A Guide to Quitting Your Job Professionally

Quitting Box On Desk

You may want to quit your job for a wide variety of reasons. Maybe you found a better-paying position, you’re gearing up to move out of state, or you decided to go back to school. Maybe your workplace is toxic, and you need an exit strategy. No matter the reason behind your departure, it is essential to go about your resignation in a professional and respectful manner. This guide will help you do just that.

1. Be confident in your choice

Quitting Confident
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Take the time to reflect on this decision and be sure that this is the right choice. Consider factors such as timing, financial stability, long-term goals, mental and physical health, etc. How will leaving your current role impact these?

2. Give enough notice

The professional standard is to provide two weeks of notice of your resignation, but individual companies may have different policies. Check your company policy beforehand, because giving enough notice is an essential component to being considered “rehireable” by most agencies.

3. Prepare your reason for leaving

Whether it’s difficult personalities or straight-up harassment, there are plenty of personal reasons why you might be leaving your job. However, highlighting your workplace drama is not a good last impression. Instead, come up with an honest but positive reason, even if it’s vague. People will ask you why you’re leaving, and it’s easier to have a go-to response ready.

For example, “I found an opportunity I could not pass up” or “I’m excited to explore the next chapter in my life” both focus on the future rather than relitigating the past. You are under no obligation to reveal what that “opportunity” or “next chapter” looks like.

4. Tell your boss first

Quitting Meeting 1
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Once you have chosen a date for your last day, your boss needs to be the first person you tell. Do not let your boss find out from your coworkers, or worse, from reading your Facebook.

Schedule a meeting in-person to break the news. If you’re both remote, schedule a time on your boss’s calendar for a Zoom call. Be prepared to share your reason and express gratitude for the opportunities you had while in the role. If it’s genuine, highlight positive memories or career advancements you experienced while in the role.

5. Write and submit your formal resignation letter

Keep the resignation letter short and simple. Address it to your supervisor and the appropriate contact in Human Resources. Thank the company, share your reason for leaving, offer to assist with any transition needs, and state the date of your last day.

6. Create a transition plan

Quitting Transition Plan
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Draft a document that includes important contacts, passwords for any company accounts, dates and times for meetings that your supervisor will want to attend in the interim and any upcoming deadlines. Meet with your supervisor to answer any questions they may have about the operations of your position.

7. Save your feedback for the exit interview

Once you put in your notice, your supervisor and colleagues may request feedback on how they could have made your time with the company better. Save it for your exit interview, or wait till your last day to email written feedback to your supervisor and HR.

8. Tidy up

Quitting Pack2
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Make sure you return all company property, remove any personal items, and properly clean out your office or cubicle.

9. Stay positive

Speaking poorly of former workplaces or colleagues does not bode well for your professional image, especially in job interviews. Save any war stories for private conversations and focus publicly on the positive experiences and relationships you had in your previous role.

Why does this matter?

Quitting Interview
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Professionalism does not stop just because you’re no longer working with a certain company – your reputation will follow you for the rest of your career. You never know who you will end up working with again or if one of your new colleagues is friendly with your old boss. Leaving on good terms means your references from that role are more likely to remember you in a positive light.

If you’re still on the fence about leaving your current job, don’t give them a reason to fire you. Keep up with your workplace etiquette in the day-to-day of your job while you update your resume.

Image credit: Freepik

Jules Rivera

Jules Rivera (they/them) is a writer and artist based in Nashville, TN. They are a multi-faceted human who can critique red carpet looks in one breath and discuss intersectional feminist theory and systems change in the next. After blogging their way through young adulthood, Jules is excited to be writing with Modern Ratio.