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Did you know there is a right way, and a wrong way to quit a job? This might seem like a no-brainer to keyboardmany of us as adults…. Give at least two weeks’ notice, don’t “burn bridges”, and so on. But many young people don’t seem to have a clue. And even for adults, adhering to age-old adages like these isn’t always quite that simple.

“Most people that are not skilled in workplace etiquette quit their jobs by simply not showing up the next day and sending a relative to their employer to pick up their paycheck,” writes Larry Robbin, executive director of Robbin and Associates (www.larryrobbin.com).

“Another common method is to walk off the job,” Robbin adds. “This often occurs in the middle of an argument with their boss, customer or co-worker. In my experience, these two ways of quitting make up about 60% of the quits in entry-level jobs.”

This is what Robbin refers to as a “bad quit,” because in such cases, no one should expect to get a good reference when they leave an employer in this manner. Even if the job doesn’t work out, the employee should always thank the boss for the job and opportunity, and give a brief explanation why they are leaving.

Bad Quits

But “bad quits” seem to be increasingly common. While I’m shopping at a local grocery story, cashiers have complained to me on more than one occasion how “the new guy” just didn’t show up for work the next day. Isn’t that nice?

In other instances, the new person may give notice, but it’s after he/she has only been on the job for a week – or less. It’s not a bad thing when someone knows that a given job isn’t the right fit, but that quickly? Has this individual even given the job a chance?

Certainly, in some cases, a boss may feel that this person will not be very productive in the next two weeks – or they may “bad mouth” the workplace – and so this individual may as well leave now. So, while all employers prefer to receive at least two weeks’ notice, this doesn’t always happen.

Of course, adults, not just young people with limited work experience, sometimes engage in “bad quits.” The stepdad of a friend of mine ran a propeller factory in my hometown. Grinding the propellers to distinct specifications was hard work. One day, an employee wrote “I quit” in the dust of a nearby window at his work station, right around lunch time. That was the last they ever heard from him!

isGood Quits

As opposed to a “bad quit” a “good quit” occurs when a person advances to a better job opportunity. But things aren’t always quite that cut and dried. Case in point: if a person’s physical or mental health is at risk.

In the case of the latter, I’ll put it this way: Everyone has a breaking point, and if the stresses of the job become simply too much, it IS in the individual’s best interests to leave. Hopefully, the timing in quitting will be in the worker’s best interest and in the best interest of the employer, but the situation may or may not play out that way.

For instance, maybe the job is in retail and the employer would want this person to stay until the end of December. But what if “Susie” feels she’d have a nervous breakdown by then? Then I’d say she should quit, with two weeks’ notice hopefully, but leave she should.

Quitting can be Tricky

Finally, another thing I’ve found about jobs is that if the person is truly unhappy, the pay ceases to matter all that much. I’ve known people who have quit jobs in the mid-to-high five figures, and even six-digit salaries. And in both cases, these individuals didn’t have another job lined up either. That is supposedly another no-no, but again, this is all in an ideal world. In certain cases, waiting any longer to leave could be a BAD decision in terms of one’s mental health, and that often trumps everything.

Moral of the story: Try not to engage in a “bad quit” if at all possible, and try to not burn any bridges and have another job lined up whenever possible. But also know that, in some instances, this is something to be read about in a career development book that might not apply to real life.