How to Quit a Job (Without Burning Bridges)

by Brett & Kate McKay on January 30, 2013 · 84 comments

in Money & Career

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Quitting a job can make a man surprisingly anxious. The roots of the anxiety are myriad:

  • Maybe you’ve never really quit a job before. You always had a built-in out. “Well, school starts again and I’m heading back to college.”
  • Maybe the company just hired you a few months ago and you feel kind of bad about making them go through the hiring and training process all over again.
  • Maybe it’s a small company, you’ve been there a long time, are close to your boss and co-workers, and feel like you’re leaving them in the lurch.
  • Maybe your boss is a tyrannical hothead (that’s why you’re quitting!), and you wonder how he’s going to react when you tell him.

Any way you slice it, when you’re quitting a job, you’re sort of firing your employer. It’s somewhat comparable to breaking up with someone. And just like with breaking up with a girlfriend, there’s a right and wrong way to do it.

The wrong way is to burn your bridges and leave a bad taste behind.

The right way is to resign with grace and dignity, demonstrating that you’re a man of respect and value until your very last day on the job.

Despite all the talk you hear about living in a globalized society, the working world is a surprisingly small place. And whether you’re leaving your current position for another company, or going into business for yourself, you never know when you’ll be working with, asking a favor of, or needing a recommendation from a former boss or co-worker. And don’t forget about gossip. How you leave, especially if it’s in the negative, will be sure to reach many more ears than just those whom you used to work with. Indulging your short-term desires to Jerry Maguire your way out of a job can lead to some seriously detrimental effects down the road.

To quit a job with your bridges and dignity left firmly intact, follow the tips below. They’re based on research, personal experience, and an interview with Mugs Buckley, a colleague of mine and Vice President of Sales Development at Federated Media Publishing in San Francisco.

Wait. First, Be Sure You’re Quitting at the Right Time and for the Right Reason

Before we get into how to quit a job, it’s important to make sure you’ve thoroughly thought through the reason you’re leaving, and that the reason is a good one. Mugs advises that you ask yourself a very wise question:

“When people talk to me about leaving a job, I ask them if they’re running from their current situation or running to the one they’re considering. If they’re running from, I counsel them to weigh the pros and cons of the new situation. What does the new job solve that you’re not getting in your current situation? It may solve a key complaint such as compensation, an undesirable boss, or a job function that they disdain, but how much better is the new situation? If it’s much better, weighing the cons of the new situation, then it sounds like it’s a better situation than their current one. Go for it.  But if it solves one key complaint but introduces another, then it seems more often than not that the person may be replacing one problem for another one.  ’Running To’ answers are easy: take the job. ‘Running From’ answers need to be carefully considered before quitting your current role.”

As far as timing goes, I would add that I’m personally of the opinion that you should almost always have a concrete offer in hand from a new employer before you quit your old one. This goes for leaving a job to start your own business as well. Make sure you can show three to six months of a revenue stream that you’re comfortable with. There are definitely situations where you just have to throw caution to the wind and go for it, but that’s not necessary as often as people who hate their day job wish it was. I’m a huge proponent of moonlighting with your side hustle until it’s become big enough that you can comfortably quit your day job. That’s how I went from corporate guy to full-time blogger.

Made Up Your Mind? Here’s How to Quit a Job

Give two weeks’ notice. Your contract or company handbook may specify how much notice you need to give, but if not, two weeks is the standard. Your employer needs time to process your departure, start looking for someone else, and plan for as smooth a transition as possible.

It’s true that at a big corporation, once you put in your resignation, they may immediately and unceremoniously escort you out the door. It’s also true that many companies, although they ask you to give them early notice of your resignation, would not afford you the same privilege when giving you the boot. This leads some to adopt the attitude of, “F that! I don’t owe them anything! I’ll quit and walk away the same day.”

Personally, I don’t let my behavior and values be dictated by others. I treat people with the respect I would wish to be treated with, regardless of whether they would reciprocate. My code isn’t based on tit for tat. Even if your boss is a chump, and your company a hellhole, jumping ship without notice will often greatly add to the burdens of your fellow employees, who will have to scramble to cover your responsibilities and figure out how to tie up your loose ends. That’s your job, not theirs. So out of respect for your colleagues, if nothing else, put in your two weeks’ notice.

