The Art of Quitting

If the younger generation has mastered one thing in their short time on this planet, it’s the art of job hopping.  Newcomers to the market will almost always claim a year into the job that they want more and expect more.  Their current job doesn’t offer them the salary that they expect to be paid with a whole year of experience in the workforce, fresh out of college.

And companies cater to this mentality.  Not just the little 200 employee private companies trying to attract fresh young (and naive) blood, hoping it’ll push them over the line for their coveted IPO.  I’m talking about companies that have been on the planet forever (or more accurately, 50-100 years).  The old companies have started to realize that they need the young crew and it’s time to pass the torch, to some degree.  Now if you’re reading this and think you’re going to land the next Executive VP role in the next 6 months, you’re delusional.  THAT torch isn’t always getting passed to the younger group.  Sorry, you’ll need to get in line for that.  But there is an alternative to getting you to the top quickly.

As someone who identifies themselves as “Gen X” by definition, I began implementing a similar philosophy a long time before our younger crowd even joined the workforce, and I must say I’ve done it quite well.  I suppose I’m a pioneer to some degree, though many of those around me laughed when I told them I jumped from job to job.  Just a few days ago an old friend jokingly asked me, “I haven’t talked to you in a while.  Where’s the new job?”

Our generation had been told all of our lives by the previous that perseverance, determination and hard work all lead you to a successful career.  I call bullshit.  Over the last ten years, I have spent my career bouncing from one employer to the next.  Without consequence.  Without regret.  I’ve never been afraid to quit.  And each time, I built the one thing that weighs more heavily in the job market than company loyalty ever will; my network.  I call it the Maximus Aurelius Network of Legendary Yield, or MANLY for short.  Actually, I just made that up.  I’m talking about Russell Crowe from Gladiator, not the real guy, because quite frankly I have no idea how true to life the Gladiator movie was.  I just know that Russell Crowe beat the shit out of people left and right, and I found it horribly entertaining.

Ass beatings aside, there was one key factor that determined his success and his transition to the big leagues in Rome.  If you win the crowd, you will win your freedom.  That freedom was won by bouncing from arena to arena, and you should really do the same when it comes to jobs.  But before you master that art of quitting, make sure you win that crowd.

You’ll need to identify your CHAMPION first.  This is the person that is vested in your success, could likely be a mentor, and should most definitely be someone who will be sad to see you go.  This person will be your go-to reference for the rest of your career.

Secondly, amass as large of a group of mid-level managerial support as humanly possible, and win them over.  You don’t have to be good at your job, you just have to be nice.  Focus on mid-level employees who work side by side with you and don’t have a stake in the game when it comes to your success.  They’ll never get angry with you when you leave, you’re sure to get a few future references out of the lot, plus they’ll be the first to recommend you should they also move on to bigger and better.

Thirdly, and this is the best part, start slumming it in the trenches.  Commiserate with your fellow employees (privately, of course) about how much the current place really sucks.  Feed the drama, trade rumors, and you’ll be the next Varys from Game of Thrones with your birds and your spiders.  You’ll know everything before it happens, which is a great heads up if it’s happening to you.  But be careful who you trust here.  Screw it up and you may end up like Tommy Flanagan hanging from a tree in the Gladiator movie.

If this does happen, fear not, you’ll be stronger for it.  Look at Tommy Flanagan now in his role as Chibs in Sons of Anarchy.  Fucking bad ass.

Ultimately, the key is to KNOW EVERYBODY, just like Russell Crowe, and don’t get shit-canned like Tommy Flanagan.

Now that you KNOW EVERYBODY, it’s time to quit.  Here are a few tips:

  • – If there’s no immediate sign of promotion, quit.
  • – If you’ve been bypassed for a raise or promotion, quit.
  • – If your boss is a complete fuck-up who has single-handedly ruined the entire department, quit.
  • – If your commute sucks, quit.
  • – If the job doesn’t come easy to you, quit.
  • – If your work-load has you stuck at the office for hours after 5, and it’s ruining your home life or your social life, it’s time to quit.
  • – If you find yourself going to the corner store for lottery tickets because you need a way to cope that doesn’t involve a weekend long bender snorting coke off a prostitute’s tits… It’s definitely time to quit.

