Quitting is part of life. Whether new opportunities come knocking or external forces pull you out, you will have to quit and end your time at an employer. However, quitting is not the end of your relationship. You will need their support in your future endeavors, and how you quit will affect your career.
There is a right way and lots of wrong ways. Here’s the right way:
Before you Quit…
1. Make sure you’re quitting for the right reasons.
You’re ready for a change, but quitting may not be the wisest decision. Proceed with quitting if:
- The pros outweigh the cons
- You have another job lined up
- The stress is affecting your health
- You are underpaid or the job is unstable
- Internal growth is unattainable or undesirable
- You are going through a major life change (moving, completing education, etc.)
- You have put in at least 2 years at the organization
- You are facing problems that cannot be solved
You should quit to advance your career and meet your needs, not out of malicious intent.
2. Line up employment
Before you even think about quitting, it is essential to have your next job ready to go. Not just for security, but to prevent gaps in your resume.
3. Double check your employment agreement
The employment agreement you signed when you got hired might have certain guidelines around quitting and the quitting process, be sure to adhere to it.
4. Consider your timing
You know your workplace and your work-life schedule. Try not to quit during the busy times or when your team needs you the most. Finish major projects and make sure you don’t leave any of your clients or contacts hanging.
When you Quit…
1. Write up your two weeks’ notice/Letter of resignation
A written letter of resignation is absolutely a requirement. Having written documentation can protect you should things go awry, and can help the organization better plan for your replacement.
You must type it, date it, sign it, and deliver a copy to your boss, your HR department, and anyone else who will need it.
Notify your employer a minimum of two weeks prior to your last day. This is both professional and a common courtesy.
Here is a template to help get you started:
As we approach my final weeks, I am dedicated to wrapping up my duties and training my replacement. Please let me know what I can do to aid the transition.
I am honored to have worked for this organization, and hope to stay in touch in the future.
Keep it short, sweet, and professional.
This is not your chance to tell off your boss, or point out flaws in the company. If your separation is not exactly amicable, you can reduce it into a single sentence:
2. Set up a meeting with your boss
This is where you will deliver your first letter of resignation. Your boss should be the very first person you notify, even before your work BFF.
Schedule a proper meeting, just the two of you. It’s up to you to take lead of the conversation. Notify your boss of your intent, without giving away too much information. Be prepared to answer these questions:
- Where are you going?
- Is there anything we can do to make you reconsider?
Keep your answers professional and avoid getting too sad or too angry. You can keep them as vague as you’d like.
This is also your chance to develop a transition plan and ask to use that person as a future reference.
3. Notify your team
Depending on your relationship, you can notify your team in an email. If you’re closer, you can coordinate a meeting. No matter how you do it, emphasize the positive aspects of your experience and express your gratitude to them – your exit will mean a little extra stress on them.
4. Finish strong
No slacking off. During your last two weeks, work as hard as you ever did. Notify any customers you may work with and finish up any major projects. Make it as simple as possible for someone to pick up where you left off.
5. Be gracious in your exit interview
An exit interview is your organization’s opportunity to find out what they can do better – but this still is not your opportunity to start listing off why you hated your job. Especially if you want to continue to use them as a reference, keep this interview professional. Here are a few questions you might be asked:
- Why are you leaving this position?
- What could we have done better?
- What did you like most about your job?
- How was your relationship with your boss?
- Did you have the right tools and resources to do your job well?
- Would you recommend working here to a friend?
It can feel tempting to air out all your grievances, but your reputation as an employee is more important. Offer patient and constructive criticism, and practice graciousness throughout.
After you Quit…
1. Prepare your replacement
If you and your replacement overlap, patiently train them on all of your job functions. Don’t be grumpy and don’t tell them what you hate about the company. Give them your full attention and energy as they take over your position.
2. Keep in touch
You will need previous workplace relationships to build your career. Keep in touch with your former boss and references, you never know if you will need their help in the future.
3. Update your LinkedIn and Resume
Once you leave one job and start another, make sure your LinkedIn and resume reflect that. If this new job doesn’t work out, you need to be ready.
4. Never speak negatively about your employer
This is never a good look. Don’t bash your employer on social media or bad-mouth them at industry events. Continue your gracious nature and you will build your reputation as a good employee to have around.
Breaking up is hard to do, but it’s just part of work-life. It is up to you to keep up professionalism and build your career properly and effectively.