Tell your boss before anyone else. No matter how much you trust your colleagues to keep a secret, don’t let it slip to them by the watercooler that you’re about to bounce. Also be careful about announcing things on social media before you give notice – basically, don’t do it. These things invariably have a way of getting back to the corner office, and no boss wants to hear about your departure through the grapevine. And you definitely don’t want to hear him say, “I know,” when you finally tell him. Once you decide to quit, inform your immediate supervisor first, your co-workers second.

Always have the conversation in-person, unless circumstances make that impossible. As Mugs advises: “Deliver your news in person or via phone. It’s best to schedule an in-person meeting with your manager to deliver your news, assuming you work in the same office. If you don’t work in the same office, then it’s best to talk via phone. Emailing them is a last resort unless logistics are such that you’re both unable to talk on the day you want to deliver your news. But don’t wimp out and email them. A conversation is always best.” Just as a respectable man wouldn’t break up via a text, don’t break up with your company via email.

Be prepared for the conversation. There are a few things you should think through before you meet with your boss to let them know the news.

Do you have a transition plan? Nobody knows better than you what projects need to be wrapped up and what responsibilities need to be taken over. Come into your boss’ office with a concrete transition plan that you can share, and with a pledge to take a hands-on role in smoothly passing over the reins.

What will you do if they make a counteroffer? You need to be prepared for your boss to entice you to stay on with promises of new benefits or responsibilities. Think through as many as these possibilities as you can before you talk to him or her, so you’re not caught flat-footed. Would you stay for an extra $5,000? $10,000? An additional week of vacation? You don’t want to be flustered and find yourself saying yes because he’s being so nice and generous, and you have tough time telling people no to their face. If there are circumstances in which you’d stay on, be crystal clear going in on what things would need to change and don’t budge unless those specific promises are made (and in writing). If nothing will change your mind, simply tell your boss how much you appreciate the kind offer but that the new opportunity is something you just can’t pass up.

If you do find yourself seriously contemplating the counteroffer, Mugs advises thinking over some important considerations:

“If your current employer counters your new offer and wants to keep you, you need to go back and ask our first question again: Are you running to something or running from something? If they offer you more money in your current situation, will that solve your complaint and how long will that satisfy you? Also, if you’ve already committed to your new employer, then you’d be dealing with rescinding an offer that you’ve presumably already accepted. You need to consider your reputation carefully. In my experience, countering a current offer rarely works unless the situation radically changes, including job function, reporting structure, and/or increased compensation. And is it worth ruining your reputation with your would-be new employer that’s going to feel burned that you wasted their time and effort? This is a very delicate situation. Consider your move very carefully here.”

Are you willing to stay longer if asked?  Your boss may ask you to stay on a week or two longer for more help in wrapping things up. Is this a possibility for you? Even if it is, is it something you’re willing to do? Again, make sure you think through this question beforehand, so you don’t get guilted into something in the moment.

Are you ready to go home today? If your boss tells you that you need to leave immediately, are you going to be able to gather up all your personal belongings and get out of dodge, or is your stuff scattered all over the office? Once you pass through the exit doors, they may not let you back in to get something you forgot.

Keep the conversation concise and positive. When going to speak with your boss, get to the point. You don’t have to tiptoe around the issue and chit-chat for ten minutes first. You also don’t have get into the specifics of your new gig. It’s okay to just say, “It’s an offer I can’t refuse, and I’m giving my notice effective immediately.”

If you were unhappy in your job, it may be tempting to use the quitting conversation to unload all of your pent up frustrations on your soon-to-be former boss. This is decidedly unwise. Instead, strive to be kind and courteous when delivering the news. As Mugs counsels:

“Take a ‘no scorched earth’ approach. Even if you feel like giving your manager a piece of your mind, save it unless it’s constructive. You don’t need to flame anyone on the way out the door, either your manager or your colleagues. The world is too small and most likely you will run across your manager and/or your former colleagues again at some point in your career, and it’s best to not be ducking because you had disparaging things to say about people during a period when you were heated. Take out the emotion when discussing why you’re leaving.”

