Vault's Careers Blog

Career advice and job search strategies for the modern careerist

Steven Slater’s JetBlue Outburst Should Not Influence Career Decisions of Disgruntled Workers

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After hearing about how Steven Slater quit his job on JetBlue the other day, it is hard not to be reminded of the famous scene from the stoner-flick Half Baked where Scarface quits his job at a fast-food joint by cursing out his shift mates over the intercom, throwing a burger at a customer and leaving. Half Baked is a movie.

What Does JetBlue Employee Steven Slater's Outburst  Mean for Disgruntled Workers

In real life, Mr. Slater got into an argument with a JetBlue passenger, was hurt in the incident and could not let go of his anger when the passenger further fueled his rage as the flight came to a halt. Slater would curse this passenger out over the PA system before he grabbed his own bags, swiped some beer, activated the inflatable emergency chute, slid down, and went home. He has since become a hero. Recent comments from “people on the street” suggest that they would like to leave their job with similar flair.

Mr. Slater is enjoying his 15 minutes of fame, but unless he is able to parlay this into a well-paying gig, his career outlook looks bleak. What airline would hire Mr. Slater after hearing about his recent outburst, especially with the knowledge that he might be quick to snap at another passenger given his open contempt for those that try to skirt the carry-on baggage rules? Airlines aside, what company would want to hire someone who cursed out a customer, showed a perceived disregard for their safety and despite all this, still made sure to steal some beer on his way out the proverbial door?

Here is what most people should do if they plan to quit a job:

Never Quit Out of Anger: Think before you make a decision to quit. We are still dealing with an unstable economy and you need to know which companies are even hiring before you think about leaving your current job. Without a backup plan, you will regret your decision. Especially when you can’t collect unemployment, have trouble finding a job and realize that you cannot pay your bills. Breathe.

Have a Backup Plan: You may want to have a job to go to before actually taking action. Update your resume and your LinkedIn page, reach out to your contacts and start your job search. When you have an offer and know for sure that you will have money coming in, it’s time to get the ball rolling on leaving your current situation.

Don’t Burn Your Bridges: Write a thoughtful letter of resignation and discuss what you have learned and what you appreciated about your time at the company. Try to glaze over any negative reasons for leaving with words like, “I feel after so many years, it was time to take on a new challenge.” And despite writing a letter, make sure you speak with your supervisors. Kill them with kindness.

Give Ample Notice: The standard is usually two weeks, but if you are a vital person that will be hard to replace, and you’re not going to start at Company B in a month, you should be open to the idea of giving more time if needed. If you are just quitting, because you just want to take a break from working, you should be receptive to the idea of working longer than two weeks until they find a replacement. Set parameters and give deadlines, because some companies might take advantage of your generosity.

Stay in Touch: Even if you are working for a different company, it doesn’t hurt to shoot an email wishing your previous employer well during the holidays or just because you want to show you still care. And if you have friends at the company, social networking allows you to stay in contact and keep up with the latest gossip. If the situation arises, you may want to go back to work for your previous employer and this is your best opportunity to keep your name in their heads and be in the loop should a position open.

And finally, if you feel the need to slide down an emergency chute…just go to the park – they have slides, too.

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