We’ve all dreamed about it at least once in our careers – going out in a blaze of glory and telling those awful people exactly what you think of them.  Some epic event that embarrasses your boss, uncovers some hard truths or maybe inspires others to leave.  Some of us do more than just daydream and the results are certainly entertaining!  There is an art to resigning in style and a fine line to tread.

Think carefully before you plan a spectacular resignation – after all, your next boss might not think the viral dance video of you resigning was as hilarious as it seemed at the time.

23-year-old Joey DeFrancesco, after enduring three and a half years of poor working conditions at a Rhode Island hotel, filmed himself handing his boss a resignation letter while leading a marching band playing at full volume.  After the YouTube video went viral Joey was widely applauded for standing up for workers’ rights and became a poster boy for hotel workers’ in the US.

Greg Smith was a Goldman Sachs executive who famously ended his 12-year career with a scathing opinion piece in the New York Times, describing the environment at the company as “toxic and destructive”, and placing blame squarely with the president and CEO.

Actually, hang on a minute… These examples of famous resignations have all landed these pioneers great publicity and lined up their next gigs.  Greg Smith landed a (seven figure) book deal following his New York Times piece and was invited to 60 Minutes to discuss his time at Goldman Sachs. In the storm of publicity that followed Marina Shifrin’s “I Quit” resignation dance video, she was offered a job on The Queen Latifah Show, and Joey DeFrancesco went on to launch a website for U.S. hotel workers inspired by his viral resignation video.

But before we get carried away and start booking the bands, film crews and lining up reporters for exclusives, let’s be realistic.  You have to ask yourself, would you hire one of these three people? As much as we might admire Joey, Marina or Greg, would you hire someone who embarrassed their last manager in front of millions of people across the globe?  Would you trust Greg to work in your company after his tell-all book, national news pieces and 60 Minutes appearances?  Probably not.

In the right situation, a little bit of humour, creativity and a unique approach could be really positive and even raise your profile – one of the greatest examples is Chris Holmes who delivered a cake to his employer as his resignation letter. The image went viral which didn’t hurt his new business venture – baking cakes!

How To Know When To Resign

Quitting a job is a daunting task, but staying in a job you don’t like makes you physically and mentally unwell – in fact, in terms of mental health, staying in a job you hate is actually worse than having no job at all.

Most people’s most important social network is in their workplace and for many of us our careers are part of our identity – in a 2014 Gallup poll, 55% of American adults employed full or part-time admitted their sense of identity comes from their job.  It’s not hard to understand how much we’re impacted by workplace unhappiness.

In a bad job or a harmful workplace, it’s easy to lose perspective.  Resilience is gone and the challenge of finding your next job can be overwhelming.  Fear is cited as the biggest reason why people stay in jobs they hate – usually fear of not finding another job, losing seniority (having to start all over again somewhere else) or facing the prospect of changing career.  Embracing change and taking risk doesn’t come easily to everyone, but when your mental and physical wellbeing is at risk it is time to act.  Nearly everyone will have to leave a bad job at one time and many highly successful people have switched careers and left safe jobs to follow their passions.

It’s a great idea to get professional help if you are struggling. Career coaching can help you regain your confidence to take the plunge and help you identify the best and most positive career move for you.

So, if you’re in a job you hate, put your wellbeing first and take the plunge.  Quit.  Perhaps choose the resignation cake over the dance video though (unless you’re an aspiring dance teacher!).

There is nothing permanent except change. – Heraclitus.

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