Back To Career News

How to Quit Your Job Without Making Everyone Hate You

Topics:
The average worker has 12 jobs in the course of a career, which means that you can count on leaving a position about 12 times between the start of your working life and retirement. Ideally, most of those job changes will be voluntary, involving a jump to a better gig, with interesting new challenges and a bigger paycheck. But even if everything goes according to your best-laid plans, there's one hurdle you'll have to cross again and again in order to get to where you want to be in your career: you're going to have to quit your job.

The average worker has 12 jobs in the course of a career, which means that you can count on leaving a position about 12 times between the start of your working life and retirement. Ideally, most of those job changes will be voluntary, involving a jump to a better gig, with interesting new challenges and a bigger paycheck. But even if everything goes according to your best-laid plans, there’s one hurdle you’ll have to cross again and again in order to get to where you want to be in your career: you’re going to have to quit your job.

quit your job 

(Photo Credit: leesean/Flickr)

Hopefully, your imminent departure is bad news to your manager and colleagues – but no one likes to deliver bad news. The best approach to the problem is to treat your soon-to-be former colleagues like you’d like to be treated. In other words, be direct, respectful, and as helpful as you can be, without putting yourself in a bind.

Do You Know What You're Worth?

Here’s how:

1. Give the right amount of notice.

Two weeks is the standard amount of notice. Some career coaches will argue for longer if you’re more senior, suggesting notice equivalent to how much vacation time you’re allotted each year, for example – but this is tricky.

“If circumstances allow you to give your company a more generous notice period, should you?” asks Alison Green of Ask a Manager in a column at U.S. News. “The answer depends 100 percent on how your manager and your company operate. How have they handled other employees who resign? Are people shown the door immediately? Pushed out earlier than they would have otherwise planned to leave? If so, it’s safest to assume that the same may happen to you and give two weeks and nothing more.”

Of course, it’s possible that your boss has a track record of treating people well who provide more notice and thus make things easier, in which case, you might try to give more. But don’t put yourself in a spot where you’ll be in financial trouble if your boss surprises you with a cardboard box and a slammed door.

2. Put it in writing.

Yes, you need to resign formally, in writing, no matter how casual the tone at your workplace. Resignation letters are a chance to make sure everyone’s clear on what’s happening and when, and also to express your thanks for the opportunity. (Look at it this way: even if you hated the job, it got you to this next gig, right?)

To that end, your resignation letter should contain: the date, your last day at the office, and your resignation statement. Alison Doyle of About.com’s Job Searching site offers some good resignation letter examples.

3. Work with your manager to make an exit plan.

The goal of planning your resignation is to minimize the interpersonal fallout by making sure everyone involved gets as much of what they need from the interaction as possible. This might mean moving your last day, if the boss asks nicely and it’s possible for you to do so, or helping to train your replacement, if they have someone in mind to take over your duties on a temporary basis.

4. Leave the keys, actual and metaphorical, where your replacement can find them.

Make yourself a checklist of everything your permanent replacement will need when he or she gets there, including keys to your filing cabinet, names of people who head up various projects, and other useful information that would otherwise take weeks or months to figure out. While HR and your boss can handle some of the onboarding routine, like access to systems and information about facilities, you’re the only one who knows your job as well as you do. Help out the new you by leaving a map.

It’s the nice thing to do, but beyond that, people remember things like this. You could wind up building your network just by leaving your spot nicer than you found it.

5. Know that other people’s behavior is not your responsibility.

Remember what we said about delivering bad news? Well, it’s even worse receiving it. Sometimes, people don’t behave as well as they should when they’ve received a disappointment. If your boss becomes frosty or your old cubicle mate takes your departure personally, remember that their feelings and actions are not within your control. Be professional and courteous and treat everyone as you’d like to be treated – and then shrug it off and go on to the next phase of your career.

Tell Us What You Think

What’s the worst quit story you’ve ever heard (or experienced in person)? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
Read more from Jen

8
Leave a Reply

avatar
8 Comment threads
0 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
1 Comment authors
JackWonderingIfjessicaSamSong bird Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Sam
Guest
Sam

What to do when you are just volunteering somewhere and like it and with a sudden paid job offer out of state and have to start in 4 days, is it fine to give them 2 day notice while writing letter of thanks and such?

jessica
Guest
jessica

I really like your post. Awesome stuff. Keep sharing like this. Thanks….An awesome job portal is http://rightjobs.pk for finding Jobs In Pakistan.

jollycork
Guest
jollycork

As a recent retiree, after 45 years in the workforce, I would agree that you should be ready to accept just about anything that comes along from the employer you’re leaving. Some are gracious and professional but others feel shunned and lose all sense of decorum … which is often more of a reflection on them. Just a thought for those in leadership or ownership, perhaps some sort of policy in your business plan should be in place for ‘separations’ as employees do come and go. I could/would be able to return to all but one of my past employers… Read more »

Jack
Guest
Jack

Great article! In my personal experience, I have found two different approaches. It is important to feel the company out by casually bringing up others who have left, to see what Management’s reactions are. One company greatly appreciated a three-week phase out program where I left them in the best condition possible. It was a friendly environment. In another case, when I thought that would happen, the company wanted to cut me loose as quickly as possible. They considered resignation dishonorable in any case, even though I was difficult to replace and had a good relationship with management. Despite the… Read more »

WonderingIf
Guest
WonderingIf

I found this article a great help, but I know it’s talking about full-time jobs. What if you’re laid off and take a part-time job until you find a full-time job? I’m at a loss at what to do in that situation since I’ve been unemployed for quite some time.

around the block
Guest
around the block

It’s great that this article mentions the concept of being walked out immediately on giving notice. Though I think this happens far more often than most people realize. The American workplace is not always nice.

waiting
Guest
waiting

Well written article. Hope to apply the tips soon.

Song bird
Guest
Song bird

At my place of employment they make it very uncomfortable even if you are transferring to another department. Leadership actually become retalitative towards Management. I have seen Managers lose access to their computers, placed in a separate office, walked out by security and even called into a meeting to embarrass the individual in front of the Leadership team. So I appreciate this very well written article that suggest giving the minimum of two weeks. However, one thing that I would suggest is that you should follow the policy because some organizations like the one I work for, will penalize you… Read more »

What Am I Worth?

What your skills are worth in the job market is constantly changing.