How to Quit a Job Without Notice

A professional in an office setting, illustrating the decision to quit a job without notice.

Getty Images

Amanda Cardoso
Amanda Cardoso
April 24, 2024 at 4:39PM UTC

If you are thinking about quitting a job without notice, you're likely in an extreme situation—or, in the best case scenario, you've found a better opportunity and want to start immediately. Either way, you should know that storming toward your boss's office and screaming “I quit!” only works on TV.

In reality, while it's possible to leave without offering two weeks’ notice—you'll want to be as professional as possible to avoid damaging your reputation. Need guidance? Read on for some advice about how to quit a job without notice, and the most common excuses to do so. 

So, can you quit a job without notice?

Yes, as long as you are an at-will employee. In this type of arrangement, your employer can fire you at any time, and you have the same flexibility to resign whenever you please—even though it's common courtesy in the U.S. to provide two weeks' notice before leaving a job. 

That said, it's wise to check your contract “to ensure that you're not legally bound to give notice before you actually go through with it,” says Daivat Dholakia, VP of Operations at the tech company Essenvia, which provides regulatory MedTech solutions since 2018. “If you're in the clear, legally speaking, then quitting without notice is within your rights.”

Best excuses to quit a job without notice

Although you have the legal right to leave a job without notice, “it's generally frowned upon to quit without notice, unless you are in some kind of legitimate danger by staying in that position,” says Dholakia. Employers use your notice period to find a replacement, and to work on transferring your duties or projects to other employees. 

Here are some valid reasons to leave a job without notice:

  • Unsafe or hostile work environment

  • Personal or health problems

  • Family emergency (i.e. death, health crisis)

  • Being asked to do something unethical

There are also situations where you have reasonable reasons, but should still give notice if you can, such as:

  • Relocation (if you can't work remotely)

  • Lack of opportunities or recognition 

  • Better job offer at other company

You might even hear stories of employers firing people as soon as they give notice. It's not the norm, but it happens. If that's the case, you're justified in leaving without noticing as well.

How to quit a job without notice: 6 tips

So, you’ve decided you're quitting without notice. There are still some important steps to take. Namely, you can still try  to leave a positive impression, especially if your motive is not related to an unsafe work environment—plus, who knows, you may need your manager's recommendation in the future. 

“The business world is much smaller than you realize and burning bridges will eventually catch up with you,” says Dholakia. With that in mind, we've put together six crucial tips on how to quit without notice the right way:

1. Understand the risks

Before deciding to quit a job without notice, take some time to weigh your reasons to leave and the risks of following through with it. Keep in mind that it could end your relationship with the company for good, even if you do everything that's within your rights.

The employer may not want to vouch for you during your next job search, or you might become a persona non grata at said company—which means the doors would be closed if you ever decided you want to come back. Also take into consideration that quitting without notice can result in losing certain benefits, like unused paid vacation days.

But none of these should matter if you're leaving due to a family emergency, safety concerns, or ethical issues. It's more than OK to prioritize your and your loved ones' well-being. 

2. Communicate your decision

With or without a two weeks' notice, you should still try to communicate your decision professionally—ideally in person or through a resignation letter. The latter can be sent over email, and should include your last day at work and your reason for leaving.

It's crucial that your manager understands your situation so they know what to do moving forward and don't expect to have your services for more days than you're willing to stay. So, communicate clearly to avoid any misunderstandings. 

3. Be clear about your reasons

There's no need to share every thought in your mind—especially if you're leaving for personal reasons, or if you aren't that close to your boss. Still, you should offer a clear explanation for why you're leaving. This shows that you care and helps them understand your position a bit better.

4. Show respect

Again, most of the time, rage quitting is only a good idea in your daydreams. In the real world, it's better to be professional and respectful. A little politeness goes a long way and will make it a lot easier to keep doors open after quitting without notice.

Point out how sorry you are to leave on such short notice, and express gratitude for the opportunity and the time spent at the company. If you're resigning through email, save one to two sentences at the end of your letter for this purpose.

5. Offer to help with the transition

This is a good way to empathize with your boss's situation and show that it's not your intention to leave them in a tough spot. If you don't necessarily like your manager, do it for your colleagues! Use your last working hours to teach your responsibilities to someone else and make the transition smoother—they will certainly appreciate it.

6. Contact human resources for next steps

After resigning, you'll need to contact human resources. Ask about your final paycheck or any benefits you may be entitled to. If your contact information changed recently, provide them with your new email, phone number, and/or address.   

In some organizations, it's common practice for the HR department to schedule an exit interview where employees can share their experience and provide feedback. If that's the case at your company, be prepared.

Quitting a job without notice: Letter templates

It's time to communicate your decision, and you've chosen to send the resignation letter via email. Just in case you're missing the right words, here are two templates to guide you through it: 

#1 Resignation letter to quit without notice

Subject: Resignation

[Date]

Dear [Manager Name],

Please accept this letter as an official notification that I am resigning from my position as [position title] at [Company Name]. Due to [reason for your leaving], I must resign immediately and will not be able to provide two weeks’ notice. My last day will be [date of your last day]. 

Thank you so much for the support and the opportunity to work in this position for the past [time of employment]. I grew as a professional and I've learned [a few nice things your job teached you].  

I deeply apologize for the sudden change. I will be more than happy to help with the transition. 

Sincerely,

[Your Name]

[Phone Number]

[Email]

#2 Resigning letter to quit due health reasons

Subject: Resignation

[Date]

Dear [Manager Name],

Please accept this letter as an official notification that I am resigning from my position as [position title] at [Company Name]. After careful consideration and consultation with different medical professionals, we came to the conclusion that I must resign immediately to take care of my physical and mental health.  

My last day will be [date of your last day]. I sincerely apologize for the sudden change. This decision wasn't made easily as I have enjoyed working for [Company Name] and grew so much as a professional in the past [time of employment]. Thank you for the opportunity.

I am looking forward to helping with the transition to the best of my abilities.

Sincerely,

[Your Name]

[Phone Number]

[Email]

Quitting without notice: FAQs

Still not sure about quitting without notice? This Q&A might help clear things up.

Is it unprofessional to quit without notice?

That depends. It's not necessarily unprofessional if you provide a well-crafted resignation letter, explaining your reasons and offering your apologies to the manager. It's even better if you resign in a face-to-face conversation. But if you decide to just quit and walk away, then yes, it will be considered unprofessional.

What happens if you don't give two weeks’ notice?

Legally, if you're an at-will employee, nothing happens if you don't give a two weeks notice. It's within your rights to quit at any time. However, if your employment requires you to give notice, there may be consequences. To make sure that you don't have this obligation, check your contract first.

Should I feel guilty for quitting my job without notice?

You don't need to feel guilty for quitting your job without notice—especially if you have a valid reason to do so. Once again, just as your employer has the right to terminate your contract at any time, it's within your rights to quit a job whenever you choose. As long as you handle it professionally, there's no need to make this decision any heavier than it already is.

What are the consequences of quitting without notice?

When it comes to the consequences of quitting without notice, just keep in mind that you may be burning a bridge. Even if you play everything by the book, your former boss might not want to work together again. You could also risk losing your benefits and/or part of your check. So, make sure to weigh the pros and cons.

Why women love us:

  • Daily articles on career topics
  • Jobs at companies dedicated to hiring more women
  • Advice and support from an authentic community
  • Events that help you level up in your career
  • Free membership, always