How To Quit Your Job Gracefully
Are you ready to quit your job? You’re not alone—millions of workers quit their job each month. Some change jobs to boost their earnings or find work that aligns better with their goals and values. Others resign to escape bad jobs (or managers).
Regardless of why you’re thinking of moving on, it pays to plan your departure. Quitting your job the right way can help ease your transition, whether you’re moving on to your dream job, going back to school, or taking some time out of the workforce.
The Best Way To Quit a Job
Here’s how to quit without burning bridges:
Quitting your job is easy. Preparing to quit your job is more complicated—and it is where you’ll invest the most time and effort during the resignation process.
Before you hand in your notice, you’ll need to:
- Make a financial plan. If you’re starting a new job soon after leaving this one, your plan may be fairly simple. However, if you’re planning to take time off, go back to school, or transition to a part-time job or one that pays less, you’ll need to do some figuring. Also keep in mind that employers offer different pay schedules, health insurance premium contributions, and perks.
- Know your rights and obligations. Look at your employee handbook, your employment contract, and any applicable state or local laws. You may be entitled to a payout for unused PTO, continued health coverage under COBRA (at your expense), or other wages and benefits. Also, consider whether your contract obligates you to provide more than the standard two weeks’ notice.
- Clean out your desk and personal files—but be discreet. Your manager will likely notice if your otherwise cluttered cubicle becomes a pristine workspace overnight.
Most U.S. workers are employed at will, which means that unless you signed an employment contract that states otherwise, you’re likely free to quit on the spot if you choose. That said, it’s better to give at least two weeks’ notice if you’re able to do so.
Why give two weeks if you don’t have to? In part, it’s just the right thing to do. Even if you hate your job, your manager, and 85% of your co-workers, there’s no reason to make life more difficult for the other 15%. Giving appropriate notice is also a good investment in your professional future. You’re unlikely to get good references or referrals for future jobs if you leave your team hanging.
Keep in mind, however, that some employers will terminate employees as soon as they give notice. Have a financial plan in place to cover those two weeks if your employer chooses to let you go.
Write a Resignation Letter
Once you’ve ironed out the details in your mind, compose a resignation letter. This should contain all the important information about your departure, including your last day of work. Offer your thanks for the opportunity and an offer to assist in the transition (if you’re able to do so).
A good resignation letter is short and sweet, three paragraphs at most. If you want to make it more personal, you can include a brief detail about something you’re particularly thankful for, e.g., your manager’s support in learning a new skill or taking on a difficult project.
Talk to Your Manager
Before you submit your letter, arrange a meeting with your manager to discuss your resignation. You can bring your letter to the meeting or submit it via email after the discussion. Again, keep your conversation brief and upbeat. You don’t need to get into detail about why you’re leaving or what your plans are after you go.
Be prepared for your manager to counteroffer, especially if you’re leaving for a new job. If the counteroffer is appealing, you might consider staying on. But know that some employers will consider you a risk even if you agree to stay—and put your name at the top of the layoff list if the business hits a downturn.
Tie Up Loose Ends
If you offer to help with the transition, follow through. Be ready to help train your replacement, document your processes, and hand off projects to your teammates. Connect clients with their new points of contact at the organization and thank them for your time working together.
Also remember to follow up on your personal loose ends, including benefits, last paychecks, paid time off, etc.
End on a Positive Note
Even if you hate your soon-to-be-former job, stay positive during the transition. Don’t badmouth your boss or team during your exit interviews or gossip about the organization with your colleagues. Remember that people will associate any negativity with you, not just with the company. You’ve suffered enough at this point—don’t make things worse when you’re about to be free.
Take the time to send your thanks (and contact information) to your co-workers, clients, and connections. You never know when you’ll need a reference, job referral, or lead.