Handing in your resignation can be daunting. But with the right approach, it doesn’t have to be a stressful interaction.
In early 2021, U.S. employees began resigning en masse in an unprecedented movement dubbed “The Great Resignation.” Over 47 million Americans quit their jobs for a range of reasons, including limited career progression, hostile work environments, and persistent job dissatisfaction.
If you’re in a similar situation, it’s natural — and healthy — to decide to seek work elsewhere. Telling your boss you’re quitting isn’t easy or comfortable, but it’s a step you must take to move on to greener pastures.
Millions of people have done it before you. You’ve got this — and we can lend a helping hand.
Should you stay, or should you go?
Before you tell your boss you want to quit, take a step back and evaluate the pros and cons of leaving. You may realize you’re better off staying in your current position until you’re more equipped to move on or have another position lined up. Here are a few things to consider before finalizing the decision:
Reasons to quit a job
- Toxic work culture: A supportive environment where colleagues motivate and bring out the best in each other is essential for advancement. A hostile atmosphere, on the other hand, is detrimental to career progress and mental health. If team members and supervisors constantly discourage you, it may be best to find work elsewhere.
- Health: If your job harms your mental and physical health, it’s in your best interest to leave. However, if you have recurring health issues that hinder your ability to be fully productive, you may be able to find a solution with your current boss for temporary leave or improved working hours. If they’re not accommodating, though, you can find a workplace that cares about your needs.
- Salary expectations: If you've spent months — or even years — asking for a deserved raise or a promotion but haven't received it, you're stuck in stagnancy. Not only does this waste precious time, but it limits career development. If another employer offers these to you, it's best to take the new job.
- New opportunities: Career growth isn’t just about increasing paychecks. Monotony impedes improvement. You could benefit from a new position or career change if your existing company can’t offer stimulating tasks and responsibilities to grow your skillset and experience.
Reasons to stay at a job
- Minor bumps: Small businesses and startups often have regular ups and downs. Many wonderful weeks could follow a few frantic months — that's just the nature of a young company. If your job sounds like this, you may want to hold on until the company finds stability. You might be glad you stayed in the long run.
- No concrete future plans: Looking ahead doesn't mean you need to have multiple job offers on the table. But you do need a contingency plan for the short term. This could include freelancing gigs or part-time work. But if you don’t know how you’ll pay the bills between jobs, it might not be the best time to leave.
- Negative impact on your resume: Leaving a job soon after joining creates a negative impression on your resume. If you don't stay for at least six months, it may seem like you lack stability. Unless you have a concrete offer, you may want to wait a little longer.
- No savings: You’ll find it extremely difficult to manage day-to-day if you’ve exhausted your savings. A job pays the bills, so it’s best to stick around for a while and cash a few paychecks before planning your next move.
- Miscommunication with your boss: Don’t assume management doesn’t like you without evidence. Your company may accommodate your requests, such as a promotion or a pay increase, but they have yet to do so because you haven’t asked. Communicate appropriately and prioritize finding solutions in your current job over finding a new one.
How to quit a job on a positive note
Despite its negative connotation, quitting doesn’t mean you have to leave on bad terms. Here’s how to part ways amicably with your head held high:
Quit in person (or via video call)
Sending your boss a resignation letter over text or email isn’t the most polite option. It's best to schedule a face-to-face meeting and communicate your reasons for quitting. Even if you work a remote job, try to set up a video call.
Additionally, schedule this meeting or call as a separate interaction instead of taking it onto a regularly scheduled event, like a weekly check-in. Schedule the meeting to be long enough to cover all resignation-related topics and keep it from overlapping with your usual schedule.
Be honest and straightforward with your decision
Scheduling meetings outside regular one-on-ones might draw suspicion. Avoid beating around the bush or making small talk. Instead, be straightforward about quitting.
Start the conversation by announcing your decision to leave. This helps avoid digressional talk and gives your supervisor time to think about a solution or a counteroffer.
Respectfully explain why you’re quitting
Once you've told your boss that you're quitting, it's time to explain why. State your reasons explicitly and offer constructive criticism if your boss asks for input.
It's a good idea to practice this stage of the quitting procedure with a career coach. Set up a hypothetical scenario and role-play an employer-employee conversation. Try to provide feedback that doesn't cause friction, and ask your coach for tips on what to say when quitting.
Be grateful and show appreciation for the opportunity
Regardless of your professional relationship with your current employer, they made a commitment to you, and vice versa. Express gratitude and respect and thank them for any notable experiences you participated in. You can also ask your coach to help identify areas of personal development to speak about in your meeting.
Provide a two-week notice and submit a formal letter of resignation
Most companies include a notice period in their contracts should an employee resign. If your contract doesn't include one, remember to give your company a minimum of two weeks' notice so they have enough time to prepare for your departure.
After your meeting, submit an official letter or email of resignation so both parties have everything in writing. Include the date of your last day of work and ask if the company wants to complete an exit interview.
Create a transition plan
After officially resigning, you’ll probably have a few things to finish up, like transferring projects, returning equipment, and ensuring everyone receives the necessary paperwork.
Stick around to help with a smooth transition. Your boss will appreciate it, as will your coworkers. You never know when you'll meet a former colleague in the future who remembers your professionalism. For example, you may need a recommendation letter from a former employer or a referral from an ex-team member. As a result, it's best to end on good terms.
Level up your career with Practice
Quitting your job doesn’t have to be an adverse event. Look at it this way: short-term pain leads to long-term gains. A new opportunity may be on the horizon, one that makes all the work you put in at previous jobs worth it.
Regardless of your profession, it’s important to know how to deal with any situation in the workplace. Practice’s free and informative blog can teach you how to practice patience, active listening, efficient client communication, and much more. If you require direct assistance, we recommend reading up on life coaches and other motivational supports to help you improve your performance and achieve your professional goals.