If you leave your job the wrong way, you’ll set a bunch of booby traps for later.
What if your new job doesn’t work out and you need to go crawling back? Worse, enemies in the work world can spread bad news about you.
That can seriously damage your career.
One of our users, Nikos, had this to say:
[I used] a nice template I found on Zety. My resume is now
one page long, not three. With the same stuff.
Here’s how to quit a job gracefully:
Make Sure Quitting is the Best Choice Don’t Tell Coworkers Quit in Person Give Two Weeks Notice Write a Letter of Resignation Set Your Employer Up for Success Write a Goodbye Email to Coworkers Don’t Trash-Talk When You Quit Your Job Clean Up Money Details
1 Make Sure Quitting is the Best Choice
“Why are you quitting?”
“Why did you leave your last job?”
“Yikes! I made a mistake!”
You may face those questions when quitting a job. The first are from employers. The last is from yourself.
Before you quit, make sure it’s for the right reasons.
Then tell the best one to present and future boss:
Best Reasons for Quitting a Job
You found another job that pays more or is more in line with your career goals. Health. You or a family member has an illness, or your current job is unhealthy physically or emotionally. Schedule. Your work schedule is tough (nights, weekends). You want a change of pace but your current company can’t help. Education. Going back to school is a legit reason for resigning from a job. Family. You want to spend more time with family. You asked your employer for flex time or a work-from-home deal, but they said no. Career change. You want a different type of job and your employer can’t provide it. . You or your family are moving to a different city, state, or country. Relocation Need a change. If the other reasons to resign from a job don’t fit, just say, “It’s time for me to move on.”
Pro Tip: Look before you leap, then—don’t leap! Have a better offer in hand before you quit. You’ll save 3–6 months of unemployment and job search stress.
Working up to a career change? We’ve got a resume guide for that:
Career Change Resume: Sample and Complete Guide
Don’t tell coworkers you’re quitting
before you tell your boss.
And saying, “Don’t tell anyone I told you,” doesn’t work.
Because they’ll tell that to
everyone they tell.
And soon everyone will know.
Mum’s the word until you’ve had “the talk.”
Pro Tip: Did someone find out you’re quitting? Don’t panic. Tell your boss fast before he finds out through the grapevine.
Need to find another job but fast? See our guide:
30 Best Job Search Sites & How to Use Them to Find Employment Fast
“Don’t hire her.”
You don’t want your ex-boss saying that to future prospects.
Don’t quit by phone or email!
Quitting in person can make you clammy.
But it’s the only way to do it right.
How to Tell Your Boss You’re Quitting
Be polite. Don’t burn bridges. Don’t diss the company or department. Pick a few things to thank them for. Give them a reason that shows you must quit.
Need an example of what to say when quitting a job? Here you go:
Best Way to Quit a Job Example
Here’s a sample script for how to tell your boss you’re leaving:
You: Hi Tim, thank you for meeting with me.
Boss: Sure. What’s on your mind?
You: Well, I’m planning to give my two week’s notice tomorrow.
Boss: Oh no! What’s going on?
You: Well, I’ve had some great opportunities here. You’re the kindest boss I’ve ever had, but I’ve found another job that pays more and fits better with my career goals. I’ve already accepted the offer.
Boss: I’m so sorry to hear that. Is there anything we can do to change your mind?
You: My mind is made up, but working here has been such a great opportunity for me. Not only did it pay the bills, but I learned a ton about content marketing...
That’s how to tell your boss you quit.
Be polite, but firm.
Don’t go into detail on why the job is terrible, who you hated working with, or why the pay stinks.
How to Quit a Job Over Email
Do not quit a job by email. You can send your letter of resignation in an email after you resign in person. But quitting a job in an email is classless and unprofessional. When writing a 2-week notice email, be polite, professional, and complimentary.
How to Quit a Job Over the Phone
Do not quit a job by phone. Unless you work remotely, quit in person. If you do work remotely, be polite and professional. Mention a few things you loved about the job. Then give a concrete reason why you have to quit.
