In the 1999 movie Office Space, Jennifer Aniston plays Joanna, a waitress at a restaurant who in one scene becomes frustrated with her manager when he insists she wear more "flair," or buttons, on her uniform. Incensed by his request, Joanna decides to quit on the spot, in full view of the diners, and with an angry outburst that concludes with her giving the middle finger to her now former boss.
This very funny scene has entered the ranks of the most iconic job-quitting scenes in cinema. Of course, it's just a movie --nobody would really quit in such melodramatic fashion, right?
While it might make some people feel good temporarily, such behavior could end up damaging relationships that they might need to rely on in the future. This is particularly problematic in a world that is far more globally connected and where information about a person's reputation and personal brand is so much more transparent than ever before.
According to a study published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in March 2015, the average U.S. worker currently holds about twelve different jobs before the age of 48. Since you will inevitably leave your company--whether to go to another company or to start a new one--you need to know how to resign in a way that cultivates positive relationships and leaves the door open for new opportunities.
Here are a few tips for leaving your job with style--and a really good recommendation letter:
1. Share a positive narrative that explains why you're leaving.
It's tempting to use the period when you're transitioning out of your company to vent your frustrations and disclose the disappointments that led you to your decision. Instead, share a narrative that acknowledges the positive aspects of your experience at the company you're leaving, and highlights the reasons how your next move will help you reach your longer-term career goals.
2. Take a few moments to thank those you worked with.
Leaving a job is a good opportunity to say a few words of appreciation to those you worked with. Some choose to share these notes widely, some prefer to make them more individualized. Phone calls or in-person chats add an extra personal touch for those you've worked most closely with.
3. Complete any unfinished tasks or projects.
Discuss priority projects with your manager and colleagues and agree to the ones you'll continue to work on before you leave. While you may not be able to bring every major project to completion, keep working as though you were planning on staying on board for a good while.
4. Provide a thorough handover of materials.
This includes a detailed list of the current status and next steps for outstanding tasks and projects, and a list of all relevant materials with detailed directions on how to access them, including any usernames and passwords that might be needed.
5. Stay in touch.
Making the final break can feel liberating, but you'll want to stay in touch with your employer and the key people you worked with. You might need to reach out to them for access to documents that prove your employment there. And, of course, you never know when you'll need to reach out to someone at a previous employer for a recommendation letter that just might help you land your next dream job.