Today's Obsession: How to Quit

Last week, the post on Ben Pieratt’s Tumblr advising designers to quit awful jobs generated some interest, and surprisingly only one negative comment. I figured that today, it would be good to start talking about exactly how one should go about beginning to work on their own. We’ll begin with the actual “I quit” conversation you’ll need to have.

When I left my first job, I did it exactly the wrong way. I waited until things were pretty heated, I worked until I was totally burned out, and I left with an explosion. I don’t remember what was said, but it wasn’t cute. I ended up burning a lot of bridges for awhile, and I regretted it.


Here are a few thoughts on things you should and should not do while quitting. This makes a basic assumption: that you’re really, really tired of your job. I’m going to be pretty frank about this.

Most importantly, if you feel like it might be time to go, listen to your gut.

Things to look out for: feeling dismayed with the same types of work coming out over and over. The same sorts of arguments happening over and over. This is usually a relationship problem, so watch out for relationship-based problems.

If you’re not sure, talk it over with your employer. Be ready for a tough conversation.

Tell your employer how you feel about your work or workplace. Don’t turn it into a blame game and don’t point fingers—every relationship problem is partially on you as well as the other party. Your response has been as much a factor as their requests.

Be ready to simply leave after that conversation.

It sucks to say, but there’s a chance your conversation won’t clear things up. However, if both of you keep your wits, it’ll give you something to think about, and your relationship may even end up better for it. However, if that doesn’t happen, you could be asked to simply leave. Be aware that this is a possibility.

Try not to burn bridges.

We’re all passionate about the things we’ve made with our hands. What’s not so easy to see is that your manager, studio owner, or other higher-ups see the company you work in as their creation. Respect their viewpoints, and don’t expect them to automatically see things your way. Different responsibilities always mold different priorities for each position, and yours may not be as evident to your boss as they are to you.

Leave everyone as happy as possible under the circumstances.

Look at this as a breakup. Everyone involved has to get on with their lives after it happens, so making sure those communication lines remain intact will be a huge help in keeping things as disruption-free as possible.

Try not to break up with your job at a sensitive point of a project cycle.

Leaving a design unfinished, a piece sitting on press, or a site unfinished will probably end up making the final piece (and the situation) even worse, and that will reverberate with your reputation down the line. Don’t be remembered as “the one who left when we needed him.”

If anyone else has advice for the actual job breakup call or conversation from her own experience, I’m sure others would benefit from that in the comments below.

5 thoughts on “Today's Obsession: How to Quit

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  4. Red

    I left my job at an agency after several attempts to resolve the main problems as I and other staff saw them. Even clients had noticed problems I had brought up with my boss in a few meetings I had arranged to discuss them. I was also not progressing anymore as a designer, which was also a problem as I couldn’t evolve my skills due to certain restrictions (my boss had a certain look which hadn’t really changed in 5-10yrs).

    The problems were staff and personality clashes, mainly an account manager who took advantage whenever possible and used work time to sort out their own lives and leaving everyone else to do their job! It came to a point when I was hating going to work and just wanted to go home the moment after I walked in the door… this was not good and a situation I promised myself I would never get into again.

    After various failed attempts to improve matters, it was time to wish them the best of luck and move on! I now freelance and have followed my interest in photography as a photographers assistant too and although I’m not earning the money I was earning then (which I plan on earning the same and more in the near future) I enjoy my life a lot more and every day is a new one!

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