Long story short, they’re fucking you.  It’s time to fuck them.

Over the last 10 years in Corporate America, I’ve worked for 6 companies.  I’ve ranged from 3 years at one company, which according to previous history is 2 times longer than I should’ve stayed.  At my peak, I was quitting jobs after 10 and 11 months.  You’ll want to mix it up a little as you go so you don’t get labelled as a chronic job-hopper, so throw in a few gigs over a year here and there to make it look good.  You can still BE a chronic job-hopper, just don’t get labelled as one.

I remember running into a “friend of the family” in a local convenience store and he had caught wind of my many career moves.  He came equipped with the same set of questions every time I saw him:  “You’ve been there a whole six months.  When are you quitting?”  Shutting this type of person down is easy.  “If they keep paying me 15% more to do the same job, I’m going to keep quitting.”  That shit-eating grin slowly turned to complete disdain, the kind I’d been hoping to see ever since I met the guy.  Success.

Out of the 6 jobs I’ve held, I’ve only taken a lateral move once.  This is KEY.  You should only do this if the current job REALLY SUCKS and you desperately need to get out.  Otherwise, you’ll find employers just need to fill seats and they’re willing to throw at least 10-15% over what you’re currently making just to get you onboard.  Sometimes even a better title.  It is possible.

And here’s the clincher.  Since 2008, being the “guy that quits” has pulled in an additional 134% in salary increases, raises and bonuses, and that’s on top of where I started.  To put it into perspective, before you start thinking, “well that just means he started somewhere at $25K a year and now he makes close to 60K,” that 134% increase recently afforded me the luxury of spending $300 on a box of Padron Diplomaticos, and over the last 8 months, about $15,000 on Vinyl.  Yes.  Fucking.  Vinyl.  Think a lot bigger numbers.

When you do finally pull the trigger, here’s some additional advice.  And in the spirit of Gladiator, they’re going to be the most bloody and fucking entertaining part of the show.

  • – When you get an offer from another company, don’t tell your boss you resign. Tell your boss you’ve got another offer.  Put it in their lap to make the next move.  If they want to keep you, they’ll counter the offer.  If not, you resign and take the better offer.  If they do decide to counter-offer, take this new number back to the potential employer and ask for more.  You just made yourself an additional 5-10%.
  • – Don’t be afraid to burn bridges. These aren’t the people you want as your references anyway.  Plus, if it all works out, your scathing review of your peers may just land some of them on the next up and coming headcount reductions list.  Besides you’ve already got your life-long Champion as your reference.  You don’t need them.

  • – Schedule your resignation for maximum effect. My timing has been impeccable when it comes to resigning.  I’ve resigned from a company 20 minutes after closing on my house.  I’ve resigned a week after being turned down for an internal promotion.  And I’ve resigned 2 weeks after go-live on a new project where I’d be crucial to support post-implementation.  And I genuinely don’t give a shit.
  • – Stop thinking about employment as anything more than a contract. No loyalty is required.  They pay you to perform a task and either parties can terminate at will.  And always beat them to the punch – quit first before they fire you.
  • – The only way up is to quit. Companies will offer you 2-5% to stay.  Outside companies will offer you 10-15% to leave.

So what are you waiting for?  Grab your sword and put on your favorite loin cloth, it’s time to quit.


2 thoughts on “The Art of Quitting

  1. Thank you, Maxximus, for your insightful article. For years, companies have complained about not being able to retain employees, lamenting the loss of a loyal work force. They’ve failed to realize that this is a two-way street, eliminating pensions, reducing health benefits, and increasing work load. Until more people take your advice, I’m afraid that the employer / worker relationship will remain a state of indentured servitude.

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