10 Steps to Quit a Job the Right Way (W/ Examples)

24 November
12 min read
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Nothing lasts forever and jobs are no exception to this rule. 

Whether it’s because you found a better opportunity or finally got fed up with an overly toxic work environment, a time might come when the urge to quit your job is just too strong. 

This can lead to a number of questions, such as: 

  • Is quitting the right choice? 
  • What is the best way to quit?
  • Is my boss going to hate me?

To answer these or any other questions you may have on the topic, this article will cover everything you need to know about quitting a job! 

So let’s dive right in! 

10 Steps to Quit a Job the Right Way

If each of your work days starts with the thought “I hate my job,” then quitting is definitely a legitimate option. 

That doesn’t mean, however, that it should be a rushed or on-the-spot decision. After all, you don’t want to wake up a week after having quit your job and regret ever making the decision. 

And even if there’s no doubt in your mind that quitting is the way to go, you still want to do it the right way. This means quitting in such a way that causes as little professional damage as possible to you, your employer, or your professional relationship. 

We cover both of these points and more below, starting with: 

#1. Make Sure You Want to Quit

First and foremost, you've got to make sure you actually want to quit your job.

See, the thing is, feeling like you hate your job can come as a result of other reasons that, in many cases, can be patched over. 

One example is suffering from burnout. According to the World Health Organization, burnout comes from chronic workplace stress that hasn’t been managed and that causes you to react negatively toward your job.

In this case, maybe you don't need to quit your job; maybe you just need a vacation. 

Or, it may be a particularly annoying coworker or boss that makes you feel like you hate your job. This is not surprising at all, considering that 75% of employees quit their boss, not their job. 

And while working under someone you dislike can be an extremely stressful situation, consider communicating your dissatisfaction before deciding to quit (especially if you like other aspects of your job). This way, maybe you can find common ground with them instead of making a potentially bad career move. 

So in short, think long and hard before making a decision that you won't be able to reverse. 

That's not to say, though, that there aren't any valid reasons for quitting a job. If any of the following apply to you, then chances are, quitting is the right move:

Reasons for Quitting a Job:
  1. You found a better job at another company. 
  2. You’re looking for a better work arrangement or improved work-life balance.
  3. You have personal issues to deal with such as health or family issues. 
  4. You’re overqualified for the position. 
  5. You’re working in a toxic environment or you no longer like the company dynamic.
  6. You’re relocating and don’t have the option to work remotely for the company.
  7. You’re going for a career change or have decided to go back to school.

#2. Tell Your Manager First

Once you decide that quitting your job is the best option for you, it’s time to let people know.

And when we say people, we mean your manager or supervisor, not your coworkers or your work friend from another department. 

You want to quit your job professionally from start to finish, and your manager finding out from anyone who isn’t you is far from professional. 

And yes, the news will likely get out even if people promise to keep it a secret. 

So, make sure you respect workplace hierarchy and go straight to your manager before going to anybody else.

#3. Quit in Person

The thought of looking at your manager’s eyes and telling them you’re quitting might make you uncomfortable, but it’s the best way to do it. 

By quitting in person, you can ensure your manager is clear on why you’re quitting and knows you aren’t harboring any hard feelings. Not to mention, a face-to-face conversation can make it easier to ask for a recommendation, reference, or professional advice later down the line.

In short, this is the way to go if you want to be 100% sure you’re not burning any bridges or leaving a wrong impression. 

Here are some ways you can tell your manager that you’re quitting: 

Examples:

Example #1: Hey John, thank you for seeing me. I wanted to let you know that I’m handing in my two weeks' notice on Monday. Working here has been amazing, but I’ve decided to focus on raising my kids from now on. I’ve already found a part-time position that I can do from home so that I can spend more time with the family. 

Example #2: Hi Mary, thanks for the time. I’m here to let you know I’m handing in my two weeks' notice next week. The reason is that I have found a job that’s much closer to my profile and that allows me to work remotely, which is something I’ve always wanted. Nonetheless, I’m very grateful to you and everything you’ve taught me over the past years. 

Example #3: Hey Margaret. I wanted you to be the first to hear that I’m handing in my two weeks' notice on Friday. The reason is that I’m relocating to Canada with my family. It has really been a pleasure to work with you and to learn from you.

What If I Can’t Quit in Person?

Sometimes, it may happen that you simply can’t quit in person for whatever reason. 

