How to Quit a Job: Keeping It Professional in 17 Interesting Ways

Megan Green Megan Green October 05, 2020
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Leaving a job professionally is never easy. Even if it feels like the time to make that big career change, it’s important to think through the decision, stay on good terms with employers, and do it tactfully. Want to learn more? Here are a few tips and pointers on how to quit a job in 2020.

Table of Contents

  1. When Is the Right Time to Quit
  2. The Right Way to Leave Your Company
  3. Can I Quit Without Giving Two Weeks’ Notice?
  4. Can I Just Walk Out of My Job?
  5. What Happens If I Don’t Give Two Weeks’ Notice?

Quitting a Job: When Is the Right Time?

Quitting a Job

When quitting a job, the first thing to consider is timing. There is a right and a wrong time to exit — it all depends on future prospects, available positions, and personal finances.

Here are a few key questions everyone should ask themselves before they put in a notice:

  • How soon can I find a new job? Depending on the job climate, it might take some time to find employment in the same field. Be prepared to start searching for new jobs right away.
  • How long can I stay unemployed? Before resigning, consider savings and other sources of income. Financial stability is key to taking that next career step.
  • How will this affect my employability? Future employers will inquire about this job in the interview. Ending at the right moment, for appropriate reasons, helps to boost employability.

Everyone should think through these questions if they want to quit. Don’t hesitate to consider all factors. Timing is everything—picking the best time to exit makes all the difference.

How to Quit Your Job: The Right Way To Leave Your Company

How to Quit Your Job

Leaving a job can be exciting, nerve-wracking, and even a little awkward. Just be respectful and take all the right steps to help things go as smoothly as possible. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to quit your job in 2020.

1. Tell Supervisors First

It might be tempting to talk to colleagues and friends about the decision to resign you’re making, but the most professional thing is to go to a manager or supervisor with the news first.

2. Give Advance Notice

Never walk away from a company without giving a notice ahead of time. It will be considered unprofessional and in bad taste. Employers at most jobs require a certain period to give a “heads-up” before quitting. If there is no clear guideline in an employment contract or handbook, two weeks is appropriate.

Staff members are never obligated to stay longer than two weeks after resigning at any job. That said, being flexible with end dates and helping to fill the position will help to get a good review or recommendation from employers in the future.

3. Speak to a Manager in Person

Giving a resignation can feel awkward, so it might be tempting to handle it over an email or phone call. But the best thing to do is to speak to a supervisor or HR representative in person. A formal conversation is much more professional— that’s how to quit the right way.

Remember, ending employment is a normal and expected part of all jobs, so it doesn’t need to be uncomfortable. Speaking to someone in person makes sure that the employer is notified. Then they will have plenty of time if they need to hire someone new.

4. Schedule a One-On-One Meeting

Schedule a One-On-One Meeting

Again, professional etiquette is to quit in person, instead of with a phone call or email. The most appropriate time to do that is in a scheduled, private meeting.

That meeting should be with the boss or the HR representative in charge of resignations. Meeting with a supervisor can be an excellent chance to thank them for the opportunity. This is also a good moment to ask for a reference or recommendation letter. Bear in mind that an advance notice (whether it’s two weeks or longer) will not go into effect until after the meeting.

5. References for Future Employment

It’s totally appropriate to ask an employer for a reference. A professional letter of recommendation can be extremely helpful in an interview for other jobs.

The best time to request a recommendation letter is at the end of that one-on-one meeting with a boss or supervisor, after thanking them and explaining everything in detail.

6. Don’t Forget About the Details

That one-on-one meeting is a great time to ask about all the departing details.

Here are some important points:

  • Unused vacation or sick days
  • Pension plans: continuing, cashing in, or rolling over to a new plan
  • Exit interviews and final date

7. Write a Formal Resignation Letter

The details of quitting a job should be covered in a private meeting. But it’s always necessary to submit a formal letter of resignation, too. This is for the sake of the worker and the business. With a letter, everyone has official documentation.

Here’s what should go into a professional resignation letter:

  • Reasons for leaving the company
  • Date, a period of advance notice, and date of intended departure
  • Expressions of gratitude (thank you for the opportunity, etc.)

8. Keep It Positive

Remaining on great terms with a past company looks good on an employee — it is a necessary part of building a career. So, professionally quitting means you’re being respectful and constructive throughout the whole process. In the resignation letter, reasons for leaving should be phrased diplomatically. Always speak of the business politely.

9. Emotions Shouldn’t Play a Role

Knowing how to quit professionally means keeping emotions out of it. Be sure to avoid emotional outbursts or expressions of anger or sadness. It doesn’t come off as tactful or competent, and it won’t reflect well in a reference letter.

10. Work Hard to The Last Day

Work Hard to The Last Day

Here’s one thing that employers never like to see: an employee who slacks off, screws around, or doesn’t want to put in any effort after turning in their two weeks’ notice. That person will be remembered as lazy, undermotivated, or even disrespectful.

