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3 Tips for Quitting Your Job

Zak Brocchini

  • 05-14-2019
  • Blog articles

Resigning a position can cause a lot of anxiety, even though you know it’s the right move for you.  Whether it’s a new position that’s a better fit, you’re starting your own business, or have decided to take time off, how you handle your resignation is important.  You definitely want to end on a positive note.  You may want a future reference from that manager, maybe you’ll cross paths on future positions, or you may want to leave the door open to return to the firm in the future.  For all these reasons and more, it’s important to say the right things when you resign.  

Here are some thing NOT to do when quitting your job:

  • Don’t make a rash or emotional decision
  • Don’t tell others first and have your boss hear about it through the grapevine
  • Don’t leave your team in a bind
  • Don’t do anything that would burn bridges

As you prepare what you’ll say when you quit your job, keep in mind that you want to exit on the best possible terms.

Here are three things you’ll want to do when you resign:

1. Speak directly to your manager

When it comes to resigning, you want to control the flow of information, presentation, and timing.  People love to gossip.  When coworkers find out, they’ll often find it irresistible to gossip about it with other coworkers.  Some may try to leverage this information to their advantage, like trying to take over interesting projects you were working on, or to curry favor with management.

The best strategy is a face to face meeting.  If that’s not possible, try to set up a video meeting, or a phone call.  Email is a last resort; it’s impersonal, though if circumstances dictate it’s your only option, in can be used.

2. Know what you’re going to say when you quit your job

Plan out what you’re going to say before your resignation meeting.  Even if you’re leaving on good term, the conversation can be uncomfortable.  Ultimately you are rejecting someone and closing a chapter in your lives, which can be difficult.

You want to be firm and committed in your decision to leave.  Your supervisor will likely ask questions and may try to change your mind.  Statistic show that 85% of the time employees who accept counter offers have left the position within 6 months, still companies will make them as a short term stop gap to keep the position filled while they conduct a search for a replacement.  If a manager senses there’s potentially interest in a counter, they will spend the 2 week notice period trying to change your mind or sow seeds of doubt.  If you’re firm and confident that you’re making a clean break, the remaining few weeks will be less stressful.

Keep the meeting short and professional.  Don’t give in to the urge to vent frustrations with the company, manager or team.  It may feel good in the moment, but it will burn a bridge. 

3. Put your resignation in writing

If you’re speaking to your boss in person, come to the meeting with a resignation letter.  If not, send one in writing as soon as possible after you speak.  A resignation letter ensures there is no confusion about the date you are tendering your resignation, and when your last day of employment will be.  Many companies will keep this letter in your HR file.

What should you say in that letter?  Keep it brief, professional, and include the following:

  • The exact last day of employment.  2 weeks is a typical notice period.  If there is a project deadline approaching or you are in a key position you may want to offer to stay longer.  You may also want to offer that you’re available to answer questions even after employment has terminated. 
  • A brief explanation of why you’re leaving.  It’s preferable to keep this short and vague.  Something along the lines of “I have accepted another position”.  You don’t have to go into details, even if your manager presses you, which they probably will. 
  • A few nice words of gratitude.  There’s some positive aspect of all jobs at some point.  Something you learned, or connections you made.  While not required, saying something nice goes a long way to maintaining relationships.  You could say something like “Thank you for the opportunity.  I will always appreciate my personal growth, and what I learned at (company name).”

Bonus: Have a strong finish

Many people completely tune out once they’ve given notice.  Do your best to share knowledge and be helpful in the transition of your responsibilities.  Document any processes that your replacement will need.  This will make your transition (and the companies) smoother.  This is impactful in building long term relationships.  You never know if you’ll want to return in a more senior role, or will possibly work together at a new company in the future.

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