There are plenty of great jobs out there and plenty of terrible ones. When you find yourself in one of the latter, you probably spend a lot of your time fantasizing about moving on and looking for a better opportunity elsewhere.
When you’re finally ready to move along, it’s tempting to quit in a spectacular sure-to-go-viral fashion. Maybe you want to put on some Kanye and make a video announcing your exit. Maybe you’d like to deploy the emergency slide and scoot right on out of there. Yes, it sounds fun and the satisfaction would be sweet -- for about five seconds. Then it would be awful.
Don’t do it! Apart from eliminating your eligibility for unemployment benefits, quitting your job with a dramatic spectacle is bad for other reasons, too.
You’ll only make yourself look bad
Even if you have legitimate complaints about management, how you’ve been treated, or some other aspect of your employment, leaving with a grand gesture will make those points moot.
“Although tempting, throwing a fit makes the employee look juvenile and will negate any relevant reasons one may have for leaving a company,” says Andrea Berkman, founder and CEO of The Constant Professional, a job readiness and personal brand development tool.
You’ll permanently damage your professional reputation
Thanks to social media, potential employers are no longer limited to just calling the HR department at your old job for a reference, says Jewel Bracy DeMaio, a professional resume writer and job search coach at Career Toolbox. Now, the employer can “see all the staff at your company and reach out to practically anyone you've ever touched. It would be quite easy to find someone who knew you who is open to giving the skinny on the type of person you really are.”
Thanks to the ever present “mutual friends” function on most social networks, this extends to others in your industry, not just places you’ve worked in the past. It’s all too easy for prospective employers to see your connections and for word of your bold exit to make the rounds.
You could land yourself in legal trouble
JetBlue flight attendant Steven Slater slid his way out the door and earned cult celebrity status, but “few people remember that Slater paid a stiff price for his 15 minutes of fame,” says business attorney Mark Chatow. “To avoid jail, Slater pled guilty to a charge of criminal mischief, was forced to attend drug and alcohol counseling for 12 months, and paid restitution to JetBlue of $10,000.”
If your spectacular departure breaks the law or is in violation of any kind of employment agreement, non-disclosure agreement, or non-disparagement policy, there could be legal ramifications. “An employee who goes out ‘in style’ and then posts a picture, video, or even a tweet about it could potentially be going from a blaze of glory directly into legal hot water if their former employer decides to pursue litigation,” says Chatow.
You’ll distract people from seeing your great qualities
Writer and blogger Marisa Mohi once quit her job in a huff. When she was 21, Mohi says, she was a server at a barbecue restaurant owned by a local celebrity. There were rumors of a romantic relationship between the celebrity and another server and Mohi felt this added to some preferential treatment of the other server. One day she refused to assist the other server with some of her duties and was written up. On the write-up, instead of signing her name, she wrote “your mom” and was fired.
“To this day, that job manages to come up in job interviews because of who owned the restaurant, and I have to explain how I left that company. After that, it’s hard for me to regain control of the interview, because the interviewer always wants as many details as possible,” Mohi says.
Recruiters and HR people like gossip as much as the next person and if your “great story” is what people remember about you instead of your positive qualities, contributions and qualifications, you may not get the job.
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