Updated May 17, 2016.
Turning in your resignation isn’t always easy, even if you hate your job or boss and can’t wait to start that new job. Even if you are about to be fired, it can be difficult to resign tactfully. If you are considering resigning from a job, here are some important points to think through before you turn in your resignation.
First of all, be sure that you really do want to quit. Here are the top 10 warning signs that it’s time to look for a new job. Also, here’s a list of good (and bad) reasons for leaving your job. Make sure that you’re leaving for the right reasons, rather than quitting because you’re having a bad week and it seems like it won’t get better any time soon.
Tips for the Best Way to Quit Your Job
If you are certain that you want to quit, handle your resignation as carefully as you would handle any other business endeavor. It’s always wise to not burn bridges. You never know when you will need your past employers for a reference.
Review Resignation Pros and Cons
Before you make the decision to quit, be absolutely sure that this is the right decision. An employee once called me the day after she started her new job. She hated it, regretted resigning, and wanted to come back. But by the time we heard from her, we had already filled the position and she was out of luck.
If you’re not sure about the position you are considering taking, ask if you can spend a day in the office “shadowing” the staff. It may reinforce your decision to take the position or help you decide you don’t want the new job after all.
“Weigh the Options”
Do you have another job offer? If so, weigh the pros and cons of the new position versus your current position. Consider the work environment, flexibility, salary, and benefits in addition to the job responsibilities. How about opportunities to advance? If the new job comes up ahead on all counts and you feel sure that this is the right change to make, don’t hesitate.
No new job on the horizon? Before you quit, consider the basics. It will take about three to six months, sometimes longer, to find a new job. Unless you quit for a good cause, you may not be eligible for unemployment benefits.
Do you have enough savings or other income to manage financially? Even if your employment situation isn’t the best, you might want to consider hanging on to the job you have, as well as your paycheck, and starting your job search before you resign. That old saying that “it’s easier to find a job, when you have a job” does hold true.
Give Adequate Notice
If you have an employment contract that states how much notice you should give, abide by it. Otherwise, it’s appropriate to offer two weeks notice. However, in some cases, you may feel that you are unable to stay for another couple of weeks. Here are some of the reasons to quit without notice.
You Have No Obligation to Stay Longer
If your employer asks you to stay longer than two weeks (or the time period in your contract) you have no obligation to stay. Your new employer will be expecting you to start as scheduled, and in a timely manner. What you could do is offer to help your previous employer, if necessary, after hours, via email or on the phone.
How to Quit Gracefully
The formal way to resign is to write a resignation letter and to tell your supervisor in-person that you’re leaving. However, depending on circumstances, you may need to quit over the phone or to quit via email.
Write a Resignation Letter
Regardless of how your resign, write a resignation letter. A resignation letter can help you maintain a positive relationship with your old employer, while paving the way for you to move on. You never know when you might need that old employer to give you a reference, so it makes sense to take the time to write a polished and professional resignation letter.
What to Say to Your Boss
Don’t say much more than than you are leaving. Emphasize the positive and talk about how the company has benefited you, but also mention that it’s time to move on. Offer to help during the transition and afterwards.
Don’t be negative. There’s no point – you’re leaving and you want to leave on good terms. Here are tips on what to say when you quit your job and here’s a list of reasons for leaving a job to review. Also check out what not to say when you quit a job.
Use our sample resignation letters for suggestions on what to write.
Ask for a Reference
Before you leave, ask for a letter of recommendation from your manager. As time passes and people move on, it’s easy to lose track of previous employers. With a letter in hand or a LinkedIn recommendation online, you’ll have documentation of your credentials to share with prospective employers.
Don’t Forget the Details
Find out about the employee benefits and salary you are entitled to receive upon leaving. Inquire about collecting unused vacation and sick pay, and keeping, cashing in, or rolling over your 401(k) or other pension plan.
Return Company Property
Return any company property you have – including keys, documents, computers, phones, and anything else that doesn’t belong to you. The company doesn’t want to chase you to get it back, and you don’t want to be held responsible if it’s not returned in a timely manner.
Review Resignation Do’s and Don’ts
Before you turn in your resignation, review these resignation do’s and don’ts and resign as gracefully as possible.