How To Resign From a Job Gracefully

Quitting A Job Gracefully - How To Resign From A Job
If you’re wondering how to resign from a job, I’m going to cover everything you need to know (based on my experience as a recruiter).

These are the exact steps to follow when you resign from a job to make sure you leave a great last impression and quit gracefully and professionally.

How To Resign From a Job

1. Write a brief resignation letter

When leaving your current job, you should hand your direct manager a formal resignation letter.

Your resignation letter should include the following components:

  1. A clear statement of your intent to resign from your current position
  2. A brief message thanking the employer for the opportunity to work for them and offering to assist in a smooth transition

You can also include a simple, concise reason for your departure if you wish to do so, such as being offered a career-advancing opportunity or relocating to a new city.

For resignation letter samples, I recommend this PDF template from Northeastern University.

Or, this article from Harvard Business Review.

Employers keep your written resignation letter on record forever, so be sure to be polite and positive!

Don’t be overly positive, though. And don’t feel the need to provide too much detail, including details about why you’re leaving.

NOTE: Some templates online have a place to tell your boss which company you’re joining next. I don’t recommend this or think it’s necessary.

When you talk to your boss in person and deliver the letter, you can share where you’re going next if you’d like. But it’s not necessary to include this information in the actual resignation letter.

2. Decide what notice period to give

Most employers also ask for a two-week notice period. If at all possible, you should agree to honor this when you quit your job.

Consult your employment contract to see how much notice your particular employer asks for.

Providing adequate notice ensures the company can make a smooth transition and keeps you from burning any bridges.

Even if you never want to return to this current employer, you never know when one of your colleagues or managers will switch to a different company that interests you in the future. Always avoid burning bridges with coworkers and employers when possible.

3. Make sure you’ve thought about your decision

Don’t resign or give your two weeks’ notice out of anger or short-term frustration in the heat of the moment.

Quitting a job should be a well-thought-out decision. Think about what you’re doing and consider your financial situation.

Make sure you’re not reacting at the moment and doing something you’ll regret.

To be clear, I’m all for quitting a job if it’s a bad situation or if you have a better opportunity.

I’ve personally quit two jobs with NOTHING lined up and it worked out fine both times.

(One time I traveled for a month and came back to find my first job as a recruiter! And the next time, I quit my last job as a recruiter to go into business for myself!)

But just make sure you’ve thought about the decision.

4. Schedule a specific time to talk to your boss (in person)

To schedule a time to speak with your manager, send an email.

Keep it simple, such as the following:

Hi <NAME>,

Can we talk for 15 minutes this afternoon? I was hoping to speak with you in private today.

Don’t bring up your resignation at the end of another meeting or conversation that was already scheduled with your boss (like a weekly check-in).

Have a separate meeting to discuss this. Deciding to quit a job is important and deserves a separate meeting. The message will be better received by your boss if you follow this approach.

5. Deliver your printed letter of resignation and tell your manager that you’re giving your notice

Once you’ve printed out your brief resignation letter and scheduled a time to meet with your boss, it’s time to officially quit your job.

Keep the conversation professional and positive. This isn’t a time to vent, let out frustration, etc.

Simply tell your manager that you’re giving notice of resignation and hand them the letter that you’ve typed up. Your letter should be typed and printed, not handwritten.

6. Be open to having a casual conversation with your direct supervisor after giving your two weeks’ notice

If you have a good relationship with your boss, they may ask what you’re going to be doing in your next opportunity, etc.

It’s worth sticking around for a few minutes (if your boss requests) to discuss your future plans and to thank them for any help/mentoring they gave you, and for the opportunity in general.

Even if you’ve given thanks in your formal letter, it’s still nice to verbalize it to your boss face to face as you quit your job.

A great manager will be excited to hear about your future path and choices!

This is a chance to leave a favorable final impression on your manager, allowing you to keep in touch and maintain a positive relationship.

Your boss may work for a different company in the future and may be able to help you land a job.

You may want to use them as a reference, too.

There are so many reasons to leave your current job on great terms whenever possible. Those are just a few examples.

Just don’t let your manager persuade you to stay once you’ve made your decision to quit! There are quite a few reasons that you should not accept a counter offer.

7. Wait to share the news with your coworkers until you’ve told your direct manager

It’s a great idea to keep in touch with coworkers even when resigning from your job, but don’t make the mistake of telling your coworkers about your plans to quit before giving the formal letter of resignation to your boss.

News travels fast and people LOVE to gossip. Telling even one or two friends that you’re planning on leaving opens up the risk of them telling one or two other people, who then spread the news further!

