Lessons learned from being asked to leave
Years ago, my mother told me, “when giving your notice at a job, be ready because they might kick you out.”
I saw her point, but I’ve never heard of this happening to anyone I know. In my experience, when you give notice, you’re stuck working until the very last minute.
I expected things to be no different when it was time for me to leave my teaching job in Korea.
I had been living in South Korea for five years as an ESL teacher.
About two months into a brand-new job, I realized I was depressed, homesick, and needed a break.
My burnout took over all aspects of my professional and personal life. My mental health in shambles — I was done. Despite COVID being a huge problem globally, especially in the states, all I wanted was to be closer to my family and friends back home.
Five minutes after I gave notice, the owner of the school called me into a meeting.
He proceeded to beg me to stay–calling me selfish and changing tactics from understanding to desperate. He tried to negotiate for six to eight months, complaining a month and a half was too little notice.
The only thing I could do was politely ask him to accept my letter and make a note of my last day, which would be a month and a half later. After about an hour later, it seemed he finally did.
That was until later when he asked to meet.
He told me it was my last day, and I had to be out of the company-provided housing asap. He gave me two full days to pack and get out. He was going to cancel my working visa, and my replacement would start next week.
Shocked as I was, I told him that I understood and thanked him for the opportunities.
I walked back to my desk, dazed. My co-workers chatted, not noticing I was clearing my desk.
I wished them a lovely weekend and walked out. I wasn’t ready to tell them what just happened. Their questions and surprise were more than I could handle at the moment.
As stressful as this situation was, there were some clear lessons from this experience.
1. It’s important to prepare for this.
It was cocky to assume they would keep me but having an employee around who wants to leave is a constant reminder (to other employees) that they don’t want to be there.
Just like how we have the right to leave, they have the right to let us go.
2. This feels like being fired.
I was the one leaving, yet they dumped me. The dynamic had shifted, and suddenly I was scrambling to meet deadlines.
It’s normal to feel embarrassed and stress after this. Of course, some see this as liberating, but for most, this is just stressful.
It’s the dose of reality that no one wants.
3. If this happens to you, it’s going to be okay.
Technically, you’re getting what you want, just earlier. Although the situation can be stressful and will probably hurt your ego, you will bounce back eventually.
4. Carefully consider if it’s worth asking for references
In my situation, it was clear that they were not happy. I only worked there for a few months, and I knew asking for a reference could lead to an awkward conversation.
If your time there has been short or bumpy, it’s better to walk away.
However, if you have been there for a while, put in the work, and did your best, then there is no reason why they shouldn’t be able to vouch for you professionally, even though they’re upset to see you go. It’s okay to remind them of this!
5. Leave with integrity and pride.
I did the right thing by giving a lengthy notice. I worked hard at my job and continued to do so until the last minute. Regardless, I remained professional.
Whether your departure is hectic or smooth sailing, stay calm. Say thank you and wish them the best.
But remember, never underestimate an employer when giving notice again.
Always be ready for them to ask you to leave.