Welcome to the High Holiday edition of Accounting Career Emergencies. In today's edition, a senior manager at BDO is ready to give notice but can't decide if it's best to keep things professional or to go out with a verbal assault the likes of which George Costanza has never seen.
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Back to kicking off The Public Accounting Attrition Tour of 2011:
I am still knee deep in busy season, with many engagements still open and pushing their April 30th deadlines. There is no real end in sight, since May and June look equally as busy with Q’s, EBP’s, 9/30 year ends and other projects the Partners engage us for that further contribute to my maxed out PTO accrual. So naturally, as most people do this time of year, I have been looking for open positions searching for that golden opportunity to finally break free of the social, physical and health suppression known as public accounting. That being said, is it wrong to lay down at night and dream of what you would say when giving your notice?
I have played out hundreds of scenarios in my head saying everything from the absolute extreme to the overly conservative. That makes me think – what is the best way to “leave” a public accounting firm? During my 11 year career, I have seen all kinds of people leave in a ball of fire, rather than just fade away. Those people think that the firm will collapse without them, or their leaving will cause a mass exodus or significant change to the firm. No way. It never happens. So really, what is the point of telling the Partners (and HR in the exit conference), what you really feel in your heart?
Dear Dreaming of Quitting,
There's nothing at all wrong with dreaming of the most epic march in ever. I assume you're referring to something similar to this:
As you mention, people who go out with a furious speech that features wild hand gestures and name-calling are typically those who think they are indispensable or are somehow the catalyst to the collapse of their firm. You're right to say that this is NEVER the case. A team or an office may go through a rough patch (mileage of rough patch may vary) but eventually things calm down and return to relative normalcy.
So to answer your second question - the best way to leave your firm is: quietly. That doesn't mean you don't tell your colleagues, friends or others that you're leaving (most probably know that you're looking to leave anyway) but it should be a drama-free encounter. You meet with the appropriate people, tell them that your last day will be X and that should be it. If they pry about why you're leaving or attempt to convince you otherwise, you can respectfully decline or entertain their queries and/or begging. That's up to you. Even if you've been used and abused throughout the time at your firm, would it really make you feel better to tell that a partner that the experience of working with them was akin to a circle of Dante's Inferno that he dared not scribe?
As for the motive behind these overtly dramatic "I quit!" speeches, I get the feeling that those who feel compelled to give them think they will get some satisfaction out of telling someone exactly how they feel; that giving everyone who deserves a piece of their mind will somehow make everything negative that happened in the past worth it. If you feel like expressing some honesty about your experience, that's perfectly okay but for crissakes, have some tact. If you simply feel justified to spew verbal excrement, that only makes you look like a lunatic. A very unprofessional lunatic.