KEY TAKEAWAYS: HOW TO QUIT A JOB
- Prepare to Quit
- Inform Your Organization
- Write Your Letter of Resignation
- Get Through Your Notice Period
- Leave on Good Terms
- The Don’ts of Quitting Your Job
Your current job is exhausting. Your workload is humongous. The paycheck deposited into your account isn’t performance-based. And the work environment seems toxic. Life gets in the way. There are sure to be several other reasons. These factors keep you from having a successful career. What’s more important is that it deprives you of a satisfactory work-life balance. Your work affects your mental and emotional wellbeing. This has serious repercussions on your productivity. There is an obvious solution to this predicament – quitting your job. A question thus arises here – how to quit a job?
This could be your very first job and you may not be aware of the procedures related to resignation. You could also be in a position where leaving could make you uncomfortable. You could be having second thoughts too. This could be due to loyalty, unfinished projects, promises, and even guilt. And you think to yourself, how am I ever going to move out from here and keep my reputation intact at the same time?
STEP 1 – PREPARE TO QUIT
There’s usually no turning back after leaving. Think it through and make sure that your decision is final. Remember that when you exit, you are usually leaving for good.
Be prepared for an unexpected fallout
Your firm may ask you to quit immediately when you hand in your resignation. This could be due to confidentiality purposes or HR reasons. Ensure that you do the following before you quit a job:
Secure a job first
It is wise to have something to fall back on when you move onto the next phase in your career. Try job hunting for at least three to six months before putting in your notice. Secure a written commitment from your future employer. That way, you would be ready to leave with a legitimate offer letter in hand
Find out about the legal formalities – Talk to the company HR. Find out about the organization’s policies on resignation and notice periods. Additionally, check the employment agreement for any specific clauses to adhere to.
- You need to ask the following questions so you can prepare yourself well for the event.
- How much notice do you need?
- What sort of paperwork would you need to submit?
- Who needs to know about your decision?
- Is there an exit interview?
STEP 2 – INFORM YOUR ORGANIZATION
Think about the reasons behind your decision. Write them down on a piece of paper so that you can go over the points later. Finally, narrow down the main reasons you wish to give to your supervisor. Now that you’ve made a decision, it’s time to let your organization know. Convey your intention to leave to your immediate superior. You should also tell the HR department.
Choose to have a face-to-face conversation rather than a phone call or a video call. If possible, you should meet with your manager. If your boss is unavailable, you can talk to your manager’s supervisor or someone from the HR department. You can request a one-to-one meeting or your performance review.
How you can have an effective resignation conversation
1. Time Schedule an appointment. Make sure your manager is available that day and time. It also helps to assess your superior’s mood before going in for the talk.
2. Place – Your manager’s cabin would be ideal. If you have to talk to more than one person, you should think about reserving a small conference room. Steer clear of the smoking room or a casual office gathering at the neighborhood bar.
3. Duration – Keep the conversation brief and direct. A fifteen to twenty-minute talk should suffice. Note, irrelevant details would only prolong the discussion.
4. Elements of the talk – Be specific on what you should include in your conversation. Remember to show gratitude for the time spent there. Explain your reasons for leaving and mention your tentative last working date.
Be honest. If there’s a better career opportunity for you, let them know. The work environment made it difficult to focus? Tell them. You should never belittle any organization you work in. It not only shows your character but could also jeopardize your career in the future.
5. Ending Note – Although it could be tough, try to conclude the conversation on a good note. Do your best to keep the talk positive. If not, you should strive for a neutral tone. Make sure your answers are concise and diplomatic.
STEP 3 – WRITE YOUR LETTER OF RESIGNATION
Your attitude towards the organization does not matter. It is company protocol for an employee to write a letter of resignation. The written document, in simple terms, expresses your intent to end your tenure at the firm. This letter is a formality that will define how the rest of your notice period will play out. Make use of this opportunity to establish a positive relationship with your employer. Ready to start drafting your letter?
Checklist for drafting your resignation letter
- State the basics– Express your intent to leave. Keep your writing straightforward. Be careful not to be brusque.
- Include these essentials – Your role, department, and date of your last day. Don’t forget to mention your employee number or any identification code given to you.
- State your notice period– A notice of two weeks is acceptable. If you’ve signed a labor agreement or a contract, you may have to serve a different notice period.
- Offer to help – Volunteer to train your replacement.
- Contact information – Make sure to include your email address and number.
