How to Quit a Job

A guide to terminating professional relationships in a civil, cooperative manner.

How to Quit a Job

May 22nd, 2020

When you feel like your current job has reached its natural conclusion, you're unhappy with your working conditions, or for any other reason, it might be time to approach your boss. This can be a tricky situation to navigate. You want to ensure that you end your working relationship on good terms, don't burn any bridges, and maintain a professional conduct.

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How to Quit a Job:

1. Have a plan in place.

It's very difficult, once you've quit your job, to backtrack on your decision. Even if you've left on good terms and you know you'd be welcomed back, facing your colleagues and admitting to making a mistake is not easy. Most people who leave their jobs never return, so you want to have some certainty that you're doing the right thing. Try answering the following questions:

  • Do I have another job secured?
  • If not, do I have enough savings to live off in the event that my next job doesn't come as soon as I planned?
  • Would getting a raise or promotion change my outlook at work?
  • Would speaking to HR about changing my working conditions alter my decision?
  • Am I simply having a bad week or month? Will the situation be resolved in the near future, or does the source of my negative work outlook emanate from my personal life?
  • Would working remotely give me more flexibility and better my personal life?
  • How will my next job be different from my current one?

If, after answering these questions, you still feel confident with your decision, then it's time to start planning.

2. Follow an exit strategy.

An exit strategy will go a long way in preventing a messy departure. There are some key considerations when formulating your exit.

  • Timing. You don't want to leave when you are most needed in your role. Quitting during the holiday season, for example, might be inconvenient enough for your boss to resent you. The key is to plan ahead. Think about how quitting will affect the company and determine when the best time to quit is.
  • Transitioning. You don't want your resignation to appear out of the blue. Talk to your boss weeks in advance of your resignation. Let them know about your grievances, demands, or ambitions. This way, when you're ready for the conversation, it won't feel like a jarring transition from satisfied employee to disgruntled one, catching your boss by surprise. It makes the conversation much easier to have.
  • Coordination. If you have your next job secured, speak to your future employer and iron out the details of the transition. Determine how long you have before you are required to start, and ask for more time well in advance if you think you might take a little longer to properly phase out your current job. It's important to keep your next boss in the loop as well.

3. Give proper notice.

Your employment contract would typically define the amount of notice to be given for resignation, but this figure will differ according to industry and the nature of your job. The general rule is to follow is to not give fewer than two weeks notice, but you really should be giving both you and your boss as much time as possible, so aim for a month.

Your boss might ask you stay longer than you are contractually obligated to after submitting notice. You don't have to stay, especially if you have a job lined up. That's why it's important to plan ahead. If you give your boss enough time to plan for your successor, you'll avoid having to stick around on an ad hoc basis.

When writing a notice letter, be sure to include the following:

  • Be concise. You don't need to justify your actions at length.
  • State clearly that you are resigning. Don't be ambiguous about this.
  • Specify your last day of work.
  • Include a note of appreciation for the opportunity to work for them.

4. Quit in person.

A resignation letter is the first part of the conversation. By submitting your notice, you are informing your boss of an impending meeting between the two of you. Speaking face to face gives you an opportunity to end your relationship cordially. Besides, they invested a lot of time and money in you, so parting without a meeting would not serve you well. There are a couple of rules to follow when having this conversation.

  • Talk about your positive experiences and how you benefited from working for the company.
  • Tell them that why you feel it's the right time to move on, without dwelling too much on the negatives.
  • Always be respectful, regardless of your feelings.
  • Ensure that everything that might come up in the meeting has been communicated to them adequately beforehand (in your planning phase) and that there aren't any surprises.
  • Be decisive. Don't beat around the bush or use language that might be suggestive of something else. You've made a decision. Follow through with determination.
  • Don't tell colleagues before you tell your boss. The information might find its way to your boss before you tell them personally, which will diminish control over your exit strategy.

5. Prepare for an exit interview.

You might be asked to do an exit interview before you leave. The exit interview is different from the meeting with your boss. For one, it is conducted by the HR department. It is an opportunity for them to gain employee feedback and gauge the the level of employee satisfaction with the company. Use the exit interview to pinpoint the reasons for your departure and offer suggestions for improvement. Keep in mind that you might end up offending staff, so always be respectful.

6. Leave a good final impression.

It's important that you don't spend your final days in limbo. In fact, you should strive to be more productive in your last days at the company than you ever have been. Leaving the company with a positive impression is paramount to maintaining cordial relationships. There are a couple of things you could do in your final days.

  • Train your replacement if they've already found someone new or promoted from within.
  • Write a goodbye email to your colleagues expressing your gratitude.
  • Return company property such as laptops, keys, documents, etc. Be proactive in this regard. Don't wait for them to ask for it back.

7. Finalize departing details.

Inquire about the employee benefits you get upon leaving, such as unused leave days, sick days, your 401k and pension plan. Don't forget to ask for a reference. A good letter of recommendation from your boss will benefit you as you move along in your career.

FAQs:

How do you politely quit a job?

  • Plan ahead. Don't leave when you are most needed.
  • Give adequate notice. Don't leave abruptly.
  • Communicate your grievances with your boss well in advance of handing in a letter of resignation.
  • A resignation letter won't suffice. Have a face to face meeting.
  • Let your boss know about your next employer.

Can you quit without two weeks notice?

Your employment contract will typically specify the amount of notice time required, but it is usually two weeks. That's the bare minimum, though. Try and give your boss the most amount of time possible and give yourself enough time to properly plan your departure.

Is it OK to quit without a job?

It is not recommended you quit unless you have a job secured. According to Indeed, finding a job can take approximately nine weeks, but it can take much longer than that. If you're quitting without a job, do make sure to have enough savings to live off until you find employment again.

How do I tell my boss I'm quitting?

  • Communicate your grievances with your boss before you submit a resignation letter, so there are no surprises.
  • Write a letter of resignation that is concise and professional.
  • Set up a face to face meeting with them.
  • Be decisive and determined to follow through on your decision.
  • Focus on the positives and express gratitude at being given the opportunity to work for them.

What is a good reason for leaving a job?

  • You've found a better job elsewhere.
  • You don't see a path to promotion in the near future.
  • You can't get a salary raise.
  • You are unhappy with your colleagues or working conditions.
  • You want a flexible job that affords you more family/personal time.