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How to Quit a Job

Quitting a job is never easy, but it's an essential professional skill to have. Learn how to quit a job the right way and not burn any bridges.
How to Quit a Job

There are a lot of reasons to quit a job: maybe you’re miserable in your current position, have a great new offer waiting for you, moving to a new city, or are branching out on your own.

If you’re ready to move on, you might not know how to quit a job in the best way. After all, you don’t want to wreck any professional relationships or harm your reputation.
Luckily, there are some simple steps you can take that will help you move on without any hurt feelings.

How to Quit a Job the Right Way

While the movie scene of Jerry Maguire quitting might have been entertaining, you definitely don’t want to go the route of loudly trashing your company in front of all your colleagues. The key here is not burning any bridges. Follow these tips to exit as gracefully as possible:

Don’t be hasty

Just because you’re suddenly feeling dissatisfied with your job doesn’t mean you should necessarily quit right away. Think it through first and make sure this is the right thing to do.

Finding a new job can take a long time and you want to try to have enough money saved to see you through up to a year of looking.

If you have been offered another job, wait until you get a formal written offer. Too many times an oral offer gets changed or taken away, and you don’t want to be left without any job at all if that happens.

How to Quit a Job Tip #1: Keep things professional

You may be desperate to tell your boss that she was a horrible manager and made your job a nightmare, but that’s definitely not the best approach here.

You never know when your paths might cross again (or who she might know in your industry). Instead, schedule a meeting with her and keep your conversation clear and professional.

Say you are giving notice and then mention something positive about what you’ve gotten out of your current job (even a vague “I love the people I work with here” fits the bill) and why this move is the right one for you and your career.

Don’t elaborate unless asked more questions (and even then, feel free to give as few details as possible).

How to Quit a Job Tip #2: Consider the response

Be prepared that your current boss might counter-offer to try to keep you. Think about this in advance and decide how you’re going to respond. If you definitely don’t want to continue working at your current job, a simple “I appreciate it, but this is really the right move for me” will work.

How to Quit a Job Tip #3: Give enough notice

The standard length of time to offer your employer is two weeks, but some contracts require even more notice.

Make sure you know what you’re obligated to do and try your best to offer that.

Keep in mind that some employers may not have you stay for the full two weeks or may even ask you to head home immediately (this could be due to confidential deals they don’t want you privy to or the fact that you’re going to work for a competitor).

To be safe, make sure you’ve already saved anything you want to a Google drive or emailed yourself any important documents or contacts.

You may be asked to stay a little longer than two weeks if you’re leaving to become self-employed or your move to a new city is happening at a later date.

You aren’t obligated to stay, but if you can and don’t mind, do it. One other note on how much notice to give: If you are about to wrap up a huge project that you’ve overseen but received a new job offer, you might want to ask your future employer if you can start later so you can see that project through to the finish line. It’s just good karma.

How to Quit a Job Tip #4: Talk to HR

Once you’ve let your boss know, you still need to reach out to your human resources department. There might be some loose strings to tie up, such as unused vacation days, your 401k, and health insurance. They might also want to set up an exit interview and talk to you about why you’re leaving. You may be tempted to go in and trash your old team, but try to keep things constructive. You can absolutely be honest here, just don’t get petty.

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How to Quit a Job Tip #5: Don’t tell right away

Once you tell your boss and HR, you might want to start sharing your news with everyone else, like coworkers and clients. In some cases, that’s fine, but if your boss asks you to hold off on telling other people that you’re leaving or wants you to stay quiet until they can send out an email to the team, honor their wishes. Remember: You want to leave on the best footing possible.

How to Quit a Job Tip #6: Help out

Your colleagues are going to be coming to you to get contacts, learn the status of projects, and ask procedural questions. Make sure to give them anything they may need. You might also want to write up what’s known as a “transition document.” This should include any relevant information that can help your replacement hit the ground running.

How to Quit a Job Tip #7: Don’t talk trash

You might think what you’re saying will stay a secret, but airing your dirty laundry with your coworkers, clients, or all of your social media followers is a bad idea. Word can get around and find its way back to your old boss.

How to Quit a Job Tip #8: Don’t try to poach a client

Have a great relationship with one or more of your clients and wish you could take them with you to your next job? Don’t. Most employers have non-compete clauses written into their employment contracts and you could find yourself in a lot of legal trouble.

How to Quit a Job with a 2 Week Notice Letter

After you give verbal notice to your boss, you want to make sure that you write up a letter of resignation. This is a formal document that lays everything out so that your current employer has it all in writing. It should be written as factually and professionally as possible. Follow this general template:

Your Name
Your Address
Company Name
Company Address

Dear Manager’s Name,

Please accept this as my formal resignation from X job, effective X date. My last day will be X.

