How To Quit A Job, Look Professional & Retain Your Reputation
It happens to all of us at some point in time. Maybe the job was too stressful and not serving you. Perhaps you asked for a raise after many years of service to a company and was rejected. Maybe you’ve been offered a significantly better position at another company. Whatever the reason, everybody finds themselves in the awkward position of needing to quit their job at some point in their life. It’s natural to feel a bit guilty, or even a bit angry about the reasons that led to your resignation. It’s import to keep a cool and level head during this time and to sit down and make a game plan.
In this guide, we’ll be covering everything you’ll need to do and everything you shouldn’t do in the process of resigning from your job. We’ll also be wrapping up with a handful of examples of good resignation letters that could be useful when writing your own.
First, let’s take a look at a major consideration one should take before resigning from a job— your reputation.
Consider your reputation
Before you quit your job, think about retaining your reputation. It matters, and here’s why.
Living a job with dignity and grace can have a positive effect on your actual departure, but it can also be a vital choice to make that could affect your future employment endeavors. It can also reflect positively on your existing professional relationships that may come into play again in the future.
If you leave a job on unprofessional or angry terms, there’s a chance that future employers will know about it. If you’re listing this current position as a reference for other positions, it’s important to make sure the person picking up the phone doesn’t remember you leaving on a negative note. This could translate as being unprofessional or bad with a team, which could affect whether other companies will hire you.
Leaving on a sour note could also affect your current networking climate. If you have many colleagues that still work for the company you plan on leaving, you could lose all of those references and professional relationships that took so long to build by leaving the position in a tornado of fury.
By keeping cool and acting professionally through the process of quitting, you’ll make yourself look a lot better.
Have a clear reason for resigning
Most of the time, one will have a very obvious reason for quitting their job that isn’t wholly negative. New job opportunities, family emergencies, mental and physical health problems, scholarships, and internships are just a handful of very understandable reasons for leaving a position.
Sometimes, the reason for leaving a job is not so positive. Maybe you have a bad relationship with a coworker that is affecting your professional life. Maybe you’re sick of your management or keep sticking around for an unsatisfactory salary. Maybe you just plain hate everything about the company and the people in it. It happens.
Be sure you understand that your reasoning for resigning is one that cannot be fixed by speaking with your manager. If you’ve tried speaking with a manager or human resources official, then maybe it is time to go.
It’s important to be honest about why you’re leaving, even if it is negative or reflects negatively on your management team or the company as a whole. What’s more important is to express those truths in a way that isn’t antagonizing, aggressive, or rude.
You can certainly tell your manager that you’re leaving because you’re sick of the low pay. But it’s better to say “I’d like to look for a higher-paying position in this current economy” than “You don’t pay me squat, I’m out of here.”
Plan your resignation communication
Plan how you are going to communicate your reason for resigning and how this will be professional.
We’ve already mentioned that being polite, professional, graceful, and honest is important. When planning how you’re going to communicate, take the time to rehearse what you might say to your employers and coworkers who may be wondering why you’re leaving. Make sure that your answers are consistent.
Most importantly, do not bad mouth the company or the coworker who may be the reason behind your departure. This looks tacky, and it could get back to your manager and reflect badly on you in the context of references.
How to quit your job
Generally speaking, the steps you will take to quit your job are quite simple.
1. Keep your decision private in regards to other coworkers.
2. Make sure you have to resignation conversation in person with the appropriate manager.
3. Provide more than enough notice. Two weeks is the standard, but depending on your particular workload and industry, more time may be appropriate to offer before leaving.
4. Make sure to have a schedule for the resignation. Pick a day that you absolutely need to leave and let your manager know it will be your last day.
5. Rehearse what you’ll say. Rehearsing what you’ll say may feel odd or not genuine, but it is a wise this to do to avoid any faux pas or unprofessional mistakes when actually resigning in person. Rehearse your reason for leaving and everything else you plan to say and do your best to stick to it.
6. Prepare for a counteroffer. We’ll get into this later, but be prepared for your manager to offer you something in return for staying with the company.
7. Ask if you can use the company or your manager as a reference. This is important to do if you really want to use the company as a valuable reference when applying for other jobs.
8. Offer to recommend replacements and then train those replacements.
9. Leave with a “thank you” and sending a warm email to your coworkers thanking them for being on a team with you.
In addition to these steps for quitting, there are also a few tips and guidelines you should follow when quitting your job.
Guidelines on resigning from a job
There are a few general guidelines and tips to keep in mind when it comes to quitting a job:
- Never quit over email. Resigning in person makes you seem confident and professional. Relying on a text or email can seem cowardly. It is wise, though, to send an official resignation letter after you’ve resigned in person with your manager.
- Show appreciation for the opportunity. This really seals the deal when it comes to quitting gracefully. By showing that you truly appreciated working at the company and recognizing that your position there was a wonderful opportunity, you’ll leave a positive impression before leaving.
- Train your replacement. This isn’t always possible or needed, depending on the position and industry. But if you can, offer to train your replacement in the weeks before you leave to provide a seamless transition that will help you feel less guilty, and also put your manager at ease.
- Finish with the company on a positive note. We’ve said it a million times so far, but being positive and leaving in a positive way is the most important part of quitting your job.
