There are countless reasons to quit your job in pursuit of something new. Sometimes you realize that your current company just can’t offer you the growth and compensation you need to further your career. Sometimes you decide that you need to take your career in a different direction and need to switch industries. And sometimes, you come to the realization that if you worked one more day in that toxic environment, you’d go totally bonkers insane.
Whatever reason you have for leaving, figuring out how to quit your job can be difficult. Even if you don’t want to on the inside, it’s a good idea to keep things professional, clean, and compassionate.
While you may dream of leaving and making a giant scene, you should never elect to sever a viable relationship that could help you in your professional future. You never know when you’ll cross paths with your past coworkers, and once you’ve burned a bridge, there’s next to nothing you can do to repair it.
So how do you quit your job with tact and create the least amount of drama possible?
The Technical Details
When planning your exit, there are a few key moments you need to plan out. Before you talk to anyone in the office about leaving, you need to schedule a meeting with your boss. When you get together, you can give your two-week notice and resignation letter to your boss face to face. If you work remotely, set up a Zoom call so you can be as personal as possible.
You don’t want your boss to find out you’re leaving your job through the gossip grapevine. No matter how terrible they might have been at their job, they deserve to hear the news straight from you. This nicety will give them the ability to decide what to do going forward.
When going into the conversation, prepare yourself for outcomes that you didn’t expect. They may ultimately decide to terminate your position sooner than two weeks. They might break down and beg you to stay, promising to increase your pay and give you a promotion. The meeting could be professional and cordial, or it could devolve into unprofessional banter. If your boss wants to take it to an unprofessional place, stick your ground, grit your teeth, and hold your tongue. You’ll regret it if you don’t.
Another important part of your transition out of the company is the exit interview with the human resource department or your supervisor. Who the exit interview is with will depend on the size and structure of the company. Some companies are too small to have their own human resources department.
Once again, it’s vital to keep this meeting professional. It is not a time to air your grievances, but a time to give constructive feedback on how you believe the company can be improved. Give honest, but not brutal, answers to their questions. You want to give them valuable information to improve the working conditions for those staying at the company, but this isn’t your chance to complain about your personal gripes with the business. This meeting isn’t about you, it’s about the future of the company you’re leaving.
If no one approaches you about an exit interview, try scheduling one yourself.
The Thoughtful Approach
While it might feel so satisfying to burn bridges at the moment, the regret will quickly follow. Even if your teammates were obnoxious and you can’t wait to be rid of them, this is not the time to use up all those sick burns you’ve been developing in your head when you fall asleep at night.
If you are completing your two weeks notice, go about your business and put in as much effort as you did before you announced your resignation. This isn’t a time to slack off; your coworkers, clients, supervisors, and boss will notice if you do. It’s not a good look, and it’s definitely something that will come up if any one of them is called by future employers looking for references.
In your final days, stay productive and cordial with your teammates. Even if you truly can’t stand the sight of them, just think “I’ve made it this far, I can make it a few more days.” Nothing positive can come from lashing out, but it certainly can return to haunt you in the future.
You owe it to the next hire to have as smooth a transition as possible. Do this by tying up loose ends and finishing up as many projects as possible so they can have a fresh start.
Another great idea to help the next hire or the people taking over your current clients and projects is creating a transition document. In it, you can put contact information for clients, summaries on projects, passwords for different accounts, step-by-step instructions on how to do certain tasks, and anything you wish you knew when you got the job. Even if you don’t train the next hire yourself, you can still give them a good place to start on their first day. This act will certainly put you in everyone’s good graces and they will continue to be grateful for your work even after you’re gone.
How to Quit Your Job with Grace
No matter how angry you are now, try to think about all the positives the job has given you. Even if it just filled a spot on your resume, showed you that this wasn’t what you want to do in the future, or helped you put food on the table, try to remember these when you start to get frustrated. Remember, you’re not staying composed for them; you’re staying composed for you. Even if they don’t deserve your kindness, leaving on good terms without burning bridges gives you a better chance in the long term at getting more jobs in the future. You don’t need an angry reference on your application when the next job asks you to speak to your previous employer.
So when you’re figuring out how to quit your job, do so with patience and grace.
Use wine night with the girlfriends to complain instead of feeding the office gossip chain.
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Author, Artist, Photographer.
Sarah Margaret is an artist who expresses her love for feminism, equality, and justice through a variety of mediums: photography, filmmaking, poetry, illustration, song, acting, and of course, writing.
She owns Still Poetry Photography, a company that showcases her passion for capturing poetic moments in time. Instead of poetry in motion, she captures visual poetry in fractions of a second, making cherished keepsakes of unforgettable moments.
She is the artist behind the Still Poetry Etsy shop, which houses her illustrations and bespoke, handmade items. She is the author of intricacies are just cracks in the wall, a narrative poetry anthology that follows a young woman discovering herself as she emerges from an abusive relationship.