In such cases, you have two options: 

  1. Quit over the phone or Zoom meeting. This is the best alternative to quitting in person. To do it right, think of what you’re going to say in advance, be honest, and stay polite. Explain to your manager exactly why you can’t quit in person, don’t lie to them about your reason for quitting, and make sure to follow up with a formal resignation letter. 
  2. Quit over email. If you’re a freelancer or remote worker, quitting over email won’t be so frowned upon. The same advice applies here - be polite, professional, and honest. Include essential information, such as your last workday, and offer a brief but valid explanation as to why you’re leaving. Optionally, you can offer to help with the transition or until the company has found someone to replace you.

Don’t quit over a text or over a Slack message. That’s just tacky and unprofessional.

#4. Give a Two Weeks Notice 

Is giving two weeks' notice legally required? No.

Do we recommend that you do it anyway? Definitely yes. 

By giving a two weeks notice, on one hand, you’ll be ensuring you will receive all your employment-related benefits, such as severance pay and overtime compensation.

On the other hand, you will also be helpful in the transition of responsibilities and daily duties to the person taking over your role. 

Different companies may have different time frames for resigning and different conditions for receiving benefits, so make sure to check the exact policies in the employee handbook or your employment contract before deciding on when to submit the resignation letter. 

Bonus points if you can give your former-to-be employer more time than what’s outlined in your contract. That’ll help make the transition even smoother and ensure you maintain positive relations with them. 

Here’s an example of what you can say: 

Example:

I know this is an extremely busy time for the company, which is why I am giving a one-month notice. I’ll make sure all my pending tasks are completed and will help as much as you need me to find someone compatible for the position. 

#5. Submit a Letter of Resignation

Writing a letter of resignation is another must in the job-quitting process. Preferably, you should submit your letter of resignation right after telling your manager that you’re quitting to make it official. 

Here’s how to do it right: 

  1. Open with your personal information, the date, the manager’s personal information, and a formal greeting. 
  2. Inform your manager that you’re resigning in the first paragraph. 
  3. Express gratitude for the experience and all the opportunities in the second paragraph. 
  4. Offer your help in passing over the positions’ responsibilities in the third paragraph.  

And this is what this looks like in practice: 

Letter of Resignation

#6. Say Goodbye to Coworkers

If you’re quitting your job for emergency reasons (or simply because you hated everything about working there), you might be tempted to leave without telling anyone but your boss. 

While tempting, we recommend that you avoid doing this.

Saying a proper goodbye to your coworkers will allow you to keep good relations with them and also make your resignation more graceful and professional. 

If you loved working with those people, they’ll appreciate you even more for it. If you didn’t, you will have acted like the bigger person, which is always a plus.  

If you don’t want to (or can’t) say goodbye to them in person, you can write them a goodbye email. 

Here are some tips you can follow to do it right: 

  • Keep it brief. 
  • Send a personal email instead of group emails - at least to the coworkers you’ve worked more closely with. 
  • Mention something positive or something that you like about working with them. 
  • Don’t brag or go into much detail about your future plans (even if they’re a significant upgrade to your current job). 
  • Underline that you’d like to stay in touch with them. 
  • Include your new contact information. 

Here’s an example of what a goodbye email looks like in practice: 

Example:

Dear Dwight, 

As you may already know, I’m leaving the company. My last day of work is December 12th. 

Although I’m excited about what the future holds, I’d be lying if I said I won’t miss working with you. 

Your work ethic, professionalism, and valuable insights made me the salesman that I am today and for that I’m grateful. 

I hope that we can stay in touch no matter where life takes us! You can reach me at [Phone Number].

And just like that, you’ve made sure your coworkers remember you in a good way! 

#7. End Things on a Positive Note 

So, you’ve done everything right so far – had a good face-to-face conversation with your manager, gave your notice, handed in your resignation letter, and wrote a goodbye email to your coworkers. 

There’s one more thing you need to do if you really want to end things on a positive note.

You have to help make the transition period from the moment you announce you’re quitting to your last day of work as smooth as possible. 

Here’s how to do that: 

  1. Work hard until your last day. It can be easy to go into “vacation mode” once you know you won’t be working for the company anymore. That, however, would increase everyone else’s workload and disturb the company’s workflow. 
  2. Train your replacement. If management finds someone to replace you before your last day, make everyone’s lives easier and offer to train them. After all, nobody knows the ins and outs of your job like you do. 
  3. Organize your files. This will make any necessary information easy to find after you’re gone. 
  4. Keep in touch after your last day. Help your previous coworkers and replacement by answering any questions or uncertainties they may have. 
  5. Offer to keep answering work emails for a month. This will also make the transition easier for people you’ve worked with outside the company (clients, partners, etc).  

#8. Don’t Badmouth Your (Former) Employer

We’ve mentioned this before but it’s so important that we’ve got to mention it again. 

No matter what happens, don’t badmouth your employer, the company, or your team. 

