How to Quit Your Job the Right Way

howToQuit

When it comes to quitting a job, no matter the reason, you want to carefully plan how you’re going to go about it. Brett & Kate McKay (artofmanliness.com) say,

“There’s a right and wrong way to do it. The wrong way is to burn your bridges and leave a bad taste behind. The right way is to resign with grace and dignity, demonstrating that you’re a man [or woman] of respect and value until your very last day on the job.”

Keep reading to learn the steps to quitting your job with dignity and keeping those bridges intact.

Step #1: Make a plan

Plan how and when you will do everything so you can make leaving this job a positive experience and not a hit on your reputation.

Pick your last day.  Even if you hate your boss and don’t care to be considerate towards him, quitting and leaving the same day will likely be hard on your coworkers who will have to put in extra work to cover your responsibilities without being prepared.  Be courteous and give advance notice of your departure.  How far in advance you give your notice involves a few factors.  Read over your contract and see if it specifies how much notice you are required to give.  If it doesn’t, two weeks is the minimum expected, although more would likely be appreciated and would show you care about the well-being of the company.

Giving more time could help you tie up all loose ends and give your employer time to fill your position so the transition can be as smooth as possible.  Decide when would be the longest you are willing to stay in case your manager tries to convince you to stay an extra week or so.  That being said, be prepared: just because you give two weeks’ notice doesn’t mean they’ll choose to keep you around. They may ask you to leave immediately. Have a financial plan in case that happens. Make sure you have enough savings or other income to get you through a couple weeks of no work if needed.  Many companies don’t want employees hanging around that they know are not staying long-term, but if you are able to offer that, it shows you are being considerate.

If your new employer wants you to start immediately and is not understanding about you working the standard last two weeks at your old job, take this as a bad sign. This could be a precursor of more disconcerting things in the future.

Decide if you would be interested in a counter offer.  Have in mind exactly what would make you want to stay, if anything.  Don’t wait to decide until talking to your boss; making an in-the-moment decision is a risk and you might regret it.

Prepare the story you will tell when people ask why you’re leaving. Many people will ask, so you want to be consistent and ready to answer.  Make it positive, and include a line about how you’ve enjoyed working at this company.  Don’t talk about how excited you are to leave, don’t brag about your new job, and don’t feel like you have to share a lot of details.  You can be brief and simple.

Practice how and what you want to say to your boss.  To avoid rambling, procrastinating, and being awkward, think of how what you want to tell your boss it’s time for you to leave.  Make it easy to remember and practice a couple of times so you feel comfortable.  All you can really do is come up with the first couple of lines you want to say, because you can’t predict all the questions or comments your boss might have, but having a confident starting point will make you feel better going in there.

GRAPHIC: someone talking in front of a mirror (practicing).  “Practice how you’re going to start the conversation with your boss.  Be brief, simple, and to the point.”

Step #2: Tell the right people in the right order

Tell your boss first!  Be professional and schedule a meeting with him in his office.  Have a private conversation with the door closed.  If he doesn’t work in the same office as you, a phone call is acceptable.  However, in-person is always preferable if possible.

When meeting with your boss, act professional, calm, and complimentary. Make it brief, to the point, and don’t feel obligated to give all the reasons why you’re quitting.  If you have a really good, open relationship with your boss, you could give some feedback about how the company could retain employees better, but if it will offend him or leave a bad taste in his mouth, then don’t risk it. Thank him for the opportunity you had to work there and for the things you’ve learned, and end by shaking hands.

Your boss will be able to tell you who you need to talk to next.  Typically, you would go tell HR you are resigning, and give them a copy of your resignation letter.

After HR, tell your coworkers, especially those who you are close to.  Don’t wait for word to get around for them to find out.   Tell your mentors and influential coworkers personally, and verbally thank them or write a thank you note to them before you leave.  Have lunch with your coworkers on your last day.  Care for these relationships, as they will probably continue when you have left your job.  Remember it is also quite possible that you will cross paths with some of these coworkers later on in your career or that you will want to use some of them as references. Don’t ruin these connections.

Lastly, tell your clients (if applicable) and help them know who to work with once you have gone.  Make them feel appreciated and do whatever you can to make their transition smooth.

