How to quit your job gracefully

Published on: Nov 3, 2014

Although one employee was inspired to quit her job through the dramatic dance routine, a less explosive exit is likely to create a smoother transition if you’re planning to leave your job. Other times it may just feel like you are a big fish in a small pond, in which case it may be time to leave. At minimum, putting in your resignation notice should be a professional courtesy so you don’t burn any bridges on your way out.

There’s always a chance you’ll cross paths with your employer in the future, seek a recommendation from the firm or even want to return sometime down the road. Taking a few steps can make quitting your job at one firm to transition to a more lucrative position a smooth process:

Speak to your boss first

Scheduling a private, in-person meeting with your boss to discuss your decision to resign demonstrates respect and professionalism. Prepare your talking points prior to the meeting — possibly including the reasons you are resigning, although you are not required to share this information.

If you do decide to divulge your reason for leaving, be honest and gracious. Be clear about why you are quitting your job and note some positive experiences you had working at the organisation. Never use this meeting as an opportunity to vent.

Give adequate notice

Review any documents you may have signed concerning required notice for resignation. If none is specified, give the standard four weeks’ notice — more if you are able. Your employer will appreciate knowing far enough in advance for a new employee with similar expertise to be transitioned into your role. Ideally, agree to stay on until a replacement is found. If that’s not possible, leave comprehensive notes for your successor.

Be professional

This should go without saying, but an aggressive or otherwise emotional exit will only come back to hurt you. Such actions may impede your ability to receive a recommendation in the future.

Work productively through your final day. Complete unfinished projects and ensure that colleagues can find any files or other resources they'll need after you’re gone.

Decline a counteroffer

If your employer presents you with a counteroffer that tempts you, be aware of all the potential consequences. It’s generally best to politely refuse a counteroffer, as reasons for quitting a job usually go beyond salary, and more money likely won’t solve underlying problems. 

Once you’ve made a decision about quitting your job, it rarely pays to do so in an emotional or cavalier way. Knowing how to quit your job is just as important as the decision itself.

This post was adapted from “Quitting your job gracefully,” which originally appeared on the Robert Half Finance & Accounting Blog.