How to Tell Your Boss You're Quitting (6 Easy Steps) [+ Resignation Tips]

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When deciding to resign from a place of employment, the first step is to speak with the manager, supervisor, or boss that oversees your work. This conversation should be a constructive and heartfelt discussion where the employee and the manager set goals for the transition period (usually two weeks).

Before writing a resignation letter or formal notification, the employee should speak with their supervisor. Inside, a resignation letter may contain details of the transition plan or transition period as well as an end of employment date. This information should be agreed upon between the employee and the manager (or boss) during the resignation discussion.

A frequent mistake is to write a resignation letter first, then request a meeting with the manager (boss) and provide the resignation during that meeting.

Before the Meeting

Before meeting with a supervisor, manager, or boss about deciding to leave the employer. An employee should have some of the following in place:

  • A good reason for leaving the company. Good reasons include a new job, a job with a better salary and benefits, needing to relocate, and family health issues. A bad reason would be poor management and a decision to leave the company. Explaining the “reason for quitting” is often a great way to make sure that the employee and the manager depart on good terms and maintain a professional relationship.
  • A transition plan. The manager (or boss) will decide the transition plan goals and objectives with the employee during the upcoming meeting to discuss the resignation. Though, it’s great to have some idea of a plan. For example, knowing which colleague might replace the job duties and responsibilities of the role.
  • A request. It’s always best to know what the manager (or boss) can provide to the resigning employee. Asking for a reference, recommendation letter or LinkedIn recommendation can benefit a future employer or prospective employers (during a job search). Asking the manager (or boss) to provide this during the final two weeks of employment can be beneficial.

Whenever possible, a resigning employee should attempt to “quit” their job in the most professional way. The “right way” to quit may be determined by the manager, boss, or employer. It’s best to follow company protocol, the employee handbook, and the verbal guidance that’s being provided on the best way to resign or “quit.”

Tip: It’s best to wait to schedule a meeting to resign until after a job offer has been made for a new position. A frequent mistake is to “quit” or resign after the first job interview. A job interview does not guarantee employment.

How to Tell Your Boss You’re Quitting

Here are the steps to telling a boss about an impending resignation.

  • Schedule a 30-minute meeting with the manager during a low-stress time of day, attempt to schedule the meeting early in the week so two weeks lines up to a Friday (end of the workweek).
  • Be heartfelt in the discussion and inform the manager of the decision to leave and why. This may include a new job or needing a career change.
  • Ask the manager to be a resource in the future, desiring to have a professional relationship with them. Which includes being able to ask about career advice in the future.
  • Decide on the transition period (two weeks by default), transition period goals, and transition period objectives. Lastly, decide the final day of employment.
  • After the meeting, write the resignation letter (formal letter of resignation) with the agreed-upon details inside the letter (end of employment date, the resigning job title, and transition period goals).
  • Submit the formal resignation letter to the HR (human resources) department acting as an official letter of resignation or “formal notice.”

A manager or boss will never shun a good employee to decide to pursue a new opportunity and leave their current job, especially if the employee is a high performer. During this discussion, it’s best to state the decision to leave the current position for a new position and then decide on the next steps. Keeping the conversation short, impactful, and constructive.

Tip: If you’re a senior executive who holds an employment contract, you may want to refer to this contract regarding resigning. A transition period (usually longer than two weeks) may be defined in this agreement.

Avoid mentioning anything negative in this discussion. Anything about the company culture, work environment, the new opportunity being a “better job,” needing more “work-life balance,” the new opportunity being a “dream job,” or other pieces of constructive feedback about the manager.

An exit interview is normally provided to employees on their final day of employment. This exit interview allows the manager to learn from the employee. The employee should prepare three to four bullet points on how the job function can be improved. This is not an opportunity to complain about the company culture, work environment, management, or a coworker. This upholds the resigning employee's professional reputation by showing business etiquette and performance until the very last day.

How to Tell Your Boss You're Quitting Example (Script)

Below is a sample script of what to say to the manager during a face-to-face meeting or by phone.

"I've been with the company for about 6 years now. And It's been an absolute pleasure being able to work here. I've learned so much from you and the rest of the staff. But, I've decided it's time for me to move onto a new opportunity. For me, this comes down to simply needing a new pace for myself. And having a fresh environment to be around. I hope you can understand. I want to start the resignation process and work with you to determine the appropriate transition plan."

