8 Important Tips for Quitting Your Job Without Burning Bridges

how to quit your job

Job hopping is more common than ever before. In fact, three times as many millennials as those in other generations say they’ve switched jobs in the past year. The Bureau of Labor Statistics found that employees had a median tenure of just four years.

Changing jobs can be an excellent way to learn new skills and get ahead in your career, but before you start an exciting new role, you have to end your relationship with your current company.

Resigning from a job, even one you don’t like, is stressful. Here’s how to quit your job in a graceful and professional manner.

8 steps to leave your job on good terms

1. Resign in an appropriate way

Even if you hate your job, don’t simply leave one day and never come back.

The right way to resign varies by company. Some businesses require a letter to keep on hand as an official legal document. If you write a resignation letter, keep it simple and to the point. State your reason for resigning and the date of your last day.

Other companies prefer to start the conversation in person. If this is the case, set a meeting with your manager. Make your decision about whether to break the news in person or via email based on your company culture and relationship with your manager.

Additionally, let your direct manager know before anyone else. Avoid talking about your plans with your coworkers. If you spread the news around, your boss could hear rumors about your exit before you’ve officially resigned.

2. Give at least two weeks’ notice

Plan ahead as you consider when to quit your job. The “two weeks’ notice” expectation has been around for a long time and it still applies today. In most cases, this is the minimum amount of notice you should give your employer to prepare for your departure.

If you have a lot of incomplete tasks, consider giving them even more. Of course, this also depends on the company culture and your relationships with people there. It could get awkward hanging around for a month when everyone knows you’re on the way out.

3. Prepare for an exit interview

Most companies will hold an exit interview before you leave. You may meet with your manager, someone in human resources, or some people on your team.

An exit interview is a chance for you to share your thoughts and feedback. Even if you’re frustrated with the company, make your feedback constructive. Focus on the positive and give criticism in a way that will help the company do better for the next person in your shoes.

You certainly aren’t required to do an exit interview, but it can give you and your boss a sense of closure. A few questions a manager could ask are:

  • Why are you leaving?
  • What did you like and dislike about working here?
  • What were your favorite and least favorite things about my managerial style?
  • What could we have done to keep you here?
  • What skills and qualifications should we look for in your replacement?

Prepare for the exit interview so you can give thorough, thoughtful responses. If you were dissatisfied in your role, your insights might help the company fix problems. If you had no issues, reassure your manager that you’re simply looking to move on to a new challenge.

4. Stay positive

However you feel about your workplace, it’s best to leave on a positive note. You might need a reference, or you may even find yourself seeking re-employment there one day.

There’s really no point in being negative. Even if you have visions of a dramatic exit, the emotional catharsis probably won’t last very long. If you act angry or bitter, you’ll end up burning bridges and losing a valuable part of your professional network.

5. Decide what you’ll do if you get a counter offer

What happens if your boss really wants you to stay? If they offer you a pay raise or promotion, would you take it?

Before resigning from a job, consider what you’d say if your boss makes a counter offer. If your main reason for leaving is higher pay, then an increased salary could be a compelling reason to stay.

But if you have other reasons, state them clearly. Prepare what you’ll say in advance so you don’t get caught off guard.

6. Clean up your workspace and computer

As you consider how to quit your job, remember that things might not go as planned. Though you’re preparing to leave gracefully, you can’t expect the same level of respect from all employers.

When you hand in your resignation, they could ask you to leave immediately. If you think that could happen, clear out your desk and clean up any personal documents or emails on a company computer before you give notice. Be ready to leave immediately, just in case.

7. Try not to check out mentally

It’s easy to slip into senioritis when you’re nearing the end of your tenure but resist the urge to phone it in during your last weeks of work.

By slacking off, you’ll make life harder for your coworkers and your replacement. Tie up any loose ends before you depart.

8. Offer to help with the transition

Finally, offer to help smooth out the effects of your resignation. For instance, you could train your replacement or help redistribute leftover work to others on your team.

By offering to help, you’ll again ensure that you leave things on a positive note. Your manager and coworkers will remember you as a proactive, contributing member of the team.

How to quit your job gracefully

Breaking up with an employer is never easy. Ready your major talking points so you can quit with confidence.

But before doing any of this, make sure you’re resigning for the right reasons. Hopefully, you have a new job lined up that will take your career in new and exciting directions.

For more on finding a new job, learn how to present your marketable skills.

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