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back to article Quitting your job? Here's how not to do it

You can't take it with you... There is a tradition of “off-site backups” for handy bits of code and data that you’ve worked with at your current employer. At most firms you could fit every line of source code together with a complete customer list on the free USB stick you got at a conference. This is a really dumb thing to do …

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Good advice as usual

Let me just find my popcorn and beer so I can properly enjoy the 'tards shouting about how awful Connor is for telling the unvarnished truth.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Good advice as usual

Dominic acquired my e-mail address from somewhere, bombarded me with spam, and tried to friend me on Google+, so I am not overly well-disposed towards reading his opinion.

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Boffin

Re: Good advice as usual

Actually his advice on 'Buy Backs' or what we Yanks call counter offers, among other things... is wrong.

Here's the problem... You and your employer have to ask why you were leaving in the first place? Was it a great dream job offer? Was it just for more money? Was it for more responsibility?

What happens in 3-6 months you get another call? Are you going to jump ship?

You're now officially damaged goods and you can't be trusted.

Sure they may hire you back so that you can train your replacement, especially if they suspect you will leave anyways.

At the same time, it could look like you were holding them hostage over salary.

It would be better to follow the other advice, leave on good terms and if things don't work out, see if you can go back to them. If you're good enough, the answer is usually yes.

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'...acquired my e-mail address from somewhere, bombarded me...'

That's nice. Anything of relevance to share?

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Re: '...acquired my e-mail address from somewhere, bombarded me...'

Perhaps that the author forgot to add: "Oh, and do as I say, don't do as I do"... but who knows...

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Holmes

Re: Good advice as usual

Well, he did say that it's a "risky bet", that most "bought back" people end up leaving anyway, and that it's often due to the reasons for wanting to go in the first place not changing. He didn't mention the trust issue, but I'd like to believe most working adults would have that figured by now.

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Re: Good advice as usual

I happen to agree with you, i.e., don't accept a counter-offer and stay. I only did this once in my IT career (which is approaching 38 years now), and I ended up leaving anyway some six months later, on much less pleasant terms (and, by the way, quite burned out; I didn't program again for money for nearly four years).

If you're thinking of leaving, do your best to raise all the issues and see if you can get them resolved. If you can't, then find a new job (if you can) and leave -- but leave on the best terms possible.

Other than that, I agree with all the other advice in the article. ..bruce..

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Good advice as usual

His advice on buybacks (incidentally when I was a lad they used to be called 'counter-offers'; maybe 'buyback' is a more honest term as it emphasises what a commodity the whole thing has become) is pretty sound, except I'd have put it a lot more tersely, i.e. "NEVER accept a buyback, EVER".

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Anonymous Coward

Buybacks - Don't accept, but nice to hear

There were a few of us who left one company within a short space of time. No one was offered a buyback by the management, just insults. Even if they did offer money, I wouldn't have stayed.

Though I don't see the point of a buyback anyway. If its about money, shouldn't the employer have paid more in the first place? Sometimes the only way to get a decent rise is to company hop.

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Anonymous Coward

Too true

Especially in a small town, the IT industry social network tends to be *very* well connected.

You next boss will scan your CV for companies they know other management at. They will then catch them up for a chat and drop your name for an informal reference.

If you managed to P.O. your boss when leaving, this could be very suboptimal indeed!

Keep on their good side, even when working your notice period!

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not just small towns

Get into a specialist niche market, you'll find that even in a big sprawling megacity, the IT industry is extremely well connected. That dude who was a code monkey at your previous employer? He might be the one offering you a good job 3 years from now!

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Anonymous Coward

The last paragraph was personally very timely and valuable advice, thank you.

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Ru
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I like the way these articles are getting less accusatory,

which combined with a decent amount of information makes them a worthwhile read. Nice to know that recruiters can learn, too ;-)

"if firms managed their staff rationally I would have to get a proper job."

I don't believe there's any danger of that happening any time soon. I believe it is scheduled shortly after the average IT user learns about the basic priciples of security.

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Re: I like the way these articles are getting less accusatory,

Agreed - It's almost like he realised that there was a better way to get his points across. Great article Dominic.

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Re: I like the way these articles are getting less accusatory,

Spot on. Also very nice to not see flagrant ridicule of people with opposing viewpoints. Professionalism sometimes does rear it's head.

