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Don't quit unless you mean it

Posted by Elaine Varelas  March 9, 2011 10:00 AM

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Q. I worked for a company for 18 months. I was told at a review in June that the possibility of becoming permanent would be discussed in December. At my December review, they said they still weren't sure if they wanted to make me permanent. I got upset and quit but withdrew my resignation the very next day. They said they were accepting my resignation and would not let me take back my quitting.

I am usually a calm person but the situation made me emotional. I labored for 18 months with no benefits - this is from a company that constantly boasts about being a best place to work and the great benefits it offers employees. Now my unemployment claim is being held up... what do you think about this situation?

A. Frustration is a part of life, work, relationships, and job searches. How you deal with that frustration becomes the way you are judged by people.

You felt that you were not being treated fairly by your employer having been there for 18 months in a temporary role with no benefits.  However, you were benefiting by discovering first hand whether the company culture and the position were a fit for you. In fact, many employers hire contract or temporary employees so they can determine the employee’s skill set and fit before they hire them full time. It also gives the company time to determine whether they can support the addition of temporary staff to permanent positions.

When you determined the employment agreement was no longer working for you, you could have approached your manager or human resources to discuss the status of your role. This would have allowed you to also find out what you could do to help make a decision about whether there was a permanent need for your position. Instead, you waited, and then reacted in an overly emotional way by personalizing the information you received.

They told you that they were not sure if they were going to make your position permanent, but it sounds like you heard that they did not want to make you permanent. For most companies today, the addition of an FTE (full time equivalent) remains a significant issue.  Companies do not want to add to headcount when they are unsure about what the economy holds and whether their business can support higher everyday costs. 

Unfortunately, overly emotional reactions like, yelling, crying, and quitting are not tolerated well by most employers. Managers and jobs can sometimes drive people to feel like reacting emotionally but it’s always better to step away and give yourself time to take the emotion out of it before you continue a discussion with a manager or employer. If you act on emotions there are consequences – which you just discovered.

They may have been taking their time to determine if you were the right fit. If you had periodic conversations about your performance, attitude, and behavior, you may have learned that the managers were looking for specific improvements before they were ready to commit. However, by reacting so emotionally to the delay and quitting the job, you proved to the manager that you were not the right fit. They did not accept your request to rescind your resignation because they are not obligated to do so.

This is not to say this is completely your fault. A strong manager provides performance feedback on an ongoing basis, so that there are no surprises like the one you had in December. However, if you can acknowledge your part in this situation, you will learn from it.

As far as your unemployment benefits are concerned, the decision as to whether you qualify lies solely in the hands of the Massachusetts Division of Unemployment and Training. They will call your former employer to ask questions about the length of your employment and your departure date, but this is standard procedure in determining your eligibility. Your employer will have no say in whether you receive unemployment benefits.

Good luck!

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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Patricia Hunt Sinacole is president of First Beacon Group LLC, a human resources consulting firm in Hopkinton. She works with clients across many industries including technology, biotech and medical devices, financial services, and healthcare, and has over 20 years of human resources experience.

Elaine Varelas is managing partner at Keystone Partners, a career management firm in Boston and serves on the board of Career Partners International.

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Peter Post is the author of "The Etiquette Advantage in Business." Email questions about business etiquette to him directly here.

Stu Coleman, a partner and general manager at WinterWyman, manages the firm's Financial Contracting division, and provides strategic staffing services to Boston-area organizations needing Accounting and Finance workforce solutions and contract talent.

Tracy Cashman is Senior Vice President and Partner of the Information Technology search division at WinterWyman. She has 20 years of experience partnering with clients in the Boston area to conduct technology searches in a wide variety of industries and technology.

Paul Hellman is the founder of Express Potential, which specializes in executive communication skills. He consults and speaks internationally on how to capture attention & influence others. Email him directly here.

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