Thank your boss for the opportunity, and if she asks why you’re quitting, simply emphasize something about the way in which your new job aligns better with your key interests than your current one does. “I’ve always wanted to do more teaching, and in my new job, that will be the biggest part of my responsibilities.” If there isn’t a reason like that to give (maybe you’re just jumping ship because of the downer culture of your current company), just tell your boss (and this goes for your colleagues too) something positive and general like, “I’m ready for a new kind of challenge” or, “This is a better opportunity for me.”

Ask about the nitty-gritty details. Alison Doyle from About.com states this succinctly: “Find out about the employee benefits and salary you are entitled to receive upon leaving. Inquire about continuing health insurance coverage through COBRA (Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act), collecting unused vacation and sick pay, and keeping, cashing in, or rolling over your 401K or other pension plan.”

Write a formal resignation letter. This isn’t required at all jobs, but after you verbally tell your boss the news, you’ll often be asked to submit a formal resignation letter. This letter is for your records and theirs, so don’t write anything that might come back to haunt you. Keep it brief and professional and stick to the facts. There’s no need for explanations for your departure — simply state that you’re leaving, and when your last day will be.

Don’t get “trunky.” When I was on a two-year mission for my church, once a missionary approached the last few months of his service, he’d  often start to get “trunky” – the term we used for figuratively having one’s bags packed, and mentally starting to check out.

It’s easy to get trunky once you’ve put in your two weeks’ notice at a job. But it’s important to dig in and finish strong. Not only is your company still paying you, but you want to leave on a high note. First impressions get a lot of emphasis, but psychologists have found that people remember best both the first part of an experience and the last part– which is to say your final two weeks will constitute much of what your former colleagues remember about you.

Don’t start any new projects during your last two weeks, but do all you can to tie up loose ends. Fill in your colleagues about where any open projects stand, where you left off with XYZ, and where they can find your documents and files. Ask them how you can help them out in your transition. Leave the company in as good a shape as possible. Make them sad to see you go, and hoping you’ll cross paths again someday.

Don’t blast your former employer on social media. Once you walk out the door of your former office the last time, you might want to get on Facebook to write up a status update about how thankful you are to be done with that soul-sucking job and your old meatball-for-brains boss. I’ve seen people do this. Don’t give into the temptation. Stuff like that very easily gets around, and it not only looks bad to your former colleagues, but raises red flags for your future ones too.

Say a warm goodbye and thank you to colleagues. Assuming there were a number of people you did truly enjoy working with, take the time to tell them farewell. An attitude of gratitude is an important character trait to develop. And in an age when who you know is more and more important in getting ahead, building and strengthening your network is paramount.

It’s fine to send out a mass email to all your colleagues and clients to let them know you’re leaving (no need to explain why) and to pass along your personal contact information (email, phone, LinkedIn profile). But you should also write a personal note, perhaps of the handwritten variety, to key and favored individuals. Mention the past projects you did together that you enjoyed, share your appreciation for them and their personal qualities that made your job easier and more enjoyable, and tell them that you hope to keep in touch.

Have you ever quit a job? How did it go? Got any tips for others? Share with us in the comments!

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Illustration by Ted Slampyak

Thank you to Mugs Buckley for taking the time to offer some great advice.

{ 84 comments… read them below or add one }

1 David Davis January 30, 2013 at 9:17 pm

I turned in my two weeks notice about a week and a half ago.
I approached my boss before any other topic in the morning meeting and told him about leaving the company to pursue a better opportunity.
We talked about businesss possibilities for the future and it actually went way better than expected.
This upcoming Friday is my last day and we are celebrating instead of being depressed about me leaving. I will still be in touch with my co workers and do “on the side” work.
I am happy with everything: Leaving a great job for a better one, with a smooth transition from the old to the new, Everybody is happy.