And when we say ever, we don’t just mean that you shouldn’t diss your former employer when asked: why did you leave your previous job during an interview. We mean don’t talk negatively in any of the following situations: 

  • To your coworkers before or after you quit your job. 
  • To your employer as you quit or during your exit interview. 
  • On your social media channels or in a private email.  
  • To your new team or coworkers. 

Why? Because nothing good can come out of it. The only thing you’ll achieve from badmouthing your former employer is looking negative, resentful, and unprofessional. 

And if your job was so toxic you’re just too tempted to say it like it is, you should still avoid saying something like this:

Incorrect Example
  • My boss was THE worst! He was micro-managing, rude, and very toxic.

And opt for a more diplomatic answer:

Correct Example
  • I don’t think I was a good cultural fit at the company. I enjoy working in a place where I have autonomy over my work, and Company X didn’t offer that.

#9. Prepare for an Exit Interview

In some cases (if it’s company policy), you may be asked to participate in an exit interview before officially leaving your position. 

The point of an exit interview is for the company to gain an understanding of its issues and what management can improve on to retain talent. As such, you’ll be asked questions about why you’re quitting your job, your personal experience with the company, and what you’d improve about it. 

This means that while an exit interview might not mean anything to you, it means a lot to your former employer.  So, try to be as constructive and professional as possible to help your former employer improve and to end your relationship on a positive note.

Keep in mind, though, that your answer should be as practical as possible. So instead of saying something like this:

Incorrect Example
  • I learned a lot from working here but I hated being micro-managed the entire time. My supervisor was rude, and I found the work environment unpleasant. 

Opt for something like:

Correct Example:
  • The best part about working here was all the knowledge I acquired throughout the years. When I first started, I barely knew anything about SEO and copywriting, while now I am in charge of producing content for two of our biggest clients. 
    That said, I believe the company can benefit from a more individual approach to managing employees. I know that not every employer is a self-starter, but I believe those of us who have proved we are responsible to complete our to-dos without being micromanaged should be allowed more flexibility.

FAQs on How to Quit a Job 

Do you still have some questions on how to quit a job adequately? We’ll answer some FAQs below!

Q — 

#1. Can I quit my job on the spot? 

Quitting your job without any notice isn’t legally prohibited, which means that you can technically do it.

That said if your employment contract outlines a specific time frame for resigning and you don’t respect that, you may no longer be eligible for certain employment-related benefits.

Not to mention, quitting on the spot will make you look unprofessional and is likely to ruin your relations with your former employer, as you will be leaving them no time to find a proper substitute and train them without interrupting the workflow and overloading other employees with your work.  

Q — 

#2. What is the best way to quit a job you hate?

The best way to quit a job you hate is to do it just like you would any other job - professionally and gracefully. This includes resigning in person, giving a two weeks notice, submitting a resignation letter, and not badmouthing your former employer or the company. 

Q — 

#3. Can an employer sue you for quitting? 

Employers can only sue employees for quitting under some specific conditions. For example, if you quit after having violated the terms of previously-signed employment agreements of laws, the employer may be allowed to sue you.

Generally speaking, though, employees are allowed to quit without any legal repercussions. 

Q — 

#4. How do you tell a toxic boss you’re leaving?

The best way to tell a toxic boss that you’re leaving is to remain positive and professional. 

Set up a one-on-one meeting with them and be firm but polite about quitting your job. Think of one or two reasons why you’re leaving in advance and list them during the conversation. 

Restrain yourself from blaming your boss all the work environment for leaving and, if possible, offer your help with the transition process. 

Last but not least, aim to stay positive during your exit interview, especially when discussing your boss and your team. 

Q — 

#5. How can I quit a job I just started?

Quitting a job you just started isn’t great, neither for you nor for your employer. Not only will you waste their time and energy having to find someone else so soon, but you will also likely part with them on a negative note.

If you must do it, though, do it in person and have a good reason for quitting ready - preferably one that’s beyond your control. Stay positive and make sure to highlight everything that you loved about the position. 

Key Takeaways 

And that’s a wrap! By now, you should know everything there is to know on how to quit a job professionally and gracefully.

Before you go hand in your official resignation, though, here are the main points we covered in this article:

  • Make sure quitting is the best option. Some good reasons for leaving a job are that you’ve been given a better offer, health emergencies, a relocation, want to change careers, or simply needing a better work schedule or arrangement. 
  • Don’t tell your coworkers that you’re quitting your job before telling your manager. 
  • Check your employment contract to figure out what the company’s exact timeframe is for quitting. Then give your prior notice accordingly. 
  • Say goodbye to your coworkers via personalized emails and make sure to make the transition period for them and the company as swift as possible by offering them your help.