Your letter should have a tone of gratitude and positivity. Thank your employer for the opportunity and the time spent there. Highlighting your learnings and growth may help. You needn’t get into elaborate details. Avoid emoting. Although it could be tempting, venting or expressing displeasure is an absolute no-no. As the letter is a documentation tool, it is wise to keep it short and simple. Conclude by wishing the company good luck for the future. Remember to state your availability should anyone need to get in touch with you later on. Here are more tips on drafting a letter of resignation and a sample resignation letter.
STEP 4 – GET THROUGH YOUR NOTICE PERIOD
You’ve told your boss and you submitted a resignation letter. The hardest part of leaving a job is now behind you. What is left now is to serve your notice period. Remember that you have only a few days left in your tenure, but that doesn’t mean you should slack off. You should instead aim to do the exact opposite. Here’s how you can get through your notice period:
List all your priorities and create an action plan. Discuss your future responsibilities and work expectations with your manager at length. Draw out the scope of your projects and plan your deadlines according to the proposal.
Complete all your ongoing tasks if possible. Notify your project manager and delegate responsibilities if required. Make sure to deliver quality results. Use collaboration organizers and project management tools and software to simplify your job.
In all probability, you won’t be able to complete ongoing elaborate projects. It is advisable to share project-specific expertise and know-how with your replacement. This helps to avoid confusion and delays. A streamlined relieving process shows professionalism. It also ensures that your company delivers valuable results on time.
Introduce your substitute to all your project stakeholders during the handover. Explain the assignments, work history, expectations, and strategies in detail. Measure the results towards the end of the knowledge transfer process. Make the necessary rectifications.
The Exit Interview
Over 90% of organizations carry out a procedure called the exit interview. This is an interview conducted when the employee leaves to generate feedback. The responses help understand how the organization can improve its practices. Exit interviews can be of various kinds.
Some common types of exit interviews are:
- The face-to-face method – This is an in-person meeting. An HR representative asks the employees questions. The point is to find their reasons and motivations for leaving. You can provide constructive feedback as well.
- Paper and pen – You may need to fill in an employee feedback survey form on paper.
- Telephonic interview – The HR representative calls you for this interview. It could take place through video calls as well.
- Online survey system – Usually used by large organizations. The feedback process for this method takes place online via HR management systems.
Doing Well in Your Exit Interview
It’s best to prepare certain obvious questions beforehand. Make notes of what you plan to say. Keep an aim in mind and be honest. During the interview, look out for signs. Note the body language, tone, and eye contact. Be tactful and steer the conversation towards safer territories.
Be truthful but never denigrate your workplace. Give constructive feedback. Make a list of useful facts and positive things to say. Try to be specific and provide examples of your learnings or the new skills you honed. Take care not to complain and exit with grace and dignity. Remember to “keep the door open”. In other words, make sure you are available even after you leave the organization for good.
You can find the typical exit interview questions listed below:
- Why do you want to leave the company?
- What did you like most about working here?
- What do you think of your manager?
- Were you given adequate tools, training, information, and software?
- How could we make the environment better?
- If there were 3 things you would change about this company, what would they be?
- Would you recommend this organization to others?
- Any other feedback
You may need to sign legal documents such as a Non-Disclosure Agreement. It states that you will not keep or reveal any business information to outsiders. This includes the company’s competitors and stakeholders. Feel free to clarify any questions or doubts you may have at that time.
Document your work
As you begin your notice period, start documenting all your files. Secure all important emails, and documents before handing in your resignation. This would be especially helpful in case you don’t get to serve a notice period. Update all work files, categorize them in order, and ensure ease of accessibility. Let your team and manager know where your files are and how to access them.
Submit all passwords and access codes. Remove any personal document or file from your company laptop. Delete your browsing history, and passwords saved online. Clear cache and cookies. Uninstall any application you downloaded for personal use.
You have to return all company valuables, documents, software, and tools. Request the HR personnel to make a list of the assets to return when you start clearing out your desk. This list includes the company laptop, mouse, phone, printer, uniform, and hard drive. Take only those items that belong to you. You could face legal penalties.
Most companies also pay something called a severance package. Find out when the employer will send your last paycheck. Ask whether you’re entitled to employee benefits. Your employer is bound to pay you for unutilized medical days, vacations, or paid leaves. Add overtime pay to the list as well. You have the right to gain information related to life insurance and health benefits.
Most companies ask for a reference letter during the hiring process. Request your HR department, manager, or senior colleagues for a reference letter. This letter includes the dates of your tenure and main work responsibilities. It may also mention your character and conduct.
