COLUMNS

Quit your job, now

DeWayne Bartels

  “Now is the time to quit your job, says media expert” is the way the press release started.

   An eye-catcher, I must admit. I read on.

   David Seaman, author of “Dirty Little Secrets of Buzz,” says quitting today is the answer for millions of workers caught in limbo.

   Here is Seaman’s reasoning:

   • Picture you are waiting in line with 30 other candidates in an employment office for an interview. When you get to talk to the HR, guy he asks, “So, you lost your job like the other 100 people I have seen today?” You can honestly say, “No, I had a good job and I was promoted, but I quit because I can do better

and I am highly sought after.”   

   That, Seaman says, makes you very different than the other candidates. “Differentiation is king,” he adds.

   • You are going to get fired anyway, so it will look better on your resume if you quit.

   • Quitting may prompt your current employer to offer you a raise or an improved benefits package to stay.

   • Quitting is almost unheard of in today’s economic climate; you will send a strong signal of self-worth, and the story of your resignation will spread through the industry — you will become a legend, and a valuable commodity for human resource managers to seek out.

   OK, like most of you, I read this and thought, “What a nut.” A legend for quitting. Yeah, a legendary dumb@$$.

   But, Seaman had successfully wormed his way into my head. I had to find out if this was for real.

   Seaman is a full-time writer now promoting “Dirty Little Secrets of Buzz,” and working on a new book about the 24/7 nature of fame in this nation.

   He is 23 and lives in the financial district of New York City.

   I have socks older than this guy, and he lives in an area where switching jobs is second nature in an industry rife with corruption. I’m now real confident his advice is what I need to follow.

   Asked if he is serious with this or if it’s just a PR stunt, he replies, “ You can be serious and also blatantly be doing a stunt, you know? Cindy Sheehan was serious about not liking George Bush’s war policy, but sitting out in front of his ranch all day and night was definitely a stunt.”

   Uh-huh.

   But, his next answer reveals there is more to this than meets the eye.

   Seaman said he hopes the press release will wake people up.

   “People need to re-frame what’s going on. Just a couple years ago, I remember all my friends were interested in promotions, success, vacation time, buying a bigger apartment,” he said.

   “Now people have this very negative outlook — ‘I hope I can hang onto my job a while longer’ and businesses are setting out plans for how to stay in business. That’s not setting the bar very high. When you quit something or are at least putting that option on the table, it frees you up to explore new options.”

   I had to ask if he has followed his own advice.

   “I was working somewhere recently — I won’t say where — and I quit on the second day. When I was interning at a media company back in 2007, I was fired after about four weeks there for doing a TV appearance without their permission. You aren’t your job,” he said.

   And, how did quitting work out for him, I asked.

   “Well, quitting the most recent thing was a great move. Now I have more time to promote and write. Getting fired from the internship was beyond my control and stressful at the time, but it’s a great story to tell people.”

   Seaman said he has confidence his advice is sound.

   “You get attention if you do the exact opposite of what ‘conventional wisdom’ says. In a tight job market, you want to stand out ... Your time is a valuable thing. If you’re putting in your 9 to 5 at a job you no longer like, or at a place that has reduced you to part-time or issued a pay freeze, you need to ask if you still want that. You can use all of that energy that goes into a day at work and use it to market yourself — start a business (launch costs are way down because of the recession) or look for a job that pays better and has more to offer.”

   Asked how one giving up seniority to become low man on the totem pole benefits you, he replied, “If you’re the CEO, I wouldn’t quit, necessarily. This is advice for those who are entry-level and middle-management.”

   He said his advice is best for anyone in media, sales, advertising, PR, real estate and other jobs where a lot of the emphasis is on your performance.

   Seaman said his advice is least suited for those who have to provide for a family or make ends meet.

   “Be smart about it. This is a risk to be taken for people who are just fed up, but can afford to be fed up,” he said.