As we’ve progressed in this series about quitting your terrible public accounting job and moving on to bigger and better things, I’ve looked forward to this post more than any of the others. Why? Because we have collected some funny-ass farewell emails over the years and I relish any and every opportunity to share them with you. If you’re new around here, chances are you missed some gems the first time around. If you’re one of the dusty old-timers still lingering around, well, who can forget the Beyonce of PwC’s epic goodbyes?
Before we get to the “what not to do” column, let’s first talk about quitting etiquette. Now, some salty old partners out there will tell you that it’s customary to give a completely open window of time and buttloads of notice before you decide to leave your current gig, lest the firm find itself in a bind because they are dipshits who thought you’d stick around eternally to take their shit. As a former co-worker of mine used to say, “poor planning on your part doesn’t constitute an emergency on mine.” I know he didn’t coin that phrase but let’s just say I came to admire the snail’s pace with which he’d fulfill my frantic requests once I realized it was my fault they were frantic due to my tendency to blow everything off until the last minute and then get crazy overwhelmed when shit inevitably gets stressful. Yeah, I’m working on that. Anyway, don’t let the firm guilt you into sticking around through [insert event here]. As long as you give them a couple weeks and tie up what loose ends you can while you’re still around, you’re good.
Obviously you’re kind of a dickhead if, say, you’re an auditor who drops your two weeks notice on Dec. 30 or in tax and absolutely must get out two weeks before April 15, but other than the truly “busy” periods and/or important clients, don’t let the firm’s understaffing guilt you into sticking around longer than you have to. Remember: it’s their problem they try to bill as many hours out of clients with as few hours from staff as possible, not yours. While you’re mustering up the courage to say “I quit!” maybe you can imagine a scenario in which your sudden absence sends the firm into a tailspin, rendering them wholly useless as they scramble to replace you. I mean, that won’t happen but hell, imagine it anyway.
So how should you give notice? Unless you want to end up forever immortalized on these hallowed pages for writing an epic farewell letter that somehow went firm-wide, resist the urge to make a splash. I urge you to consider that the majority of the farewell emails we have shared over the years have been heavy on the cringe rather than the glory, but you do you, if that’s how you want to go out then who am I to stop you?
For the rest of you, a simple email will suffice. Inform the firm A) you are leaving and B) of your projected last day. AND THAT’S IT. Although a mention about how you appreciated your time at the firm and the valuable knowledge you gained that you’ll carry throughout your career blah, blah is more than acceptable, but don’t bother explaining where you’re going or why. For starters, they don’t care.
Additionally, and this applies to those of you who are at your wits’ end about to inspire the 2019 reboot of Falling Down if you stay in that cube even one day longer than you have to, the more you get into emotionally-charged goodbyes, the more likely it is you’ll say some dumb shit that could potentially cockblock you from opportunities later on down the road. Just go gracefully and save the verbal diarrhea for semi-private forums like Reddit where you can spazz out all you want and no one will judge you. Well, they’ll judge you but you’re hiding behind a screen name so it’s all good.
If you’re in the camp that feels an email is too impersonal, you can always set up a meeting with your superior. The advantage to this is that it’s slightly more professional than shooting a couple bytes of “fuck you, I’m out” through the abyss of the Internet. The disadvantage is that you may not be prepared for the begging and pleading to come. If you’re halfway decent at your job, expect to be asked what it will take for you to stay, along with a barrage of questioning that will make you feel like a greasy-haired extra on Law and Order with Stabler’s hot-ass breath on your face.
Whichever route you choose, a printed and signed letter just to CYA isn’t a terrible idea.
While you’re on the way out, it’s a good idea to make it known that although you’re getting the fuck on up out of that shithole, you’re a professional at the end of the day and therefore intend to help with the transition however you can. Don’t be surprised if your soon-to-be-former colleagues treat you like you’ve got the plague once it’s known you’re on your way out, but if the firm is smart, the people who matter will appreciate your offer to help as well as your professionalism.
The last point is this: people quit all the time. The firm is used to talented folks like you putting in their time and getting the hell out of there at the first opportunity. That’s how this thing works. So don’t psyche yourself out and start feeling bad because you know your team needs you. The harsh truth is that you are 99.9% replaceable and a new warm body will be along any minute to fill your chair.