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Wave Bye-Bye

Vivia Chen

March 13, 2011

IQuit Spring is in the air, business is picking up, and lawyers are hot commodities again. So let's talk about something we've been itching to cover: quitting your job!

For those of you who have been waiting for that recession to lift so that you can skip to another position, your ship is finally coming in. If you've been interviewing for another job, you might be wondering about the protocol for quitting.

The first rule, of course, is not to gloat that you're getting out of your hellhole. As Corporette puts it: "We’ve all had daydreams/fantasies of screaming “I QUIT!” and rushing out the door, cardboard box in your hands, wind in your hair, as inspiring music plays." (May I suggest blasting "Take This Job and Shove It" over the office PA?)

But for the sake of your career, take the long-term view. Here are some tips for making a good exit:

1. Quit with a smile. "Say how much you’ve enjoyed working there . . .  that you’ve learned a lot," advises Corporette. "It doesn’t matter how much your current job drove you away, or how your new job will be so much more awesome--leave on as high a note as you can."

2. Give two to four weeks' notice. Though two weeks’ notice is required, Corporette says that in fields like law and banking, four weeks might be appreciated.

3. Don't forget the bonus. "If possible," writes Corporette, "wait to resign until the money has cleared your checking account. I’ve heard far too many stories of someone resigning after bonuses were announced but before they were actually paid out, and then not getting the bonus and kicking themselves." Moreover, if your new employer wants you to start immediately, and you're still waiting for your bonus from your current firm, Corporette suggests that you negotiate with your new firm to make up the difference.

4. Keep busy until you leave. Finish whatever major project you have, advises Corporette, and "don’t screw over your old employer when you leave. Leaving on good terms is the goal here: You still want recommendations and the ability to network with your former colleagues and bosses." Corporette readers suggest maintaining a respectable level of billings--say, five hours or so a day.

Finally--a point I'd like to address: How to handle that exit interview? Be truthful about that horrendous partner you've had to endure, or the document reviews that could have been done by a monkey? Or should you just gloss over the negative points and emphasize the positive? If I'm asked for my views, my instinct is to spill my guts about how ridiculous, inefficient, and demoralizing the firm/company has been. I could happily rant about everything from the nonsensical organizational structure to the lousy snack selections in the vending machine.

But please, don't do what I'd do. Smile--and just say it was a privilege to work there.

Readers, do you have any advice about quitting?

Do you have topics you'd like to discuss or tips to share? E-mail The Careerist's chief blogger, Vivia Chen, at VChen@alm.com.

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Comments

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Cool... I also found some other great pointers on how to quit http://howtohacklife101.blogspot.com/2011/08/how-to-quit-your-job.html

Hey Allen,

I definitely will. I just find it a bit distressing when someone suddenly resigns and never even tells you the reason. It's like we were never friends.

Thanks a lot by the way.

I wrote a couple of posts on the topic if you are interested

I don't see why quitting a job for some seem so easy. Most people I know would simply submit their resignation letters and never go to work the next day. I mean that's it, that's their way of quitting their jobs.

Two weeks is a courtesy--not required at all.

Such a timely column in this day and age where no one in their right mind would quit their jobs. You've got your finger on the pulse, you do!

Nice post. Law firms often handle departures really badly, and to be honest I think that's rarely in anyone's interests.

As a result, how many law firms have really successful alumni programmes? I suspect the answer is pretty small.

I wrote a couple of posts on the topic if you are interested

http://intelligentchallenge.wordpress.com/2011/01/24/can-you-quit-your-job/

http://intelligentchallenge.wordpress.com/2010/11/08/when-good-people-leave/

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About The Careerist

The Careerist takes an inside look at how lawyers shape their careers and manage their lives. The blog aims to dissect developments in the profession, provide useful information and advice, and give lawyers a platform to voice their views. The goal is to provide a fresh, provocative take on the state of lawyering.

About Vivia Chen

Vivia Chen

Vivia Chen, The Careerist's chief blogger, has been covering the business and culture of law firms for a decade. A former corporate lawyer, Chen is fascinated by those who thrive (as well as those who don't) in the legal profession. Her take: Success in the law (and life) doesn't always travel a linear path. If you have topics you'd like to discuss or information to share, contact her: VChen@alm.com

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