How to Quit Your Job with Grace

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Are you thinking of quitting your job? Is it time to move on to something else?

Whether you are leaving for personal reasons, for another job, or to go independent, there are several things you need to consider before you make it official. Once you are ready, you should then leave your job with grace.

Before resigning

Before resigning, you need to have a transition plan in place. If you are leaving for lifestyle reasons, or to go independent, then you need to ensure that you have the financial means to do so. Here are some things to look at:

If you are transitioning to a new job, then you will want to have the offer in hand, and know when they expect you to start working.

The next step will be to clean out your desk of all personal possessions and get prepared for the jump. Most workplaces are reasonable about this, but more hostile or sensitive workplaces may expect you to leave the moment you break the news.

Remember to take personal possessions only: Don’t leave as a thief.

Let your boss know first.

Once you are ready to make the jump, you may be excited and ready to tell everyone the news. However, the first person that needs to know is your boss. Imagine if he heard the news through the grapevine first, instead?

To make it official, you need to write a letter of resignation, signed with your signature and dated. The letter should state your intention to resign, and you can also add a statement of gratitude for your time at the company. Since this letter goes on your permanent record at the company, it is not the place to add lengthy explanations or negative statements. You never know when you may cross paths in the future.

Here is a sample resignation letter:

Dear Mr. Smith,

I am writing to inform you of my decision to resign from Acme Amalgamated. My last day will be two weeks from today, at the close of business on March 15th.

I am grateful for the opportunities that I’ve had, and I wish you and the company the best of success for the future.


Jeremy Adams

[Signed and dated]

It doesn’t need to be much longer than this. The letter should be formal, short, and to the point. If you want to rant about coworkers, a boss, or other things, it’s best to leave them off this letter. You can always discuss it in person in a professional manner.

Be prepared for the counter-offer.

Your boss may come back to you with a counter-offer of a better paycheck or other benefits or perks. It is important that you have your story straight, not just for the boss but for yourself as well. If you are not leaving for salary reasons, then it is better not to give salary as a reason for leaving!

The best story is the truth, though it is also best to present this in a professional manner. There is no reason to burn any bridges.

Your boss may also ask you for extra time so that the company can find a replacement. This is at your discretion, but if you can do it, you will make a very good closing impression on your boss and company, as well as any future company that you work for. Why not leave with a bit of extra goodwill?

Prepare for the transition out.

After speaking to your boss, the next step will to visit HR and prepare for your future beyond the company. Here are some of the things that you will need to take care of:

  • Retirement accounts.
  • Medical and life insurance.
  • Cellular plans.
  • Unused vacation days.
  • Returning company property, and bringing home personal effects.

Depending on the culture of your workplace, there may be a farewell lunch or an after-hours event. This will be up to your boss or colleagues to organize.

On your last day, you’ll want to make sure that all of these threads have been closed and that you are ready for the job. It will also be the time to ensure that any training and transition material that you have been working on is completed and submitted to your boss.

Don’t forget to say goodbye to your colleagues and let them know how they can reach you in the future, and good luck!

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  1. says

    Far too often people neglect to let the person who should know they are leaving know first. Yeah sure you want to let your friends know but words spread quickly and what if you decide its not the best choice to leave. Sometimes the counteroffer is really tough to deal with especially if you have already given the other company your word that you want the job. I know I wasnt prepared for the counter offer when I left a job. The only reason I was leaving was because of pay in the first place.

    • says

      @Ways to Invest Money That also happened with the person I knew of that had quit from the same place 3 times. When it comes official you should be reasonable sure, and then discuss it with the boss first. Until it’s resolved one way or the other you don’t want the grapevine to go wild with rumours.

  2. says

    Actually, this probably varies by jurisdiction, but here in Ontario, employees who quit are definitely entitled to be paid out for their unused vacation days. By law. Make sure you’re aware of what you do/don’t get before you quit, since it’s possible your boss might not be aware him or herself.

  3. says

    I’ll be doing this in a few months myself! I’m expecting it to go pretty easily, and I don’t have a lot of paperwork or other details to figure out, either. And I’ll probably be copying your letter of resignation example :)

  4. says

    It is so important to ‘quit on a good note’, especially in some industries. For instance, in my husband’s vocation, people seem to all kind of swtich jobs and go around all the same companies. Word travels fast, so even if you don’t ever want to go back to the company you are quitting, burning bridges can affect your future with other companies too.

    I quit once, but it was to stay home with kids, so I didn’t really go through a formal process. I think it is much different if you are going to a competitor or something.

    • says

      @Kris at Everyday Tips That’s pretty much how it is in software. You can leave if you want, but you should do it on good terms. I gave my place extra time to find someone else.

  5. prairieecothrif says

    Great post. I think it is really important to preserve your reputation and network. They are valuable resources in today’s job market.

  6. 101centavos says

    As the old saying goes, people will remember more the way you went out, rather than the way you came in.

      • 101centavos says

        @InvestItWisely Probably… I’ve heard it repeated by my boss often enough. Another favorite maxim of his is “nothing you do to yourself will be as painful as someone else doing it to you”

  7. says

    I was so anxious when I resigned, I didn’t bother writing a formal resignation later. I entered my boss’s office, plopped down in the nearest chair, and told him I was leaving at the end of the year. We’d developed a pretty close relationship over the years, and a formal letter seemed so…formal. Over the next two months, I did what I could to ensure a smooth transition for my replacement.

    • says

      @My Own Advisor Thanks Mark! A colleague of mine at the company also told me that the first time is the toughest. He was in his mid-30s and had been working at a few places by then.

  8. says

    I’ve only had one experience in a professional setting so far. All of the other times were contracts ending (internship ended, things like that), or were from teen jobs so weren’t quite the same.

  9. says

    Good thoughts, Chris, and leaving a job is not the end of the world no matter how it came about (well, unless you broke the law or burned down the place or something. ;)).


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