How to Quit a Job Professionally (Resign on Good Terms)
Here's how to quit a job without burning bridges with your former employer. Resigning from a job can be a stressful task for anyone. When you quit your job, it's important to do so in a professional manner. This way, you can ask for a recommendation letter or ask your former manager to be a reference for another job.
Learn how to resign from a job the "right way."
How to Quit a Job (Without Burning Bridges)
Follow this steps to learn how to leave the company you're currently employed by.
Decide your reason for leaving
Before deciding to leave your job, decide if its the right time. Do you have a new job? Do you have a job offer in hand? Use this simple checklist to make sure it's the right time to leave.
You should have:
- A new job offer already signed.
- The start date decided between you and the new employer.
- Salary discussed and included in the employment agreement.
If these are true, it's time to start the resignation process with your current job. Here are good reasons for leaving your job:
- A new employment opportunity.
- Finding a “dream job” and needed to pursue those passions.
- Unhappy with the work conditions.
- Being unhappy with the way work is being accomplished.
- Unhappy with the work culture.
- Unhappy with the supervisor, boss, or manager.
Your current employer could ask your reason for leaving. Remember, some of these reasons should not be shared with your current employer.
Learn about good and bad reasons for leaving a job.
Give two weeks' notice
To ensure a smooth transition, it's best to tell your boss that you'd like to give two weeks' notice. Or to provide your employer with two weeks time to transition out of the current job duties and responsibilities.
Providing two weeks ensures a smooth transition between you and the new employee who is going to take over your job duties.
The notice period should be included the resignation letter that you'll write. And should be mentioned to your manager during the upcoming discussion you'll have regarding your resignation.
Write your resignation letter
Write your resignation letter. Make sure that the resignation letter includes the following:
- Your contact information.
- Your managers contact information.
- A short statement/reason for why you're resigning.
- The desired end date or last day of employment (two weeks' notice).
- Any plan to assist with the transition/transition period.
- Share a positive note about your experience with the employer.
- A sincere thank you.
Schedule a meeting with your manager
Email your manager and ask to meet. In the email, it's best to be generic about your meeting. You do not want to inform your manager of your desire to leave the company in this email. It's more polite and professional to discuss in person.
Here is what the email should look like:
Hey John —
I'd love to schedule a one-on-one meeting with this week. Is it possible we could have a 30-minute discussion on Friday?
Thanks so much John!
Give feedback on why you're leaving
It's not an absolute must. But providing a healthy reason for leaving the job is a good thing. Most commonly, employers and managers will schedule an exit interview with you. An exit interview will provide you the opportunity to give feedback on both the role/job and the company.
Here is what you'll want to prepare in advance:
- How the job could be improved.
- What the company could improve upon.
- Advice you'd give to the next employee who takes over the job duties.
Start the transition period
A transition period is the two weeks notice period that was provided to the employer. During this time, it's best to finish any active projects. And to assist the manager with the transferring of any job duties and responsibilities.
Assist with training the new employee. And be very proactive. Remember, your final days with the company are important to your manager. And could impact whether or not your supervisor/boss will be willing to be a positive professional reference for your next job.
Write a farewell letter to co-workers
On your last day or before your final days, be sure to write a farewell letter to your colleagues. Write a custom letter to each manager that you respect. And write a generic company-wide email that everyone can read regarding your resignation with the position.
Here is what a farewell email should look like:
Hi all —
It is with great sadness that my time with the company is coming to an end. I would like to say thank you to each one of you. In your own ways, you have inspired me to do great work. And without this experience, my career would not be advancing.
Please follow me on social media @name. Or email me at [email protected]
Stay in contact, please!
Learn how to write a goodbye email to coworkers.
Quitting a job you recently started
Did you just start your job a week ago? If so, a departure from this company is going to be more difficult. Your ultimate goal should be to resign from the position on good terms. Keep in mind, your manager is not going to be happy that you'll be resigning so early.
Here are the risks to consider:
- You could be asked to return any sign-on bonus.
- Consider your health insurance and benefits package.
You could be asked for forfeit any benefits or money.
If you really hate your job and want to resign. Here is what you might have to say when wanting to leave so soon and without ruining a relationship.
Hi John —
This has been difficult for me to consider. Ultimately, I want to be open and honest. Because I respect you, this company, and our personal relationship. The transition has been difficult for me. I'd like to discuss resigning from this position as I don't see this working out well in the long-term.
