How To Quit Your Job With Professionalism and Grace

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Life is too short to stay at a job that you don't like.

Yet once you've decided to quit your job, it's not enough to simply walk out the door. Whether you plan to stay in the same field or try something completely new, you may need a reference from your old job.

You also may want to be able to reach out to your previous coworkers for networking purposes. Regardless of the reason, learning how to quit your job is an important life skill. 

Consider the advice below as a checklist when preparing to quit your job. Follow these steps and leave your current job with professionalism and grace.

Tell Your Manager First

Although you may be tempted to tell your best friend at work that you landed a new job, tell your manager first. Yes, even if your close confidant and seatmate swears not to tell, it's bad form to tell coworkers before your manager.

The risk with telling coworkers first is that your manager may feel slighted, insulted, or angry that you didn't come to them first. Your manager is more likely to help you network or write you a letter of recommendation if you tell them first.

Tell Your Manager in Person

Have you ever been tempted to cancel plans or give bad news over text message or email rather than in-person?

Yep. We all have.

The truth is that while we think this reduces awkwardness and hurt feelings, it doesn't. And your boss, whether you like them or not, deserves a respectful, in-person conversation about you leaving.

Ask your boss for a brief one-on-one in-person meeting to let them know that you are quitting. Prepare what you are going to say and be calm. 

If your boss is always traveling or if they work in a different city, you may not have the opportunity to meet in person. A phone call will suffice in this situation.

Consider Your Tone and Style

Once you've scheduled the in-person meeting with your boss, think about what you want to say. Different circumstances call for different styles of quitting.

For example, if you are very unhappy at your current position and can't wait to leave, you can be brief and to-the-point. Tell your boss that you will be leaving and when your last day will be.

No need for details, explanations, or ingenuine apologies. You can be respectful without putting on a fake show just for their sake.

However, if you really do feel grateful for the experience, your tone will be more positive while quitting. Tell your boss that you appreciate everything they taught you and that you hope to stay in touch.

Give Two Weeks Notice

Unless your work conditions are truly miserable or unethical, give two weeks' notice. Plan to tell your manager when your last day will be.

Draft a formal letter stating your plan for resignation and your last day of work.

Part of giving two weeks' notice is also committing to a strong performance for the last two weeks. It will be tempting to phone it in and do the bare minimum. But a true professional will maintain his or her work ethic until the very last day.

How to Tell Coworkers

Maybe it's easy to imagine telling your boss you're quitting but find yourself googling how to tell my coworkers I'm quitting.

If you work at a small company it might be realistic to talk about your departure which each of them individually, but it's not completely necessary. You may want to tell your smaller team or coworkers that you consider friends first.

If there is someone coming in to replace you before you leave, your coworkers will find out, so it's better to tell them before that. 

If you work for a larger company or you are uncomfortable speaking with them about quitting, you can get your message across via a farewell email to coworkers.

The farewell email is a way to share with the larger group that you are quitting your job and set the tone of your departure. This email is an opportunity to say goodbye and share as much as you want about what you're doing next.

Offer to Train Your Replacement

Depending on the situation it may be appropriate to offer to train your replacement. If you know who that person is and they already work for the company in some capacity, this transition will be easy. However, if they have to hire someone brand new, there may not be time for you to train them.

If you don't have a permanent replacement before you leave, you can offer to show a coworker or team member what you have been working on. You can share any essential documents or materials to help the team once you have departed.

Avoid Put-Downs

If you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything at all.

If you are leaving your workplace because you truly despise the work, people, or environment it's going to be hard to keep your opinions to yourself. But insulting the company, your boss, or coworkers will only reflect poorly on you and your character.

Save your complaints and vent to a friend, family, or partner instead.

So, when people ask why you are quitting, you can be vague. You can say that you found another opportunity or that you are taking some time off. You do not owe them any details, and certainly don't need to tear anyone down on your way out.

How to Quit Your Job Like a Professional

There may not be a right way and a wrong way how to quit your job. But there are tactics you can use to show professionalism and help your future career.

Use the steps listed above to guarantee you leave your current job on a good note. And don't forget that ever-important farewell email.

Most of all, congratulations on leaving your job in pursuit of something new!

Looking for more personal and professional how-to advice? Check out some of our other articles.


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