I want to thank you for the opportunities I have had during my time here. Please let me know what I can do to help during the transition.

Thank you,
Your Name
Your phone number
Your personal email address

Don’t add too much more than that—remember, this is going to be in your employment file at your old company and you don’t need to stir things up too much.

Email copies to HR and your boss and also print one out for your HR department and your personal records. It might sound old school to do it this way, but it’s a good step to take since it ensures everyone is on the same page.

Further Reading:

How to Quit a Job Immediately

While giving two weeks’ notice is usually recommended, you might be wondering how to quit a job without staying that long. This might be because:

  • Your mental health is at risk due to job-related stress
  • Your company isn’t paying you for the work you’re doing
  • You’re miserable in the job or environment
  • Your boss has asked you to do something you don’t think is legal or ethical
  • You feel physically threatened in some way
  • You work in an unsafe environment
  • You’re experiencing a personal crisis and need time off to deal with it

First, a quick note on what the law says. Your employee handbook might say something about how you should give two weeks’ notice, but that probably isn’t backed up legally.

Do a quick check and make sure you work in a state with something known as “at-will employment.” If that’s the case, you can leave effective immediately and not break any laws.

The only time this isn’t true is if you have signed an employment contract that specifically states you can’t quit effective immediately.

If you have one of these contracts and you still don’t give two weeks’ notice, you might end up losing out on some benefits, like getting paid for vacation days you haven’t used.

The main thing to consider if you want to quit your job immediately is that you will likely burn a lot of bridges.

After all, your current employer is probably going to be upset if you leave without notice. This could impact future career moves since you never know who your employer knows. It also means you can’t offer up your current boss as a reference down the road.

However, if you are experiencing a personal emergency or health crisis, your boss might understand the situation and won’t be as upset—it just depends on your specific situation and relationship with your manager.

Ready for a New Job?

Whether you want to change jobs for better pay or simply to challenge yourself in a new industry, Big Interview will prepare you every step of the way. Practice answering the hard-hitting questions with our Mock Interview Practice Tool and get instant AI feedback on how to improve.
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If you’ve thought through the options and still want to quit your job immediately, reach out to your human resources department to talk about your situation. Once you talk to them about your plans, you can reach out to your boss. (If you feel threatened in any way, let your HR department do that for you.)

And just because you aren’t staying for a full two weeks doesn’t mean you can’t help prepare for the next person who will be doing your job. Even leaving a quick note explaining the status of any projects can be a huge help.

Whatever you do, try to stay as polite and professional as possible. If you don’t trust yourself to do that during an in-person conversation, draft up your notice and send it as an email instead.

Follow the same template as above, but add a line that says: “Unfortunately, I can’t give two weeks’ notice, so my last day will be X” or “Because of circumstances out of my control, I will be leaving the company on day X.”

How to Quit a Job You Just Started

It isn’t ideal, but sometimes you start a job and within a few weeks you realize it isn’t a good fit at all.

Maybe your job responsibilities have been changed and it’s no longer what you thought you were signing on for. Maybe you got another offer and it’s for a job you’re much more excited about at a different company. Maybe your boss has already displayed some pretty toxic traits and you can’t imagine staying there.

Whatever the case, you might be able to avoid giving two weeks’ notice (after all, you likely haven’t even finished onboarding yet).

You should still offer the full two weeks but just be prepared for them to say it won’t be necessary. Set up a meeting with your boss, say you’ve realized this just isn’t a good fit, and ask how you can make your departure as seamless as possible.

How to Quit a Part-Time Job

Just because you aren’t working full time for your employer or in a salaried role doesn’t mean you should just walk out the door without notice.

Try to still offer two weeks if you can and be professional with your boss. This way you avoid burning any bridges and ensure you’ll get a good recommendation from them.

If this job is going to be on your resume, a future employer may reach out to the company and you don’t want them saying you left them in a bad way.

When you talk to your boss, you don’t need to be super specific. Feel free to stay vague about why you’re leaving or where you’re going next.

And one last quick note: Make sure not to head over to your social media pages and start saying bad things about your old job. That kind of stuff can come back to bite you later.

How to Quit a Job and Feel Good About It

Whatever your situation, it can feel awkward and weird to quit a job. After all, leaving means that your boss and coworkers will have to pick up your extra workload until they find your replacement (which they now need to do).

But try to stay positive! People quitting their jobs happens all the time in business, and your boss shouldn’t take it personally. Remember: You are in charge of your career and should always prioritize your own success and happiness.

Further Reading:

Pamela Skillings
Pamela is the co-founder of BigInterview and an expert interview coach on a mission to help job seekers get their dream jobs. As an HR authority, she also provides consulting services to companies wishing to streamline their hiring process.

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