How to Quit Your Job Without Burning Bridges

Quit Your Job

For many working women, advancing in your career may involve knowing when to leave your current job to pursue new opportunities. Use these tips as a guide to handle your own resignation when you’re ready to move on to a better job or work in your own business full-time. (Note: You’ll find more career tips in my book, How to Become a Nonprofit Rockstar: 50 Ways to Accelerate Your Career to help you navigate your professional journey. Although the book was written with nonprofit professionals in mind, the concepts and strategies work for advancing your career in any industry!)

Sometimes, you start a great job, and it’s just not what you expected. Maybe you really love the company, but it’s your tedious duties that are driving you crazy. Or, maybe you really enjoy your day to day, but you just don’t think you can last one more pay period working for that terrible boss. Perhaps you’re just burned out and ready to try something new. It could be time for you to explore other job opportunities with more pay and more responsibility. No matter what your reasons are for wanting to leave, if you’re ready to quit your job, you want to make sure you leave on good terms. Even if it was the job from hell.

Here’s how.

Give at least two weeks notice.

In most organizations, it can be pretty tough to find an immediate replacement or staffing solution when someone resigns, so it’s best to offer at least two weeks notice to your employer if you can. In most of my previous jobs, I’ve actually given my boss a month’s notice so I could help them find my successor. Caveat: If you’re leaving a job you have grown to despise, this can be a challenge. Especially if all you want to do is scream, “You can’t fire me; I quit!” at the top of your lungs. But you MUST do this. Really. It is a generally accepted professional courtesy to give your employer at least two weeks to find your replacement. This will also give you ample time to wrap up any projects to hand off to the next employee or delegate to one of your colleagues.

Write a formal resignation letter.

Keep it short and to the point. Leave emotions OUT of it. Make sure you give the effective date of your resignation. As in: “Effective May 15, 2014…” It should be less than one page, typed up and signed by you. Avoid putting in specific details of why you’re leaving in the formal letter. Save that for the exit interview, if there is one. Though it’s supposed to be confidential, the reality is that anything you put in writing can be shared with anyone who happens upon your employee file later. If you do have a grievance to pursue, use the appropriate channels outlined in the employee handbook.

Deliver the news in person.

Send an email to request a face-to-face meeting with your boss to “discuss your future with the company.” Nothing more needs to be said here. They will have an idea of what you want to meet about. Again, keep this meeting short and to the point – 30 minutes max. Begin by telling them how much you’ve appreciated the opportunity to serve in your position, but it’s time for you to move on. You can insert whatever explanation you want here – you’re leaving to pursue advancement opportunities elsewhere, going back to school, expand your experience into a different industry. Whatever you do, don’t say, “I’m leaving because you are certifiably insane and if I work here one more day I will jump out of a window and take you with me!” At the end of the meeting, simply give your boss the resignation letter that you’ve already prepared.

Write a positive farewell email to your stakeholders and colleagues.

During your last days of work, be sure to inform those you’ve been working with for the last months or years. Don’t just disappear into thin air- let your colleagues know you’re leaving the organization and where they can contact you in the future. Say something along the lines of:

“I’ve learned a lot during my time at XYZ Company, but it’s time for me to move on to a new stage in my career. I appreciate having the opportunity to work with all of you over the last 3 years. Here is my contact information if you wish to stay in touch.”

Again, even if you’re quitting on “bad” terms, just try to be as cordial and professional as possible. It’s a small world. If you leave any company with a chip on your shoulder, people will be talking about you, and not in a good way.

Leave a comment: Is it time for you to quit your job? What’s the first small step you can take this week to move forward on your decision?



Comments & Feedback:

  1. I followed these tips to the t. I will say that the resignation process can be more stressful from your coworkers when they ask “why are you leaving” questions. It’s never easy leaving but do your best to leave in a professional manner.

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