Guide on How to Quit a Job Professionally
This guide will tell you how to quit a job as professionally as possible. While it may be tempting to have a “mic drop” moment and walk out in triumph, it’s generally not a good idea. To leave your job in the most professional manner, follow the steps below:
- Check your employment agreement.
- Speak to your boss and/or the HR department.
- Deliver an official letter of resignation.
- Complete any transition requirements.
Detailed Steps on How to Quit a Job
Step 1: Check your employment agreement
It’s important to check your employment agreement to determine:
- How much notice you need to provide your employer
- If there are any legal issues you need to be aware of
If you still have a copy of your original agreement, it will outline how many weeks of notice you agreed to provide your employer, which is important to know before you announce that you’re quitting. Additionally, it may contain other information about company property, non-solicitation of employees or customers, and other clauses that are important to know when resigning.
Step 2: Speak to your boss and/or the HR department
Once you know the legal details (see step 1 or speak to a lawyer), you should go speak to your boss or someone in Human Resources (HR) department before delivering your written letter of resignation.
The conversation should address:
- That you’re quitting
- Why you’re leaving
- How much notice you’re giving
- What you will do to help transition your work (if appropriate)
- A request for a reference letter (if appropriate)
Step 3: Deliver an official letter of resignation
This is the most “official” step of how to quit a job. After you’ve spoken with your boss or HR, it will be much easier to write your resignation letter, as you will have agreed on how much notice you’re giving, what the transition will look like, and the tone of your departure. The letter should be short and to the point, and only a few sentences or paragraphs long. Once you’ve written it, either email it or print and hand-deliver it to your boss and HR manager.
To help you save time, see CFI’s Resignation Letter Template.
Step 4: Complete any transition requirements
After the notice has been officially made, all that remains is to deliver on what you agreed to do in your discussions with your boss and what you stated in your letter. This will be a big part of your professional reputation and will play a big role in determining how you’re remembered by the people at the company.
Things to keep in mind are:
- Depending on your job, you may be asked to leave immediately, and this step won’t happen.
- Explain to the members of your team all the things you do and how you do them.
- Organize your files and share them with the team.
- Return all company property.
- Gather your personal belongings.
General Tips on How to Quit a Job
Let’s discuss a few more important things to keep in mind when quitting professionally. Below are some general guidelines that help expand on the four steps outlined above.
It’s a good idea to:
- Be as professional and mature as possible
- Put any personal grievances aside
- Be well prepared before you speak to your boss
- Be 100% sure you want to quit (it usually can’t be reversed)
- Be prepared that might be asked to leave immediately
- Remove any personal property from the office in advance of quitting (see the point above)
- Try to remain on good terms with the company
- Request a letter of recommendation or reference
- Speak with a lawyer if necessary
It’s a bad idea to:
- Not provide adequate notice (per your employment agreement or local laws)
- Not have an open, straightforward discussion with your boss/HR
- Encourage other employees to quit
- Complain or cause a scene publicly
- Solicit other employees after quitting
- Take any company property (physical, digital, or any other type of property)
Quitting When in a Positive Situation
Hopefully, you’re lucky enough to be in a positive personal situation where you’re either leaving because you found a better opportunity, or you’re voluntarily ready for a change. In this situation, your focus should be on helping your employer with the transition, and doing all you can to get a positive reference from the situation.
If you’re quitting after you already have another job offer (ideal situation), you’ll need to coordinate with both your current and future employers to make sure you get the timing right. Who knows, you may even have time for a short vacation between the two jobs.
Quitting When in a Negative Situation
The reality is, many of us will eventually be in a situation where quitting is the last resort in an undesirable situation. If you’re leaving because you can’t stand it any longer, your approach will be different than that described above.
In this situation, it’s important to be very well prepared and act as professionally as possible. If there has been a human resources violation by your employer, you should speak to a lawyer to plan the appropriate response. When the situation is tense, knowing how to quit a job professionally is extremely important. Get legal advice, know your rights, and be professional at all times.
Thank you for reading this article outlining the four critical steps about how to quit a job. CFI is the official global provider of the Financial Modeling & Valuation Analyst (FMVA)® certification program. To advance your career, check out the following resources: