How to Resign or "Quit" a Job with Grace (Leave on "Good Terms") [2020]

When employees want to resign from a job, they should understand what steps the employer is going to take in order to alleviate the employee of their duties. Employees who understand this process can better “quit” or resign from their role and ensure that both the employee and employer are happy about the transition to a new job.

If possible, employees should try to choose good timing for the employer. This would constitute not leaving when the company is in the middle of a major breakthrough, milestone, or close to achieving a significant goal. Or when the employee has recently been given a raise in salary and compensation. Or when the employee has recently started with the company or the role.

When to Resign or “Quit” a Job

Job seekers often resign or end up quitting their job far too soon in their job search. Employees should only resign from their current employer after they have accepted a job offer. If an employee is having a job interview or simply having discussions about a job search, it’s not the right time. Being in the "job hunting" process means that employees should stay with their current employer until the new job has been officially secured.

A future employer will understand that they need to provide a new hire with at least two weeks to transition out of the current company they are employed at.

Resignation Process (How to Quit a Job)

Here are the general steps an employee should take if they want to resign or “quit” their current job or current position.

Speak with your supervisor or manager

The first step is to have a phone call or in-person meeting informing the manager of the resignation. This should be a polite and sincere conversation. Whether the employee is resigning from a position they have been at for years or if it’s a new job they just started, the process should start from this conversation. When the employee and manager speak, a two-week transition period process should be discussed. This where all job duties and responsibilities are transferred to a new colleague or new hire. This step in the process is considered giving “proper notice” to an employer since they are not surprised by the employees desire to resign when they receive a resignation letter.

Tip: If an employee holds an employment contract, the transition period may already be detailed in the agreement. If this is the case, the employee should speak with the executive staff members to determine the appropriate steps for transitioning out of an executive position and role.

Write and submit a resignation letter

Once a transition period has been determined between employee and manager, an official end date will either be requested by the employee or agreed upon between employer and employee. From this point, the resigning employee should write a formal letter to their employer confirming their resignation. A resignation letter should be in business letter format, being polite and cordial to their employer, and thanking them for the opportunity to be part of the company. This letter should be one page and include the employee's contact information along with the employer and managers contact information.

While most employers will not ask the employee the reasons for leaving the position or company, it’s important to have reasons prepared as a resigning employee. Here are good reasons:

  • Returning to an old job.
  • Desiring a career change or simply pursuing a new opportunity.
  • Advancement to a new position with upward mobility.
  • Moving or transferring to another state.
  • Family and health issues.
  • Personal reasons.
  • Disagreements in the work environment.

These reasons are all considered a “good cause” for wanting to resign from an employee's duties. These reasons are not required to list in a formal resignation letter. An employee will be required to submit a resignation letter to both the management team and the human resources department to make their notice official.

Tip: There is a “right way” and wrong way to resign from a position. Providing very little or not much notice to your employer is considered poor etiquette. And may result in a former employer not wanting to write a recommendation letter or be a reference for the employee when they apply to their next job. At all costs, employees should try to leave or resign from their position on “good terms” with their employer.

Set transition period goals

An employer, manager, or boss will determine the appropriate goals for the transition period or “notice period” of the transition. In most circumstances, this results in transitioning and training a new hire or a colleague on the job duties and responsibilities. This may be referred to as a transition plan, as well.

Tip: Employees who achieve the agreed-upon transition period goals for their future former boss have a greater likelihood to be able to ask that boss for career advice in the future or for letters of recommendation and other job application assets. Employees should give their full effort during their transition period.

Perform an exit interview

A manager or CEO may want to sit with the employee and speak with them about ways the company, role, or management can improve before the employee’s last or final day of employment. As an employee, prepare for an exit interview by having three constructive methods for improving the role, the team, and the company. Keep exit interview critiques constructive and terse. Long details or complaints about particular aspects of the work or company is considered a poor method of engaging in an exit interview.

Write a farewell email

On the final day of employment, an employee should write a thank you email to each colleague and manager they had close contact with. This farewell email should be informal and thank them for the opportunity to be able to work together. The resigning employee’s personal email address should be included in this message as an exchange of contact information to the coworker or future former colleague.

Return all company property

On the final day of employment, after the exit interview, the employee should return all work computers, badges, and company property. This includes any cell phones or company purchased products that the employee is using to perform work.

Resignation Letters

Below are resignation letters and free templates.

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Additional Resources

Related Hiring Resources

How to Quit a Job You Just Started (Email Examples)
author: patrick algrim
About the author

Patrick Algrim is an experienced executive who has spent a number of years in Silicon Valley hiring and coaching some of the world’s most valuable technology teams. Patrick has been a source for Human Resources and career related insights for Forbes, Glassdoor, Entrepreneur,, SparkHire, and many more.


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