NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Finding the courage to walk away from a job to pursue new opportunities can be one of the hardest challenges a worker can face. Not only can breaking the news to your manager be nerve-racking, but the way in which you resign can affect your professional reputation and follow you throughout your career.
According to a survey by the global staffing service OfficeTeam, 86% of human resources managers who were interviewed said that how an employee chooses to quit a job at least somewhat affects his future career opportunities.
"How you leave a job can be just as important as what you did while you were there, so it's important to leave on the best terms possible," says Robert Hosking, executive director of OfficeTeam. "If you quit a job in a rude or unusual way, people tend to remember that, and word about your antics can often make its way through the grapevine to a potential future boss."
Sometimes, though, workers choose to leave on their ownterms—and the results can range from bizarre to downright hilarious. Here are the true stories of four workers who resigned from their jobs in unconventional ways. While we're not suggesting that you necessarily follow their example, we thought you might at least get a kick out of their experiences.
Name: Cynthia Fabian
Residence: Venice, Fla.
"When I was in college, I had a part-time paid internship as an assistant copywriter. My boss would mostly explain things to me, and then I would do the actual writing. He did not expect me to be as good as I was and catch on so quickly. It was really a skill I thought would help me in the future, and as it turned out, it did.
"My boss was always playing practical jokes on this one business associate, a well-known copywriter. I told my boss early on that I did not like to be scared and I did not like pranks, but one day, my boss wanted me to tell this associate that he died. My boss was going to lie down with his feet sticking out and have me lie!
"Well, the associate came in and saw the feet. He looked very worried, so I told him everything was O.K. I got a hard time for not playing along, and my boss could not understand why this made me so uncomfortable and was inappropriate to me. I tried to tell him, but he did not listen and the next words out of my mouth were, 'I quit.' I left within the hour.
"I could no longer work for a man I respected so little, and I would never lose my integrity for a job. I learned to be a copywriter on my own and have had success on my own as a writer."
Name: Julie Austin
Occupation: Author, inventor and innovation speaker
Residence: Los Angeles
"Fifteen years ago, I was working at a job I hated giving out tickets to movie screenings and making no money at it. But it was a job and I stuck with it. What I really wanted to do was act.
"One day I got a part in a TV commercial and found out about it after the office had closed, so I had to wait to tell my boss that I wouldn't be in for work the next morning. I went to shoot the commercial the next day, which was for a phone company. In the commercial I was supposed to be talking on the phone, though the sound would be taken out. I decided to call my boss to tell him I was shooting a commercial and wouldn't be able to go in to work. On the phone, while the cameras were rolling, I told him I was going to quit. I had been thinking about it for a long time and was pushed into the decision by another actor on the set who had just taken that same leap. She started her own business selling information to other actors and was getting enough work in the business and sales that she didn't have to work a regular job. I thought, 'I could do that!'
"After I told my boss I wanted to quit, he said, 'Don't bother, you're fired.' At first I was bummed out, but it gave me the push I needed to start my own business. I now run four of them and have not been unemployed since."
Name: Paul Hagen
Occupation: CEO of VacuPractor
"I was working as a top salesman for a company when a client made me a job offer I could not turn down. I knew that the managers at my company would walk you to the door as soon as you gave your two weeks' notice, so on the day I was ready to quit, I waited for my managers to go into their morning meeting so that I could go around and say my goodbyes to people. When my manager got out of her meeting, she got wind that I was quitting, so she came over and asked if I had anything to tell her. I said 'Yes, here is my two weeks' notice,' and I handed her my letter of resignation. She then said, 'Get out of here now.' I protested, telling her that I had to clean out my desk, even though I had already done it, but she still said, 'No, get out now.'
"So I stood up, put on my jacket and started walking to the front door. In the middle of the bullpen of 80 people yelling 'Good luck, we will miss you,' I stopped and my manager did not. She ran right into me, hit the floor and broke her lip, and the place erupted in laughter. Later that day I met my buddies for lunch, and they thought the whole thing was hilarious."
Name: Diana Fletcher
Occupation: Author, life coach, speaker
Residence: Murrysville, Pa.
"I was 22, going to school and had been hired at a very busy bar. I was already uncomfortable because of the short shorts we had to wear. We were not allowed to write down drink orders which made me very nervous, as I had trouble remembering more than a few drinks at a time.
"I was sent to a table where 14 people were seated and they started naming the drinks they wanted. They were all complicated, not a simple beer or straight shot in the group. I got to the third person and politely said, 'Could you hold on? I will be right back.'
"I walked to the nearest other waitress I could find and said, 'Can you take that table? I feel sick.' She nodded. I walked through the bar, through the kitchen, and out the back door, got into my car and drove home. I never called them to tell them I quit. I assumed they figured it out."
—Written by Kristin Colella for MainStreet