EMPLOYEE CONFIDENTIAL: 25 Candid Tales From Frustrated Workers Who Finally Quit Their Jobs

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Photo: Fazen via Flickr

Recently, we asked people to fill out a job survey; the results were shocking.More than half of the 200+ respondents said they quit a job in the last two years without another opportunity lined up. What’s more, most of people who quit said they did so because they weren’t happy.

Here’s the original survey >>

Here are the survey results and charts >>

Given the awful economy, those findings floored us. Shouldn’t people just be happy to have jobs?

So, we wanted to find out more.  What drove these people to risk financial stability in search of a better life? We asked people to tell us their stories — and we got an overwhelming number of submissions from people all over, of all ages.

Out of 20+ stories, only one person regretted their decision to resign.  Everyone else said they are much happier now and that quitting was the best decision they ever made — even those who are currently unemployed. 

If you’ve ever dreamed of storming out of work and never coming back, live vicariously through these 25 people who did just that.

Current Age: 30

Sex: Female

Location: Seattle, Washington

Resignation date: September 2010

Why I quit: 'I recently quit my Digital Account Executive position here in Seattle. I jumped ship September of last year after six years in sales because, well, sales is horrendous and not at all my cup of tea. I would fantasize about getting into non-fatal car accidents so I could get out of work and not feel guilty. Many times while in the office kitchen, I contemplated the pros and cons of 'accidentally' cutting my finger off for a day off.

'My dad passed away in July and since he had always said I should get back to writing, I figured life is too short and why the hell not? I didn't care if I didn't have a job lined up - I just HAD to be happy.

'Life is just too short to dread Mondays. I weighed the stress of being broke with the stress of a job I hated, and being broke won. It is also an awesome diet.'

What I'm doing now: 'I had four months saved up as a cushion, and I planned to teach myself web development, design, and to dig deeper into my online marketing skills. I threw myself into content creation and coding, making Shelbot.com and enrolling in a web development program.

'I landed a position about three weeks after I quit, working as a marketing strategist at a social media agency. I now code, design, create content, and manage clients. It's busy but I would rather do this than go back to sales.'

Current Age: 29

Sex: Male

Location: Manchester, Connecticut

Resignation date: December 2010

Why I quit: 'In August, I told my boss a lie that I found a new job in hopes of them giving me that raise I'd been asking for for six years. They said they didn't want me to leave and asked what it was going to take to get me to stay. The ball was in my court at the moment. I told them how much it would take me to stay, they told me, 'Good luck.' I told them that October 1st would be my quit date.

The next day, tragedy struck our workplace. Some idiot warehouse worker who was fired shot and killed nine people in my workplace, including himself. Suddenly, there were way more important things going on than trying to scheme a raise.

'It was all of a sudden my pleasure to be at work with the people that remained there and nothing made me happier in times of extreme sadness than being with them. My lie of finding another job caught on to some coworkers who told other coworkers so, regrettably, I just went with it. 'Yea, I leave in October, wish me luck.'

'I am an idiot.

'The weeks leading up to October had me scrambling for another job but I found nothing. I told my boss that I wasn't yet ready to leave and that I would let them know when. I stuck by my story and THIS TIME, I would leave by the end of the year.

'More weeks passed, still no job replies, not even an interview. I applied and sent my resume out to over three hundred different companies.

'They threw me two going away parties, one out at a bar and one in the office during my last day. Still, during my speech, I could have just said that I decided to stay...nope, I left.'

What I'm doing now: 'Now I am in Boston, living off my savings and looking for work. I'm contemplating going back to school to get a real degree. A generic 'Communications' degree from a state school just doesn't cut it these days for prospective employers.'

Current Age: 37

Sex: Male

Location: New York, New York

Resignation date: May 2010

Why I quit: 'I started at a restaurant review company in May of this year. I got hired to architect their new website, but in the three weeks between getting hired and actually starting, the CTO and Tech Director made a bunch of decisions that, while making sense for their company, made a lot of what I was going to do and the knowledge I have not a great fit anymore.

'I stuck it out for a while and functioned as just a senior developer, but I wasn't happy with being micro-managed and I wasn't really doing what I enjoy and am good at. I told them I wasn't that happy about things, and we discussed what changes could be made, but ultimately I decided to just give my notice.'

What I'm doing now: 'I got the interview at my current company right after giving my notice and I was hired a couple of days before my last day at the review site.'

Current Age: 26

Sex: Male

Location: New York, NY

Resignation date: January 2009

Why I quit: 'My work environment was increasingly hostile, and we were working on a startup that was possibly the worst-timed venture ever. I quit by just explaining I couldn't work in an environment like that anymore.