I'm open to other suggestions or replacing my job duties with another role, potentially. I'd love to have a bright future here. Though, currently, the jobs I'm tasked with are simply causing too much stress for me.
Thanks so much John, look forward to discussing this.
Quitting a job you started 3 days ago
Before reading this, make sure you read how to quit a job you recently started, first.
If you started your job less than a week ago, resigning is going to be challenging.
It's best to know the risks. Here's what to know:
- You won't be able to ask for a professional reference or recommendation letter.
- This is a job you won't be able to put on your resume.
- You may be "burning a bridge" with the company/business.
- Consider your reputation in the industry and how this might impact that.
You never know who your current supervisor could be connected with in the future. And how this negative impact on the team will impact your career.
With that said, this happens.
Here is what you'll want to say to your supervisor:
Hey Doug —
This is a very challenging message for me to write you. I want to mention just how excited I am about this business/company and the opportunity in general.
Though, this isn't working for me. And I hate to do this to you and the team. But I would like to discuss resigning from my duties. I simply don't feel like I'm a great fit for this role. Though, I would like to help find a replacement.
I don't want this to ruin our professional relationship.
Can we please discuss this at your convenience?
After writing and sending this email, consider if you can:
- Still provide two weeks of a transition period.
- Assist with finding a replacement.
- Consider moving to a new role/job if the supervisor suggests it.
Resigning without notice
Resigning without notice suggests that you don't want to stay with the company for two weeks after you've decided to resign.
If this is the case, then you'll be resigning without notice.
To do this, simply submit your resignation letter to your employer and suggest that you'd like your end date to be the same day that you've submitted your resignation.
Remember, this will absolutely do the following:
- Ensure that you will not receive a recommendation letter or reference.
- Make it difficult to discuss company benefits or health care coverage.
- Potentially leave a negative mark on your reputation in your industry.
Resigning by Email/Phone
Resign via email or by phone is more common than it might seem. If you write a resignation email, it's best to know that your manager will still likely schedule a time to discuss your resignation.
They do this so they can do the following:
- Determine the appropriate transition period goals.
- Learn about current projects you're working on and the status of those projects.
- Learning why you're leaving the company so they can report this to HR or their managers.
Here is what you'll say by email:
This email is difficult to write. I want to first say how much I respect you, this company, and how much I've enjoyed working in this position. Although, it is time for me to move on. I would like to discuss setting my end employment date to two weeks from now, November 15th.
The reason for leaving is simply an advancement opportunity. I was given this incredible opportunity to advance based on the work that we've done together. Clearly, this opportunity has rewarded my career and my career goals.
I'm open later this week to discuss creating goals for the resignation. And making sure that there's someone in place to take over my job duties and responsibilities in a way that won't impact the team or our current initiatives for this quarter.
Let me know when you can discuss this.
Thank you so much Susan,
When you want to resign by phone, your script should be similar to your email. Be sure to have the following prepared in advance of writing your email or discussing by phone:
- A suggested end date of employment/last day at the office.
- Good reason for wanting to leave the company.
- Sincere memory or positive note that you want to share.
- Any plan to assist with placing a new employee into the position.
Learn how to write a resignation email.
Resignation Letter Templates & Samples
Below are resignation letters and letter templates.
- Maternity Leave
- Board Resignation
- Personal Reasons
- New Job
- Better Salary and Benefits
- Hostile Work Environment
- Unhappy with Management
- Unfair Treatment
- Health and Stress
- Going Back to School
- Voluntary Resignation Letter
- Switching Departments
- Unethical Practices
- Heavy Workload
- Feeling Undervalued
- Job Dissatisfaction
- Travel Distance
- Immediate Resignation Letter
- Two Weeks Notice
- Short Notice Resignation Letter
- 24 Hours Notice
- Part-Time Job
- How to Tell Your Boss You're Quitting
- What is a "Two Weeks Notice"
- Resignation Letter Format
- Resignation Email
- Goodbye Email to Coworkers
- How to Quit a Job
- Rescind Resignation Letter
Our favorite resources are included below.
Job interview resources
- Common Interview Questions by Marquette University
- Prepare for Behavioral Interview Questions by Marquette University
- Preparing for Job Interviews by the University of Kansas
- Mock Interview Handbook by CSUCI
- Interview Guidebook by Lebanon Valley College
Resume and cover letter resources
- Writing a Resume and Cover Letter by USC
- Resume Writing Tips by the University of Wisconsin-Madison
- Resume and Cover Letter Guide by Harvard University
Job search resources
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