Job quitting anxiety
December 8, 2016 12:26 PM   Subscribe

I have to tell my boss that I am not going to renew my contract at Awful Inc. and am really nervous about the whole thing and never finding any (better) job ever again.

I have been working at Awful Inc. for almost two years now and my contract only has five more weeks to go. It is generally expected that people's contracts are renewed, and I don't think they expect me to say no.
However, I have had enough. While I have some nice co-workers, the general organisation is dysfunctional, and my department of six people consists of my spineless boss who lets my awful co-worker run rampant, a second boss who is nice, but doesn't help and I think at one point tried to manipulate me with tears, two nice women and me. The awful co-worker who I share an office with is generally disliked by most people, but since she schmoozes up to my bosses (and kicks down to me), problems like her giving me only half the information I need, giving me wrong information or taking my calls in my absence and pretending I don't work there are not taken care of, and when I complain get blamed on me. Just last week, my boss told me that we had a communication problem, and once during a "mediation" meeting between us, I aired legitimate complaints that weren't personal issues, but had negative consequences on my ability to do my job, and she countered with "well, but she always looks so busy, so I couldn't tell her X and Y!" and other bullsh*t complaints and my boss accepted those and weighed them as much or more than mine. Nothing has changed so far; the woman still withholds information from me (she was there before me), refuses to call me by my name unless bosses are around, and spends all day making noise or sleeping while I work and my boss tells me my communication skills need work. I have had it.

As you may know from previous questions, I have decided to go back to grad school in Japan and get married. I am excited about that and about getting away from here, but I also worry I might not find anything after I graduate in two years, especially since we will be bound to locations my husband can work as well. (We have different nationalities, language skills and qualifications.) I think that with my skills, I will never be out of a job, but I might not get to pick locations or industries, and I worry about getting my master's just to end up as an administrative person/secretary again because those are the most common jobs for people with my skillset. (I speak Japanese at a very high level, but have no interpreter training because the market for German - Japanese interpretation (or non-native English thrown into the mix) is not big.) I have had recruiters after me before, so I know I will have work, but I would hate to end up in a situation like this again where I don't like my job and still have to be away from my husband for work... I would prefer not to be a housewife, but I guess I could always stay at home for a while and try a writing project I wanted to do for ages, work part-time or volunteer a but to stay employable and keep looking.

I have never quit a professional office job, but when I quit my job as an au-pair (I also asked for advice here), and in the end got yelled at by my host father for the inconvenience I caused him. I fear my boss' reaction tomorrow as well, especially since he probably expected me to give longer notice. (People who quit within a contract period need to give two months' notice, but I checked with our lawyer and she said my contract ends automatically and my boss should have just asked sooner.) I also feel like not everything is terrible there, the pay is good and some co-workers are great, so shouldn't I be happy I have a job at all in this economy? I know most of this is my anxiety speaking, and I also know I have been complaining about work for months to my family, friends, fiancé, therapist etc. and they all think I should quit.

Am I being irrational here? If I quit, how do I do it?
posted by LoonyLovegood to Work & Money (15 answers total)
'I have never quit a professional office job' -> You're not actually quitting as in resigning, though. You're just not renewing the contract.

One job I had, when I wasn't going to renew, I just told my boss and that was that (admittedly I left on good terms and I let them know about 6 weeks in advance as a courtesy).

Just tell your immediate line manager 'Hey, just to let you know that I'm not planning on renewing in January, I have other plans'. Leave on good terms and don't burn any bridges. Help with the transition if they ask you to. Done.

If on the other hand he gets angry, then you're better off out of there anyway.

You're not an employee. This is a business to business arrangement.
posted by plep at 12:35 PM on December 8, 2016 [5 favorites]

"Boss, I will not be renewing my contract on DATE because I am relocating to Japan for grad school. Thank you for the opportunity here at Awful, Inc. - what can I do over my remaining 5 weeks to make the transition easier?"
posted by kimberussell at 12:36 PM on December 8, 2016 [36 favorites]

Going back to school offers you the perfect opportunity to gracefully bow out of the job. If you can stomach it for a few extra weeks, offer to stay the extra three weeks past the current contract expiration so they have two months notice to find someone new. From my personal experience, working an awful job is a lot less stressful when you know that you're on the way out the door and that in a few months it'll just be fading into memories.

You're always going to have a certain amount of risk leaving a job to go back to school, but you're also getting married and starting an exciting new phase of your life.
posted by Candleman at 12:45 PM on December 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

You don't even have to talk about it in terms of not renewing the contract. Just say "Hey, so big news! Partner and I are moving to Japan in January and I'm heading back to grad school there." Then in the conversation that follows you can say that you'll be in your job until the end of your contract. I mean they haven't offered you a new contract to sign so they can't really give you a hard time about notice.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 12:49 PM on December 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

Please stop worrying. In these times, it seems as if every single thing we do will have terrible long-term consequences, and I PROMISE you that is not the case. There are always twists and turns along the way, and honestly I've rarely ever heard someone say "oh man, if I just hadn't done that thing ten years ago, everything would be ok." What I have heard many, many times is just the opposite. "I'm so glad I did X, or found the courage to do Y."