What I'm doing now: 'I started my own startup for about a year, at which point another startup snapped me up. I lived off my wife's lavish nurse salary in the meantime.'

Current Age: 25

Sex: Male

Location: Philadelphia, PA

Resignation date: January 2011

Why I quit: 'I didn't find the job fulfilling. I didn't care about the consequences of quitting my job. I knew I would make something work.

'I went to Miami for two weeks (including the new year) on vacation. It was a good opportunity for me to clear my head and figure out what I really wanted to do. I went back to Philadelphia, walked in to my boss' office on the 3rd, and gave my two weeks notice.

'I found a new renter for my apartment, sold my furniture, packed my car, and drove back down to Miami by the 16th. I was completely out of Philadelphia and back in Miami within 13 days.'

What I'm doing now: 'I grew up in Miami, so I quickly found some freelance jobs for friends and family. I am already making enough to pay the bills (but I am not making the kind of money as I was in my last job by any means). I taught myself how to write lines of code after work in my last job, so I gained some skills to be able to do something other than freelance work. I am currently planning to attend business school within the next year and launch a website.'

Current Age: 28

Sex: Male

Location: Texas

Resignation date: May 2010

Why I quit: 'I quit my post at a newspaper last May with no prospects lined up at all. I had been in the struggling business a hair under five years and found myself as cynical as some who had been at the newspaper for 25 or 30 years.

'My arsenal of multimedia skills was incredibly underutilized by editors struggling to feed the print beast and, day by day, my enthusiasm for reporting waned. As the layoffs sent many of my colleagues to an uncertain future, I began to ponder my own future constantly. But it was the stupefying managerial meddling that ultimately convinced me that 'Old Media' is dead and I would die with it if I didn't jump ship. That being said I wasn't keen on fighting my way into the fledgling enterprise of 'New Media' either.

'The point of no return came when I realised that the managers and publishers of the industry have totally failed to update their almost completely obsolete business model and ensure the future of the business at all, despite what they say in press releases when launching website dooming pay-walls.

'Remaining a student of the failed print media business philosophy would only hurt my chances of advancing myself later down the road and the longer I stayed employed there, the worse I felt about showing up everyday to meet my story quota and sit through cringe-worthy editorial meetings.

'Confidently, I walked away from the job after unsuccessfully interviewing for a few other journalism jobs. Within three weeks I was waiting tables about 30 hours a week and earning just under my full time reporter's salary.

'The power of networking ultimately saved me from the wretched service industry (everyone, please tip your waiters) and I landed an unadvertised marketing position for a mid-cap company. Journalism is in the rear view mirror for me and the only negative feeling that remains is the pity I have for my fellow colleagues still stuck in the soul-sucking and increasingly uncreative environment of a newsroom circa 2011.

'I left for my mental health and to force my own hand. It worked out and it's a gamble I'd make again if I had to, but hopefully I won't. I told my editor I was leaving to explore new opportunities. Cliche as all hell but 100 per cent true. She knew instantly I was leaving journalism, she said she 'felt it.'

What I'm doing now: 'It took me roughly 5 months from leaving my journalism job to land my marketing job.'

Current Age: 40

Sex: Male

Location: Pheonix, Arizona

Resignation date: October, 2009

Why I quit: 'My boss was one of the worst human beings I have ever worked for. He got his job because he knew the previous CEO and spent most of his day texting his various mistresses or lording it over us how much he made. Calling him incompetent would be an insult to incompetent people. His few work actions bordered on the illegal involving us in multiple lawsuits.

'I went to HR and handed my resignation over with the Ethicspoint case numbers and additional information on how my boss violated employment, banking, and investment laws on a regular basis.'

What I'm doing now: 'Within two weeks I had three job offers and have been continuously employed since then. I make more now than I did then and am at a better company.'

Current Age: 27

Sex: Male

Location: Chicago, IL

Resignation date: July 2010

Why I quit: 'I was a very unhappy with my previous role, as our group was winding down.'

What I'm doing now: 'I traveled for 6 months and volunteered. I just got back and have been looking for a job for one week.'

Current Age: 25

Sex: Male

Location: Belfast, Ireland

Resignation date: December 2010

Why I quit: 'They had an expectation that I'd work for free beyond the max hours I was contracted for, and the employer was complaining that I was working constant early shifts and trying to control my attire in a non client-facing job.

'My former employer called a review meeting at which I told them I wasn't standing for their power games any longer and I handed them an envelope containing my resignation. The HR droid refused to pick it up and tried to bully me into telling her the contents. It ended in a stand off where she eventually picked the envelope up and read it!