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Windows

Re: I like the way these articles are getting less accusatory,

Mwah, it was just the less-palatable home truths that had to be said once and be done with...

No, actually, it is a perspective thing: the first ones were written from the recruiters' point of view and that cheesed off the majority. The writer showed recruiters' "thinking" in as blunt a way as possible. Someway somehow code monkeys lacked the empathy to follow that kind of logic (surprise!). They got hung up on the fact that the speaker clearly belongs to the lower steps on the evolutionary ladder (somewhere below the slime moulds, probably near the amino acids). They had a problem taking advice from an entity like that, or to check their planned steps from that viewpoint.

This article though is written from the employee's viewpoint, and people easily relate to that (surprise!).

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Re: I like the way these articles are getting less accusatory,

Marvin is right that I was pushing the perspective that many ITPros don't see and one that some don't *want* to see.

As for my position on the evolutionary ladder, I wonder if you had considered the water / ammonia / CO2 mix that is assumed to have been the atmosphere from which amino acids formed ?

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You seem to have toned it down a bit on this one Dominic!

Still a good read though, thanks.

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Anonymous Coward

One day...

So long and thanks for all the fish..

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Re: One day...

I noticed another Hitchhiker reference:

"Notice Periods

Just because they are usually enforceable, doesn’t mean you have to work them. If your manager is smart he will know that a motivated employee for six weeks is vastly more useful than a strag who grudgingly puts in face time for three months and given that discontent is contagious he doesn’t want others following you."

strag = non-hitchiker , or in this case, soon-to-be-non-employee.

Colin

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Re: One day...

Double reference...

STRAG ... and

6 weeks (* 7 days) = ?

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Anonymous Coward

References are pointless these days. In my company they come from HR and consist literally of:

"X worked for Y from A till B."

Also verbal references aren't allowed. All to stop being sued. The people we look to hire have the same restrictions, so HR have very little investigation to do to make _their_ jobs worthwhile. So instead they grill you on any gaps between employment. Yes, even the week I had between my roles (spent relocating between countries) had the full Spanish Inquisition. Anything over say 4 weeks and they think you must be unemployable. Don't even try the 'I took off 6 months to look after my dying mother' excuse - it won't fly - if you could prove it was true they'd be doubly suspicious. Bored bastards.

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Anonymous Coward

I would view "X worked for Y from A till B." as the worst possible reference possible.

As saying "bad" things is now a legal mine field, you have to count the good points in a reference. A statement of fact like that is about as appealing as "X murdered Y but we were unable to prove it."

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Coat

Re: Spanish Inquisition

Well, shirley no one would expect that what with the diverse elements that comprise their weaponry?

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"I would view "X worked for Y from A till B." as the worst possible reference possible."

Yeah, but that is exactly what the shitheadsHR department at my last company do.

However, I found that you could get either managers who had since left the company, or managers who were still there to give you a "purely personal" reference as a character reference. A manager who was still in the company was told by HR that he wasn't allowed to do that, and he just told them that they lost the right to have a say in the matter when they started treating people the way they did.

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Anonymous Coward

I once rented a house, kept it tidy, no mad parties, paid rent on time.

Asked the landlord for a reference for my new place. Got:

"X lived at Y from A until B, and to the best of my knowledge paid his rent on time."

And while verbal references may not be allowed, with professional networking as it is, there is a strong possibility of an unofficial off-the-record verbal reference.

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Anonymous Coward

"X worked for Y from A till B." references seem quite common amongst big corporates.

My company gives such references but permits managers to provide personal references PROVIDED they include a precisely worded and company-provided disclaimer.

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Big Brother

@AC

" I would view "X worked for Y from A till B." as the worst possible reference possible."

Some companies are so paranoid they won't say anything bad or good about the ex-employee, in case giving praise could result in legal problems at a later date. The result is the sort of pointless XYAB statement described above. The reason for this is companies do not have souls and couldn't give a monkey's about ex-workers.

All of my ex-employers have either gone bust or rendered themselves untraceable from my CV

through rebranding, takeovers, or simple relocation, so a prospective employer would have a difficult job finding anyone able to supply a reference anyway.

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Re: Spanish Inquisition

no one expects them

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Devil

Indeed, in most mega-corps finding anyone that actually knew you a few weeks after you left in nigh on impossible.

