It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…I had just graduated college and landed my first corporate job. I had the world by a string and was excited to start my new career. I looked forward to my days at work where the office atmosphere was fun and productive.
But it didn’t last.
After a change in management, things at work turned on a dime. Suddenly I and the other employees found ourselves being micromanaged, scrutinized, and generally demoralized. There was a lot of pressure and overwhelm and the joy was quickly sucked out of my job.
At the time I was young and still immature in many ways, and I didn’t process frustration in a healthy or positive way. Instead, I allowed the resentment toward my workplace to become a focal point of my day. And this led to a crucial mistake.
Here’s the story…I came into work one morning, unhappy to be there. Many of the other employees were actively looking for new work, and I wanted out as well. I took my resume and faxed it out…using the company fax machine. It was a ballsy move, I just wasn’t thinking straight.
Unsurprisingly, no good came of this. The owner of the company saw my resume sitting on the fax machine. He promptly walked over to my desk, asked me to gather my things, and escorted me out of the building.
Don’t let your emotions dictate your actions
Keep your workplace attitude as professional as possible. You may be in a terrible, oppressive situation, but if you let your emotions take over, it can lead to irrational behavior that can not only lead to you getting fired in the short term, but also be quite damaging in the long run. Every situation is different, of course, but to the best of your ability, don’t let your negative emotions get the better of you. I did and it caused a lot of embarrassment and pain and led to me needing to find a new job, quickly!
Serve with excellence until the very end
Call on your grit, and serve with as much integrity as possible. It’s frustrating and can be difficult to keep focus while you’re looking for another job and wanting desperately to leave your current situation, but it’s crucial you stay engaged as much as possible.
When the time comes to leave your current employment, do so in the most dignified manner possible.
Don’t burn any bridges
When leaving a job, leave with your relationships with your vendors, coworkers, and supervisors intact. You’ll thank yourself later.
After getting fired, it was very hard to maintain the relationships I’d had. I left with many fractured relationships and it was difficult for everyone. It didn’t need to be that way.
But after that, I strived to build bridges rather than burn them. I moved jobs several times during my decade in corporate, and I wanted them to feel like they were losing a valuable employee, not glad to see me go.
Because of this, when decided to go freelance full time, my first contract actually came from a former employer. Though I had left this company several years earlier to pursue another opportunity, I had made my exit with them still thinking highly of me. This company became the foundation of my freelance business, and is a client I still have – 15 years on!
Lesson learned: companies that you leave well can pay dividends later. Many valuable clients
have come to me that have been past employers, supervisors, vendors, etc. allowing me to have a steady business without having to rely heavily on advertising my services.
Maintaining your integrity and excellence in the job you’re doing up until the very end, will result in some valuable references and referrals, and even profitable future clients.
If you are thinking about leaving your corporate gig to go full-time freelance, grab my Freelance Business Blueprint. Here I give you the framework I’ve learned in more than 15 years of freelancing, saving you time, money and frustration as you strike out on your own!