WorkZone: Get acquainted with quitting

Expert advises learning tact when preparing to leave job

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Rare is the 21st-century employee who stays at one job for his or her entire career.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' most recent data, the average American worker stays at a job for just over four years, and that number is lower the younger the worker.

What used to be called job-hopping is now a career path. So it would behoove the modern American worker to get familiar with the practice of quitting.

While YouTube provides examples of workers who quit in dramatic fashion, Piera Palazzolo of Dale Carnegie Training says the social media/public square job resignation isn't the best way to ensure future employment.

"[Quitting on] social media leaves a permanent record of you as a whiner and someone who doesn't know how to deal with conflict in a professional way," said Ms. Palazzolo, who is based in New York City.

"If you wrote a note to your supervisor before quitting, the worst that happens would be it would end up in your personnel file. If you put it out on social media, it's still out there for the world to see months later when you might not feel the same level of anger or resentment."

When exiting a job, Ms. Palazzolo said, assume you will run into some of your soon-to-be former colleagues in your future career endeavors, especially if you're remaining in the same field.

"You want to make sure you leave with a positive footprint," she said. "Give your two weeks' notice, but don't check out those last two weeks.

"Make sure you're doing more than you normally do, because people will be watching you -- more so than if you weren't leaving. You don't want to leave the impression that you don't care anymore, because there is nothing worse than feeling like your co-workers don't care about the work everyone is doing."

The temptation to give your soon-to-be ex-boss a piece of your mind can be strong, especially if you're leaving a position where you were really unhappy, but Ms. Palazzolo said any feedback should be constructive, not insulting.

"There are ways of disagreeing agreeably," she said. "It's not, 'You did this,' 'I didn't get that.' It should never be personal."

For instance: "The company might consider more regular training sessions or mentoring for new employees" conveys the message that "I didn't get enough training and feedback" to the employer who's paying attention, Ms. Palazzolo said.

Before you jump ship, make sure you're able to explain those multiple jobs on your resume.

"In today's mentality, you're creating a career path, not a career within a company," Ms. Palazzolo said. "Be able to explain what each job gave you, what you learned there."

When leaving a job on good terms, that final impression is crucial, especially if you're ever going to ask for a reference. Writing a personal thank-you note to a supervisor or helpful colleague is a smart idea.

"If you thank people for the help they have given you, it will benefit you as well," she said. "That's the type of professional relationship you want to try to leave behind."


Kim Lyons: klyons@post-gazette.com

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