This is especially true in a small or mid-sized organization but I think it’s important advice in any organization.

If news of your plan to resign gets out before you personally tell your boss, it’ll leave them feeling betrayed and hurt and will make you look extremely unprofessional.

The only guaranteed way to avoid this is: Resist the urge to tell your work friends until you’ve told your boss.

After you give your formal two-week notice and hand in your resignation letter, you can tell people without this risk.

8. Hand off any pending/incomplete work to your coworkers

Your team and boss will appreciate it if you take the time to hand off your work properly when you quit your job.

Don’t let them guilt you into staying longer than the standard notice period or doing extra work beyond your normal hours. Do try to ensure that your team is prepared to pick up your workload after you leave the job.

9. Attend an exit interview if requested

As you tie up loose ends and complete your final week or two in your job, you may be asked to attend one or more exit interviews.

This is where the manager or someone from HR will ask you basic questions about your experience in the role and potentially your reasons for leaving. They’ll ask if there’s any feedback you can offer the company.

It’s a good idea to attend your exit interview to maintain positive relationships with everyone at the company. But don’t share too much.

I recommend being positive but answering briefly. Don’t go into too much detail. This isn’t a chance to badmouth the company or vent. You’ve already left, and any problems in the organization are not your problem now!

So I recommend answering in a professional manner but avoiding giving too much detail. Keep your reason for why you quit the job to one or two sentences.

For example:

“I have a new job lined up that offers a higher job title and pay, and I simply could not say no to the job offer.”

10. Be strategic about timing your resignation

I’d suggest doing this all in the afternoon on a Friday so you don’t have to go back to your desk after.

Other people suggest doing it in the morning to get the “jitters” out of the way.

You can decide what’s best for you.

The last time I quit a job I gave my two-weeks notice after lunch.

You may want to consider which day is best as your last workday, too.

A reader on LinkedIn offered this great advice when I brought up the topic of how to resign from a job:

“Be strategic about your last day… For instance, in my past role, if I stayed through at least the 1st of the following month, I received health care for that entire month (versus losing it immediately by leaving at the end of the month).”

11. Get contact info and stay in touch with former colleagues and managers

Your network is the easiest and fastest way to find jobs in the future… IF you stay in touch with people and make an effort to maintain relationships.

(Contacting someone after two years of silence to ask for a favor is NOT networking and is probably going to get you zero results).

So as a final step, think about who you want to keep in touch with and get their contact info.

Connect with them on LinkedIn if you haven’t yet, or exchange emails or phone numbers.

Each job you leave can be a boost to your network if you follow the steps above and quit your job gracefully and professionally.

“Employers Don’t Give Me Two Weeks Notice If They Fire Me. Why Should I?”

I get it… it’s not fair.

I’ve personally given a two-week notice properly and professionally… and was forcibly walked out of the building mid-day as if I had stolen from the company or been fired.

It was humiliating and felt awful.

It’s not fair and it’s not right that companies request a two-week notice but don’t hold themselves to the same standard, or even guarantee they’ll accept your notice!

But here’s what I’ll say:

You can do what you feel is right, or you can do what’s best for your career. The advice above is how to resign from a job in the way that’s best for your career.

And that includes providing adequate notice before moving on to take your next job offer.

Unless you were very badly mistreated by a company, I recommend giving a proper notice period with your formal letter of resignation and doing what you can to ensure a smooth transition as you leave the role.

That’s how to quit your job immediately but professionally.

How To Resign From A Job Gracefully: Quick Review

  1. Make sure you’ve thought about your decision and are not resigning impulsively.
  2. Schedule a specific time to talk to your boss in person.
  3. Walk in with a printed letter of resignation and tell them that you’re giving your two weeks’ notice.
  4. Remain in the room for a few minutes to thank your manager for the opportunity and tell them you hope to keep in touch (you never know when you’ll need a good reference or what company this manager will end up working for).
  5. Submit your notice to your boss before you share the news with any of your work friends.
  6. Be strategic about timing your resignation. Think about the best day and time to resign based on your exact situation.
  7. Stay in touch with past colleagues so you can network and hear about opportunities in the future.

Note: If you’re quitting a job but haven’t found another one yet, be sure to check out our new job hunting resources:

 

About the Author Biron Clark

Biron Clark is a former Executive Recruiter who has worked with hundreds of job seekers, reviewed thousands of resumes and LinkedIn profiles, and recruited for top venture-backed startups and Fortune 500 companies. He has been advising job seekers since 2012 to think differently in their job search and land high-paying, competitive positions.

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