How can I tell the world I am leaving a job
September 15, 2022 6:59 PM   Subscribe

I decided to leave a highly visible job at a startup and am going to communicate that to the world (I mean, my professional network on LinkedIn). What is the nest way to go about it?

I decided to end a really messed up situation at a startup and communicated my decision to the founder, who said he was “sorry but could understand my decision”. Tomorrow is my last day.

We will communicate that to the team tomorrow as well. Since I will resume my freelance work (which I never really left because it all felt so wobbly at this startup) I want to tell the world I am available and doing my own thing. Even though the founder told me he would prefer the communication around my departure to be reactive, so he’d rather see me go quietly which I obviously can’t (and won’t) do.

My reputation is quite solid, I collaborate with very big names, but I have no big “next play” lined up. I will go back to doing what I have always done previously, which is being a successful free agent. But people expect traditional moves, so going from one job to the next - and at the same time, I need to control my own narrative. After all, I was the one who decided to leave. And I am relieved to leave this abusive relationship. On the other hand, there is a team that will carry on, and I want to minimise the negative impact of my departure for them.

But as noted, I want to avoid leaving room for interpretation. Can the hive mind offer suggestions on ways I could approach this announcement on LinkedIn? Thanks!
posted by longjump to Work & Money (10 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Like any job transition, the less you actually say, the better: "It's been an amazing X years working with the team at Y. I'm sad to leave, but so excited to get back to freelancing full time!".
posted by so fucking future at 7:29 PM on September 15 [32 favorites]

It's also, I think, permissible to add a brief statement of what you do now, along the lines of "Need your frannistans ishkabibbled? Love to hear more at"
posted by humbug at 8:06 PM on September 15 [4 favorites]

I really like so fucking future's script but I would leave out the part about being sad to leave. "It's been an excellent X years working with the amazing team at Y. I'm so grateful for the experience and now excited to work at [your own company]. I look forward to collaborating with old and new clients!"
posted by smorgasbord at 8:10 PM on September 15 [11 favorites]

Also, so glad you could leave that toxic situation. I don't know you but I am sure you made the right choice and it sounds like you have a great plan. It's kind of you to think of the people staying behind: you will be showing your nice colleagues that they, too, can leave. Maybe even with time you can potentially help them network to find better opportunities (or should I say escapes?)
posted by smorgasbord at 8:14 PM on September 15 [1 favorite]

It's not usual to explain why you left a job on LinkedIn. If you don't want to be dishonest, you can just say "I've finished at X and am now available for freelance work". I'm confused about why this is difficult. I feel like I'm missing something. Can you elaborate on these two bits?
he’d rather see me go quietly which I obviously can’t (and won’t) do.
I want to avoid leaving room for interpretation
Why? What is the problem you're trying to solve here.
posted by caek at 8:28 PM on September 15 [8 favorites]

I mean this in the nicest way, this is not a big deal so don't overthink it. People in the startup space know how the game is played and people outside of it don't care. As long as you're not torching bridges, it's just part of the industry. If your leaving will literally lead to them capsizing, that's on them, not you.

As above, "I've enjoyed my time at FOO but it's fine to move on to my future endeavors. I'm available for consulting or long term engagements."
posted by Candleman at 8:50 PM on September 15 [7 favorites]

I've also seen people word it as e.g. "heading off for new adventures", which hopefully implies both a) your current freelance clients have nothing to worry about, and b) that you're interested in being approached for new opportunities, as opposed to already having something lined up that can't yet be announced.
posted by Merus at 10:28 PM on September 15

You're asking a smart question and approaching it thoughtfully.

Here's my understanding of your question: You may be used to presenting your transitions in terms of an offer you couldn't refuse, such as a new prestigious challenge, a higher rung on the ladder, or a more interesting company that pulled you away.

Lacking that shiny object this time, it might feel like your announcement lacks punch, or a win. It could even feel a little bit like a small step backwards. It's a valid concern, and it is something (some) people will pick up on. You may even feel this way personally sometimes.

The way to control this narrative is to turn it inwards to yourself. It's not about your last job or your next job. It's about you and your life. You're making this transition because you...
* Are thankful for experience, but realized freelancing gives you a freedom you want to prioritize right now

* Feel you can make a bigger impact by focusing your time on helping established widget makers make widgets

* Want to take time to explore the world/recharge/do a bucket list item while you're in good health, but will maintain select availability for a special projects and clients

* You have a new/renewed interest in telling certain stories. They're important to you because XYZ.

Functionally, these are all dressed up versions of the corporate classic: "Leaving to spend more time with my family."
posted by matrixclown at 10:37 PM on September 15 [13 favorites]

One really simple way to make it clear that you are leaving and there's no ambiguity about whether you were asked to do so is to include "I've decided" or anything referencing that it was YOUR decision to go.

"I appreciate the experience and knowledge I've gained at XYZ Startup, but have decided to return my full attention to my business [ABC]. Looking forward to the collaborating with companies and helping them achieve [xyz]."
posted by misskaz at 4:51 AM on September 16 [7 favorites]

Having seen a few folks moving around recently (tech industry), I just wanted to say that I agree very strongly with what matrixclown says above and I highly encourage you to consider if it rings true for you personally.

Within my broader social group, you can generally tell why someone left -- if they have a narrative, it's because they got a great offer, or they're chasing after something new and exciting. If they do NOT have a narrative, it's because they're being let go or they're running away to nowhere in particular. This is, of course, not actually true but it's how they're being perceived.

If you have a narrative, you were not surprised by this change in employment. If you do not have a narrative, you were surprised.

So construct your narrative, as matrixclown suggests. Don't appear to be surprised.
posted by aramaic at 7:39 AM on September 16

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