How to Gracefully Resign From Your Job

July 9, 2020

"I'm handing in my notice."

Truth is, no matter how much you may obsess about quitting a job, imagining scenarios in which you leave for lunch and never come back, or in which you develop a very rare disease and are confined to your home for an indefinite amount of time, resigning is still a hard thing to do.

You can come up with a thousand scenarios in your mind-each with their preferred dialogue, and the highly sought after "mic drop" moment, where, in a moment of triumph, you let out everything you've been holding in, and get the last laugh. But, it's still uncomfortable.

As adults, you realize that your actions have consequences. A temper tantrum could cost you a reference for future employment, or the edge up on other candidates applying for the same position as you. Or worse yet, your future employer may know your old one. Stranger things have happened. It really is a small world.

In this case, like most, moms are right. You shouldn't burn your bridges. Even if you hate your boss, or hate the job. In our line of work, it seems like people really don't think about the way they sever ties. They simply stop showing up, turn off their phones, or block our calls. It's ironic, given that fact that, 90% of those individuals return looking for another job. But, we don't forget. It goes in your file, and your reputation takes a hit.

So, how do you resign gracefully? We understand that everyone isn't a right fit for every job, and that in other cases, people really just want a better position. But, there is a right way to do it. So, take notes.

  • Give a two weeks notice, if possible. It is standard to give at least two weeks notice to your boss when you want to quit. Sometimes a company contract or union agreement has different rules, so revisit them to ensure you leave properly. You can also check with human resources (HR) as to the proper procedure for quitting. However, you might consider leaving without giving two weeks notice if you are experiencing harassment, feel unsafe at work, or are otherwise so miserable that you cannot last two weeks.
  • Keep it positive, or neutral. There is no need to go into detail about what you hate about your job. Keep in mind that this employer might have to write you recommendations, or at least verify your employment history, during your job search. Therefore, you want to leave on a positive note.
  • Offer to help with the transition. Another way to leave on a positive note is to offer to help with the transition period before you leave. You might offer something specific. For example, you could say you are willing to train a new employee or help in whatever way is needed to lessen the effect of your departure from the company.
  • Write a resignation letter. Even though you told your boss in person, you need to follow this up with a formal resignation letter. Like your in-person resignation, keep the letter positive, or at least neutral. Do not go into detail about the reasons why you hate the job.

Keep these tips in mind as you consider to jump ship. You'll be glad you did!