2 Amerigo January 30, 2013 at 9:21 pm

I have quit my job, last december. They were all happy of me leaving. I was a bad worker :P Everybody is happy :D

3 Konstantin January 30, 2013 at 9:22 pm

this pretty much sums it up….apart form the last part

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dP52CVOBRpM

4 Michael January 30, 2013 at 9:23 pm

All of this is great advice. The only time I’ve found myself disagreeing is with one former boss in particular. I was afraid he would turn violent when I turned in my notice, so I turned it in to *his* boss (with whom I was also on very good terms). I let him contain my boss, because I didn’t see any good way to handle things otherwise.

5 Ben January 30, 2013 at 9:33 pm

Great advice, and I suggest following it thoroughly. Thankfully, I’ve only had to do this for a professional level job once.

My first real job was right out of college, and it was in a field significantly different than what my goal career was. Still, it was a stepping stone with great pay while I worked on additional training on my own time. I put three years of solid work in at that corporation, while being very honest about my goals to eventually end up elsewhere. When the time came to make the change, I went to speak to my supervisor with a transition plan in hand, just as described in the article.

Funny thing was, she was furious. She said the two weeks was insufficient, the 35 page plan wasn’t detailed enough, and that I was screwing them because they couldn’t operate without someone in my position. I would simply have to remain with them until they hired my replacement, and then I would have to spend ample time training him or her… I was blown away. I hadn’t expected that response at all, and told her two weeks was all I could offer.

Her boss on the other hand (who I also worked with directly on a daily basis as well) thought it was great. He was sad to see me go, but understood completely and wished me luck in my new field. I’ve been at the “new” position for five years now, and love it.

I’ve heard stories over the years from others employed at the corporation about the kinds of things she said about me in my absence. It bothered me for quite a while, but eventually I had to just get over it and realize you can’t “not burn bridges” with some people, no matter what you do.

6 David January 30, 2013 at 9:41 pm

I had a job that I started in High School and went through most of College with. It was grocery work and people who have put up with it know that it takes a lot to go in every day. When I left, I was trying to finish up College by taking 21 hours in a semester and I had saved enough money to quit. I followed most of the steps here, did my college thing, and then couldn’t find a job out of college. Because of what I had done, I was able to get my old job back which lead me to my current job completely elsewhere.

You never know where things will take you, so always leave on a high note.

7 Bob January 30, 2013 at 10:23 pm

Left my old job last Friday. Gave them 2 and a half weeks notice. It was a small company and I had been there almost 4 years. I had trained my employees to fill in for me in my absence and always encouraged them to make decisions whether they were right or wrong. It was a bittersweet time since we had all become like family. When I left I put out the offer to call me if they needed answers. I have had 3 calls in 3 days from my old assistant. One call was to see how I was doing. Second call was how to order something we rarely ordered. Third was to ask for advice about taking my old position. Great guy, I recommended him to replace me when I left.

8 anthonydpaul January 30, 2013 at 10:29 pm

This is a great read. I’d add to the not blasting your job on social media bit though. One of the things I wanted to do when I left my last job was let people know how hard of a decision it was and that I wasn’t leaving lightly—to minimize fallout of clients, co-workers, or the social community around my office. I ended up writing my own press release, so to speak, to let everyone know in a controlled manner and to minimize having to explain many times. After writing the initial draft, I submitted it to my bosses and our lead of client relations to review and give feedback, long before I posted it. In a contemporary world where each of us has hundreds or thousands in our networks that include vendors, clients, former co-workers, upcoming new hires, and more, I think this is an important step to build into our standard professional checklist.

Here is my letter, if you’re curious (hopefully you can see it publicly): https://www.facebook.com/notes/anthony-d-paul/from-fathom-to-adg-excitement-trepidation-and-emotions-in-between/10100879702945165

9 Lee January 30, 2013 at 10:33 pm

Once again I have to wonder if AoM is spying on me. So many of your articles are so relevant and timely for me its starting to get eerie!

10 thom January 30, 2013 at 11:04 pm

I was planning on going back to school for a while now, I applied a few months ago and wont know if I’m accepted till April or so.

