How to quit your job without ruining your reputation

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Posted: Monday, October 21, 2013 12:00 am

You've fantasized about it — quitting your job in dramatic fashion.

Like the JetBlue flight attendant who told off passengers, grabbed a beer, deployed the emergency chute and slid away.

Like Jennifer Aniston's waitress character in the film “Office Space,” who gave her boss the finger in front of all the customers at Chotchkie's.

Like, most recently, Marina Shifrin, the 25-year-old video producer who told her employer “I quit” in a homemade dance video posted on YouTube in September.

The video, the “Take This Job and Shove It” moment for the millennial generation, gained millions of views and earned Shifrin, who is also a comedian and writer, a job offer on “The Queen Latifah Show.” No word yet on her next move.

But the video had human resources experts shaking their heads. It may have been good for a laugh — and some did find it hilarious — but they said if you want to quit your job without risking your reputation, there's a better way to go about it.

Peggy Noll, Noll Human Resource Services, executive vice president

Noll saw Shifrin's dance, and a few words came to mind: “Impulsive, short-term thinking, rebellious, lacking in appreciation for the employer, unsophisticated, bad decision maker, self-indulgent, self-centered and narcissistic.”

“Would you want a co-worker who behaved that way?” Noll asked.

She suggested that unhappy workers talk to their boss first, see whether their issues can be solved, and, if not, work out a plan for leaving the company that doesn't burn a bridge.

“You make a friend in leaving that company, not an enemy,” Noll said.

Brad Jones, Cornerstone staffing agency, vice president of operations

Shifrin's video made the rounds at Cornerstone and didn't surprise Jones.

“That's something we can probably relate to with some of our younger candidates,” he said — that some aren't especially loyal to the employer and focus more on “what's in it for me.”

But even if you don't envision a long-term future with a company, Jones said, a job seeker shouldn't do anything to harm the firm's reputation. If the subject comes up in a job interview, don't trash your last employer. Frame your reason for leaving with what you hope to find in your next opportunity.

Regina Bell, Goodwill, Career Center manager

Bell saw the video and said, “It was cute, it was funny, but it's not realistic.”

The best way to avoid anger over a bad job, she said, is to fully understand what a job involves before accepting it in the first place, both the expectations and the way the pay will change your financial situation.

Burning bridges makes it harder to find a better job, she said.

“You always need to have professional references.”

Mike Gremmer, Robert Half placement agency, regional vice president

When walking out the door, also consider your footprint — your digital footprint, Gremmer said.

“Once you post something, it's there to stay,” he said. Many employers will Google applicants, and right or wrong, Gremmer said, they do judge you.

“You only have one professional and positive reputation, and it's your job to keep that,” he said.

Patty North, Celebrity Staffing, regional manager

Instead of posting about how you hate your boss, take your search for a better job offline, North said.

“Communicate with your trusted network, not the whole Facebook world,” she said.

If you want help looking for a better opportunity, send a private email to contacts, asking for the chance to have a phone conversation or coffee.

“You have to be careful about searching for a job while working,” she said. “You want to make sure you at least maintain the job you have, even if you hate it.”

______

Curious how Shifrin's ex-employer responded to her viral video exit from the company? Watch this:

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