Archive for the ‘leaving a job’ Category

Quitting by text – you be the judge

January 20, 2014

I was shocked to hear that there is now an app that helps you quit your job via text.  Available on the site of The Ladders, a highly respectable job search site, it evidently helps you identify your reasons for leaving, then helps you craft an appropriate message and send it to you boss.

I haven’t actually seen this app.  But I have REALLY strong feelings about it.

First, the very few reasons why this is an acceptable idea:

  • Personal emergencies,
  • Something unethical or illegal is happening in the workplace,
  • You were hired by text, you accepted by text, and that’s the way your workplace communicates,
  • It’s home-based employment and your workplace is centered far away.

And if any of these are true, please follow up that very day with a polite, more extensive real letter (or at least email) that is the equivalent in quality of the cover letter you once sent to get this job.

Now, why this is a bad idea for most of us:

  • It looks petty,
  • It gives a hostile feel, which may or may not be what you want to convey,
  • The app is described as humorous;  what if someone doesn’t get the humor?

Humorous? I don’t see what’s funny. I’m old-fashioned enough to think that courtesy and professionalism should rule any transaction at work.

Unless it is an emergency, please don’t do this.  I’d love a story or two on this – have you seen it?  Have you done it?  Is it in fact funny?

The shock of the text will live long after your departure.  Is this how you want to shape your legacy?

Why did you leave?

December 2, 2011

To be asked why you left your last job (or any position on your resume) is not unexpected in an interview. Why is it asked?

  • to see if your answer squares with what the potential employer may already know,
  • to assess your honesty,
  • because someone is curious,
  • because it’s conversation.

The appropriate answer is several sentences long.  Think of it as a short paragraph.  Here are a few examples:

I was returning to the metropolitan area to finish my degree, and unfortunately this meant leaving a position I had really enjoyed.  I had learned….

There was a reorganization after our company merged, and my department was deemed redundant.  I was sorry to leave, because I had developed close friendships and felt we had been an effective team.  However,…

I was laid off.  After receiving feedback about how I had not asked for help when I needed it, I decided to learn from this experience.  I took two courses in business communication, and now blog about handling professional communication.  

Is today’s employment culture so different?  Would you answer the question in the same way?

Yes and no.

The different part is the time that it takes to find new opportunities and land an offer.  To the above answers, you might add:

Luckily, I’ve always kept an active network, so I made use of my friends and colleagues to learn about new opportunities…

Of course, everything takes longer in this economy.  I have taken several short-term positions to help small businesses who are not in a position to hire full-time staff.  As you will note, one of my references is…..

Whining was never a great interview strategy, and now is no different.  Now more than ever, be positive, tell a great story about your experience, and prepare for success.

Time for a Job Change

August 24, 2009

How do you know when it’s time for a job change?

I am not talking about the obvious – being laid off, being told to start looking.  Those painful situations have the advantage of clarity – you know what you have to do.

For others, the situation is not clear.  I think there is an art to knowing when it is time to take steps.


  • Your role in staff meetings comes under fire,
  • You become identified as a problem when you raise a concern,
  • You are not given the tools/authority/assistance/space  you need to do your job.

I know one person whose job included bidding on contracts for continuing education.  He consistently told his superiors that there was increased competition for a major contract, and he needed to come in with a lower cost.  They refused to let him do this.  To no one’s surprise, the contract was awarded to someone else.  I mentioned that yes, it was time to look for another job before people started noticing that this was a highly-paid individual without much to do. The loss of the contract could be blamed on him.  Yes, he started looking, and now has a very responsible job in a major university.

Are you getting an uneasy feeling that nothing is going your way?  I suggest that you take a few steps now:

  • Update your resume,
  • Set up a few lunch meetings,
  • Get on an ad hoc committee to solve an industry-wide problem,
  • Get your financial affairs in order for a time of transition.

Yes, tough times make it challenging even to consider leaving a job with a steady salary.  Take the time you need. You will feel better knowing that you are moving in a direction of more respect, more opportunity for success and recognition, more real satisfaction.