I was thinking of keeping the news to myself until I found out if I was in or not but after reading this article I’m not sure if I should schedule a meeting just to keep my boss and supervisor in the loop, and let them know if I am accepted that I’ll be leaving.

It’s the best job I’ve ever had, and all the people I work with are great, to top it off I love what I do. It’s just not the sort of career I want.

11 Perry January 30, 2013 at 11:12 pm

Great advice! Stop creating walls and build more bridges!

12 Mr. Exciting January 31, 2013 at 4:07 am

Brilliant. I have been through what Brett describes, and can attest that this is good advice.

13 John Smith January 31, 2013 at 5:50 am

This is a pretty timely article for me. My wife has been offered a place on a paid course to take her career up a considerable notch. The course is in an area where i have a lot of family, including my Father, so it is a great opportunity for us and the kids.

Unfortunately I really don’t want to leave my job. They employed me straight out of university (I was a mature student), they trained me up and taught me all about the business. over the next 7 years they gave me raise after raise and took me to an enviable salary (for the area i live). I am now head of my department. The company was small when I started and has doubled in size, I really feel I have contributed to its growth and the positive environment we all work in. I feel pretty emotionally invested in the company and I am very loyal to the directors. They have helped me out so much over the years, especially with giving me leway to fit in awkward start and finish times to do the school run etc.

I don’t have a job to go to in the new area yet. Luckily I have the luxury of time as my wife’s course starts in 7 months. So, plenty of time to find a new job and figure out an exit plan from my current job. I have already start writing up a strategy to hire someone to replace me and get them trained up to fill my roll. I haven’t told my directors yet (we only found out a couple of days ago), but when I have that meeting with them, I want to be armed with a solution they can be confident in. I will be very sad to leave.

I agree with everything in this article, but especially with the part about getting trunky. I have watched that happen a few times with more junior people we have taken on. I sincerely hope to go out on a high though, and demonstrate that my directors trust in me hasn’t been misplaced all these years.

Thanks Brett, for another great article.
If anyone is interested, I’ll post again once i have had that discussion.

14 Fletan January 31, 2013 at 6:40 am

I think in this day we are more in need of a “how to handle being fired”.
Especially because people are being told to leave after a certain tome period, but are kept on for some time to transitions and teach others who will be taking I their responsibilities….with benefits contingent upon thier cooperation. This is a much harder situation, in my mind.

15 J.J. Vicars January 31, 2013 at 6:53 am

“Personally, I don’t let my behavior and values be dictated by others. I treat people with the respect I would wish to be treated with, regardless of whether they would reciprocate.” Words to live by.

16 Bob January 31, 2013 at 7:20 am

I think this is a good piece but, in at least one respect, very oversimplified. Yes, it’s conventional wisdom to not “burn your bridges” but what if you are leaving a toxic, destructive environment and you do what the vast majority of corporate weasels do — play nice and say nothing resembling the truth about why you’re leaving.

While this is a good cover-your-ass maneuver for the person leaving, do we have any responsibility whatsoever for the people we are leaving behind and the way we may be able to help them if we’re honest about conditions in our HR exit interview? In fairness to this article, the HR exit interview is not specifically broached, but there are times when we have a responsibility to be honest and straightforward and not just sell out for the sake of being political and taking care of ourselves.

And this does not even talk about the subject of personal integrity, which is another issue — the ability to live with yourself after you leave behind nothing but politically-correct statements and half-truths. This article is about protecting yourself from future political problems… It would be nice if it at least mentioned bad situations requiring that you do the right thing.

17 Jeremiah Austin January 31, 2013 at 7:32 am

I actually turned in my officially resignation letter to begin the meeting with my boss and informed him it was my two weeks notice. I found it was extremely helpful in getting through the conversation as I had already taken the time to sit down and write it out, so it was fresh and clear in my mind, AND I just felt like it had my back in the conversation. It was a very amicable leave, and I knew, even if they made a counteroffer, it couldn’t get near what I was leaving to go do, so this may not be the best approach for everyone, but worked awesome for me. Obviously, nobody knew anything until after I got the new job and told the boss first (not even my closest co-worker). This is for two reasons, 1) You don’t want to cry wolf and 2) as mentioned earlier, you don’t want your boss to find out via your loud-mouthed closest co-worker, he’d think you’re a schmuck.