In the last year I worked for a corporation I had 5 Managers/Directors. None of them knew my name. In fact when I turned up to hand in my laptop/Blackberry and ID card, no one knew I was even leaving, even though I'd been away on two months garden leave! Just goes to show if you think you are important, chances are you aren't (not that I thought I was, I may add).

They didn't even bother with doing the twice yearly appraisals for the last 3 years I was there. One of them asked me to write my own. I politely wrote back advising that "It's the only managerial responsibility you have towards me just twice a year so really it's the least you could do!"

I even asked a couple of years before I left if my then manager had my personnel file. I was advised "oh most of them got lost years ago!"

So getting a reference.....hahahahahahahahaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

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good reasons not to

The US at least has lots of underemployed lawyers, and the guy who gets a bad reference may not have a hard time finding a lawyer who'll take his case. Your company may figure that defending lawsuits is not really part of its core business.

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IT Angle

Re: good reasons not to

Unless, of course, you work in the mobile technology sector . . . then lawsuits become your business plan . . . ;)

nK

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As saying "bad" things is now a legal mine field, you have to count the good points in a reference. A statement of fact like that is about as appealing as "X murdered Y but we were unable to prove it."

I'm afraid that sort of reference is all any financial house I've ever worked at will give. They will not say anything that is not an irrefutable fact. You're lucky if they even mention much about the nature of the position held. That's why interviews are there. I also agree with others in that verbal references are not allowed. Several of my previous employers expressly forbid such actions mainly, I would guess, in case they are misread as having the backing of the employer.

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He keeps his desk REALLY tidy...

Someone who still works at the place I was at last year tells me that there are still people there who don't know I've been terminated, and think I'm working from home or on holiday. Likely because most of the other people I worked with have *also* left or been terminated ;)

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True. I was allowed to "work from home" rather than leave when I wanted to move to the other side of the world.

My entire team left before they got around to noticing that they were paying some guy who was never in the office.

Always be polite, always be helpful.

Money isn't the only revenge, I reckon "Teaching C++ to bankers" is a real Emily Thorne move.

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So what you're saying is you were a fool to leave.

You'd have been much better to have simply stopped showing up and waited to see how long they kept paying you.

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Thats a very good point actually.

I bet many could just not turn up and wouldn't be missed.

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Angel

Re: He keeps his desk REALLY tidy...

I left a job in a previous life and met a client face to face several months later. He was worried about my health since I was sick so very often. He thought I was still working there as he was receiving faxes and email messages from me regularly. Just no phone calls. Turns out they were still using my email address and forging my signature on faxed offers and contracts.

Oh, and I left because they decided not to pay me my bonus. Well, that’s not technically true, they just decided that it should have been a promille instead of a percentage. Slight oversight.

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Re: Spanish Inquisition

no one expects them

The Spanish Inquisition always gave 30 days notice of their arrival.

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Re: Spanish Inquisition

...postdated 29 days. And then they turn up a day early.

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Very true

I remember a comment made (many years ago) by a manager that he "was going to the top and didn't care who he stepped on to get there". He was dumped about a year later and couldn't get a job anywhere; in those days people were less circumspect about what they put in a reference. I believe that he was still out of work about 2 years after that.

As for me, I still believe in the concept of not burning bridges; just in case. It's far better to go out as a person of integrity even if the people on the other side are less concerned about their own professionalism.

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Big Brother

Re: Very true

Don't burn your bridges - best philosophy for every thing as if you do you only end up as an ISLAND!

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Be careful whose feet you step on, on your way to the top.

Because they might be connected to the arse you have to kiss on the way back down!

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Re: Very true

Totally agree, I've encountered people on numerous occasions stirring faeces about the company and boasting of their over-inflated new wages returning a short while later burgundy faced with cap in hand.

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Pint

Re: Be careful whose feet you step on, on your way to the top.

I recall one completely talentless, useless, full of piss-and-self-importance, clueless twat on the fast track, universally known as "Shit for brains" trampling on people to get to where filling in spreadsheets counts as work..