What I'm doing now: 'I'm running my own company (which I was doing this alongside their job!) and am about to start work with a global electronics brand too.'

Current Age: 28

Sex: Male

Location: Carmel, Indiana

Resignation date: May 2009

Why I quit: 'I was working in a call centre on the help desk, which started out well until a few clients backed out and the department got reorganized. I got shuffled around until I supported equipment made by companies who only had tech support so that people would be less likely to start screaming about how crappy the equipment they bought was.

'We were constantly harassed by poor managers and customers who screamed like banshees because they were sold crappy products. I wanted to solve problems, and instead I felt like I was hiding in a bunker waiting for someone to go postal.

'I typed up a resignation letter and gave each of the managers in my chain of command a copy. I thanked them for the opportunity and gave my two weeks notice. Storming out in a giant scene would have been more fun, but I come from the school of thought that you don't burn bridges.

'The department head called me into her office on my last day to tell me that I was an utter moron for quitting my job in the middle of a recession without something else lined up. I thanked her for her advice.'

What I'm doing now: 'I took a month off and decompressed, then turned to job hunting in the extreme - I was easily sending out 40 resumes a day and getting several interviews a week. Then, a different department head from the company I had quit called me up and asked if I'd be interested in coming back.

'The job was a huge step up, the pay was solid, and it was a fantastic opportunity. The process got dragged out a while when he found out that I'd quit instead of being laid off like he thought. Fortunately I ended up getting the position about four months later.

'It's a much better fit, my current boss is phenomenally awesome, and I have made sure that I repay the freedom and leniency of my job by making sure that problems don't reach my boss' desk unless I need him to rain bureaucratic hell down on someone for me.'

Current Age: 38

Sex: Male

Location: Asia

Resignation date: December, 2009

Why I quit: 'I joined the Asian HQ of a very well known electronics conglomerate, whose products are in the hands and homes of nearly every consumer in the US. I decided to leave after getting fed up with the pervasive culture of corruption that existed at every level within the company.

'At first, I tried to internally report my observations of corrupt behaviour. When I realised that my reports were going nowhere and that I was being marginalized for having made the reports, I simply said to HR, 'I give up. What kind of severance package can you give me?''

What I'm doing now: 'I am currently unemployed, but working on a few personal projects. One is a non-profit organisation that I conceived of while living as an expat in Asia.'

Current Age: 52

Sex: Male

Location: Palm Bay, Florida

Resignation date: April, 2010

Why I quit: 'I had been working there 4+ years. I was moving 20 miles away, too far for what I considered to be a neighbourhood job. Also I didn't like the working conditions.

'After the economy went bad the owner hired fewer workers and overloaded the remaining workers. Tipped employees were assigned side work normally given to non-tipped workers.'

What I'm doing now: 'I found another job after one month, longer than I expected given my experience and modest salary needs. I'm actually making less money because of lower volume but like it much better because of the short commute, relaxed pace, and friendlier work environment. No regrets.'

Current Age: 27

Sex: Male

Location: New York, NY

Resignation date: August, 2010

Why I quit: 'Dangerously high levels of corporate bullshit. Here's the e-mail exchange that broke the camel's back:

Corporate: 'Hope all is well. We have a policy in place about personal
plants, unfortunately they are not permitted on the premises due to our
regulations. They promote pest life if not taken care of properly and they do not
fit the design of the spaces. Please take your plant home. If assistance is
needed please let me know..thx'

Me: 'Is this a joke?

Corporate: 'No this is not.'

Me: 'This is the first time I'm being made aware of this policy. Where can I find it in writing?'

Corporate: 'It's not in writing; it's our employer policy because it invites bugs and dust and we are not responsible for personal items. Please remove it by the end of the week..thx'

'The people I worked with directly, including my manager, his manager, his manager, AND his manager were all extremely talented people and were a pleasure to work with. I informed them of my decision to resign in advance and assured them that my decision had nothing to do with them.

The best part was that everyone understood. One of my bosses, during his talk-me-out-of-it speech, actually said, 'Not a day goes by that I don't think about quitting this place, but...'

What I'm doing now: 'I have been travelling in South and Central America and have not even updated my resume, much less looked for work. I plan to return to the United States in March and start looking. Whatever the results may be, I don't see myself regretting the decision to leave this place, ever. I only wish I'd done it sooner.'

Current Age: 38

Sex: Male


Resignation date: August 2009

Why I quit: 'Under-appreciated. My work on its own drove 20% of the company's revenue for the year and all I got was a lousy cost-of-living adjustment.'

