Be careful what you say before and after you leave.
“Take this job and shove it” may make for good lyrics, but it’s not the best thing to say when quitting a job.
According to U.S. Labor Department data, the last time the share of employees who voluntarily left their jobs was higher than it is now was 2005. High quit rates generally indicate strong labor markets for workers. People tend to hold on to jobs if they don’t think there’s anything better, or anything at all, out there for them.
When they perceive opportunities, they’re more likely to jump ship.
But remember this: There are classy ways to leave and ways that can haunt you down the road.
Even with a strong job market, where help-wanted signs abound, it’s still wise to have another job in hand before you quit. That’s not always possible, but it eases the chance of financial stress between jobs.
It’s also wise to have a thoughtful reason for walking out the door. A decent increase in base pay. A better employee benefits package. An easier commute. Work hours that better fit your family or lifestyle. All the pros and cons should be analyzed before assuming other grass is greener.
Once you’ve made the decision to go, watch your mouth. Take care about what you type on social media. Your words will leave an impression.
Even if you work for the most tyrannical or ignorant boss imaginable, don’t vent. That boss may be contacted by your target employer and totally sink your chances by badmouthing you in return. It happens.
Don’t dump on individuals, whether they’re supervisors or co-workers. In the digital world, no message, even to your best friend, is secure. Anything can be forwarded beyond the circle that you intended.
After you’ve left an organization, what you say about it — even if it’s absolutely true — says something to future employers. They may label you as a disloyal employee or a problem child who might never be happy.
To be safe, it’s better to stay mum or neutral in any public pronouncements about your former employer.
And a bit about how to quit: Try to give your current employer some warning before your last day. Many people think two-weeks notice is a legal requirement. It’s not. It’s a courtesy. It costs organizations time and money to replace you, assuming your job continues after you leave.
It’s good practice to inform your immediate boss first and privately. Then let your co-workers know. They may have a rough time assuming your duties until the position is refilled. Say you’ve enjoyed working with them and thank them for the work they’ll take on in the transition.
If you’re not at the jump point yet but you’re seriously thinking about it, make a list of “stay” or “go” reasons. Understand what bugs you and what, exactly, you want to do.
Vague unhappiness isn’t a clear enough reason start to a new job search. A change for a few cents more an hour won’t matter much if the same work conditions apply.
Be clear about your goals. And be careful about what you say before or after you leave.
Diane Stafford is the workplace and careers columnist at The Kansas City Star. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.