Step #3: Turn in your official resignation letter

Make your resignation letter brief and professional.  All that really needs to be said in this letter is that you’re leaving and when your last day will be.  Here is the basic format:

Your name
Address
City, State, Zip

Your supervisor’s name
Supervisor’s job title
Name of the company
Address
City, State, Zip

Dear [Supervisor’s name],

I am writing to inform you of my decision to resign from my position as [job title] with [company name]. My last day will be [date, usually 2 weeks out].

Thank you for my time here at [company name]. It has been a rewarding experience in which I have learned and grown a great deal [write something positive].

I would be happy to help if I may be of any assistance during the transition [offer your assistance]. I wish the best for you and [company name] and hope to stay in touch in the future.

Sincerely,

[Your signature]

[Your typed name]

Give a copy of this letter to your immediate supervisor (whoever hired you) and HR, and keep a copy for yourself.  Be sure to make it positive!  Your letter will be kept on file for a long time, and if you ever need anything from that company ever again, you want their documentation on you to be good!

Step #4: Tie up loose ends

Do all you can before you go to allow a smooth transition for the company.  Finish the projects you are working on if possible, and leave everything ready for whoever will fill your place.  Leave formal, detailed instructions for anyone who will take on your responsibilities.  Check in with them your last day to make sure they are ready to take over and have no more questions.  Working hard until the end shows responsibility and gratitude.

Clean out your computer before you go.  Pass along documents that coworkers might need, save your personal documents on an external hard drive or USB, save important emails, and then wipe the computer clean.  Change your voicemail and auto-response on your work email to explain you no longer work for the company, and who to contact instead.  Return all company owned items (laptop, phone, keys, I.D. badge, etc.) Pack up all of your belongings to take home!

If you haven’t already, add your coworkers on LinkedIn or get their contact information so you can stay connected.  Keep in touch with your boss and coworkers; you might need these connections later on. If your new job isn’t what you expected and doesn’t go well, you might want to return to your previous company. Sometime in the future you might need recent references for something, leads, or advice. You never know exactly what you’ll be doing or what help you may need. Keeps those connections. Even if it’s just a note once in a while, or a comment on their Facebook wall—do something!

Step #5: Exit Interview

An exit interview is a meeting between you and HR on your last day. They are usually held to get feedback about the employee’s position and the company. The company can then take feedback into account and make changes to improve employee retention and reduce hiring costs.

If exit interviews are not the norm at the company you’re leaving, ask to do one anyway and use it as an opportunity to thank your manager for the things you’ve learned and opportunities you’ve had. Give any feedback you think could be helpful for your replacement, and tell him key things you’ve learned at this job. This shows your gratitude and that you took the job seriously.

Be honest, but positive.  Don’t use this interview as your chance to complain about all of the things that bother you.  Be constructive and kind with any feedback you may have.

The Don’ts

We’ve gone over all of the dos.  Let’s review a few don’ts.

If you feel guilty

If you are one to feel guilty for quitting, DON’T!  Caroline Kessler at themuse.com wrote,

“No matter how the conversation goes, it’s important that you don’t feel guilty about moving on or feel like you need to over-explain. In fact, my mantra for my “I quit” meeting was simple: It’s not personal; it’s business. No matter how close you are to your boss or how irreplaceable you think you are—your boss will find a new “you” to fill your role. Keeping this in mind will help create some distance between you and your job, making the conversation just a little easier.”

Just remember that your boss and the company will make do and be just fine without you.  You need to do what is best for yourself.  Everything will be ok!

Your Reputation

If you follow these five steps carefully and avoid all of the don’ts, you will maintain or even improve your good reputation in the professional world.  Do all you can to be remembered in a positive light, and it will help you in the future.  Todd Defren wrote on Aol Jobs:

“I’ve been in the workforce for 22 years now, and a “boss” for about half that time. I have forged many professional friendships in that time, and include many former employees in my network. Inevitably, it was the folks who left on good terms whom I tried to help climb the career ladder even after they left.

Those folks who burned the bridge on their way out the door? It saddens me to admit it but –- despite years of loyal service up to that point -– their inglorious, inept or spiteful behavior during and/or after their resignation is the only thing I remember about them.

When it comes to your career, “last impressions” can be as important as “first impressions.””

Keep that in mind and keep working hard until the very end.  Quit the right way.

 

 

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