How to Quit Your Job

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Yes, there is a right way and a wrong way to quit your job. No matter how bad the situation, with the exception of physical danger, exiting your job should be done in a way that you don’t burn bridges and you keep the respect of your former supervisor and associates. First, make sure you really want to quit. Second, prepare and finally, check all these exit well boxes.

Be Sure

Have you tried to work with your supervisor to “fix” whatever is wrong with your current job? If they don’t know what you want, it is hard for them to give it to you. Have you looked around within your current company to see if you can take the good will and industry experience you have and put it to work internally to extend your tenure and potentially your pension and LTI benefits?  Examine both options before you quit your job.

Have you already found a new job that allows you to develop the skills you want to develop, or pays better, or gives you a schedule that works better with your personal needs like work hours or relocation? It is always easier to find a new job when you are still working the old one. Don’t resign in a fit of pique. Don’t quit your job until you find something else.

If your current situation has jeopardized the good perception of you by your coworkers or your supervisor, give it another six months and repair those relationships. Good references always pay off in the long-term, even if you don’t need them in this transition.

Go with what your gut tells you. Is the new job the right job? Is it time for a change?


Understand how much notice your firm expects when you quit your job. Two weeks is standard but you might have an employment contract that specifies something different. You must honor that. You might work for a firm where resignations are shown the door immediately. Make sure your finances and your ego can deal with that. Prepare yourself for either scenario.

Clean up your physical space. Inconspicuously take your personal items home before you resign, and review what you have in your email folders or in your company computer files. Hopefully you’ve kept personal emails and conducted personal business via a personal email but, if not, forward and then delete those personal records. Assume your supervisor or HR will review your computer files and may generate files from a month or so ago just to make sure you haven’t deleted anything of value. You don’t really want personal information being reviewed as well.

Try to determine how your last paycheck, benefits, accrued vacation and pension plans will be handled once you resign. Sometimes your employee manual will detail this or sometimes you can get this information through the office grapevine. It pays to know what you formally have a right to before you quit your job.

Write a manual of your work. Leaving on good terms pays off down the road. A manual will make the transition so much easier for your supervisor and your coworkers. Leaving people happy in your wake is never a bad thing.

Formal and Classy

If possible, resign in person to your direct supervisor. Tell them why you are leaving, positive reasons only, tell them the date you would like to leave and offer to help with the transition. Thank them for the opportunity you have had. All of these items should also be in a formal resignation letter, but say them out loud first.

Prepare a response if they ask you what would make you stay.  As mentioned previously, if you would stay for a change in compesation or job definition you should have discussed this long before with your boss.. But if you didn’t and there is something that would change your mind, be definitive about what that is.aying and for what reason.

In your exit interview, again stay positive. Say goodbye to your coworkers if given the chance. Exiting well speaks to your professionalism and to their last memory of what a good person you are.

Good luck in the new job!


Interested in starting a job search?  Contact the Executive Recruiters at Smith Hanley Associates.

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