How To Quit Your Job Gracefully: A Guide

how to quit your job

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So you’ve read our 11 Signs It’s Time To Quit Your Job article and decided that yes, it is time to quit your job. Or maybe there’s a new opportunity waiting for you, so you’ve signed on and are raring to go.

But now you’re faced with a new problem: how do you quit your current job gracefully? You might entertain fantasies of shooting an “I Quit” video like this girl, who sent in her resignation via YouTube and went viral:

(She actually got permission from her boss’ boss before shooting this, so don’t try this at home.)

Or maybe you want to pull a Binay and resign with a 13-word sentence.

Outlandish declarations like this aren’t the way to leave a good impression, and you may jeopardize your future job prospects as well. “The bookends — how you start and how you end — are the most important parts of any professional relationship,” says Len Schlesinger, Harvard Business School professor. So end your tenure at your current job well.

Leaving a job is not an easy process, but if you follow these steps on how to quit your job, you’ll be able to leave with your professional relationships intact, and walk out the door with grace.

How To Quit Your Job

  1. Review your contract for any non-compete clauses. There are few things worse than leaving your job for another opportunity, then suddenly finding out that it’s unavailable to you because your old contract included a non-compete clause that you didn’t read. Before signing a contract at a new job, make sure you’ve reviewed your current job contract thoroughly for any non-compete clauses to make sure that you’re not doing anything against your contract. This way, your transition to your new job will be as smooth as possible.
  2. Tell your boss first. Don’t let your boss learn about your leaving from anybody else. Once you’ve decided to leave, set up a meeting with your boss so you can inform them of your resignation personally. You might be worried about how they’ll react to your resignation, and you might be tempted to hide behind email or texting; don’t.
  3. Stay positive. When giving your reasons for leaving, frame them in terms like “I’ve found a position that aligns more closely with my goals” instead of “I hate this job, so shove it”, for example. Thank your boss and tell them that you’re grateful for the opportunity, but make it clear that you’re ready to move on. “Keep the conversation positive, professional, and constructive. Refrain from being rude or insulting, no matter how horrible your manager was,” writes Emmie Martin for Business Insider. You may need a recommendation from them, or work with them again in the future, so don’t burn bridges with your boss.
  4. Write a simple resignation letter. “It needs to be simple, straightforward, and to the point,” says Lea McLeod, job coach, in an interview with Business Insider. Include your name and position, the fact that you’re resigning, and your last day of service. You can include a positive statement like “Thank you for the opportunity to work here,” if you want.
  5. Make sure you give enough notice. Check your contract to determine the length of time required for your notice. Two weeks is the norm, but if your job is above entry-level, your notice period may be longer. Be prepared to assist in the search for your replacement, and offer to train him or her. Not giving enough notice is not only unprofessional, it also puts your current workplace in a bind as they scramble to find a replacement for you with such short notice.
  6. Tie up loose ends and ease the transition. Leave a good last impression at your current job by transitioning your duties to your replacement smoothly. Finish up your open projects that are almost done, and train your replacement in the methods of the projects you’re involved in but won’t be around to complete. Leave clear instructions for your successor. If necessary, you can make yourself available for questions or even a little help after you’ve ended your employment there, as long as it doesn’t violate your new employment contract.
  7. Fight “senior week” mode. You might be tempted to slack off and take it easy in the last two weeks or 30 days of your service to your current company, like you did when you finished all your college exams but still had to be on campus. Fight this “senior week” mode by continuing to work hard in your last two weeks, making sure your replacement hits the ground running, helping out teammates with tasks that need closing off, and working hard until the last minute of your contract.
  8. Keep in touch with colleagues. You may need the help of your soon-to-be-former boss or colleagues in the future, so stay in touch with the colleagues who are open to it and who can still help you in the future. Strengthen your network. “It’s a small, small world,” Andrew G. Rosen, founder of career blog, says in an interview with Fast Company. “After your first few jobs, you’re going to run into the same people over and over and over. It’s a lesson many young people learn the hard way.”

how to quit your job 2

Photo: Markus Spiske

Leaving a job can be downright terrifying. But if you follow these steps, you’ll put yourself on solid footing when you move on to your next opportunity. And if you don’t know what your next opportunity is yet, that’s OK: maybe now’s the time to start exploring starting your own business. But before leaving, make sure you’re financially prepared to quit.

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