18 Kevin January 31, 2013 at 8:18 am

Great piece.
I resigned just before Thanksgiving and gave them 3.5 weeks. I asked around and had a list of people that would be better then me at my job. When I resigned I mentioned that I had a short list of people. He let me interview them further to narrow it down to one person.
My thought was, I wanted to place a person that would hire me back if I ever needed to walk back over that bridge!

19 Nate January 31, 2013 at 8:21 am

I’m with Lee – I think AoM broke in and bugged my apartment. I was just telling a friend on Tuesday that I’m thinking of earning a professional certification and leaving my employer of 4 years.

20 Mark Ruddick January 31, 2013 at 8:24 am

I like to give 4 weeks if possible in a professional position. The nice thing in Ontario, if the employer give you the boot after you give notice, they are on the hook for paying you for the length of the notice. (Always submit a resignation letter) I would also suggest you don’t tell your employer where you are going to afterwards either.

21 JG January 31, 2013 at 9:13 am

I saw the fallout of not following these directions first hand at my first job.

About a year after I started, our most senior team member just up and left one day. No one knew he was planning it, no one expected it. Just one day, he took is possessions and left the office without telling anyone. After he had been missing for about 3 hours the ranking person in the office contacted him and was told that he quit.

2 years after that I was leading the team that he abandoned. I was told that he had been laid off from the job he had left us for and was looking for employment with our company again. For obvious reasons we never hired him back despite the fact that he was a skilled developer. Had he simply given his notice and not been so dramatic about it, he would have been marked for rehire and would have been immediately taken back.

Being a fresh college graduate who was in his first professional job, I learned a lot from his behavior. Running from your problems is always a mistake. Instead, advance in the opposite direction.

22 Stephen January 31, 2013 at 9:20 am

This is good. I wish it had been here a few months ago when I quit my first job for a new one. I didn’t burn any bridges (I hope), but it was a shaky and unsure time for me. Is there going to be an accompanying article on getting into a new job? Personally i think that would be extremely helpful, especially for a young guy like me with very little experience.

23 Caleb January 31, 2013 at 9:42 am

A few years ago, I was planning on slowly leaving my job to work with a church plant and a help start a program for high-risk students to be able to complete high school. My boss knew when he hired me that something like this was a possibility. I had to move to another city and a different store to make it work. he originally asked me to give him a month, which was reasonable in our line of work.

When I told him it was time, he asked me to stay 6 weeks (it was summer and our busy time). I went ahead and did it. I then came in occasionally to help cover a few days when other employees were sick, etc.

It turns out it was a very wise decision because a few months later when the new plan fell apart completely, I was able to come back and work my way up to full-time. The extra couple off weeks and occasional days I worked actually prevented us from being late on any of our bills.

I have since continued to work for the company and been promoted and gotten a couple of raises. I am very glad that I did not burn the bridge, even though it was tempting a couple of times!

24 Robert January 31, 2013 at 9:53 am

Excellent advice. People don’t realize how they leave their jobs can affect other aspects of their life. I actually use this issue in my legal practice. If a person’s version of quitting a job is to sneak out the door and never show back up for work, then that tells me alot about their credibility. With a more intensive loan process, the way you quit could even play a part in your being denied for a loan- especially if you live in a small town where everyone knows everyone else.

25 TexBurrito January 31, 2013 at 10:51 am

As a former Human Resources associate, I would also recommend cleaning up your hard drive. Get rid of any resumes for other companies, personal photos or documents, etc. You never know what you have saved over time and how it can be used against you.

26 Sam Irish January 31, 2013 at 11:23 am

This is coming in at a fantastic time for me, as I find a lot of advice from this site tends to do. I’m in the process of leaving a job I’ve been very unhappy with for my dream job.
I’m glad I got this little reminder not to treat this point of my life like Edmond Dantes busting out of prison.