Pro Tip: What if they make a counteroffer when you quit? Be ready for what you’ll say. Would more money fix the problem? If so, maybe you should ask for a raise first.
Wondering how to quit a job you hate? Do you need to quit? Are there alternatives? See our guide:
I Hate My Job. I Hate My Boss. Here's What to Do *Now*
How much notice should you give?
At least two weeks.
Anything less will burn the bridge.
Anything more will fireproof it.
Because even if your boss says, “Two weeks is plenty,” he’ll be grateful for the offer.
Here’s an example of what to say when you quit your job with more than two weeks notice:
What to Say When You Quit Your Job Example [Extra Notice]
I know we’re in the middle of a big project. The timing is terrible. I don’t want to hurt the department. I’m giving two months’ notice to make this a smooth transition.
Your boss won’t soon forget that. If you ever need anything, you’re in.
How to Quit a Job You Just Started
It’s not good to quit a job you just started. If you
must, do it in person, and have a good reason ready. Stay positive. Don’t trash-talk the position. Say what you loved about it, but give a reason for quitting that’s beyond your control.
How to Quit Your Job Immediately
If you must quit your job without notice, do it in person. Tell your boss you’ll be leaving immediately. If the reason is a serious medical emergency or major life event, explain it. Otherwise, skip the details and just say you have to leave.
Pro Tip: Need to know how to quit a job without 2 weeks’ notice? If there’s any way to stay the extra time, do it. Only quit immediately if you can’t find another way.
Before quitting a job, get your LinkedIn profile up to snuff. See our guide:
99 LinkedIn Profile Tips: Background Photo, Headline, Summary & More
5 Write a Letter of Resignation
What do you say in a letter of resignation?
You don’t want to blow this.
Do it wrong and you could hurt your future self.
Do it right and they’ll remember you—fondly. If you ever need your job back (or a reference) you’ll be set.
How to Write a Letter of Resignation
Say you’re resigning. Give the date of your last day. Say something positive about the company or job. Offer to help make the change as smooth as possible.
This sample resignation letter does it right:
Dear Ms. Clemson,
I’m writing to tell you I’m resigning from Appity Worldwide, effective one month from today.
This decision wasn’t easy. The last three years have grown my skills and talents and opened up a world of opportunity.
Thank you for your kind guidance as I grew into this role. I foresee a bright future for the company. Please let me know anything I can do to ensure a smooth transition.
Your boss will be so sad to see you go. If you need help in the future, ask and you’ll receive.
Pro Tip: What if you hate your job? Do you still have to say something nice? No. But you’ll burn less bridges if you do. Don’t peace out in a snit.
Want to quit your job with the best 2-weeks notice letter you can? See our guide:
Letter of Resignation: Sample Two Weeks Notice Letter to Quit in Style
6 Set Your Employer Up for Success
“We’d hire her back in a heartbeat.”
You want your employer to say that.
Make the shift as smooth as silk.
Work hard to the end. As my swim coach used to say, “Swim it to the wall.” Train your replacement so he can do the job with ease. Organize your files to make things easy to find. Offer to be in touch for questions and help after you leave. Offer to keep answering work emails for a month or even two.
Do that, and your boss will give you a reference that makes you look like solid gold.
Pro Tip: Always ask for a reference when you quit your job. Give it a few days before you ask. If you haven’t left your employer holding the bag, she should be happy to do it.
Job hunting? You might need to write a “Letter of Interest” before you quit. See our guide:
How to Write a Letter of Interest [Complete Guide & 15+ Examples]
When making a resume in our builder, drag & drop bullet points, skills, and auto-fill the boring stuff. Spell check?
Check. Start building . professional resume template here for free
When you’re done,
will score your resume and tell you Zety’s resume builder exactly how to make it better. 7 Write a Goodbye Email to Coworkers
Help your career.