What I'm doing now: 'I've been an entrepreneur since the day I left. I created and sold my first dot-com last year and am launching the second one in a few weeks. I am much happier now.'

Current Age: 36

Sex: Male

Location: Chicago, Illinois

Resignation date: March 2010

Why I quit: 'I sold digital advertising for an entertainment channel. I decided to quit because the company, and more specifically, the management, had no vision or strategy on how to grow the business and they kept changing direction without understanding that they were just running around in circles.

'I've been with organisations that were the exact opposite of this and it was painful to watch a company implode on itself...so I bailed out before things got really bad. I brought in over $5 million in online ad sales in 2009, so performance was never as issue.

'When I resigned, I did so in a professional, formal manner in writing. They were shocked and tried to get me to stay -- they were especially surprised because I quit without any plan of where I would go (I had not even been looking).'

What I'm doing now: 'Since I left, my supervisor, his boss, the CEO and COO have all left or been ousted. Essentially everyone that was above me is now gone.

'I interviewed for and accepted a position three weeks later and had several other offers too.'

Current Age: 50

Sex: Male

Location: Silicon Valley

Resignation date: May 2009

Why I quit: ' I left a solid paycheck with generous bonuses, options, and RSUs, doing software design work for a large tech company.

'But I was unhappy there for both business and personal reasons.

'The business reasons: virtually everything that caused me to join was going or gone. Mostly the great peers and the group vision. Those people are now in executive management at other well-known companies, and the group has evaporated as far as I know.

'The personal reasons: my spouse, an engineer, had been let go from a major networking company two years before with a very generous termination package. I thought she'd get bored in a few months and want to start work again but she didn't...she was having fun. And two years later, I wasn't...so I quit.

What I'm doing now: 'I relaxed for a few months. Then I started following tech again. Within a month or so, I was at the computer as if working just without a paycheck. I had been getting some recruiter contacts, but nothing looked interesting.

'I decided if I was going to work every day I might as well get payed. So, I started thinking about what I might like to do. Something came along that looked fun in the mobile space - so I started in March of 2010, about 10 months after I quit.

'I'm happier now more than ever. Quitting was one of the best things I've ever done.'

Current Age: 25

Sex: Male

Location: New York, NY

Resignation date: September 2010

Why I quit: 'I had been working for a startup photo company on a new big product for months. I was the backend developer and we also had a frontend developer. In September we had a big board meeting with the investors and we were supposed to show them how much progress we had made on the new product.

'Unfortunately, our front end developer had recently quit due to a falling-out with our boss. So, despite the backend part of the website being at the point it was supposed to be in time for the meeting, the frontend wasn't looking too good and they scrapped the demo.

'The next day my boss called me in for a meeting and told me how disappointed he was in me. How this meeting was important for all of us, how he doesn't think I care about my work. He said he could get better work from India. At first it all just kind of rolled off my back like, 'He's just being an arsehole.' But I kept hearing his words in my head.

'I didn't want to quit because I had worked hard on this project and wanted to be there for the launch. But after all the hard work, putting my heart and soul into this project, giving up my life for it, I just couldn't take having my boss be 'disappointed' in me. It wasn't fair, I had done everything to please this person, invented a new product on his arbitrary timeline and he wasn't happy with me; if I stuck around and finished my job he would be the one getting rich off my suffering.

'Leaving my work though, was the hardest thing I've ever had to do. It came down to pride I suppose: you can't talk to me like that and still be my boss.'

What I'm doing now: 'Everything worked out fine, it took me about two weeks to find a job. I now work for another company, got a nice raise and shorter hours.'

Current Age: 49

Sex: Male

Location: North Carolina

Resignation date: January 2008

Why I quit: 'I left my job as an engineering consultant in January 2008. I didn't hate my old company or the people who worked there. I did feel my life was wasting away, I truly dreaded getting up Monday AM and going to work. I had spent years trying to decide what to do if I left. It eventually got so bad that my wife and I were arguing and I was surly with my kids.

'When I realised why I was acting that way, I walked into my boss' office and told him I had to make a change right away. He was in shock and so was I. I left professionally, not emotionally.'

What I'm doing now: 'I was out of work for months. Eventually I took a job at REI to help with bills. A couple of months later I got a part time job at an Apple retail store. That has led to a manager position. I look forward to work everyday and love being a part of Apple.'

Current Age: 45

Sex: Male

Location: Charlotte, North Carolina

Resignation date: December 2010

Why I quit: 'My job role had changed. Instead of being technical, I was being pushed more into a management/facilitator role. Perfectly valid job, I just didn't want to do it.'

