How to Quit a Job Politely and Professionally

how to quit a job

When you know you want to quit your job, it’s time to start thinking about the process of doing so. Your ideal outcome is walking away from your current employer with them feeling grateful for the opportunity to work with you, willing to write you a letter of recommendation, and willing to say kind words about you if your new employer decides to call for a reference.

Knowing how to quit a job in order to produce these outcomes, and leave on good terms can be challenging.

Here are the general steps you’ll want to take in order to gracefully resign and quit your job:

Here is how you should execute each one of these steps to produce the best resignation possible and quit your job in the right way.

Decide You Want to Leave

Income is important. Do you have a new job opportunity? Do you want to leave simply because you aren’t satisfied with your work? Do you have an advancement opportunity? Determine if your reason for leaving your current position is something that feels emotional or calculated. Emotional decisions would be wanting to leave because you’re dissatisfied with your manager. A calculated decision is when you’re deciding to leave because you have an opportunity to increase your salary or move along with your career growth.

Be sure that you’ve checked in with yourself regarding your reasoning. And be sure you feel comfortable making the decision to quit your current role before you begin your process. Once you start the process, it can be hard to reverse or halt.

If you aren’t sure if you should be leaving your current job, then it’s a sign that you shouldn’t be. Quitting should only happen when you have a good cause to. If you really aren’t sure of your next moves, ask a friend for career advice. This could be a former boss or former colleague.

If you are determining whether or not you should quit after having a single job interview or if you have begun the job hunting process, it’s advisable to wait until you have received a job offer. Your new position should provide you enough time to resign gracefully from your old job.

Schedule a Meeting With Your Supervisor

Send your supervisor an email and ask them to meet with you. Inform them that you’d like to have a 1-on-1 meeting. Be prepared to explain why you’ll be leaving before attending your meeting. Good reasons for leaving would be an advancement opportunity, more upward mobility, or the opportunity to advance your skill sets. A bad reason would be to explain that you finally found your dream job or that you didn’t appreciate the work environment. This would indicate that you didn’t respect or appreciate your current role. It’s better to explain that you’re looking to make a career change (if it’s accurate) and begin discussing your transition plan.

Inform your manager that you’re looking to resign. This will lead to determining the next steps and determining what the appropriate notice period will be. Be sure to be prepared to commit to two-weeks worth of employment. It is not advisable to give very little or not much notice. Even if you have a new opportunity, it’s best to sunset your current one professionally and give proper notice.

It is not advisable to quit a job by email or by phone.

If you have an employment contract, determine what your commitments were in order to resign.

Think about your replacement and determine your last day of employment

When you speak with your supervisor, after informing them of wanting to resign from your current position, you’ll want to determine the next steps together. This should include setting your end date of employment (your resignation date or last day of employment). As well as determining how you can train your replacement.

Once you’ve discussed your end date, you’ll want to include this in the resignation letter you’ll be writing.

Writing Your Formal Resignation Letter

A formal resignation letter is required by most Human Resource departments in order to resign from your current duties and position. This letter will contain important information like your position, end date, potential plans to train your replacement, and showing your gratitude to the team and company for the opportunity that they provided you.

A resignation letter is going to be about 300 - 400 words, written in a Word document, then exported as a PDF for your human resource team. You should not send an email as your resignation letter. Your email to your Human Resource staff member should be short, explaining that you are attaching your resignation letter, and once again include your final end date.

Write a Goodbye Letter to Your Colleagues

Usually, a two-week notice or timeframe is determined by most employees who want to resign. This provides the employer enough time to train a new replacement. Writing an email to your colleagues and thanking them for the time that you shared together is considered good-will. And it will help to ensure that as you leave, you leave behind you a lasting impression.

This email should be short, explaining how special it was to be able to work with each of your colleagues. Inside this email should be a note regarding your LinkedIn profile or personal email address. This is helpful for them to be able to contact you in the future regarding new opportunities or if they need your input on work that you performed while employed.

Prepare for Your Exit Interview

An exit interview is a 1-on-1 session that your supervisor schedules in order to hear feedback regarding the position, company, and their performance. This can be helpful for the manager to hear as they begin to think about training the new employee. Prepare for the conversation. Be sure to have at least 3-5 bullet points prepared to speak to. During your exit interview, you should be keeping the discussion constructive. Avoid using this as an opportunity to complain about your dissatisfaction for the role, work, or company itself.

Return Company Property

Don’t forget your company property. Any laptops, keys, email addresses, documents, company credit cards, or any other vital assets. Even a position where you were employed for only 6-months can obtain quite a number of company assets. Be sure to spend the time to scour through your belongings and determine which of them might be the property of the company you’re resigning from.

Ask Your Manager to Be a Reference

Asking for a letter of recommendation can be powerful for you in your career and for your future job search. You should inform your supervisor what types of feedback or stories could be helpful for you in your career path. For example, if you’d like to advance toward a management position, you may want to have your manager write about your teamwork or leadership skills. Lastly, you may want to ask them to be a reference as well, which will be included as part of your resume assets. This will allow your future employer to contact this person and speak to them directly about your prior employment and the experience of working with you.

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, Recruiter.com, SparkHire, and many more.

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