How to Quit Your Job

by Tisha Tolar on 30 June 2011 1 comment

Quitting your job can either be the greatest day of your life or the most nerve-wracking event you have had to face. Whatever emotional roller coaster you are riding, there are certain rules of etiquette you need to adhere to in order to not burn any proverbial bridges that can ultimately affect your future employment opportunities.

Ideally, one of the most important considerations you need to make when you plan to quit your job concerns what your next move will be. If you are quitting your job because you are dissatisfied with your position, your employer, or issues with co-workers, consider what your Plan B will be. If you quit without thinking, you may be jeopardizing your financial stability, not to mention your ability to get a new job.

Here are some basic guidelines to follow in order to walk away from your current employer with dignity. (See also: 10 Important Signs That Your Job Sucks)

Give Adequate Warning

As soon as you are confident that you are going to quit your job, provide your employer with adequate notice. Most employers have specific protocol outlined in their employee handbook that dictates how long in advance you need to file your notice of resignation. Use the guidelines, but still provide as much advance notice as possible. While you may not feel obligated to help an employer that you are leaving, it is the ethical thing to do and is, in essence, part of your job duties.

Provide Notice Professionally

While there may be situations that necessitate an employee walking into a supervisor’s office and yelling "I quit!," it is in your best interest to type up a formal notification of your decision to quit your position. Date the letter and, in a professional tone, outline your intention to leave your employment, noting the date you intend to leave. Keep a copy of the note for your files and hand-deliver it to your immediate supervisor or other management personnel as dictated in your employee handbook.

Don’t Tell Lies

It is important for you to be upfront about your intentions to leave your job. Your supervisor may ask what your future plans are, and you are not obligated to divulge specific information if you do not want to do so. However, you can let them know the reasons you are moving on such as a better opportunity, more money, or shorter commute. Depending on your relationship with your employer, you should reveal what feels comfortable. If you have signed a non-compete agreement and your new position will violate that agreement, you may face legal issues with your soon-to-be former employer. Don’t lie just to keep yourself out of trouble.

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Remain Professional

Networking is one of the most important factors in the business world. Whether you are turning to entrepreneurial pursuits or heading off to another large corporation, who you know can make a difference. If you burn your bridges with colleagues and supervisors, there may come a time later when you could benefit professionally from such contacts. Maintain your professionalism throughout the rest of your employment. Your ability to remain professional will also likely benefit you should you need professional references for future employment. Don’t slack on the job just because you don’t plan to stay long. Your productivity and on-the-job performance may be reported to your next employer through your professional references.

Meet With Human Resources

Some companies have additional steps required of each departing employee, including exit interviews and the like. If these final steps are not completed, it can delay your last paycheck. Check in with human resources to be sure you have attended to the necessary details. You also will need to clarify matters such as how to roll over your 401(k) or 403(b) and what you need to do with your health insurance coverage.

Take Only What’s Yours

When you finally are ready to leave your post, take only the belongings that are yours and leave company property where it belongs. It can create a conflict of interest or even a bad taste in the mouth of your former employer to find you have absconded with office supplies, computer software, or other company belongings. Some companies will go so far as taking legal action, so only take what is yours rather than risk ruining your reputation.

Be Courteous to the Next Guy/Gal in Line

Any kind of insider information about your job specifics would probably be appreciated by the next hire. Leaving behind an organized, detailed list of must-knows is not required but would be a professional courtesy. From computer passwords to filing codes, any related information left behind can make the transition easier.

Leaving your job may be a whirlwind time, but use good judgment and keep things positive as you move onto the next phase of your career.

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Just leave and fly away with your new wings.