandberg broad too literally and I leaned in. I thought they were going to give me more money, but they just said "bye then" and let me go.'

Unfortunately it can get worse, Ella continues: 'The day I was leaving I got hammered and announced in front of a room full of clients and colleagues, and indeed a CEO, that I would do anal for a Wispa Gold.'

'Normally they say to everyone who's leaving "if you ever change your mind and it doesn't work out with this new agency, you can always come back", but with me, they just said no. You're not welcome back. I never asked them for a reference.'

Mostly, don't do any of that and you're already half way there.

Think about it. Long, hard, when you're not boiling with fury and NOT DRUNK

Take your time. Breathe. In one of my old jobs I used to get so angry with my boss that sometimes when he turned his back on me I would mouth at him 'I hate you'. But importantly, I never said it. 

I spoke to Charlie Mann, a career counsellor who specialises in working with young people who have just come out of their first jobs after university and don't know what to do next. He stressed that it is seriously inappropriate to 'respond emotionally to your situation, you might move from one job to another that puts you in an even worse scenario. Don't act impulsively.'

What helped me was to make an actual plan. I wrote down all the things that irritated me at work, the opportunities that still lay ahead of me at work, and all of the things I wanted to do with my life. I weighed it up, I costed it up. I debated it with friends until they couldn't bear hanging out with me any more. I then decided what was best for me was to leave. I used my logic and not my angry, angry heart to make a decision.

Write the perfect resignation letter

Keep it short and keep it sweet. Google 'resignation letter templates' online. Mention something about what an absolute pleasure it's been working with the company. This is not the time to write a howler à la Mrs Weasley in Harry Potter book 2 The Chamber Of Secrets. 

Use euphemisms, it will make people happier

You've got concerns and issues about the office/the work/the management/the job and you know you will never be at peace unless you share them in the exit interview. Yes, you can share them, but only if you do the following things:

Think about whether it's worth it. Is what you're saying constructive, are you offering solutions for change, or are just going to go in there and mention to your manager that you think she's an incompetent bitch from the seventh circle of hell? If it's the latter, just don't do it. Think it, for gods sake think it, by all means share it with your friends, but do you really think that bitch will change her ways because some stroppy underling says she should? Ain't gonna happen. Just move on.

If you have passed the first stage, you may now write down a list. This can contain all of your grievances, but they must all be accompanied by constructive ways to change or improve. Yes, it's your resignation homework, and if you don't do it you will get an F.

Keep the tone light. Big up to my friend euphemisms: things have been 'challenging', not a complete and utter shitstorm; your boss' replies are 'interesting' and not full of absolute shit; couch your suggestions as really good 'opportunities' for the company, not things that definitely should already have happened and would have happened if the management weren't such raving idiots.

You catch my drift. But remember to keep this level of classiness up in your next job, 'Never diss the company you have just come from,' says Charlie, 'it can rebound terribly.' You never know who's listening, or when you might need their help in the future.


Once you've handed in your notice, you're free, if only mentally. This is your time to shine: to leave a sweet, sweet grown up taste in your managers mouths. Slacking now would be a grave error. Be helpful. Ace your last projects. Work hard. Listen to their long stories about their children and laugh and ask questions. You can afford to now, because it won't be your life for much longer. You have only to breeze through the next 4-10 weeks being a consummate grown up and then you can do whatever the sweet Jesus and Mary you want to do.

Charlie also recommends asking yourself before you leave: 'What opportunities can I take advantage of here? Make contacts, get your current employer to invest in qualifications or training for you. Particularly if you are going out on your own and starting a business, it's hard to pay for your own development.'

Do not send any messages to loved ones about how your boss is a Grade A wazzock. It will be accidentally sent to them by your angry brain. If you're going to bitch about your boss, best keep everything face to face ith whispered conversations after you have scoped out that a room definitely does not contain said boss. 

Roxanne, 29, told me about her technological faux pas: 'After I quit a job I accidentally sent a message to my boss calling him a c**t. I meant to send it to my boyfriend. That was the nail in the coffin. When my boss got that message he replied saying "oh good morning to you too", and I replied saying "listen, obviously I never meant you to get that message but you treat your staff terribly.' I decided not to pretend it wasn't about him, to own up to it. 

Not ideal.

Don't cave in if they try to guilt trip you.

I've heard of managers crying when employees hand in their notice, begging them to stay, telling them everything will fall apart if they leave. If it's not right, don't let them coax you back. Remember there is a reason you're leaving, and you don't have any obligation to them beyond what's printed on your contract. In my book they're just emotionally manipulating you.

Anna* told me about her experience: 'The best job I ever quit was a great opportunity for me, but they literally worked me to death. They'd do things like offer me £20 pay rises and say we're going to give you a better title but you can't have it for three months. I quit, I didn't have a contract but I gave them three weeks notice.' So far, so adult. 'It wasn't a sensible way to quit because I just turned up one morning and said I quit. They took me out to lunch and said please can you stay? We just need you to stay for one more month and everything will be different? On the third week of me working my notice the organisation was shut down by the council. It is very childish but I was very pleased.'

Buy them a thoughtful present

Eh? But I'm leaving, surely I'm the only one who should be showered in gifts? I hear you cry. No, no, no, my friend. This is the most grown up thing of them all: to budget from your meagre earnings and to buy your company one hell of a meaningful present. A classy work mate of mine, though frustrated to the hilt when she left, bought the office a massive bottle of gin, and wrote every single one of us a personalised goodbye note in cards she had handmade. It honestly doesn't get more grown up than that. It doesn't have to be expensive, it's just to demonstrate you're a bloody grown up woman with grace and dignity.

If all else fails...

Stick to your guns, and to your principles. Some people cannot be reasoned with. Hattie, 26, was working at a pub and had a new manager, one day he tried to swindle a customer who order a drink by telling Hattie to give them a half measure, Hattie said no and poured the customer the proper drink. 'He wanted to save a measure of port, which bearing in mind he drank a bottle of wine a night he didn't pay for, was pretty rich. He took me aside that night and sat me down for an hour and lectured me for being too arrogant and for having a bad attitude and that I shouldn't disobey him. Every time I'd try to make a response he would shush me and say "I'm talking now and you're listening". I wrote out my notice when I got home, gave it to him the next day and then he black listed me on the pub circuit and told all the managers of other pubs that I shouldn't be hired again because of my attitude. In the end I got a job at another pub where people knew him and agreed he was a bastard.'

Sometimes there are unknown quantities out there that you can't ever win with, you've got to just hold your head up and chalk it up to experience. 

So, good luck my friends, let's raise a glass to pastures new and being a classy broad while going to them.

Like this? You might also be interested in...

Forget Burnout, Are You Suffering From Brownout?

How To Take Your Desk From Hated Place To Happy Place 

5 People You'll Meet At Your New Temp Job

Follow Natalie on Twitter: @femmenormale


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