Thinking of leaving your current job for a new opportunity? Take a moment and consider some steps you can take to resign the right way, without leaving any bridges burned, or suffering from major regrets six months into your new gig.
In this article, I’m going to walk through how to quit your job… the right way. We’ll start by understanding whether or not quitting is the right move for you. Then, we’ll talk about the standard two weeks’ notice, plus I’ll share with you a sample resignation letter template that you can take and use for your own career move. Last, I’ll cover steps you can take to wind down your workload.
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Is this the right move?
Let’s discuss some ways you can explore the question of whether or not quitting is the right move. I recommend you start by create a list of pros and cons for your current role. What do you like? What do you not like? Try to objectively do the same — a pros and cons list — for each of the new opportunities you might be considering.
Use communities like Glassdoor and Reddit to get a feel for what current and former employees have said about the culture and the company as a whole. Go to Google News and search the name of the company and see if anything pops up that maybe energizes or increases your excitement about the opportunity. Or, maybe see if there are aspects of the company you didn’t know or issues you might not have heard about.
Also, make sure you aren’t rushing into a decision. Are you settling with the new job role you are taking? Or, are you planning on using it as a stepping stone to something else in the future? If so, are there other ways you can get there without leaving your current role? A 2017 poll by Accountemps of 1,000 workers found that nearly 25% of workers who quit their job had regrets about the decision. Don’t get into the “grass is always greener” mindset. Take the time to really slow down and consider what it will mean to quit and start a new job.
Two Weeks’ Notice
Let’s go ahead and address the obvious first step to quitting — give at least two weeks’ notice to your boss. Check your employee handbook, or employment contract if you signed one, and confirm the company’s policy for quitting or resigning. Your company may ask for more or less than two weeks, but two weeks is the norm. Don’t feel obligated to stay longer than that.
Do you have to give any notice? No, but in most situations, it’s a nice thing to do so your employer isn’t left with a gap in their workforce. Also, it might not be viewed well by your new employer if they find out you quit without giving any notice. Also, make sure you don’t spill the beans to anyone else besides your manager FIRST. The worst thing is to have the word of your decision reaching your manager before you’ve had a chance to control the narrative and discussion surrounding your exit.
Side Tip — if you are working on selecting a start date for a new role, try and build in a few extra days off so you can reset and regroup. It can be an emotional process to leave a job, so having some time to get your head right can be helpful. But, sometimes you can’t make that happen, whether financially or otherwise.
The best way to give notice to your employer is to prepare a formal resignation letter. It helps put your company on notice and gives your manager something they can pass along to their boss and HR. Your company’s HR team might even end up asking for a resignation letter or confirmation notice of some kind. Also, I have found that having something printed, or that you have saved as a draft in your PERSONAL email account to send to your manager or boss just after the meeting, is helpful to have something else that you mention. It can be awkward, so a letter assists with the smooth delivery of the decision. Also, it puts in writing the conversation you are having with your current manager and avoids any confusion as to when you first told them of your decision.
I’ve shared a straightforward, simple resignation letter that I’ve used in the past which you can download from this link and use for your resignation.
Surprise & Delight as You Leave
When I worked at the Apple Store as a retail employee, one of our mottos was to “surprise and delight” the visitors. I encourage this same mentality as you enter into the final days of your soon-to-be former job.
During your two weeks notice period, think of ways you can leave your role in a better position than when you came. Winding down your current role is a powerful tool that gives you major kudos on the way out and helps to preserve relationships in the long run. It’s not necessary, but it doesn’t hurt as a nice surprise for your manager or company to know that you are still working hard on your way out the door… even if it isn’t too much work.
Start by creating a list of your projects, responsibilities, or any other duties. Include what you’ve been working on, descriptions for each of the projects or tasks, and, if possible, the next steps that should be taken. It is also helpful to include who else was working on or involved in the project. If you are leaving a role and your manager has no idea your decision to leave is coming, they might be thrown off a bit. After they’ve had time to process things, they’ll likely be thinking about how to ensure there’s a smooth transition to the person coming into the role after you. Is this necessary for your to worry about? No, but, again, it can help set you apart and leave the door open in the future should you be in a situation where you are working with or even applying for another job with your former manager or former co-workers. Leaving your role in a better position than when you started is a sure way to leave on a high note and with a positive reputation, despite anything else that might be going on.
Think about how you can communicate your resignation to your co-workers. Again, make sure your manager is the first person you tell. Otherwise, you can consider drafting an email to send out to select teams or individuals, posting a message in Slack, or in-person, if possible. Lastly, go ahead and prepare a LinkedIn post to share the news. It’s not important to blast about your new role or employer; but, instead, focus on reflection and a spirit of celebration for all that you’ve learned in your current role, the people you’ve interacted with, and the overall growth provided to you by the company.
Leaving a Toxic Job
I recognize that some or all of what we’ve discussed may change depending upon whether or not your current role is a positive or even mildly tolerable experience. Regardless of how terrible it might seem now, try your best to leave with good vibes and by taking the higher road on the way out. But, if you are truly in a toxic job environment, feel free to modify or skip any of these recommendations.
I would always recommend that anyone avoid the desire to quit over the loudspeaker and broadcast it on social media. I believe there’s a reasonable middle ground somewhere! Doing the minimum necessary is always okay, especially during what can be a stressful and draining time of your career.
What was your experience quitting a job and starting somewhere new? Share in the comments below and let’s discuss!