If you hate your job and you're ready to quit, or if you’re constantly wondering, “should I quit my job?”, and you're ready to pull the trigger — it’s time to figure out a game plan for the actual process of putting in your resignation. It's a little more complicated (and less dramatic) than saying "I quit!" and exiting the office.
Just like it took you several steps to get up and running at a new job, it takes a few steps to exit as well (that is, if you want to leave a good impression).
This list breaks down the process, step-by-step for a graceful exit:
1. Save your stuff.
Before telling anyone that you're quitting, save any important documents, emails or other information in the case that you're asked to leave immediately. Some companies have policies where if you're leaving to work for a competitor, you don't have two weeks — you have until the end of the day to clear out. That means turning over your company equipment (computer, phone and any other work property). It also means losing access to your work email, share drive or any other cloud or physical storage spaces.
2. Write down what you want to say.
Quitting any job can be nerve-wracking, even when you can't wait to leave it. One way to lessen the stress is to plan out what you want to say beforehand. You'll want to consider what to say if your boss wants to make a counteroffer. Or, you might want to rehearse a graceful way to say why you're leaving your position if she asks. It could be as simple as saying "an opportunity was offered to me that I couldn't refuse." While you're imagining this conversation, think of what you want to leave your boss with. If you're hoping to use her as a reference someday, don't use your resignation as the time to let your feelings out about your awful co-worker, or her lack of leadership.
3. Schedule a meeting to give your resignation notice.
After thinking over what you plan to say, send your boss a note via email, Slack or in person along the lines of, "I need to schedule time to talk to you before the end of the day today. It shouldn't take more than 30 minutes. Can I put something on your calendar?" This type of phrasing lets your supervisor know that it's a more formal, one-on-one conversation than if you just had a quick question.
During the meeting itself, let your supervisor know that you accepted a position elsewhere (or are leaving to freelance, or to go to grad school, or for a sabbatical — whatever it is) and this is your two weeks notice. Your boss may say, "so sad to hear you're leaving!" and leave it at that. However, there is a chance that your company might want the chance to counteroffer. Now, that's where your planning comes in. Since you already jotted down your possible responses, you can offer one up rather than feel like you're on the spot and scrambling for something to say.
Give two weeks of notice.
Make sure that you give your boss at least two weeks of notice that you're leaving. You don't want to leave them high and dry without a replacement for you. Giving two weeks is usually the standard — anything less than that is deemed disrespectful and you might burn bridges. Of course, the more time, the better.
4. Put it in writing.
After the meeting, send an email to your supervisor (and possibly your HR manager) with your formal resignation. An example email would be:
Hi/Dear [Your Boss’ Name],
To follow up our conversation earlier today, this email is formal notification that I am resigning from my position as [position title] at [company name]. My last day will be [X date].
Thank you so much for the opportunity to [learn, grow, be a part of X team, or whatever compliment that works for your situation]. For future reference, my personal email is [email] for any communication after I leave [company name].
Of course, you can add more detail to this email to make it more personal. And some companies require formal resignation letters. That's something your boss might mention in your meeting, or, you could ask your HR representative afterward.
5. Prepare for your exit and say goodbye.
Your company’s HR management team may ask you to do an exit interview. This is your chance to give the company an idea of what would have made you stay versus leave. For many companies, your interviewer will follow a script that helps protect the company from future litigation (think questions such as "were you ever sexually harassed?"). You might not get the chance to air your real feelings about the company culture, work environment or your job itself. It's up to you how honest to be. If you want to leave on good terms, keep things professional and development focused. If you had true gripes about specific, fixable aspects of the company, perhaps you find a way to express it to your interviewer in a way that doesn't sound like a litany of complaints. At the end of the day, it's whatever impression you want to leave the company.
Next, it's your actual farewell. Use your last week to get coffee, lunch or drinks with your co-workers. Connect with everyone you want to stay in touch with during your last days. It could mean sending an email with your personal contact details to those you'd like to stay friends with or keep in your network. If your company has the culture where exiting employees send a mass email on their last day, write up a draft of your own to have ready to go on your last day.
6. Update your resume, social media and network.
If you’ll be job searching once you leave, you’ll want to be certain your LinkedIn profile is up-to-date, and you may want to try to beef up your LinkedIn Endorsements if you don’t have many.
While you might be so over tweaking your resume (especially if you just landed a new job), adding your final bullets and new job title now rather than down the road can help you capture information while it's still fresh.
Finally, let your network know you left your job! You never know what connections will come in handy in your new position (or who has open jobs if you're looking). Let people know via social media, email or in-person.
If you quit with no new job lined up...
Make sure you read up on how to prepare for an interview and study the most common interview questions. Whether you’re asked, “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” or “Why should we hire you?” or your interviewer simply begins the discussion with “tell me about yourself,” you don’t want to be caught off guard.