Make your last impressions count. Tell your co-workers about your intentions. Be professional when handling all their queries. It is easy to fall into gossip traps at this point. Steer clear of all controversial matters. Also, avoid circumstances that could tarnish your image.
Do not give out too many details about your new job as this could potentially bring down employee morale. Your colleagues would always remember how you treated them. So, try to maintain healthy cordial relationships.
Strengthen your Professional Network
Focus on building solid long-term business connections during this time. You never know when a former colleague may come in handy. Bonding over morning bagels or a coffee after work is a great way to make professional acquaintances. You might even find yourself walking down memory lane during those conversations. It’s okay to reminisce about career milestones and exchange funny office anecdotes.
Polish your resume
If you haven’t secured a job yet, make sure you present a well-written and updated resume. Writing a cover letter specific to each potential employer will put you in good stead.
Update your LinkedIn profile
Review your roles and responsibilities so far and update your LinkedIn profile. Provide recommendations to your former colleagues and superiors. This will help you receive some as well.
It could be a good idea to throw a farewell party on the last day if your organization permits. If the company organizes something special, it is sensible to have a farewell speech prepared. Arranging finger food and soft drinks would be a considerate gesture.
STEP 5 – LEAVE ON GOOD TERMS
Regardless of the reasons that cause you to quit, here’s why the way you quit matters:
- Your next job depends on it – Picture this. You leave without giving adequate notice. Your superiors mark you as irresponsible and unprofessional. If you make a bad impression or leave in a huff, you could find yourself in some serious trouble. Keep in mind that you need to present a glowing letter of recommendation to your future employer.
- You may rejoin in the future – Who knows? Your employer could offer you a more suitable position in that company a few years down the line. Or the managerial policies or the work culture could change for the better. In any case, it would be best if you have an unblemished work history.
- Future resignations – Earlier, employees stayed at one company for their entire careers. Times have changed. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that the average person switches jobs ten times. And this happens before the age of forty. Hence, you should quit the correct way now. This way, you won’t have to worry when you decide to resign later on in your career.
- Shows professionalism – Your behavior in the workplace determines how others judge you. Be conscious of your behavior not only during your notice period but right from the very start. As the saying goes, last impressions matter. Hence, it would be sensible to hand in a polite resignation letter.
Start saying your goodbyes beforehand so that you don’t miss anyone out. You may send a short message of farewell and gratitude on your last day. It’s also good etiquette to send out a goodbye email. Keep the message simple and sweet. Show genuine appreciation for the time spent there. Wish your company success in the future. Remember to mention your contact details. It’s a good idea to your LinkedIn URL so your colleagues can stay in touch.
THE DON’TS OF HOW TO QUIT A JOB
So far you’ve learned about what to do when you leave a company. Listed below are 10 things to avoid when quitting a job:
Leaving without a plan – When thinking about how to quit a job first think about finding a new job. Make sure that you have a solid financial footing before making the leap. Even though you really want to say screw it and move to Mexico, make sure that you will have enough money to pay your monthly expenses first.
Badmouthing your employer – How to quit a job gracefully means never saying anything negative about your current firm.
Breaking the news to coworkers first – Inform your manager and the HR first. Then tell everyone else.
Stealing or damaging office property – Just don’t do it okay? I know you want to take that stapler to spite your boss, but it’s really not worth the trouble.
Avoiding work – Don’t stain your image by slacking off because you are serving your notice period. A true professional takes on responsibilities to deliver quality results on time, even on their last day.
Leaving claims pending – Settle all company travel and health reimbursements before leaving.
Setting an unsuitable final date – Avoid being abrupt. Try to serve a reasonable notice period (at least two weeks). Cooperate during the transitioning process.
Burning bridges – Maintain a healthy relationship after you leave. Do not ignore emails or calls from your former workplace. Keep in touch via LinkedIn.
Ignoring the replacement – The knowledge transfer process is essential because it ensures everything keeps on running smoothly. Pay special attention when you mentor your replacement. Your mentee will appreciate your efforts more if you provide tips and tricks on how to perform well.
Leaving your desk cluttered – Take time to tidy your desk. Remove all unwanted objects and take home your personal belongings.
We hope we’ve been able to help you through this career move. Remember, behaving like a true professional would make your transition almost effortless. Good luck!
Professional Leadership Institute (PLI) is an educational website providing professionals from all types of businesses with practical education in human resources and leadership. To keep evolving your leadership toolkit, additional PLI resources below will be useful:
- When is it time to change jobs?
- The right way to quit your job (and some great wrong way stories)
- How to write a resignation letter
- A guide to professionalism