job jumper tip #4: leave on your terms

I’ve started out the job jumper tips talking about WIDD files, being a discriminating networker and remembering it’s not all about the money. This week, I wanted to make a point that’s near and dear to my heart.

With a looming recession, people are starting to worry about their jobs, with good reason. You can’t make it a day here in the New York area without hearing about layoffs and redundancies. People get emotional about their jobs. They suck up a lot of your life; you know your cubicle neighbors’ kids’ names, you have eaten at the local Olive Garden together and cried over broken fax machines. It’s tough not to get emotional. Here is my tip, then, to try and keep some perspective.Tip 4: You will leave your job, someday. The ONLY questions are when (not if) and how.

You are going to leave your job someday. You will retire, quit, get fired or die. Most of us desperately want to avoid getting fired or dying on the job, but that leaves only two options: retiring or quitting. Unless you are Bill Parcells, retirement only happens once. That means that chances are very, very good that you will quit your job if you don’t get fired or laid off first. Maybe not tomorrow, maybe not this year – but you will quit it. And the sad truth, for most people, is that the job you leave will become a memory. You may think you had lifelong friends there, but when you are surrounded by your new co-workers who are there 12 hours a day, will you be trudging back over to the old office after work to hit Friday’s? Chances are you won’t. I have made some friends from work over the years that I’ve kept, but the fact is that I don’t see them much. With commute, my current work, family and personal friends you just can’t make a lot of time for old work friends. If you jump a lot, your list will get long in a hurry.

So try to keep up with old work friends, if nothing else for networking’s sake. But in this day and age you can’t afford to get sentimental about your job. You’ll be leaving it someday, and it’s better that you do it on your own terms, when the getting is good. If you are frustrated today, remind yourself that in a matter of time – days, week, months or even years – the boss who annoys you, the coworker who backstabbed you or the people who were more than just coworkers will all be a part of your past.

Check out the rest of the job jumper tips:

(photo by wim harwig)

15 comments

  • That’s a good way to put it. It’s like death, once you accept its inevitability, it’s easier to deal with. So I hear, anyway.

  • Another great post in this series. I just have to say I really enjoy another blogger who loves throwing in little football tidbits here and there πŸ™‚

    Always an entertaining and informative read, thanks!

  • At my first job, I thought I would be there forever. I made it four years before getting laid off from that struggling telecom company in 2002. Since then my stays have been much shorter, and I’ve come to expect that. Now I don’t even bother mentally unpacking at a new job.

  • Hunter, I thought the same thing at my first job – I think everyone does. I hardly even personalize my workspace these days!

  • On the contrary, when I pack up to go to a new office, I put all my personal stuff in a separate box and unpack that first. From the first day in a new space, I have my favorite coffee cup, my personalized mouse pad, a calendar I made with favorite pictures, etc. Much of our life is spent in our work space, so I want my space to be just that: MY space!

  • I agree – very much agree that old work friends should be kept, especially in thinking that someday I’d like to open my own business.

    I’m like Ruth: and like to get comfy in the workplace. In fact, in a few months part of our office will be leaving and I’ll be gaining a larger workplace. I’m stoked. I’m going to buy a few more plants, a comfy chair, a foot rest, and have a ‘reading area’ with my desk space.

    p.s – i like your job jumper posts. Eventually they’ll let me know it’s okay, and I can make it work for me if/when it comes to leaving. Keep up the good work.

  • I keep little if anything personal in my office. It’s a place to sit while you’re renting yourself out to an employer. You don’t put a photo on the tray table of your airline seat, do you? And when you do get up to leave, you never, ever burn bridges. It’s a much smaller world than it appears.

  • maybe I do put a photo on the tray table when I fly, what’s the big deal? I don’t see why one can’t become personally connected to the place where you may spend up to 8 hrs a day. I may live in an apartment for just a year, but I sure as hell dress it up even if I spend up to half my hours there just sleeping.

    You’re so callous. *smirk.

    • @t h rive: I don’t know – I don’t personalize my car, my workspace – anything, really, except my home. It’s actually a good question about human personalities – why does one person personalize and the next doesn’t. I bet Curmudgeon and I are a lot more similar in our approach to work than Ruth or you, at least from a “nesting” perspective. I actually don’t think either approach has an advantage – basically you should do what makes you happy. I have just never been one to have pictures and personal knicknacks everywhere. I have my coffee cup, some tea, a fork and a spoon and a single picture of my son and nothing else. Part of that is due to the fact that I’m a consultant and I move around a lot, but part of it is just due to my personality. My home is my fortress of personality. Everything else – like Curmudgeon says – is a place where I rent my time to The Man to enhance my home life.

      (Says something about how much I like my work, eh?)

  • Nah, I shouldn’t say I disagree with any other personalization (or non-personalization I guess) – to each their own. It surely has a lot to do with the fact that I’m a young keener, and still stoked on my first office job.

    ALso, I don’t do knick knacks etc. I mainly do plants, and a printed picture or two.

  • A lot of people I know have been laid off or fired and they were escorted out of the building within 15 minutes (that is in financial industry, don’t know about others). So, if you have a lot of stuff that you keep in your office or cubicle, it may take you a day just to go through all of it and pack it up. But you don’t have a whole day. 15 min, you are out!

    I liked to personalize my workplace, but not too much. I, for example, put some postcards of the places I traveled to remind of the good times and to help me meditate and relax during the day.

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