Now that the job market has been improving a bit — the unemployment rate slid from 7.7 percent in February to 7.6 percent in March — you may be thinking more seriously about quitting your job, especially if you can’t stand it. More than 2 million Americans are voluntarily leaving their jobs each month, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
You might even be ready to walk into your boss’s office and resign on the spot.
My advice? Don’t do it.
The long-term negatives of quitting your job without giving notice far outweigh the momentary satisfaction of telling your boss to, in Johnny Paycheck's famous words, "Take this job and shove it."
(MORE: 7 Rules for Quitting Your Job Gracefully)
3 Ways Quitting Immediately Can Backfire
Here are three potential consequences of quitting without giving notice:
You'll get blacklisted by your ex-employer Even if you were a model employee for all or most of your time on the job, when you resign effective immediately you stand to lose a key professional reference and jeopardize your chances of getting work in the future. Referrals are the No. 1 way to get hired today.
No matter how many other stellar references you’ve lined up, not including your most recent manager will raise a red flag at the human resources offices of prospective employers.
Besides, most companies perform background checks on candidates to verify their work history. They may ask an applicant’s last employer whether he or she would be eligible for rehire there. If you quit without notice, you can be sure the answer will be a resounding “No.”
(MORE: The Joy of Quitting)
Maybe you have no intention of ever returning to the company or organization you’re leaving. But what if your former company is bought by or merges with another one? That’s quite possible in the next two years, given all the anticipated mergers and acquisitions activity.
If it happens, the same database that lists you as “ineligible for rehire” at your former gig will be seen by the human resources people at the new entity. So you’ve now lost the opportunity to work there.
You'll be blacklisted by former co-workers The people you’ve been working with are the ones who’ll bear the brunt of your decision to quit without notice. That’s because they’ll be forced to add your unfinished assignments to their already heavy workloads.
If the guilt of burdening your teammates isn’t enough to prevent you from resigning on the spot, think about this: You never know where your ex-colleagues will turn up in the future. One may wind up sitting on the hiring committee that’ll be staffing your dream job. Imagine that person’s response when your resumé floats in.
You'll lose money If your employer has a policy of paying a departing employee for any unused vacation time or sick days, there’s a good chance you’ll get that money only by giving proper notice.
(MORE: What to Know Before You Get Fired or Laid Off)
The Right Way to Resign
So how should you quit your job, even one you detest?
Unless staying on poses an imminent threat to your physical or mental health, or you’ve been asked to do something illegal at work, don't go rogue.
Tough it out for at least the standard two weeks and act professionally. (Although two weeks’ notice is conventional, you may be expected to stay longer, depending on your industry and how busy things are at your employer.)
To tender your resignation, have a face-to-face conversation with your boss and follow it up with a brief, gracious email. Immediately after letting your manager know you’ll be leaving, tell your direct reports and human resources department (or its equivalent).
Never, ever disclose your intent to leave to anyone at work without letting your boss know first. If your boss discovers you’ve already discussed your resignation with colleagues, you’ve probably just lost him or her as a potential reference, even if you're giving two weeks' notice. (For more advice on how to quit your job, see my article, “7 Rules for Quitting Your Job Gracefully.”)
Spend your final days tying up as many loose ends as possible. Finish your assignments and label and organize your files in a way that makes it easy for your employer to bridge the gap before your replacement arrives.
Leaving on a positive note could be the difference between getting the next job you apply for and missing out on it.