I'd better stop this here, as anyone who knows me (I don't hide behind ac or a silly alias) knows who I'm referring to, K? :-)

Beer, coz that's what I'm sampling now

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Very true

Bridge burning - that's a tough one. Sometimes a company gives so little of a shit about its staff of the manager you worked for is that much of an arsehole that it's really hard to resist. I've burned the odd bridge with regards a previous manager but, importantly, I had the absolute backing of the important end-users such that any opinion from the self-important dickweasal was easily outweighed by the opinion of the global head-of big dog. There are also some places I'd never go back to. You just have to choose wisely.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Be careful whose feet you step on, on your way to the top.

Did you like him, though?

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Bridge-burning is silly. You don't need to do it. Sometimes it happens and it's not your fault. And though swearing at your boss and telling them what you think feels good, it's very rarely productive. If they cared what you thought, you wouldn't be leaving. I'm by no means a suck-up (really, about as far from it as you can get) but I can bite my lip and say "No, sorry, I'm really leaving. Bye!" without having to personalise the attack or vent my feelings. That's what your partner is for when you get home!

"Comeback consultancy" isn't a bad idea, though. The best bit being: The ball is in YOUR court and they need to be nice to you to get you to come back in for that day/week/month when you'll tell them what your replacements couldn't figure out with their extensive skills/experience. And I've been on all sides for that - telling them "no way, sorry", coming back to help for free, and coming back to help for money. It all depends on how nicely you treated me and whether I left because of something beyond their control or not.

Your new employers, if they are that great, will quite understand this and allow it quite happily. I spent one day a week at my old employers for the first two months of employment, in order to make sure the rest of the handoff went well. It worked really well.

I've also refused to go back to help after completing one of the most thorough hand-offs I've ever done and then getting calls about "I just need the administrator password to install this totally-incompatible MP3 player that you wouldn't install" (yes, literally!). When I pointed them in the direction of the hand-off pack I'd made and with which I'd furnished both their boss (a headteacher) and a school governor who worked in IT with (and who both signed off on it), they didn't know anything about it but still demanded I come back and "fix" things. I didn't, and I told them exactly why - if they were SUPPOSED to be able to do that, they'd have been GIVEN the information necessary by the people I handed off to.

In one case, I even left a job, to work at another, negotiated a "one-day-per-week at my old place" policy with them for a short period and found that, when the time came that my new employer lost their sheen and backtracked on their promises, I went back to work for the old place on better money and higher responsibility. Not losing contact with them, and keeping GENUINELY friendly and helpful with them paid off with the result of an immediate, guaranteed job, from a person I trusted, at a place I loved, with better pay, in the middle of the recession when everyone else was struggling.

References - I find it odd that people think references are really that terse. I've never seen one like that. They are either glowing, or basic, and you read-between-the-lines quite well on the basic ones because they are *crafted* so that you can. Maybe it's just my industry but I'd be very suspicious of a terse one-line reference. And I've worked mostly on the basis of my references for my whole working career.

And, yes, if you stomp on me when things are going down the pan in order to hasten your exit, don't expect me to leap to your aid when times are tough. In a previous job at a large secondary school and sixth-form college, I witnessed an IT department of precisely one left with the whole summer work to do by themselves for 400+ machines. So much so that I delayed my own exit by several months in order to help them out. I consider it a HUGE favour because my one rule is "I do not work somewhere I don't enjoy working, and do not work for people I do not like working for", but there are times when sticking your finger up feels good only for a second. I'd have been awake at nights worrying about that poor left-behind. And if myself and the others were to go back there, or find ourselves potentially working alongside or even UNDER that person again, just who do you think they'd let work with them? At that point, it has nothing to do with employment and everything to do with common human decency.

I wouldn't hire someone I couldn't get on with. And people chop and change jobs all the time. Eventually, that burned bridge will catch up with you and you'll find yourself in the interview of your life, when "that" person walks in that you stung, or dumped on, or left in the lurch, or shouted at even when it was the company you were mad with.

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Anonymous Coward

Well Said...

... Completely agree with your philosophy, I can't stand my current manager, they are unbelievable incompetent and it has a knock on effect to my work, but if I were to leave I could at least get some satisfaction from taking the morale high ground and being polite when I go. Of course currently if I win huge life changing amounts on the lottery it would be a different story.

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Fully agree

I have been re-employed by almost every firm I worked for for last 20 years... This is very important as a contractor. I maintain good relations even with those who laid me off, who subsequently found me work and tipped me off about other opportunities 6 years later - my cuttent job. So never burn bridges and similarly - cultivate the relationships you have.

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