Write a goodbye email to coworkers to show respect.
Here’s how to write a farewell email they’ll remember:
Stay short. Use email—not paper. Send personal emails—not group emails. Say something positive about them. Don’t brag about you or your plans. Say you’d like to stay in touch. Include copious contact info.
Here’s a sample goodbye email to coworkers:
As you know, I’m leaving my position here at Roff & Hedinger. My last day is July 15th.
I’m excited for the future, but I wanted to tell you how much I’ve valued working with you.
Without your skills and insights, the team would never have achieved 3.5 million readers per month. You really helped me turn my so-so skill set into something I am proud of.
I’d love to keep in touch. Here’s my contact info...
They’ll remember you in a good way—and that’s good for your career!
Pro Tip: Ask for references from a few key coworkers. If you can’t get a reference from the boss, a recommendation from an influential team member can help.
Need more tips to write a good email you can send to coworkers before you quit? See our guide:
Goodbye Email to Coworkers Sample & Why You Need It
8 Don’t Trash-Talk When You Quit Your Job
“I want to warn you about your new employee.”
Wow. Nightmare, right?
But it can happen—especially if you diss your old employer.
Don’t talk negatively:
To coworkers before or after you quit To your old employer as you quit On social media about your old employer To your new employer about your old one To your new coworkers about your old job
Because negative talk makes
you look negative. Even if you’re fully justified, you’ll make them doubt you.
Use these examples of what to say when you quit instead of trash-talking:
What to Say to Stay Positive Examples
To old boss: You’ve taught me so much about graphic design, I really appreciate everything you’ve done for me. To new boss: I loved working there, but this job will help me grow my skills. To old coworkers: There were a lot of great things about working here. I’d come back in a heartbeat under the right circumstances. To new coworkers: A lot about that job was really good. But I’m happy to be with my new team and I’m excited about what we’re working on. On social media: Started a new phase of my career today! So excited to be working at XYZ Company!
All those people will think, “Wow, she’s such a good person.” And that’s the goal, right? Even if you hate your job!
Pro Tip: Wondering how to quit your job and travel? Save money first, and vacation days. Stay with locals. And pick safe countries with a low cost of living.
Beware the resume gap if you’re quitting your job to travel! Plug gaps with our guide:
How to Explain Gaps in Employment in a Resume/Cover Letter/Interview
This will get you.
If you don’t sew up the details, you
will wish you had.
When you quit your job, make sure to handle:
Your last paycheck. Know when you can pick it up. And know if there’s another coming. Don’t find out two years from now they owe you money. Your vacation days. Do vacations vanish when you quit? Should you take them before you give your notice? Look up HR’s policy on this. Your benefits. Does your 401k roll over to your next job? What about healthcare? Don’t walk into a medical buzzsaw. Company property. Return it. Computers, phones, carrying cases—it doesn’t belong to you. Don’t be accidentally dishonest.
Take care of all the little things
before you quit. Don’t give yourself one more headache than you need.
Pro Tip: Will you need access to any files after you go? Consider making copies in case you get locked out. But make sure that doesn’t break the law.
Should you have a personal website before quitting a job? You should. See our guide:
How to Make a Personal Website That Helps You Find a Job ❰Tutorial❱
Plus, a great cover letter that matches your resume will give you an advantage over other candidates. You can write it in our
Here's what it may look like: cover letter builder here.
cover letter templates and start writing. Key Takeaway
Here’s how to quit a job gracefully:
Keep quiet. Don’t tell coworkers you plan to quit before you tell your boss. Quit in person. Don’t quit by email or by phone. Your employer will appreciate your professionalism. Give two weeks’ notice. More is better. Don’t leave your boss in the lurch. Write a letter of resignation. Turn it in after you quit in person. Say something positive about the job—even if you hated it.
Still not sure how to quit your job? What scares you most? Did you write a really great resignation letter that you’d like to share with us? Leave a comment! We’d be happy to reply!