Walk Away from a Bad Job with Your Head Held High
October 13, 2010
Dear J.T. & Dale: I hate, hate, hate my job and the owners and the managers who run the restaurant I work at. I’m about to take a 10-day vacation. I don’t want to go back. Is it really a bad move to not give any notice and just never return, no call and no-show? — Sheryl
J.T.: The rules are straightforward: Give no notice, and you guarantee that you will never be able to use that employer as a reference. They will be able to truthfully say that you left them hanging. A future employer is going to think hard about hiring you, with that track record.
Dale: A lot of people leaving jobs get anxious about the two-week notice. They fear those weeks will be awkward and stiff and doubly unpleasant. However, that rarely happens. The worse your management, the more likely your boss is to tell you to just clear out and not come back. Even some good managers prefer to have departing employees leave immediately, avoiding distractions for the remaining staff. On the other hand, should management take your offer to remain for two weeks, it probably won’t be awful; after all, you suddenly have no emotional investment, and the annoying traits of your managers begin to seem laughably petty.
J.T.: Therefore, resist the temptation to go out ugly. It’s just not worth the relief of avoiding the resignation moment and simply disappearing, or the thrill of saying, “Take this job and shove it.” I recently spoke with a gentleman who walked off the job and never went back. It took him five months to get a new position — four times during those months, he got through the interview process, all the way to the checking of references, then didn’t get the offer. Eventually he got hired by a friend of his cousin, but only after candidly sharing the mistake he’d made in not giving notice and vowing he never would walk off the job again.
Dale: The truth is that your departure is not about your employers and what they think of you or what they deserve or demand — it’s about you and what you think of yourself and demand of yourself. Either you are a person of high character or you aren’t. A person of character doesn’t simply eel out. That’s not you, Sheryl — if it were, you wouldn’t have asked the question. You were hoping we would tell you that it’s OK and would give you permission to ignore your own sense of what’s right. Permission denied. Stand tall, be honest with your employer and walk away, head up, with a smile of quiet triumph.