If you would like to share some signs that it is time to look for another job, I invite you to post a comment.  This will be of help to other readers.

Burned any (job) bridges lately?

July 8, 2009
  • You resigned and told them what you really think.
  • You were laid off and told them what you really think.
  • In a performance appraisal, you spoke what was truly on your mind.
  • You told an underling what you really think about his/her performance.
  • A problem co-worker got promoted after doing less than you do, and someone asked you what you think about it.

In your answer, you may have burned a few bridges that could have furthered your career, or at least enhanced your professional reputation.

It’s understandable, we’ve all done it, and it remains a mistake.  Describing your job in anything less than positive terms always carries a risk.  Of course, it felt wonderful for a moment or two.  You had carried these negative feelings for quite a while, and you got pushed too far.  Incompetence, unethical practices, prejudice, favoritism, clique-ish behavior, and being ignored can build up internally, and most of us have expressed these feelings to the wrong people, at the wrong time.

Stop! Remember that jobs are hard to come by these days, remember that loyalty just might be rewarded, remember that you may need to be a better self-promoter.  A graceful exit is worth a lot these days.  You don’t need to stay in a negative situation, but it may take some time to find a more comfortable situation.

You need to practice your reaction to the above-cited situation.  How about these possibilities?

  • I learned a great deal in this job, and I plan to carry that information with me to the new place.
  • I will miss the chance to enhance my skills in customer interaction.
  • Yes, I agree that I need to be more accurate in my work, and here’s what I’m doing about it…
  • Timely attendance at work is of prime importance, and I have some concern about your record.
  • Joe is enthusiastic about his job, and I hope he will be encouraged to continue to grow.

Pollyanna-ish?  Yes, it is.  But you will gain nothing except momentary satisfaction in badmouthing, backstabbing, or whining.  You’ll feel proud to be the person who can put a positive spin on a negative situation, at least on the job.

If you would like some counseling on how to make the best of a bad situation, in particular, how to plan a positive exit strategy, please contact me.  There are steps you can take that will keep you on the occupational high road. Please contact me at or leave a note here.

Follow the Leader to a new Job

November 21, 2008

I heard a familiar story today – a client told me that he has just accepted a new job, in the headquarters building of a major organization, as a deputy director.

Don’t these people know that we are in a recession? How did he go out there and get such a great position?

When I asked how he did it, he replied that a former professor had proposed that he apply.

I asked the successful applicant to make some suggestions, and here they are in his own words:

  • A year ago I realized that I was not satisfied with my job.
  • I made a list of everyone in my field who could help me.
  • The list included colleagues from professional meetings, graduate school and former professors.
  • I thought about who on this list may have had professional experiences similar to mine.
  • Then I asked who seemed most willing to provide guidance, and I thought of one of my professors.
  • After I had completed my graduate program, I had kept close ties with my program, volunteering with the Alumni association andattending functions such as lectures and the holiday party. At these events this particular professor was very sociable, circulating and talking to different people.
  • The professors in the program knew me and remembered me by seeing me at events. It is probably helpful for me because I attended a school where I live, so it was not difficult.
  • Initially, I sent the professor an email to ask him about pursuing opportunities in a new specialty area. I said I would be interested in learning more about how he had transitioned into this new field. We arranged to meet for lunch.
  • During lunch I shared some of my professional experiences and he provided guidance on how he had made his transition.
  • He made suggestions about places to submit my resume. He provided me with inside info on where he anticipated there would be openings.
  • Also, he forwarded my name to the HR department in one place, as a resume to “keep an eye out for”.
  • The place that he recommended actually hired me about 7 months later. It took a while but it was worth it to make the transition from one specialty to another.

It would be a mistake to say that this man got the job only because a kind professor put in a good word for him. True, that happened, but look at how many steps took place before that event!

Morals of the story:

  • show up at alumni events,
  • take on responsibility in an organization where interesting people hang out,
  • ask questions about a successful person’s career path,
  • do what they suggest (and let them know you are doing it),
  • be patient: success often takes time!

