Even though vaccines are readily available and offices are dusting off desks, many Americans still aren’t returning to their corporate address. Remote work isn’t going anywhere—it’s predicted that 36 million Americans will work remotely by 2025.
Now that the job market is heavily in favor of workers, people are quitting their workplaces at historically high rates as they explore better opportunities. That includes millions of people who, either by choice or chance, found themselves in a remote work situation after 2020.
If that speaks to your current experience, you may be looking at the job market with a bit of angst and excitement. Opportunities abound, but upgrading your employment situation will require leaving your current job. Not being in a physical office may make it tempting to cut and run quickly. However, burning bridges is never a good idea. Plan your exit professionally with a few quick steps.
1. WRITE A PROFESSIONAL RESIGNATION LETTER
Public resignations over social media have become popular in recent days. The New York Times even explored the phenomenon in a December 2021 article, citing the new trend of “QuitTok” populating Instagram Reels and TikTok.
We’ll come back to the concept of the QuitTok in a minute. First, however, it’s important to note that there are better ways to resign. The traditional and still accepted method is to write a formal resignation letter that you submit to your boss or manager.
Your resignation letter should include:
• A formal greeting.
• An explanation that you plan to quit.
• The day you plan to officially leave.
Do you need to offer an explanation for your plan to quit? Not necessarily, but it certainly will come up in conversation. Whether or not you offer a reason is up to you. If you like your employer and you’re leaving for reasons beyond their control, it can be helpful to them to understand why.
That said, the same is also true if you’re leaving a terrible employer. It may be helpful for the colleagues you’re leaving behind, and future workers the company hires, to understand the source of your grievances. Leaving that explanation in the resignation letter may also be beneficial if the company doesn’t do exit interviews.
2. GIVE YOUR EMPLOYER ADVANCED NOTICE
Here’s an important preface: In almost every instance in the U.S., employment is at-will. This means both the employer and the employee can terminate the employment contract at any time, usually without consequence.
The recommended time frame is two weeks’ notice. Giving advanced notice will give your former employer time to advertise for your position and, with any luck (especially given today’s tight labor market), find and hire a replacement before or not long after you leave.
3. AVOID BADMOUTHING YOUR FORMER EMPLOYER ON SOCIAL MEDIA
Conspiracy theories to the contrary aside, once something is publicly available on the internet, it’s likely going to be there forever. All it takes is one person downloading or saving a video or tweet to ensure the content can rear its head later on, often at the worst possible time.
Let’s say you do choose to go the QuitTok route. Even if you have strong privacy settings on your social media accounts, can you really say you know and trust every follower? More than 70% of employers admitted they check applicants’ social media accounts during the hiring process.
If you choose to badmouth your employer in the process of quitting, or even after quitting, potential employers may look negatively at the behavior. Potential employers are not obligated to tell you why they choose not to hire. You may unwittingly and unknowingly lose out on potential positions from employers that see your social media activity and opt to go with someone else.
REMOTE JOBS STILL REQUIRE A PROFESSIONAL APPROACH
Forming personal connections with your employer and colleagues in a remote work environment is significantly harder than in a physical work environment. Nevertheless, how you treat your employer once you choose to sever ties could have a resounding impact on your career. Treating your remote employment the same as you would any other type of job will help put you in the right mindset, and you’ll avoid making mistakes during the resignation process that could haunt you for years.