27 David January 31, 2013 at 11:24 am

The one time I quit a professional job I did pretty well at following all this advise. I told my boss first, immediately, and in person. I gave two weeks notice and had a solid plan to wrap my work up. I didn’t say anything negative in person or online and I worked hard right up until my last day.

Sad to say that while everyone was nice in person I learned months later that my boss held a low opinion of me after I left. Sometimes even if you do it right the bridges can get burned.

28 Dan January 31, 2013 at 11:38 am

For those planning on making a transition, be careful about the “trunki-ness” (great word!). Something I’ve observed numerous times is a co-worker who refers to the organization in the 3rd person. They’ve emotionally separated, and have one foot out the door. As a co-worker, it’s an interesting thing to watch; as an employee, I watch that about myself, as I know (from experience) that managers ARE looking for that. Not in a hostile way, necessarily.

In one situation, two guys contended for one promotion – the one who referred to the company in the 3rd person was passed over. And, he left a few months later. All parties congratulated themselves on “being right” about assessing the employees/company, when it was really a “self-fulfilled prophecy.”

In review: if you’re planning on leaving, the company is still “us” and “we.” Referring to the employees/company as “you” and “them” means you’re gone already.

29 Jeff January 31, 2013 at 12:58 pm

Great read. This is going to be something I use for reference now. I used your last article you posted about how to professionally ask for a pay increase. I’ve been with this company for 4 years. No pay increases at all, yet I have more responsibility, more work, and work well over 40 hours a week. On average 10-20 hours a week of overtime with no compensation. So I’m taking my services elsewhere since the current company I work for is sinking. Time to abandon ship. This article will be something I use as a guide.
Thanks

30 Matt "Hype Mann" Herrmann January 31, 2013 at 1:25 pm

I’ve left on great terms with the majority of my employers, and it has always been beneficial. Especially for recommendations.

There were two jobs that I up and quit, both had very valid reasons (one company stopped paying me, leaving me stranded on a business trip); when I quit I had the thought that I was also quitting the industry as well. It was a consequence of the decision I made, of burning that bridge, and I had to be comfortable with that before I hit the door.

I learned quite a bit having a Monday morning showdown with the boss that stopped paying me: when you’re in the right, stay confident and stick to your guns. He tried to put the blame on me, and I politely and firmly reminded him whose fault it was. When I walked out that door, I never looked back.

That stuck with me: now when I make a decision, after weighing things out, I stick with it, don’t look back, and take the consequences as they come. It’s good when I can look at myself I the mirror at night, and know who is looking back.

31 Anonymous Fornow January 31, 2013 at 2:27 pm

I’m looking for advice on a related question. I’ve been with my employer for a little over 10 years. I’m looking to leave and work for another company. My wife is due to give birth to our first any day now. My fortune 500 employer gives an extremely generous 12 weeks paid paternity leave. I’m worried that if I leave the company at any point this year, I’ll wind up burning bridges no matter how tactful I am, and no matter how well I train my replacement. Is there a rule of thumb on how long to wait after receiving a fantastic paid leave like this? Is there a way to leave in 2013 without burning bridges?

32 Matt January 31, 2013 at 6:05 pm

I left my job because it had changed dramatically, going from a self driven collections environment where everyone worked their own desk as they chose. As long as you got results for the company (money in the door) the company was happy to let us go as we pleased.

The company decided to switch business models (as is their right) after purchasing another similar firm, going away from the independent model to one call center and dialer oriented, with scripts and shift work, including weekends, based on seniority and bidding. They were also going to change our commission structure, unfavorably.

The changes took place over about nine months, with old managers and VPs sent packing and new ones brought in. Over time, I decided it wasn’t for me, and when the switchover date to the new model and pay scale came at the beginning of the year, I gave my notice and left.

I’ve never felt less stressed or healthier. My friends and family are now admitting to me I was an intolerable a-hole for most of last year as I reacted to the stress. I’m happier, more relaxed, and much nicer to be around.

I have funds saved to cover a gap while i search for something I want to work at. I’m not afraid. I’m glad I made the change, and if you can afford to and need to, take the leap. Good luck.

