There are many reasons you may want to quit your job. You may have a new job offer, an excellent leadership opportunity, or simply a feeling you've outgrown your current position. No matter the cause, you want your last day to be on your terms and to allow for a smooth transition.
It’s common to have mixed feelings. On the one hand, you're on the brink of new opportunities, but on the other, you're leaving one chapter of your life behind. Remember that resigning isn't quitting. It's simply knowing when it's your time to move on.
While it can be uncomfortable to discuss your resignation with your employer, understanding how to quit a job properly will allow you to leave on good terms. The following approach will ensure that you leave on good terms, ready to transition into your new job and make a good impression.
How to quit a job: Etiquette to follow
It’s time to quit your job and there’s a professional and practical way to do it. You may have no interest in ever working for the company again or setting foot on the premise after your last day. But you still want to close this chapter amicably.
You never know who has a connection to your former employer or coworkers. Plus, following these steps for how to quit a job will better position you to decide which direction will best help you move forward in your career.
1. Create an exit strategy
When you’re ready to quit your job, you need to have a solid plan. It can take time to secure your next opportunity, so plan for potential gaps in finances, or plan to avoid a lapse in employment by remaining with your current employer until you've secured a new position.
Identify your goals and set corresponding dates and milestones to guide you throughout the process. This approach will make you feel secure and ensure you don’t make any decisions based on emotion.
Next, give yourself adequate time to look for a new opportunity before you leave your current job. Look for new positions on job boards, social media, and even on your current company's job page. Don’t just rely on traditional methods. Tap into your network, too, by contacting previous employers, co-workers, and even friends to find out which companies are looking for candidates with your talent. Former colleagues may know of positions at their new companies that interest you.
The reality is that it can take 200 or more applications to get your first job offer, so having a plan and using every job search tool at your disposal is the best option for securing your dream job.
2. Don’t leave a counteroffer on the table
Once you receive a job offer, it's time to negotiate. In addition to negotiating with the company offering you the new role, consider negotiating your role and salary with your current employer to try and elicit a counter offer. This step is mostly applicable to those who are quitting their job in search of new financial opportunities.
Schedule a meeting with your current human resources director and your supervisor to discuss the new offer and your responsibilities. If your leadership team finds you to be an invaluable asset, they will want you to stay.
Prepare a thoughtful and supported argument that shows your current team that you know your worth. Quantify your accomplishments using metrics to demonstrate your contributions. For instance, “I increased sales by 12% in the first quarter following the product launch, resulting in $1.3 million in revenue.” No matter the outcome, at the end of the day, you already have a job offer on the table, so you can't lose.
3. Give adequate notice
You want to give yourself enough time to close out all last-minute items. While it's standard to provide your employer with a minimum of two weeks’ notice, every situation is different. Best case scenario you complete your two weeks without incident. Worst case, they ask you to leave before your resignation date.
Generally, providing your employer with notice will prevent you from burning bridges. Proper notice allows your employer to prepare for a new candidate and ensure that you leave your team in a good place. Make it a priority to personally inform your teammates and ensure they’re prepared to fill in the gaps until they hire and train your replacement. You may need to train another team member on your current responsibilities.
Take your expected notice into account when interviewing with potential employers. Most will ask about your available start date. Be honest about when you can start.
4. Submit a resignation letter
Initiate the resignation conversation with your employer. While you may verbally give your boss notice, you should also submit it in writing via a resignation letter.
Some companies have standard resignation forms. If not, compose a letter that includes your name, position, and contact information. Add a polite closing and sign the letter in blue or black ink if you're providing a hard copy.
It's now customary to send resignation letters via email as this will create a record for you and your employer. Even if you've provided a hard copy, you should still send your employer an emailed copy of your letter. Your resignation email can contain your letter as the body of the email or as an attached document or PDF. If you choose to send your letter as an attachment, you can make it more formal by including an electronic version of your signature.
Be sure to keep a copy for your records. In your email, you can blind copy (BCC) yourself. Indicate the date that you're submitting your resignation and your intended final day of employment. See the example below for more guidance.
Current Job Title
City, State, Zip Code
Dear [Supervisor/HR Director]
I would like to inform you that I am resigning from my position as [insert position] for [insert company], effective [Insert resignation date].
Be sure to add 1-2 closing sentences thanking the company for the opportunity and your time in the role. Your resignation letter is not the place to express dissatisfaction with management or relay feedback. You'll have a chance to go into more detail in your exit interview. A resignation letter helps avoid any miscommunication and allows the human resources team to close out your file correctly.
5. Complete an exit interview
In an exit interview, you have a chance to share about your experience with the company. You might give insight into what you would change for the better or what information you wish you would've known when you started.
During your exit interview, you should be prepared to answer questions about your reason for leaving, your relationship with your manager, and your experiences with the company and your team. As awkward as it may be to share your grievances, you should be honest. But if you want your feedback to be taken seriously, you should do your best to appear rational and free from bitterness. Remember, this will not only help the new you; it will also help your team transition in your absence.
Now you’re ready to leave on a good note
Quitting your job is a natural part of the employment process. Applying the steps above for how to quit a job will help you end the relationship with your current employer on a positive note. Don't rush the process. Give yourself time to find a job and close out key tasks before you resign. Provide adequate notice, written and verbal, preferably at least two weeks before your last day. Quitting your job this way will make your former boss more willing to provide a reference and a kind word in the future.
Once you've completed each step, you're ready for a new beginning. If traditional employment is no longer for you, it might be time to leap into entrepreneurship. Dive into our recent article to discover how to become your own boss.