Work hard and give just as much effort to those final days to end on the perfect note. Being remembered positively by the company guarantees a glowing recommendation later on.

11. Leave No Loose Ends

The best way to leave a great impression is to make sure all personal work is completely finished. Any tasks that can’t be completed within the last two weeks should be transferred to colleagues. That way, everything is wrapped up neatly.

Leaving loose ends at a job shows a lack of responsibility and leadership skills. Don’t leave behind a mess of unfinished projects — other staff members don’t want to deal with it. Complete all work, or transfer it.

12. Help to Fill the Gap

Most jobs will ask an employee who has quit to help train their replacement. No one knows the position as well as someone who’s been doing it for months or years!

Businesses generally hire a replacement within the given two weeks before the original employee leaves. Helping to train that replacement shows initiative and leadership. It will make sure the transition goes as smoothly as possible for everyone involved.

13. Send Out a Formal Goodbye

If you’re thinking about how to quit a job, remember that no one should ever exit a workplace without letting their colleagues know.

An email is a great way to say ‘goodbye’ and ‘thank you’ to everyone at the same time. In a big office, restaurant, or factory, employees might not all know each other — but it will still be respectful to say something before leaving.

Here’s what should go into that email:

  • Reasons for leaving
  • Expected last day
  • Expressions of gratitude
  • Any final details (finishing projects, transferring workload, etc.)

14. Provide Feedback for The Company

Provide Feedback for The Company

Providing detailed feedback when resigning is an excellent way to show professionalism. It can also help the business to grow.

Management and Human Resources should be notified of anything that makes the job difficult or uncomfortable. Being aware of those issues will help them to improve and grow — so it’s never rude to give feedback.

That said, feedback should not be included in the formal resignation letter. The finest opportunity to talk about employee experience is during that private meeting with a boss or an HR representative.

15. Express Gratitude

The best way to quit a job is to keep it professional. This shouldn’t be an emotional time. But it is totally appropriate — and even expected — to express gratitude to teammates and supervisors.

For many people, the workplace is more than just a place to make money. It might be the start of a passionate career, a new opportunity, or a place to make friends. Expressing gratitude for the experience and personally thanking co-workers lays the ground for successful business connections down the road.

16. Be Prepared for a Counteroffer

Be Prepared for a Counteroffer

Bosses don’t always want to let their hardworking employees go so easily. When leaving a company, be prepared for counteroffers. They might offer more money, better benefits, etc., to stay on in the same position. It can help to have all justifications for leaving written down. Compare notes and see if the counteroffer changes anything.

17. Leave Everything Behind

Finally, remember that company property is not public property. An employee who quits should never “raid” their office for data, supplies, or anything else. Raiding is stealing, plain and simple, and it will not look good to other employers.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Quit Without Giving Two Weeks’ Notice?

Quitting your job without giving advance notice is not illegal. However, there might be serious consequences, including the loss of final weeks’ pay, loss of benefits packages, and negative reviews to future employers. The smartest move is always to give notice.

Can I Just Walk Out of My Job?

Again, it’s not illegal, but it definitely won’t look good. On top of that, walking out of a workplace without any warning leaves a burden on co-workers and teammates.

What Happens If I Don’t Give Two Weeks’ Notice?

The consequences of quitting without advance notice can vary, depending on policies. In a lot of cases, final paychecks and benefits can be withheld. The details should be in an employee contract—if not, don’t hesitate to ask a supervisor.

What Is the Best Excuse for Leaving Your Job?

The real reasons for leaving might be personal, but it’s important to give a professional, diplomatic explanation in your resignation letter.

Here are a few great examples:

  • Conflicting schedules with school or family life
  • A new job
  • Want a career change
  • Relocating or moving
  • The job isn’t a good fit anymore, for various reasons (i.e., health, family, future plans).

Is It Better to Get Fired or Quit?

It is always better to quit a job than to get fired. In many cases, employees who are fired will miss out on important benefits. That could include a 401k rollover or letters of recommendation. Never try to get fired on purpose—put in a two weeks’ notice instead.

Should I Quit My Job If It Makes Me Unhappy?

Remember, timing is everything. Impulsively quitting right away might not be the best choice. In other words, yes—but do it carefully, and make a plan.

Quitting Is Easy When You Do It Right

It doesn’t have to be hard to quit gob. It’s all about following the correct steps, maintaining professionalism, and staying respectful. Remember, quitting is a part of all jobs, so there’s no reason for it to be emotional or uncomfortable.

This article has covered the best pointers and tips on how to quit a job. If this has been a helpful resource, feel free to share and leave a comment!

Published: October 04, 2020 | Updated: October 05, 2020
Megan Green

Megan Green

Megan is a writer who works at the junctures of science and stories. Previously, she has been the editor of a fashion magazine, an educator, mom, and a baker. She is keen on working with brands and lifestyle products, and outdoor tasks. Megan is outgoing, optimistic and has a great personality. She delivers top-notch content with a unique view on usual things.

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