When you’re unhappy at your job, it’s easy to fantasize about going all “Office Space” on the place or quitting in epic fashion.
That would be a bad idea.
The business world is small, made even smaller by career-focused sites like LinkedIn and GlassDoor. And it gets smaller still as you climb the corporate ladder. The way you leave an organization can be as memorable as the great work you did there, so think twice before you rent a banana suit, make a cutesy “I Quit” video or blast your former employer on social media.
Remember, you don’t want to limit future opportunities by burning bridges and leaving a trail of scuttled professional networks in your wake.
Here are a few epic “I Quit” scenes you definitely shouldn’t re-enact.
1. The “Gone” Girl
You probably remember a few years back when erstwhile Internet darling Marnia Shifrin (allegedly) quit her job at a Taiwanese animation company via YouTube video an interpretive dance to Kanye West’s “Gone.” The video succeed in A) Going viral B) Giving “Gone” a second life on iTunes and C) Landing Shifrin a spot on Queen Latifah’s show. Don’t make an “I Quit” video; the odds are overwhelmingly against you achieving the same results.
2. Milton’s Revenge
No matter how much you feel you’re mistreated, or how much you miss your red Swingline stapler, do not burn your office down. Milton Waddams might have gotten away with stealing millions of dollars (and every scene in “Office Space”), but you’ll most likely wind up in jail.
3. The Slater Evacuation
As badly as you might want to escape your job, the escape hatch is not the way to do it. But that’s what happened in 2010, when former Jet Blue flight attendant Steve Slater cursed out passengers on the PA system, grabbed a few beers and slid down the evacuation shoot to the tarmac. We’d recommend you be a little more subtle.
4. Jack’s Smirking Revenge
Confronting your boss is one thing, going nuclear with black eyes and blackmail is another. But that’s what the Edward Norton’s “Narrator” character does, punching himself in the face and tossing himself through a window in the memorable “Jack’s Smirking Revenge” scene from “Fight Club.” Neither the self-mutilation nor the blackmail are recommended.
5. The Pipe Bomb Op-Ed
Former Goldman exec Greg Smith put the financial firm on blast in an op-ed that appeared in The New York Times. Smith announced his resignation in the piece, in which he lamented the cultural and leadership changes within the firm. Tough to imagine a more public departure than that one. Unless…
6. “Ciao Baby” at the Super Bowl
Gwen Dean is another disgruntled employee who quit via viral video, and she did it on perhaps the biggest stage there is. You most likely remember her as the machine engineer who quit her job with the help of a blue bird puppet in a GoDaddy Super Bowl Ad. From the looks of it, Dean’s decision to go full-time as a puppeteer has paid off. (FastCompany profiled Puppets By Gwen earlier this year.)
One way to avoid epic "I quit" situations is to keep company culture in mind through the hiring process.