Resignation Tips

When resigning, here are a few tips to consider:

  • Show respect to colleagues, coworkers, managers, and bosses until the very last day. Many employees decide that once they submit a formal resignation, the company is no longer important. This isn’t true. Resigning from a current employer with grace will be beneficial for the employee’s career and professional reputation.
  • Drive home results. Many employees decide that they won't work as hard during their final two weeks of employment as they normally would. Try not to do this. Driving home results can be a great way to uphold a professional relationship with the manager or boss and turn that relationship into something special in the future (for example, using a previous supervisor or manager as a type of “career coach”).
  • If resigning due to low salary, be prepared to discuss compensation. If a “good employee” is leaving the company due to a low salary, the manager or boss might increase the salary or benefits during the resignation process. If this is the case, be prepared to negotiate terms of the salary increase. An 8% increase is average in terms of the employee receiving a salary increase while resigning.

Conversation Mistakes

Common mistakes to avoid as an employee when telling you're boss, you're quitting.

Don't be angry

Avoid coming into the meeting with anger. It's best not to come into the meeting with any serious emotion. The employee needs to enter the meeting with professionalism. To do this, they should think clearly about the reason for resigning and then put themselves in the employer's position. From there, work with the employer to determine what to do.

Don't be sad

Avoid coming into the meeting with sadness. It's best not to come into the meeting with any serious emotion. The employee needs to enter the meeting with professionalism. To do this, they should think clearly about the reason for resigning and then put themselves in the employer's position. From there, work with the employer to determine what to do.

Don't vent

During the meeting where the employee is informing their "boss" or manager about the resignation, it's not a great time to "vent" about the job. The decision has been made to move on; it's best to focus on moving on. Even if the manager asks if you were unhappy with the position, evade the question, and stay focused on the resignation.

Ask how to help with the transition

Don't forget to ask about how to help with the transition. This could be asking about training a new employee or an existing colleague. Make the conversation constructive. And focus on how the employee can help the manager with the transition during the transition period.

Don't make it "all about you"

The conversation should be about the employer, not the employee. Leaving on a "positive note" with the company means to ensure a smooth transition of job duties and responsibilities to another party. Focus on those efforts in this meeting rather than sharing a "heart-to-heart" with the manager.

Don't hold back information

A new employer should be secured at this point. Remember, if the employee is speaking with a hiring manager about a role or if there's a status of the employer being a "potential employer," meaning the employee has not signed a job offer, then it is not time to resign yet. An employee should only be having discussions with their manager when the job offer has been accepted. This way, the employee can share who the new employer is with the manager.

Don't avoid having a plan made

Unless the "boss" or manager explicitly says, "Let me get back to you on the next steps." It's best to determine the objectives for the transition period in this meeting. Don't leave the meeting without clear next steps on helping the employer with the transition of job duties and responsibilities. Some ideas include outlining current job duties and responsibilities for the manager. Or collecting current projects and project status to share with the manager. These useful pieces of information can help the manager to design the next steps in the transition period or resignation process.

Don't forget to send a thank-you email

On the last day of employment, don't forget to send a thank-you note to the manager or "boss" for the opportunity to work together. Send a "goodbye email" to colleagues on the last day of employment, wishing them the best, and showing support for the company's objectives and goals.

Resignation Letters

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author: patrick algrim
About the author

Patrick Algrim is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW), NCDA Certified Career Counselor (CCC), and general career expert. Patrick has completed the NACE Coaching Certification Program (CCP). And has been published as a career expert on Forbes, Glassdoor, American Express, Reader's Digest, LiveCareer, Zety, Yahoo, Recruiter.com, SparkHire, SHRM.org, Process.st, FairyGodBoss, HRCI.org, St. Edwards University, NC State University, IBTimes.com, Thrive Global, TMCnet.com, Work It Daily, Workology, Career Guide, MyPerfectResume, College Career Life, The HR Digest, WorkWise, Career Cast, Elite Staffing, Women in HR, All About Careers, Upstart HR, The Street, Monster, The Ladders, Introvert Whisperer, and many more. Find him on LinkedIn.

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