Help me leave my job without snookering myself
September 9, 2016 9:34 PM   Subscribe

I would like to leave my job. For various reasons it would be better to do this sooner rather than later and to do so without finding another job first. How do I present this to potential future employers and how do I present it to my current boss?

I cannot entirely go into why I wish to leave the job I currently have. There is a level of disorganisation above me that is both very unpleasant to work with and which could have legal ramifications at some point (much more for my boss than I, but still, no fun for anyone). Suffice to say I want out for good reasons.

This is a very small business and my leaving will be problematic for my boss to at least some extent, however I would like to stay on reasonable terms with him, due partly to his connections in the industry. Telling him I am resigning and not moving to anything else immediately is not likely to go down well, so if anyone has any good ideas or experience of how to present this in a way that doesn't say "you are a bit crap to work for" I'm all ears.

I feel this bit is a little easier, but what is the best way to present "I walked out of my last job with nothing better to go to" to future employers? I will be able to take on a little freelance work in the interim and the free time will allow me to pursue finding a new job in a more concerted way but it still doesn't look great.

These are questions I'm not used to dealing with, I've had contract work for the last 10 years, however this job is ongoing.

The work culture is Australian, if that helps.
posted by deadwax to Work & Money (4 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
RE: How to present this to future employers. "I moved on from [previous role at previous company] in order to take a short sabbatical, during which time I completed contract work for A, B, and C, and took the following courses to improve my skills in X, Y, and Z. These experiences have helped me hone in to what I'd like to do next, which is apply my expertise in foo to the goals you have for [position].

RE: You leaving your current job. It doesn't matter if you leaving is going to be problematic for your boss. It's his job to deal with the pluses and minuses of an employee resigning from their role. Submit your resignation in writing, and keep it short and to the point. Perhaps you could say, "Boss, I am providing this letter of resignation to inform you of my decision to resign from [role] in [two weeks]. I have enjoyed working here, and look forward to supporting you and the team from the sidelines in the future. Please let me know what paperwork I will need to complete prior to leaving on [date]. Yours sincerely, Deadwax."

Then when he asks why you're leaving, you could just reiterate, "I have really enjoyed working here and am glad to have been a part of your team for the last [x] year[s]. My career goals are now taking me elsewhere, and I look forward to staying in touch and appreciate all the support you've given me since I started working here."

Finally, you could redirect his attention off you, and back to the transition of you leaving. "Here's what I have on my list of things to do before I go. Is there anything you'd like me to add/swap out?"

I mean, LBR, is he probably gonna badger you about this until he gets an answer? Yeah. Bosses are weird like that. If it were me, I'd just reiterate how you are committed to closing out as many tasks as you can prior to leaving, and that you're confident your team and your replacement will be able to pick up where you left off once you're gone. YMMV depending on the office environment you work in, obvs.
posted by Hermione Granger at 9:53 PM on September 9, 2016 [7 favorites]

You could say you are leaving to pursue a new opportunity and that you aren't ready to say who your new employer is. I've known people to leave and not reveal their new gig when they quit. You could perhaps say you are taking a few weeks off before starting your new job, but only if your boss is not likely to use this knowledge to try to persuade you to stay longer.

This might be helpful. The initial question is slightly different, but she outlines a couple of different ways people handle being asked where their new job is.
posted by bunderful at 9:06 AM on September 10, 2016

You don't need his permission to leave, and you know that but it can be hard not to feel like you do. He is in the same position if you quit and stay at home watching television as he is if you quit and get another job. He still needs to replace you or cover your job, so giving adequate notice and helping document or tie up loose ends is all you can do. "I can't really tell anyone right now," might get him off your back.
posted by soelo at 9:23 AM on September 10, 2016

Hermione nailed it but maybe you could add a white lie about a "personal/family situation" that requires your attention for the foreseeable future.
posted by raider at 12:41 PM on September 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

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