The Resignation Experience

Resigning from a job, for me, has to be one of the most unpleasant experiences of my professional career. No matter the circumstances – whether I must leave due to circumstances beyond my control (e.g. because my husband joined the Air Force and I love him, duh, so I’ve got to go (also known as a PCS)) or because I’m due to climb the leadership ladder – someone is bound to, for lack of a better term, feel some type of way.

The requirement to give notice can be especially painful for military spouses.

Before I met my husband, I stayed in positions for years, with my one transition away from a (serious) job being due to my decision to go to law school. It was a gradual transition that my employer saw coming. I started my next job as an intern at a small law firm during my 2L year of law school and the transition to attorney and then senior attorney seemed organic. I was bound to stay for some time.

Yet here I am, again. Writing this article at 5 a.m. on a Thursday morning, having resigned from positions four times within the span of 2 years.

When I first started this blog in early 2018, while we were at Offutt Air Force Base and I was trying to determine if it was worth getting my law license there, I penned an article about the difficulties military spouses experience with job mobility. Through various avenues and referrals, my story caught the attention of Senator Carol Blood, who reached out to me for a testimonial regarding my experience as she continued her endeavors to make it easier for milspouses to find employment in the great State of Nebraska.

What I didn’t include in that testimonial or the article that preceded it, was how painful others actions can make the military spouses’ “resignation experience”.

When, with great regret, I resigned from the law firm in Georgia (after six total years of dedication and service), I was abashed at how I was treated by members of staff that I’d worked alongside for years. A paralegal/receptionist I thought I’d formed a friendly relationship with (lunched together every day, she attended my “bridal shower” (in quotes because technically I was already married), we chatted and texted constantly, and she even had a heads up that I’d be leaving before anyone else did) became increasingly rude and standoffish as my last drew closer. And, on the final day (ironically the same day as the firm’s Christmas party), she actually yelled at me in the middle of the law firm lobby when I tried to tried to speak to her as I normally did. No exaggeration. No instigation from me. And I never received an apology.

Almost in tears (ok I was in tears), I told the principal attorney that I would not be staying for the Christmas party. Against my better judgment, though, I allowed him to convince me to stay. Bad decision.

The party was awkward, a lot of people learned that day that I’d be leaving, and the bonus I was due for working the entire year, was withheld.

Clearly, despite all I’d done while there, those people felt some kind of way.

Now though, that I can think back on it subjectively, I understand that everyone’s actions were knee-jerk reactions to losing me as an employee and friend (I still came away with glowing recommendations and love for everyone there). It’s just too bad that reason didn’t negate my perception of their cruelty at the time.

Another resignation experience, which required that I resign to take a promotion within the same state agency, found my current supervisor making every endeavor to keep me where I was. From talking, behind my back, to the CEO of a state agency with 5,000 employees, to calling me into their office to talk to me about not abandoning my “passion”, to promising to create a director position for me to fill. I must say, I was impressed at the level of effort (and extremely flattered).

Photo cred: https://www.liveandlovemn.com/blog/neverthelessshepersisted

There have been other, less painful (still difficult), resignations since then – like the one that came after my husband received surprise orders to PCS to England. The ones that don’t involve overt behavior, but rather a gradual shutting out. A closing of doors. An exclusion from meetings. And, apparently, at British companies (where you can be required to give up to six month’s notice), there’s also a never-ending spate of passive aggressive, less-than-funny jokes at my expense, coupled with abrupt announcements to employees that “she’s leaving. Don’t bother learning her name.”

It’s uncomfortable, for sure (and making me seriously rethink my gracious offer to stay past the required notice period). But as my husband so flippantly texted me (from his beautiful TDY location), “Get over it. You’ll be moving from more jobs for next … years.” And he’s right.

The truth is that you’ll encounter so many changes as a result of this life – because of your ambition or simply because a better opportunity presented itself (as is the case for me in this instance – GS-12 position here I come!). Could your employer be more sensitive? Yes. Do they have to be? No. And really, it shouldn’t bother you – as long as no one can complain about your performance.

Have you ever encountered difficulty with your “resignation experience”?

2 comments

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  1. Marilyn Sterrett

    I always make the mistake of getting a job as soon as we get some place, without getting a feel for the area. I just resigned a few weeks ago because the commute wouldn’t have worked when the weather changed… I’ve been on a ton of interviews, but I think I may be content to return to my spoiled wife life. 🤷🏻‍♀️

    • Jennifer B.

      Marilyn, I can definitely understand that struggle! I did the same when we arrived in Nebraska. I didn’t account for the fact that, during winter, my already hour long commute would take much longer during the snow storms! Sometimes, it’s better to wait awhile to get a feel for a place! (And there’s nothing wrong with the spoiled wife life either ;))

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