How to Quit Your Job

EDITED iStock_000002207684LargeCalling it quits for greener pastures? There’s a right and a wrong way to move on. It’s a common scenario. Monday morning: the alarm rings. And you realize you’d rather take a beating than endure your job another day. Maybe you feel unappreciated, over-looked and under-paid. Maybe an antagonistic coworker, a demanding boss or little potential for advancement causes you anguish. Or perhaps it’s not the job at all, but circumstances have changed in your life, making you and your job incompatible.

Whatever the reason you may be contemplating a move, it’s not a decision to be taken lightly. Consider the following.

  • A new job comes with a whole new set of challenges. Who’s to say it will be better?
  • Can you make your current job more enjoyable, even if it’s only an attitude adjustment on your part?
  • Are other jobs available in your field and how hard will it be to find one that meets your requirements?
  • Have you invested enough time at this job to have given it your best shot and know it’s not going to work out?

If you’ve definitely decided to look for greener pastures, there’s only one way to quit your job: PROFESSIONALLY. The key is not to burn bridges with people who may be clients or colleagues years down the line. If nothing else, you want a good reference. The way you resign needs to reinforce—not undermine—your employer’s impression of you as a valued employee.

  • Tell Your Supervisor First
    As tempting as it may be to tell your office buddy before your manager—DON’T. If word gets past your boss to his boss, and he or she is made to look inaccessible or incompetent, your leaving will be even more uncomfortable.
  • Get Your Story Straight
    You may fantasize about the day you can unabashedly broadcast everything you hate about your job, but it’s never a good idea. Be honest but professional. Don’t say more than necessary.
  • Compose a Formal Letter of Resignation
    A resignation letter is legal notification for your permanent employment record. Nothing more. No need for a lot of detail, just “After X years at company Y, I am leaving to go work at company Z, effective this date.”
  • Expect a Counter Offer
    Be prepared for your employer to negotiate you back in the door. Decide ahead of time what—if anything—is enough to make you reconsider.
  • Honor Your Two-week Notice
    One thing almost sure to burn bridges is to leave before your two weeks are up. Better to stick around, train your replacement and finish any projects you’ve begun. But also don’t bank on two more weeks’ salary. Some employers will ask you to leave the day you resign.
  • Work Toward a Smooth Transition
    Do everything you can to ease the transition between you and the person who’ll be replacing you. You may even suggest a replacement, if you know someone who’s interested and qualified.
  • Give Your Best to the End
    Knowing you’re leaving is not
    your ticket to slack off or mentally check out. Do your job to the best of your ability until zero hour, then leave in good standing.


The bottom line is to put your most professional foot forward, even if your employer doesn’t reciprocate. You never know when you may want to cross the bridge you’re preserving now. It’s not unheard of for an employee to blow off a job, only to realize he wants it back.



[one_half]Reasons to Quit

  • Job-related stress is affecting your health.
  • You’ve outgrown your job and there’s no hope for advancement.
  • Your job makes it impossible to meet your family obligations.
  • Your values are at odds with the company’s.
  • Your relationship with your supervisor is irreconcilably damaged.
  • You have plans to go back to school.
  • You have another job offer secured.

 [/one_half] [one_half_last]Reasons to Stay

  • You’re happy and feel valued.
  • You’re challenged to learn new things.
  • Your company looks financially healthy.
  • The company promotes from within.

By Mimi Greenwood Knight


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