How To Break Up With Your Boss — The Right Way

It is no secret that young professionals are known for job hopping. According to a study by Gallup, one in five U.S. millennials say they’ve changed jobs within the past year, and LinkedIn reports that our generation is likely to jump jobs four times in the first decade out of college.

Even with job hopping becoming more common among new workers, employers will be curious to know why you have so many career changes listed on your resume. Regardless of the industry, employers invest time and money in training new hires, and it can raise a red flag if it seems like you can’t keep a job for longer than a year.

Whether your reasons for job hopping are to pursue new experiences, find a better career fit, or adapt to the rapidly evolving workplace, the way you choose to part ways with your current employer is an important consideration.

For millennials or professionals considering a job change, think about these points first:

1) Always part on good terms

Even if you severely dislike your job or boss, it is important to be respectful and leave on good terms. If you are frustrated in your current job, it can be satisfying to “stick it to the man” and give your manager a piece of your mind. However, I advise you to seriously reconsider this choice.

Leadership circles are surprisingly small, and while you may think you will never cross paths with your previous employer, you would be surprised to learn how far your boss’s network reaches. A bad recommendation has much more weight than a good recommendation, and even if you don’t put your employer’s name as a reference, there is still a chance a new employer will call the company from your resume during a background check. The last thing you want to do is burn bridges while you are still trying to find your way in your professional career.

2) The how matters

The importance of how you choose to quit and give your notice to your employer cannot be understated enough.

Much like in the dating world, it is strongly recommended that you do not announce your resignation via text.

If at all possible, give your notice in person first, and have a conversation with management before parting ways. If you are working remotely or an in-person talk is not possible, a call is the next best option. You can follow up from your conversation with a formal letter and email, but do not give your notice via text first, especially if you let them know after-hours or on a weekend.

The last thing an employer wants as they are headed into their weekend or as they are coming home from a long day at work is to be blindsided by a notification of your resignation in their inbox. This tactic creates unnecessary feelings of frustration, annoyance, and a sense of disrespect for the leader as they try to understand why you chose not to mention anything in person earlier that day.

On the contrary, even if you have a rocky relationship with your employer, taking the time to speak in person and give your notice to their face can build a favourable impression. Sometimes there just isn’t a fit, and I have experienced a few personality clashes with some of my past employees. Despite these clashes and the tension that built up over the last few weeks of their employment, when they decided to finally put in their notice, they took the effort to have the conversation, albeit as awkward or nerve-racking as it may be, with me in person.

Even if you have a rocky relationship with your employer, taking the time to speak in person and give your notice to their face can build a favourable impression

I have great respect for this strategy, as it demonstrates an ability to properly handle confrontation and maintain quality relationships. From extending this token of respect to me, I would be more willing to offer positive words to a prospective employer if I ever received a call about this employee.

3) Consider timing

To gain a more favourable response when you choose to part ways with your employer, it is important to be mindful of timing. Regardless of how you choose to handle the situation, chances are if you quit right in the middle of a high-stakes project or leave the team hanging before a big launch, emotions will be heightened.

To avoid adding unnecessary stress to the situation, first consider your responsibilities and the degree to which your employer is relying on you for certain projects.

If you are the key point-person on a project that is running on a tight timeline, it may be advisable that you leave after this project wraps. Your employment contract will indicate your minimum notice period, but this is not the only time frame to consider. There is nothing wrong with giving your employer a heads-up that you are planning to part ways after a project wraps or at the end of a given month; in fact, your employer will likely appreciate the extra notice. From my own experience, that extra notice has been crucial to having time to find a replacement candidate and not let our projects fall through the cracks due to the internal shift. I am very appreciative of employees that extend this courtesy and give the time I need to fill any gaps caused by their departure.

If your employer is keen on keeping you, it gives them an opportunity to offer you a raise or address any of the workplace issues that may be causing you to want to leave.

For those who do not like confrontation, this strategy can also help make the situation less stressful. If you are thinking about leaving or have begun your search for a new job, consider giving your employer a heads up that you have started to look for other opportunities. This notice can result in two things to your favour: first, if your employer is keen on keeping you, it gives them an opportunity to offer you a raise or address any of the workplace issues that may be causing you to want to leave. Second, it alleviates the pressure when the day comes to give your notice, because at this point your employer is already aware and understands your intention.

Overall, break-ups of any sort are never fun or easy. However, let’s face it, no one wants an angry ex if it can be avoided. The effort you take to be mindful of the other party and leave on amicable terms will benefit the both of you.

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