How to Quit Your Job the Right Way
Got a job you hate? You can still use it to get a job you love.
Every job, from summers spent lifeguarding or sweeping up popcorn to your first real desk job, has led you to where you are today. Without building relationships at each of those workplaces, you wouldn’t have developed the skills or network to help you move on to a better position. But you left those jobs for a reason -- and you’re better off for it.
The Faas Foundation and Mental Health America's Workplace Healthy Survey agrees. Results showed that employees who spoke poorly about their workplaces were more likely to have less healthy work environments, especially in terms of rewards and support from leadership. But even if you don't love the day-to-day experience, the key to leaving your job the right way is to move on with the right attitude.
Moving on from a less-than-stellar workplace without burning any bridges is the surest way to build a solid career. But you have to know how to handle yourself. Here’s how to make the connections you need in order to create the future you want.
1. Give 100 percent through your last day.
If you want to start your own company, don’t quit your day job until you’ve built the foundation you need. Set a number or a financial milestone that will serve as your sign to jump ship and make your side hustle your full-time endeavor. It’s not unusual to see an entrepreneur quit a job and regret it soon after. Maintaining a regular job lets you keep benefits you might not be considering -- think networking opportunities, a steady income and health insurance, to name just a few.
Want to see this in action? Look no further than Jeff Bezos' experience at hedge fund D.E. Shaw. Bezos started there during the company's early years, and he quickly rose to the position of vice president. Part of his job was to research internet-based business opportunities -- and there, the entrepreneurial bug bit. Bezos started building Amazon from the ground up, and his D.E. Shaw connections were critical. He reached out to programmers associated with one of the company's partners, and from there, he was able to hire his first employee. His good work and experience at D.E. Shaw helped him seal that deal.
2. Cultivate lasting relationships.
Each experience you have is pushing you toward your ultimate goal, regardless of whether that seems true in the moment. The relationships you create with colleagues, bosses and subordinates can be the big break you need.
The connections I had built paved the way for me to move on and move up. In the early days of my company, for example, some of my prospective clients were very well-known brands. These brands had never heard of me, but my former colleagues were always available to serve as references, validating my credentials and helping me solidify new contracts.
Lead by example. When it’s time to sell your services, your colleagues will remember the skills and leadership you have shown over the years and will back you up with confidence.
3. Let your peers know you appreciate them.
You can’t expect colleagues to stick their necks out for you if you don’t put yourself out there for them, too. Make your colleagues look good; your professional relationships should be beneficial for all parties involved. Position your co-workers as rock stars, and make sure your praise reaches the boss’s ears.
In addition to creating stronger relationships, creating a culture of peer-to-peer praise can benefit companies as well. At JetBlue, employees are encouraged to submit positive reviews of their co-workers to a companywide program that rewards individuals for great performance. Those recognized receive points to either save up toward larger rewards or spend right away. Data from JetBlue shows that as more employees report being recognized, employee retention and engagement also increase. It's a win-win.
Not every job is a dream job, but every job can help lead you to the career you want. The key is to focus on creating warm relationships with your co-workers and higher-ups, not on lighting a match to burn a bridge on your way out. Follow these three tips to make sure that the job you have now is priming you for your journey to the top.
Entrepreneur Leadership Network Writer