I totally agree with the approach Candleman advises. Move forward in a positive manner!
posted by raisingsand at 12:50 PM on December 8, 2016 [7 favorites]

This recent xkcd cartoon says it all.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 12:59 PM on December 8, 2016 [2 favorites]

I forgot to mention that I really don't want to tell them what I'm doing next. They have been awful to me (I have been yelled at, gaslighted, sexually harrassed), and this is a culture that still thinks women quit their jobs after getting married, so I don't want them to a) be able to use that as an excuse for my leaving and b) make it harder on the next young woman. They also asked me when I started if I wanted to stay on long-term and I said yes, so I don't want to seem like I just changed my mind - they drove me out. This is not vindictiveness (okay, maybe a little), this is me trying not to seem fickle - although I guess no matter what I do or so, unreasonable people are unreasonable.

I could stay on extra two weeks, but not much more and have already considered offering that, but it depends on how they'll treat me.
posted by LoonyLovegood at 1:12 PM on December 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

"a better opportunity" is all the detail they need about where you're headed after non-renewal, then.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 1:32 PM on December 8, 2016 [2 favorites]

You don't have to tell them anything. "I'm not renewing my contract, have a nice day" is perfectly reasonable, but the best way to avoid bad feelings and unpleasant situations is to offer a very good reason for why you are leaving, so you are going to have to weigh your priorities.
posted by Rock Steady at 1:49 PM on December 8, 2016 [2 favorites]

it is under YOUR control how much or how little information you provide.
Be kind to yourself.

In order to be professional, all you have to do is notify your employer that you are not renewing when your contract ends. I have done this with employers that I've loved and employers that I've hated.

The only difference is that with employers that I've loved, I have verbally shared some of my plans.
But either way, it starts out the same--notice that I am not renewing my contract.

Who cares what they ask about-- you can tell them anything--or nothing.
'I have another opportunity I am interested in pursuing.'
'I am relocating.'
'I have another offer that I have accepted.'
posted by calgirl at 1:53 PM on December 8, 2016


Also, these people will have zero contact with you ever again, and even if they do, how they feel about you is none of your business!

You can not control their culture or how they treat others.

PS - that coworker is stuck there, you get the rest of your life to enjoy. She knows this deep down. She's stuck, you have options. That's all this is. Anyway, congratulations on everything! Including leaving Awful, inc.!!
posted by jbenben at 2:12 PM on December 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

Kimberussel had the thread-winning response. Please ignore your instinct, and the suggestions of further posters, to withhold that reasonable level of detail that you are relocating to graduate school. Quitting without any explanation is a universally regarded as a hostile gesture and you have ZERO upside in leaving a negative taste in people's mouths.

Also, it's not like that where you're going and the fact that it is somewhat an accommodation of your fiance is something you can hide from them. Whatever reinforcement of stereotype that will cause is already in the books and not your problem or fault. What's up to you is if you go out classy.
posted by MattD at 3:00 PM on December 8, 2016 [2 favorites]

In my professional firm people resign regularly without having a new job lined up because the notice period is quite long, the pay is such that they've got some savings to fall back on and unemployment is very low. Some search and find a job during their notice period, a lot of them take time to travel or whatever before starting a new job. So I don't know that there would be an expectation in Switzerland for a leaver to have a very specific plan to share, especially for foreigners your age.
posted by koahiatamadl at 4:26 PM on December 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

They know how contracts work. Your lawyer gave you excellent advice: feel totally free to take it.

Listen to your gut and don't give them any details. It's fine to just say "I found a better opportunity" IF they ask. If they don't ask? You can just leave at the end of your contract.

As for the answerer who said this is viewed as "universally hostile" I believe that is the universe known as the USA as shown in their profile. Employment law in the USA being incredibly lax, this leads to we Americans needing to somewhat make up for it on the emotional labor i.e. "networking" side. Over here in Europe, where you are, we have the comparative luxury of much stronger employment law that employers are required to know and cannot, by law, pretend they don't know. Bolded because as another American, it took me a while to realize to just what extent employers here will string along a naïve American who explains things. I'm an elected employee representative here in France, so I know of what I speak now.

Rest assured, if they don't ask, your leaving after the end of your contract will not be seen as hostile. If it is, that'll last all of about a week or two on their end and will be a sign of immaturity and unprofessionalism on their part. As in no one would take them seriously if they said, "omigosh, LooneyLovegood left without explanation when her contract finished! How hostile!!" Yeah, no. Anyone who knows how contracts work here would raise an eyebrow and make a little mental note: "this company has no idea how contracts work."

The best way for employers to learn to respect legal obligations, by the way, is to respect them yourself. If you can and want to touch base with your lawyer again about that, just to be absolutely sure, then do. But they gave you excellent advice already: your contract ends automatically, and your boss didn't ask early enough. You have every legal right to leave when it ends.

FYI to American responders: contracts here are much more written in stone than in the States, and employers who come across someone who doesn't understand that and favors the nicer American approach of networking, will absolutely take advantage of it to pull grey-area work stuff. My network got stronger, not weaker, when I stopped letting companies here compromise on contractual obligations.
posted by fraula at 2:27 AM on December 9, 2016 [3 favorites]

I did it! Thank you, everyone!!
He wasn't mad, just surprised I wasn't happy and didn't feel appreciated (???), and we talked about the transition period. I ended up offering to stay another month because $$$ and he was happy about it.
posted by LoonyLovegood at 9:01 AM on December 9, 2016 [4 favorites]

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