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Take This Job and Shove It – Millennial Style

 I Quit

Marina Shifrin’s now famous “resignation letter” is the video danced to around the world. Well, by 16,596,578 people (and counting) anyway.

Shifrin produced a YouTube video, titled “An Interpretive Dance For My Boss Set To Kanye West’s Gone,” which includes custom lyrics that express her reasons for quitting her job at Next Media Animation. Her rationale is well explained in this Huffington Post article, but here is an excerpt from the lyrics:

“I work for an awesome company that produces news videos. For almost two years, I’ve sacrificed my relationships, time and energy for this job. And my boss only cares…about quantity and how many views each video gets. So I figured…I’d make ONE video of my own. To focus on the content instead of worry about the views. Oh, and to let my boss know… (dance break) I quit. I QUIT! I’m gone.”

What’s more relevant to me is the trend this event signals for business and what it says about the Millennial workforce. Yes, I called it an “event” because, like so many other things in life today, thanks to social media, nothing is private.  And when everything is public, we must make bigger and bigger (and more innovative) public statements to cut through the digital clutter.  The mass media attention, its instant viral-status, and the longer lasting effects of the video’s popularity certainly qualify this resignation as an event.

 

Is Quitting Your Job A Badge of Honor?

Traditionally, quitting a job is not the type of event that has been worn as a badge of honor, especially when the employee in question doesn’t have another job waiting for him or her.

Boomers would have frowned on such an act and Boomer hiring managers would certainly have listed it under the “why not to hire” column.  Yet, Shifrin is one of the hottest commodities in the advertising world, receiving numerous job offers because of the creativity of her resignation video and the notoriety she’s received as a result of her resignation’s viral success.

In fact, she’s become something of a celebrity, not for standing up to an oppressive boss or for quitting her job, but for the manner in which it was done: Creatively, on video, and very publicly. In a new reality-TV world where everyone is actively searching for his or her 15 minutes in hopes that it will lead to superstardom, quitting a job is no longer something to rethink, second-guess, or be ashamed of as it was in our parents’ generation. It’s now something that requires an event planner and production team.

Creatively Quitting – Your Resume’s Best Asset

Shifrin’s video may have inadvertently changed how resignations are viewed by her contemporaries. In fact, it may change the very reason people quit a job.  Years ago, this public video would have been considered “career suicide,” but today employers are calling Shifrin “creative and courageous.” Shifrin’s  email was bombarded with interview requests from journalists and job offers from potential employers.

One of those job offers came from an Israeli branch of the Young & Rubicam Group, an international media firm, via a parody video called “An Interpretive Dance for Marina Shifrin Set to Kanye West’s Gone.”  Twitter was also buzzing with job offers and, naturally, marriage proposals.

What’s the lesson learned here? If you’re going to quit your job, do it big and go out in a blaze of glory. Ryan Jenkins, a “next generation speaker,” blogger, and podcaster, shares his views on this matter: “If handled appropriately, social media can be an enormous catalyst to career success.”   Want to start your own business, get a better job or become famous? Sure, become a YouTube star and move it to the top of your resume. After all, as Shifrin proved, something posted on the Internet can be one’s greatest career catalyst.

Is This A Business Trend In The Making?

Is this a business trend in the making? I’m sure we’ll see a new rash of resignation videos in the coming months and years in hopes of emulating Shifrin’s success. The allure of viral-video-celebritiness seems too intoxicating for Millennials to ignore. Will resignation videos become a long term trend? Probably not; however, they should serve as a warning for employers.

As Jenkins suggests on his Millennial blog, “Millennials could relate to the urge to say ‘I quit’ to a micro-managing boss and suffocating work environment. The leadership and communication gaps that exist across generations leave many Millennials wanting to retreat to less hierarchical and more flexible organizations.”

Given that Millennials or GenY’ers  are the largest part of the workforce today, what we’re learning from these “events” is that businesses must change their organizations’ structures and cultures so as to not limit the creative needs and communication style of this group. Failing to do so risks a steady talent drain and, as was the case with Marina Shifrin’s resignation video, risk negative branding sentiment.

Sensei Debates:

  1. Are resignation videos a fad, a “flash in the pan?” Or is this a signal of things to come from Gen Y employees and beyond?
  2. Should such videos – or the legal prevention of such videos – become a matter of employment policy?
  3. Is there a legal case to be made in such cases? Should there be?

Sam Fiorella
Feed Your Community, Not Your Ego

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1 comments
jeanniecw
jeanniecw 5pts

I'm undecided on this one. As an employer, I have seen lots of weird ways people quit. Often, they have created a storyline that is not based in reality. And yet I also really dislike oppressive workplaces and leaders and have wanted to quit in a blaze of glory in the past. So here's what it comes down to for me. Is it really this one-sided? No. People are complex and irrational. There are three sides to every story - yours, mine, and the truth. I have to say I wouldn't hire someone seeking this kind of attention.


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