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How to quit your job the right way

CareerBuilder | June 27, 2022

How to quit your job the right way

While quitting a job isn't always easy, it's extremely important to resign tactfully because you don't want to burn bridges with your employer.

Perhaps you're feeling burned out, stuck in a toxic work environment, or don't see a future within your present role. Maybe you feel like it's time for a change but are scared that you won't quit your job the right way. Almost everyone quits a job at some point in their lives, so when it comes time for you to leave, you want to do so professionally, especially if you'll need to use your employer as a reference somewhere down the line. Follow these steps to efficiently quit your job and not burn bridges.

Make sure you truly want to quit

If you're like most people, you have experienced a bad day or two while on the job. You might also experience a few warning signs, such as reduced productivity and complaints that it might be time for you to move on. However, before you decide to leave, make sure you're leaving for the right reasons. Some of these reasons might include:

  • You found another job. If you've already received an offer in writing, then you need to quit your current job before you can start this new one.
  • You're returning to school. Maybe you're looking to go back to school and need to take courses full-time. Quitting your job might be the only way you can attend the necessary classes.
  • You're moving. Perhaps you need to move for a job relocation for your significant other, or you want to move closer to family. Regardless, if you can't do your job from across the country, you might need to quit.
  • You need a change. If you feel like your job just doesn't fit your schedule or it's not good for your mental health, it might be time to move on.

Ensure you're financially stable

Quitting your job can be less stressful if you have a financial cushion. Ideally, you want to make sure you have enough money to cover your expenses for six months up to one year. If you don't have that much saved and no job lined up, consider transitioning to a temporary job that is less stressful and has decent hours, even if the pay is less, just so you have some money filtering in. You might also want to think about uploading your resume and creating a profile so employers can find you.

Think about being creative yet cautious

You've probably heard from others about epic ways people have quit their jobs. You might even be familiar with urban legends about how people decided to walk away from their job. While you can take some liberty with your resignation letter, it's probably best to avoid one of the following ways to alert your boss that you're leaving:

  • Starbucks barista quits by singing a song. While singing a song is rather creative, AnestiDanelis used some vulgar language in the song, which he performed inside the coffee shop.
  • A man uses Cameo to tell his boss he quit. A man named Ethan Watkins decided to let "American Ninja Warrior" host Matt Iseman record a video to tell his boss he quit.
  • A woman uses a drawing of a microphone. When there's not much else left to say, sometimes it's best to let the mic drop. Elizabeth Young drew a picture of a dropped mic and announced her two weeks' notice.
  • An employee gives a manager a sympathy card. A woman handed her boss a card that said: "I'm so sorry for your loss" on the front. Inside, she wrote: "It's me. I leave in two weeks. Amber."

Schedule a meeting with your manager

When you decide to leave, you should alert your manager first before any of your co-workers. Schedule an in-person, video, or phone meeting with your manager to let him or her know about your plans. The sooner you do this, the better. No manager wants to be surprised, so reach out to ask if they can schedule some time on the calendar for an important conversation. In this conversation, make your intentions clear, but keep the announcement brief. Follow up with a short resignation letter via email.

Give enough notice

Before you began this job you want to quit, double-check your employee contract to see if you need to give a specific amount of notice. Otherwise, it's customary to give your employer two weeks' notice. If your employer asks you to stay longer than two weeks, you're under no obligation to stay. Instead, what you could do is offer to help train your replacement via phone or email.

Finish up your transition work

Once you've given your notice, you'll have about two weeks left in your role before you leave. During this time, you want to complete outstanding projects and work closely with your supervisor to know who will take over the work you won't be able to complete. Document what tasks you complete daily, where you've placed important files, how to use specific pieces of equipment, and provide information about any other crucial details.

Quitting your job is a life-changing decision, so make sure you're ready to make this type of commitment before you go through the process. Once you realize this is the right decision for you, be professional and give appropriate notice. Although it might be tempting, avoid being too dramatic in telling the company that you quit. Tie up any loose ends before you leave, and get ready for this next phase of your life.

More tips for quitting your job:

Doing an exit interview? Here are some ways to explain to your employer why you're leaving.

Take this quiz to determine if you're ready to switch careers.

Learn which generation tends to job-hop more than the others.