- Write a thoughtful letter to say goodbye. You should absolutely write a resignation letter to your manager after resigning in person. On top of that, consider penning a second, shorter, more candid email to your coworkers or team. Use this as an opportunity to let everyone know via email that you’ll be leaving and that you appreciated them. This is a good way to leave gracefully and also a great way to maintain professional colleagues in the future.
- Consider their offer if they want to keep you. In some situations, the company you are quitting may offer a raise, a new benefits package, or another offer to keep you if you’re valuable to the company as a whole. Don’t completely disregard this. Sometimes the offer can be exactly what would keep you there. At the same time, don’t jump into their trap so quickly. Ask to have a day or so to think over their offer and use that time wisely. If you decide that the offer isn’t good enough, reject it in person in a professional and polite way.
Now, let’s take a look at what you absolutely should not do when you decide to quit your job.
Common mistakes when quitting a job
There are a few mistakes one could make when quitting a job.
- Don’t be the JetBlue guy, no matter how satisfying it may be.
- Don’t make emotional decisions. If something occurred at work that left you upset and ready to leave, take a breath. Calm yourself, and then go to a manager or human resources to discuss what happened. Leaving without having taken the steps to remedy the situation could cost you an otherwise decent job.
- Don’t have an emotional reason for leaving. Unless you are dealing with a mental health issue that really requires you to leave, it would be wise not to have an emotional reason for leaving your current job. Especially if this is what you’ll be telling your manager when you resign.
- Don’t air out dirty laundry. To speak poorly of the company or the employees within it before you leave looks very bad. Keep a cool head and your opinions to yourself for the duration of your time remaining at the company.
- Don’t demand a severance check. Few places offer a severance check for employees that voluntarily resign. Demanding one will probably not be fruitful and will also come off as unprofessional.
- Don’t brag about your new position if you have one. Again, this is just tacky.
Let’s look at some examples of resignation letters that could help you write your own professional email.
5 example resignation emails to use
These example resignation emails/letters can serve as a useful template for your own letter.
Please accept this letter as notice of my resignation from my position as [your current position]. My last day of employment will be [date you will be leaving]. I received an offer to serve as [position] of another company, and after careful consideration, I realize that this opportunity is too lucrative for me to decline.
It has been a pleasure working with you and your team over the last [amount of years you’ve been there] years. One of the best times of my career was collaborating with you to [a thoughtful memory of when you worked directly with the team or manager in question]. Your company is destined for continued growth and I wish you nothing but the best.
I would like to help with the transition of my [position] duties so that the transition to another employee will be seamless after my departure. I am currently available to provide prospects and train my replacement.
[Manager], thank you again for the opportunity to work for [company name]. I wish you and the staff all the best and I look forward to staying in touch with you. You can email me anytime at [your email address] and I would love to use you as a reference in the future.
Please accept this letter as formal notification that I am resigning from my position as [your position] with [company name]. My last day will be [date you plan on leaving].
Thank you so much for the opportunity to work in this position for the past [how many years you’ve been there] years. I’ve greatly enjoyed and appreciated the opportunities I’ve had to grow our [industry] team and be a part of creating a great manufacturer of [product or service the company provides]. I’ve learned so much about [industry] strategy and [something else that the company does], which I will certainly take with me throughout my career.
I’ll do everything possible to properly end my duties and train my replacement over the next two weeks. Please let me know if there’s anything else I can do to help during this change and transition.
I wish [company name] continued success, and I hope to stay in touch in the future.
Please accept this letter as notice that I will be resigning from my job here at [company name] in two weeks from today’s date.
Thank you for the support and the opportunities you have provided me over the course of the last [how many years you were there] years. You, our team, and the [company name] enterprise have created a climate that makes it a pleasure to come to work each morning, and I will genuinely miss you all.
If I can do anything to help with the transition in finding and training my replacement, please let me know. I am more than happy to offer prospects and assist in training if needed.
I would like to inform you that I am resigning from my position as [your position] for [company name], effective [date you plan on leaving].
I appreciate the opportunities for professional development that you have provided me over the past [how many years you’ve been there] years. I have enjoyed my tenure at [company name] and feel grateful to have started my career alongside such a dedicated and wholesome team.
I have accepted a [position name] position in [wherever you will be moving to]. While my experience at [company name] was rewarding, I’m excited to pursue my passion for [position name].
If I can be of any help during this change and transition, please let me know as soon as possible. I am willing to help out with finding and training my replacement in my weeks that remain at [company name].
Thank you again for the opportunity to work at [company name]. I wish you all the best and look forward to staying in touch, and I would love to be able to mark you down as a reference. You can email me at [your email address].
Please accept this letter of resignation from my position as [your position] at [your company]. My last day of employment will be [date you plan on leaving].
It has been a pleasure working with you and the team for the past [relevant years] years. In particular, I’ve enjoyed [name an aspect of your job that you enjoyed or an event that took place while you were working there]. I’m very appreciative for the opportunities to develop my skills in the [industry] field and want to thank you for all your guidance and insight during my time here. I wish your company much success and know it will continue to grow.
Please let me know if you need any assistance with the transition or would like me to train my replacement.
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