How to quit a job you hate

Hitting the send button on a scathing, company-wide email is far from the best way to resign. But going quietly isn't ideal, either.

"It's not particularly productive (to quit with fanfare), but neither is waiting it out, saying nothing at all and keeping that dissatisfaction to yourself," said psychologist David Ballard, head of the American Psychological Association's healthy workplace program.

Instead, shoot for a middle ground. Some tips:

Tame the tension
"Know your own stress level so it doesn't creep up on you," Ballard said. "Often, there are low-level signs before it gets to a boiling point."

Many overwrought workers eat junk food, drink excessive alcohol or zone out in front of the TV, he says. Healthier choices, such as taking short workday breaks, exercising and staying socially connected "will help you manage things better".

Sometimes, talking issues through with a boss or co-workers can help, as can speaking up in meetings.

Many of those who go out big "feel they haven't been heard," said Ballard. "They haven't had the opportunities or channels to express their dissatisfaction."

Those without a new job opportunity should explore alternative exits, such as asking for a sabbatical or a new assignment, says executive search consultant Charley Polachi.

Frustrated workers should also take constructive steps, such as networking and creating an exceptional LinkedIn profile, he says.


Unhappy workers should also focus on things that bring enjoyment.

"Try to concentrate as much as possible on (aspects) other than your work life," said human resources consultant Peter Ronza. Think, 'tonight, I'm going to that art exhibit or I'm going to play with my son in the backyard'," he said. "You have to find a focus, an anchor to get you through those bad times."

Think twice
When the time comes to resign, "do not send an email or a letter without letting it sit on your desk for 24 hours," says Polachi. Reread it, and also have a level-headed friend or family member review it.

Also consider how a role model would feel about your resignation strategy, advised Travis Gregory, Imperial Valley College Dean of Human Resources. "How would the people that you care most about react if they saw the way you've resigned?" he said.

Consider the end game
For those who want to foster change, going out in fury can have the opposite effect. Management "is more likely to hear those points if they don't think of you as a disgruntled worker," said Ballard.

"With big, showy behaviour, it's a lot easier for them to discount the issue versus if you brought it up in a serious tone."

Pick your parting words. Take advantage of exit interviews, and diplomatically explain your stance. It's OK to say, "The reason I'm leaving is because I feel my supervisor lacks these skills," said Ronza. "But keep it professional. Don't make it personal."

Another option is to contact a higher level. "Write a letter to the board and/or the CEO," said Gregory. "Keep the theme positive and focused on the organisation versus a tantrum about personal dissatisfaction."

Know your value
Often, the best revenge is having a manager miss you once you're gone. "Look, you got them by handing in your resignation - especially if they did rely on you," says Ronza. "Then they are going to realise that you were critical."