Declaring Independence from Your Employer

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Eleven score and 10 years ago this July, the Founding Fathers of the United States issued the now-famous Declaration of Independence to their British colonial masters. In that document, they declaimed that living under the unjust rule of King George III had become intolerable and maintained that it was necessary to “dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them…” In other words, smell ya later, George—we’re going off on our own.

Similarly, IT pros in the working world today put up with their share of hassles, ranging from unrealistic deadlines and workloads to insufficient salary to insufferable superiors. These factors can overwhelm even the most dogged and talented techies, which in turn leads them to “dissolve the bands” connecting them to their companies. Unlike the American revolutionaries, though, IT pros don’t have to fire the shot heard ’round the world to get the message across. (In fact, I would highly discourage it.) But there are a few measures they should take in declaring their independence from their employers to help smooth the transition.

Give Them Plenty of Time
No matter how badly you might have been treated (short of physical or verbal harassment), you don’t want to leave your organization hanging because of an abrupt departure. Be sure to let them know as far in advance as you can about your move. Two weeks’ notice is the standard in the corporate world, of course, but this is not always adequate in terms of preparing for your exit and finding a replacement. Generally, the more sophisticated and high-ranking your position, the sooner you should let them know when you’ll be leaving.

Write ’Em a Letter
The best way to announce your departure is via a letter of resignation to your boss. There aren’t necessarily many guidelines here, other than to keep the tone of the language therein polite and cordial. (No “Take This Job and Shove It” remarks.) You can keep it limited to a vague paragraph or two that lets the employer know when you’ll be leaving and little else, or you could include comments suggesting why you left and what your company could have done differently to keep you. Who knows? They just might take your advice into consideration and avoid similar missteps in the future.

Try to Line Up Some Work Afterward
Most likely, you’ll have started your job search way before you leave your current one. After all, making a vocational transition has been on your mind for a while. But openings and interviews aren’t always forthcoming, and you might have to be a little creative in what you do before you find the position you’ve always wanted. You can try to get some contracting or consulting gigs in the meantime to generate some income—you might even find you prefer it to full-time work with a steady employer. Other unconventional employment arrangements include part-time jobs and (ulp!) a non-technical profession. Just remember: At least while you’re earning money, you’re not spending it.

Save Up
Speaking of not spending money, you’ve got to be frugal while changing jobs. Even if you’ve got another position on Monday after you quit on Friday, you’ll find that the gap between your last paycheck and your next one is long. Plus, because many employers won’t put you on their benefits package for a while, you might have to put yourself and your dependents on an individual or family health and dental plan in the interim, which can cost you. Save some money in anticipation of this career move so you won’t be living hand-to-mouth during that time span. If you can, set up a special account so you can sock away money solely for this purpose and keep it separate from your regular savings.

Brian Summerfield is Web editor for Certification Magazine. Send him your favorite study tips and tech tricks at

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