In 2021 alone, 47 million Americans left their job voluntarily- almost one-quarter of the entire workforce. Many have left their jobs during the pandemic, a time known as The Great Resignation, but the process of quitting can be daunting. It is best to leave a job professionally and on a positive note.
Taking the proper steps to give notice, offering to aid in a smooth transition, and leaving a good impression can make a difference in the future of your career. Read on for tips on how to quit a job gracefully and professionally, and, if you’re looking for a new job, we suggest checking out ZipRecruiter.
Is it time to quit? Seven signs to look for
How do you know when to look for your next job? If these signs apply to your current situation, it might be time to start job hunting:
1. You aren’t learning new skills
Your job should offer some challenges and opportunities for you to grow, even if you are doing the same tasks as always. Feeling stagnant is a good sign that it’s time for something new, whether it is a promotion or a new job.
2. There’s no room for growth
In some cases, you may be in a position as high as you can go without moving to executive leadership. You may also realize your peers or colleagues are getting promotions you felt qualified for and didn’t get. Sometimes the best way to get a new opportunity is to go elsewhere.
3. Work follows you home
It’s one thing to have a bad day at work, but if those days are constant and you start to have bad days at home, the workplace may not be good for your mental health. If you feel stressed or worried during your downtime, it’s worth considering a new work environment or a career change altogether.
4. You don’t feel successful
Some jobs are just not the right fit for you. It doesn’t mean you can’t be successful in another role, but there’s no reason to try and fit in at a job that you aren’t the best at.
5. There’s no time off
If it’s hard to take yourself away from your current role, or you are explicitly discouraged from taking a break, this is a sign of too much pressure, and you may need a break. You should never feel bad about taking your allotted time off to recharge or feel pressure to work on off hours.
6. The job market is good
The job market can go through cycles, some of which are very good for job seekers. In times like this, you may notice an uptick in job postings or even receive messages from recruiters looking to fill a role. This may be a good time to ask for a raise, find a higher-paying job, or take a new career path.
7. People are leaving
If a company’s future is looking bleak or the environment is toxic, you may notice a lot of people leaving the company quickly. These may even be long-time employees who are suddenly part of a revolving door. It could signal that it’s time to launch your job search on ZipRecruiter to find a new position.
How to quit gracefully
Even if you quit under negative circumstances, it is important to maintain a professional relationship with your organization and leave the right way.
Tell your manager first – and in person
You may have coworkers you’re friends with and want to share the news, but they should never know before your supervisor. Career experts say the first person you tell is your supervisor or someone above them. They may tell HR, or you can include them in the meeting, but this is always the first step.
If possible, have this conversation in person, or at least on a face-to-face Zoom call. Quitting by phone or email is unprofessional, and you will likely have to confront them in person.
When quitting, be concise and polite. Try to avoid burning bridges or sharing any negative feedback during this initial conversation. If you have a few words of gratitude, include them.
Give two weeks’ notice (or more)
The standard in most industries is to give an end date that is two weeks from the time you resign. This is meant to allow time for your transition and even to help train a replacement if possible. While it isn’t required to give notice, it is considered the professional thing to do and will leave you on good terms with the company. Some will even appreciate a longer notice period if you have a lot of work to hand off.
Write a letter of resignation
While you should quit in person, accompanying it with a formal notice letter is a helpful step. This is an official record of your resignation and can contain information that may be referenced later. HR will keep this letter on file, so ensure it’s professional and shares your final day.
Set your company up for success
In the period of your notice, try to be as helpful as possible to your employer. This may include assisting with job interviews to hire a replacement or training other employees on your current job duties. This transition period can be awkward but is a great way to show that you are a team player and still want the company to do well.
Say your goodbyes to coworkers
If there is anyone you enjoyed working with or would like to stay friends with, don’t hesitate to send them a note before you leave the company. Send personal emails thanking them for their help while at the company and wishing them well. If you want to stay in touch, share personal information like your social media or phone number so they can find you.
Do you have to give two weeks’ notice?
Legally, any at-will employee can quit at any time, for any reason, without giving notice. There is no requirement to give notice unless one is stated in your contract. However, providing notice to your soon-to-be former employer is standard practice at most organizations. Most new jobs will understand this and give you a start date that accommodates two weeks’ notice. They will likely appreciate that you show respect before leaving a job.
Things to avoid when quitting your job
1. Acting rashly
Quitting a job is never a decision you should make in the heat of the moment, no matter how angry you are. Ideally, you would have a job offer before leaving. Writing a resignation letter can be a great way to think through why you are quitting to avoid any rash career moves.
2. Speaking negatively about your boss or company
Many companies will conduct an exit interview before you officially leave, which is a great time to share frustrations you had with your job, peers, boss, or the company itself. You should avoid mentioning negative items in a resignation letter or conversation about quitting.
3. Threatening retribution
If there is a legitimate issue that requires legal intervention, all communication about that should be done by a lawyer you retain. You should never threaten to take any legal steps on your own, or threaten any kind of other negative action, even leaving a bad review of your current employer.
4. Forgetting to get contact information
Once you leave a company, you won’t have access to internal directories anymore and may struggle to find contact information for people you want to stay in touch with. Make sure that you reach out before your last day to give out your information and get yours.
5. Updating LinkedIn too soon
Your boss should always be the first person to know about your resignation, and they will usually tell HR and give guidance on how to tell other coworkers. Even if you’re excited about your new role, wait until you know everyone is aware before you update your LinkedIn and make the information public.
What to include in a resignation letter
A resignation letter should be written in your own words and include details about your departure. Generally speaking, it should include:
- Formal salutations
- A statement of resignation
- Your end date or the last date you are available
- Basic information on why you are leaving or your next role
- Words of gratitude
- An offer to help with transition tasks
- A simple wrap up
Resignation letters shouldn’t be more than one typed page and can typically be delivered by hand or email after an in-person resignation.
Do you have to write a resignation letter?
Some companies will require a written resignation to be considered official, but this is not always true. Whether required or not, a formal resignation letter is considered polite and professional. Not only does it show you put thought into the decision, but it can also protect you. Having receipt of resignation can be helpful should any disputes arise. The letter will also remain on record in your HR department so that it can be referenced if any future employer needs information on you.
If you need to quit your job without a notice period, tell the company that as soon as possible. Try not to walk into your supervisor’s office and just say, “I quit.” Instead, explain the situation and offer to help as best you can.
Giving notice is considered a polite and professional thing to do across industries. While there is usually no requirement that you give notice, it will be expected of you. Even if you can’t give the standard two weeks, any time you can offer to help with transition tasks is appreciated.
If a job is not right for you, is causing you undue stress, or does not align with your career goals, you will benefit from leaving that position. Many people experience increased health and well-being due to leaving a job. It is also often easier to get a higher title and better salary at a new job than in your current one.
A professional resignation letter will be written in appropriate and formal language, including a salutation and signature. It should also be professional and speak positively about the organization while providing relevant details on the last day of employment.
If you are already planning to quit a job, getting fired is usually not a huge concern. Some employers will choose to end your employment without asking you to fulfill the notice, and you may not be paid for that time. But as long as you are professional and kind during the process, it is likely you will be able to carry out your time.
Start by being upfront, letting them know your last working date and why you are leaving the company. From there, you can add whatever details you are comfortable with. Be complimentary and positive throughout the conversation, offering to help with the transition process as much as possible.
Either can be the right option, depending on the situation. Quitting allows you to control the process and the impression you leave. Being fired can often be more demoralizing or result from negative circumstances.