Dear Maria,

I just quit a job that didn’t work out. I got along great with my customers, but not my coworkers. I didn’t feel supported by them, and when I tried to work things out with my boss, he didn’t back me up. I hung in as long as I could, but eventually realized that the situation was not going to change. I was way too stressed, and it was affecting my health.

Here’s the thing: I don’t have another job lined up. I’m single, and have some savings, so it’s not super urgent that I have another paycheck right away. What do I tell people who ask me what I’m doing next? I’m angry at my coworkers. If they ask, I imagine telling them off. Plus, I hate leaving my customers with this crew. So, it’s hard to say good things about the company. I mean, if it’s a good company, then why am I leaving? Can you help me?
Signed,
Get Me Outta Here

Dear Get Me Outta Here,

I’m sorry your job is ending on a sour note.

This in-between time is tricky in job transitions. I totally get the temptation to tell your coworkers what you really think. Wouldn’t it be great to make a dramatic exit with no repercussions? Our big screen alter egos get to:

Though satisfying in the moment, you’ll regret it eventually. Practically speaking, you might cross paths with one of these folks again, or worse yet, need their recommendation/approval/referral in the future.

I recommend taking a light, noncommittal approach. Is there an aspect of your industry that you’d like to pursue further? Tell them you’re interested in that. When they ask, your reply can go something like this: “I’m looking forward to seeing how an offer in the (blank) field will play out.” Period. Sometimes, we over-explain ourselves because we don’t want to look like we don’t know what we’re doing. Are you concerned they’ll judge you for not having another job lined up? Cut that loose and be grateful you don’t have to rush into the next one. (A lot of folks don’t have that option.) Be upbeat, but mysterious. You owe them nothing except politeness. Same for your customers. The way you represent your company, even one that let you down like this, is an extension of how you present yourself. Smile through your disappointment, and avoid the temptation to get snarky.

Readers: How have you handled leaving a job that didn’t work out? Share your suggestions for our LW in a comment.

Some unsolicited advice: Don’t take too long to start networking again. Your pride may be wounded from this episode. The truth is, you have experience that’s of value to prospective employers. Rest, recuperate, and get back in the game. Identify the aspects of your work that you enjoy, and focus on opportunities that will allow you to do them. Talk to people who are doing what you’d like to do. Move forward with confidence, and the right opportunity will open up for you. Good luck!

In the meantime, think of a little reward you can give yourself for making it through each of your last days. Meet a friend for happy hour? Catch a movie? Get a massage? Make a playlist of your favorite goodbye songs and crank ’em on the way home. Get your head in a good place, and the busybodies won’t bug you so much.

Dear Readers: In a quandary? Life got you down? Need some perspective? If you’d like to submit a question, click here. I look forward to hearing from you, or “for a friend.” Please add your thoughts, and suggestions in the comments section, below. 

Disclaimer: The advice offered in this column is intended for informational purposes only. The opinions or views expressed in this column are not intended to treat or diagnose; nor are they meant to replace the treatment and care that you may be receiving from a licensed professional, physician or mental health professional. If you have specific concerns or a situation in which you require professional, psychological or medical help, you should consult with an appropriately trained and qualified specialist.  This column, its author, and the publisher are not responsible for the outcome or results of following any advice in any given situation. You, and only you, are completely responsible for your actions. We reserve the right to edit letters for length and clarity, and all comments are moderated.