Work Relationships

How to quit your job gracefully without burning bridges


You’ve decided to throw in the towel and move on. Take a leap of faith and look for greener pastures. Woo Hooo!!! The problem? You can’t just waltz into the office with a resignation cake.

You’ve built relationships with peers and your manager. The company invested a boatload of time and effort in your growth. If you fail to go out on a high note, that might ruffle some feathers. Don’t stress.

You’re about to learn how to say sayonara in class, so you get a killer a reference letter.

Make an Escape Hatch

Picture this: You call it quits before you find a new job. Three weeks later, you’re still unemployed trying to shake out a couple of dimes from a piggy bank to afford Top Ramen. The bottom line? Don’t quit your job until after you’ve secured a new one.

To help you, here are three rapid-fire job search tips to 5x your chances of getting a job:

Break the News to Your Manager

He’s a great employee. I’d hire him again. That’s what you want your manager to say when he gets a call from your new job. But—to make it happen, you need to share the news gracefully.

Here’s how:

  • Prep the scene. Set up a 1:1 for Friday with your manager tohave an in-person talk. Friday works best because it’ll give your boss a full weekend to process things.
  • Keep things private. Don’t let the resignation news reach your manager beforehand via the grapevine.
  • Don’t vent about your job. If you didn’t quit the job, but your manager (akin to 50% of employees), it’s tempting to tell your manager exactly where to go and how to get there. Kill the dramatic part because you need a solid reference letter.
  • Give the why. Don’t air dirty laundry. Focus on the positive aspects of the new job vs. the old one (e.g., career growth, a better-fitting role.) to keep things positive.
  • Don’t leak details. Your boss doesn’t need to know where you’ll work. Be brief and speak in general terms (e.g., I can’t disclose any info yet, but it’s a similar position at a Fortune 500 company where I’ll do technical SEO.)
  • Show gratitude. Thank your boss for the skills and knowledge the company gave you (e.g., thanks for hiring a mentor to improve my SEO skills. I really appreciate it.)
  • Say no to counteroffer. Your salary is probably not the main factor that drove you away. So if you get a counteroffer, say you’ve already accepted the new job and signed the contract.
  • Give your exit date. Two weeks’ notice is the traditional timeframe. But to be safe, check your contract.
  • Offer help with the transition. If the company lacks talent to cover for your leaving, document your duties, ongoing projects, and whatever else related to the role. Also, create a knowledge base (e.g., in Google docs) to share knowledge with the successor.

Pen a Letter of Resignation

So you’ve talked things through with your manager. It was a nerve-racking experience. But—what followed next was a massive surge of relief. In fact, you weren’t far from jumping up and down for joy. Now, you only need a formal resignation letter to part on professional terms.

As Maciej Duszynski, a career expert at ResumeLab explains,

A resignation letter is a snappy notice that lets your company know you’re leaving your current position. If you write a good one, a resignation letter will help maintain a positive relationship with the employer and make your transition silky smooth.

Here’s an example of a resignation letter that kicks off socks:

Dear Mr. Ayala,

I’m writing to inform you that I’d like to resign from Zoo Search, Inc., effective two weeks from today.

It was extremely hard for me to make this decision. During my two years at the company, I learned a wealth of useful SEO skills and met some truly talented people along the way.

Thank you for the experience and training you provided me with. I hope that the company will realize its vision and become one of the greatest SEO agencies in the US.

If there’s something I can do to allow for a smooth transition, please let me know.

Kind regards,

Sergio Warfield

Say Goodbye to Peers

Now that your boss is in the know, you want to tell peers about your exit. Why? It’s a smart career move. Some of them might hold a ticket to your future dream job.

So—it makes sense to part on good terms.

Here’s how:

  • Get insanely well-connected. Connect with peers you want to stay in touch with via LinkedIn. Networking boosts salary growth and career satisfaction.
  • Throw a dinner party. Invite a couple of people you like to after-work drinks. It’ll help decompress and talk openly.
  • Bring sweets. On your last day, bring candies, cookies, or doughnuts, so everyone has a sweet memory of you.

So—What Do You Think?

There you have it.A whopping four tips on how to quit your job gracefully.

Now—what’s your experience with quitting? Did you ever bake a resignation cake? Let me know in the comments. Let’s chat!

Author bio

Max Woolf is a career expert at ResumeLab. He’s passionate about helping people land their dream jobs through the expert career industry coverage. In his spare time, Max enjoys biking and traveling to European countries. You can hit him up on LinkedIn.

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