What I'm doing now: 'NOTHING! I knew this was coming, so I saved up some money. I am hanging out, taking care of my kids, having fun.'

Current Age: 28

Sex: Male

Location: N/A

Resignation date: February 2010

Why I quit: 'I saw myself in the same position for the next 30 years (CFO at a leading internet startup). I wanted to go travel and not have any responsibilities. I also wasn't happy and was stressed out all the time. I didn't want to regret anything and not do something that I always wanted to do.'

'I quit the day after my boss came back from the superbowl. I told him I wasn't happy, and I was told that I was going to miss out on a huge opportunity. I replied that I wasn't going to miss out on life for it.'

What I'm doing now: 'I have started a couple new ventures and am exploring other opportunities. I have been travelling the world (South America, Africa, India, Australia, Asia, and Europe) and helping startups/researching ideas. I'm coming back to the states in the spring to explore further with a whole new creative look on life.'

Current Age: 27

Sex: Male

Location: Orlando, Florida

Resignation date: November 2010

Why I quit: 'With my apartment lease coming up for renewal in March, I quit mostly due to exhaustion and boredom. After two years at a company with no real business model, drastically falling corporate revenue, a corrupt office culture, and being stuck in Orlando, I decided it was time get out and head to San Francisco before I never left the suburbs.

'I ran the division at my company that generated the lions share of the profit and had a very secure and well paying job but wasn't learning anything; I just fought fires and worked long hours. I had already been playing with the idea of quitting but I officially told the CEO I was resigning during a discussion of long term plans.

'I explained that I couldn't deal with the poor morale and work ethic anymore and was told that money would fix 80% of problem if we could just make more. He went on to say if I would commit to staying at the company another 2 or 3 years he would consider addressing the cultural issue.

'I resigned right then and there saying there was no way for me to make that commitment. After that, it was a very civil 60 days of transition.'

What I'm doing now: 'I'm still looking for my next position but have found three or four good opportunities in San Francisco. It only took a week or two for jobs options to start coming to the table. Honestly, I can't even tell there is a job crunch.'

Current Age: 27

Sex: Female

Location: New York, NY

Resignation date: October 2010

Why I quit: 'I worked in advertising agencies for four years. Though I loved the field, the stress level was often more than I could handle. Long work hours without overtime pay, working through lunch (often not even thinking to eat until late afternoon), bending over backwards to please clients, no room for advancement, and a lack of consistent raises due to industry instability all contributed to constant high stress.

'I lost weight and was constantly stressed, even on weekends. The intense workload made it impossible to allocate any time to job searching, let alone interviewing.

'My significant other and I eventually decided that the risk of quitting without another job lined up was not high enough to continue with such a stressful, unhealthy lifestyle. We were also planning to move, and the fact that I'd want to look for a job in another location also impacted the decision.'

'I told my employer that I was resigning due to the stress level/poor work-life balance as well as my anticipated relocation. I quit with much advance notice (not specifying an end date right away); this allowed sufficient time for them to hire a replacement and for me to train the new employee for two weeks.'

What I'm doing now: 'I now work in an internal advertising role at a financial services company. I still work in the field I love, but in a more corporate environment with a much better work-life balance. It took me approximately one month to find a new job.'

Current Age: 43

Sex: Male

Location: N/A

Resignation date: December 2010

Why I quit: 'I worked in audiobook production and publishing for the same company for 20 years. The business grew steadily during that time and my role did as well. I was running the largest audiobook production studio in the country. But I'd reached the ceiling, there was no place else to go.

'It wasn't even boredom that got me but the stagnation. I wanted the opportunity to grow in a new direction and the potential to make more money. I said exactly that to my employer and, as they knew they were in no position to offer me those things, they thanked me for all my hard work, bought me an iPad as a farewell present, and waved goodbye.'

What I'm doing now: 'I'm currently unemployed, have nothing lined up and little savings. But I'm confident I'll be able to match my skills to the market. And if not, start something myself. For now, I get to spend more time with my infant son and learn new things.'

Current Age: 51

Sex: Male

Location: N/A

Resignation date: December 2010

Why I quit: 'I hit a limit of progress there, and employee treatment was getting worse as company declined. I sent a civil, amicable notice via email. They wouldn't meet my terms, and I knew I could do better elsewhere.

What I'm doing now: 'I had multiple tentative offers to do more or less the same thing I was doing as a chief analyst.

'I was hired to write about finance, and the new gig is a much better deal in all respects.'

If you've just quit your job, you're going to need to start interviewing. Beware:

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