I’m grateful to this person for sharing his successful strategy with me and with my readers. I look forward to hearing from others who have successful shifted specialties within their occupational fields.

The toxic workplace: looking at your options

September 27, 2008

Toxicity in the workplace used to mean lead in the drinking fountain or mould in the ceiling, but now it is more frequently used to refer to poisonous relationships, unhealthy power structures, and downright abusive conditions. Has this happened to you?

  • your ideas are appropriated by others who claim and get credit for them,
  • someone tells lies about you, which are totally believed,
  • you work hard and it’s never good enough,
  • some people get preferential treatment and you’re not one of them,
  • you begin to feel worthless.

What are your options? As I see it, you’re in a stay or go forced choice.

If you stay:

  1. line up witnesses
  2. dress and act more professionally than ever in your life,
  3. ask for mediation,
  4. enlist allies, all of whom will speak to different, related points of concern,
  5. remain unemotional,
  6. keep working hard, showing that you don’t bog down under pressure,
  7. activate your network and update your resume.

I would love to say that you will have success, that you will have the poisonous person/persons/policies removed, but I know better than to make rash promises.

If you go:

  1. remember that life is too short to be miserable (and misery is bad for your health),
  2. be proud that you tried hard to remedy the situation,
  3. stay in touch with your talents and experience,
  4. prepare to explain why you left the position without whining (sample: I found that the stress on the job kept me from focusing on what I was hired to do, and I want to focus more on ….),
  5. vow never again to let yourself be so caught up in the job that you get dragged down by drama and power plays,
  6. build a strong team that will be supportive and sharing.

I am assuming in this discussion that toxic situations have not happened to you before. On the next job, you will be more alert to office games and refuse to play them. If, however, this happens to you a lot, then it is time to consult a career counselor to examine the patterns in your work life that invariably lead to grief. It doesn’t have to be this way.

For further discussion, please write a response below. Or visit my website at for contact information.

When you can’t stand the job another day…

February 5, 2008

Are you at the breaking point? Do you feel unappreciated day after day, doing the work of several people, rarely getting to work in areas of your expertise?
Are you dreaming of saying what you really think or feel, walking out the door into happiness?
Stop! There are many things to consider before you leave, and one of them is to stay.
I don’t think everyone should stay in a miserable situation. But if there are financial reasons, and your retirement eligibility makes it worthwhile to stick it out another year or two, please stop and consider your options.
There are often ways to create some fun for yourself and maybe gain some recognition in the meantime. Take a small piece of your job and decide to do it differently and better. Learn a new skill while you are at it.
Asked to collect pledges for next year’s charity campaign? After you groan, stop and think. What could make this bearable? What could you use in this assignment that could make your job better? What can you do to amaze yourself and your co-workers?
While you are making yourself laugh, you can also reward yourself by getting some information about your future. You can consult with the benefits person about your pension. Sometimes understanding what awaits you can make the job seem more acceptable.
However, if you are determined to leave, you can use this time to begin the job search, carefully, discreetly, and with confidence. Don’t lose your temper, do detach from the people who are making you crazy (or trying to), and do accomplish one more thing on the job that you can discuss with pride. If you are too distraught to plan your escape with finesse, seek out some coaching on how to do it right. Please contact me through

The Career Coward: is there a cure?

January 14, 2008

For the phrase Career Coward, I am indebted to the author Katy Piotrowsky. The complete title of her very useful little book is The Career Coward’s Guide to Changing Careers. There are many people who are petrified at the thought of going out and looking for a job, or even applying for a transfer/promotion in their own organization. Sweaty palms and high anxiety loom at the prospect.
This paperbook, new in 2008 from JIST, breaks down the job search into small steps, which seems like a tried-and-true way to proceed. In addition, the author has inserted case studies and reality checks throughout the book.
• If you are a young person in your life who seems to be in no haste to get that first job, fear might be the reason and this book might help.
• If the book itself is not enough, it may be time to seek out an experienced career counselor or coach, who will be supportive and encouraging (yet structured) during the stressful pursuit of a job.
• To make an appointment or to read a complete book review, please visit” .