Matt
St paul
@1077idaho

33 Nathan January 31, 2013 at 8:11 pm

I just wanted to take a minute to disagree with the not burning bridges aspect of this (for certain situations). If you’re leaving a job that you don’t like I think it’s a great idea to burn your bridges. You don’t want to have an option to go back to a job you don’t like and not having a bridge back to it is great motivation to keep moving forward. It’s like when the Greeks attacked Troy. When they got there they burned the ships because there was no going back except through victory. That should be your attitude when moving from a job you don’t like to what’s next in your life. When can we get an article about why you should burn your bridges to ensure that you have proper motivation to succeed in the future?

34 gdogg January 31, 2013 at 8:27 pm

Of course, sometimes no matter what you do, some employers simply lack the maturity and grace that you display and you should be prepared for the ill reception you might sometimes receive.

35 Phil January 31, 2013 at 9:41 pm

This is great advice for someone in a professional, respected position. For those of us in less prestigious positions, however, the reality is that you are often more likely to be handed a box, told to pack your things, and the security guard will escort you off company premises. Depending on which state you live in, you may or may not be paid for the two weeks notice.

In this situation, my advice is to say nothing more than you are resigning, make sure you have your desk or locker cleared off prior to telling management, if they make a counter offer, politely tell them to go to hell, and say nothing more.

It’s my experience that the promises they make will be empty, they’d never offer severance pay if the let you go, and deserve what they get (which is nada).

Sorry to ruin all the civility, but experience is the best teacher in my book.

If you have a new job lined up for sure, and are leaving because your current job has become an intolerable dead-end, you have to ask yourself who is being best served by giving two weeks notice? Those who made your job intolerable? I think not!

36 Cliff February 1, 2013 at 2:43 am

Great article! Personally, I was laid off in 2008 with the collapse of the economy. I was the oldest employee with the most seniority except for the 40 year old president. I was 62 and had been with the original start-up company and, ironically, was the first to go. Still, I had no hard feelings or grudge against the company heads, all of whom I knew well. To this day, I still visit them every few months to see how everyone is doing that are still employed with them. (they ended up laying off about 30 of the 50 employees). We get along well. Not too long ago, they asked if I wanted to come back to work but at 67 years old and in ill health I declined. I could no longer handle the day-to-day stress that came with the job.

Whether one quits or is laid off as I was, maintaining a good rapport is essential to good relations down the road with any potential future employers. It doesn’t cost anything to remain kind and friendly especially if you are/were always that way with all of your past employers.

It’s amazing how quickly and how often the door of past employers can reopen for you, when you least expect it, without even trying that hard.

37 Cliff February 1, 2013 at 2:58 am

One caveat to my comment. I knew that one newer employee in a position of responsibility had bad-mouthed me behind my back while I was still working there. I never retaliated since I didn’t have details of what was said. I have always found that at some point in the future, people like this are, at least in my experience, found out.

As I expected, the individual was eventually exposed for the liar he was as well as a plagiarist. In addition to being kind and friendly with employers, I’ve also found through more than 40 years of experience the benefits of honesty. It NEVER comes back to haunt you and you always sleep well at night.

38 Shawn February 1, 2013 at 6:00 am

The “running to / running from” aspect of this article carried a great deal of weight for me. There came a point in my life where I had to take a long, hard look in the mirror and realize that all of the jobs that I had ever quit in my life (and there were many) all had one thing in common… ME. I had to come to grips with the notion that if I were honest with myself, the guy who was most difficult to get along with was the guy I shave with.

My last job was a challenge; the boss I had at the time wasn’t what you’d call a “people person”. I had been tempted to quit many times, and almost walked after my first year. But my best friend encouraged me to push through the difficulty, and I ended up staying for three years until I was offered a truly good opportunity that justified me moving on. On my last day, my boss and the Regional Manager took me out to lunch, and my boss actually told me, “I’m really glad that you decided to stick it out. You’re the only employee I’ve ever had who didn’t give up on me. Thanks for finishing strong and being willing to work it out.”

That statement alone meant the world to me. It was confirmation of what I believe God was trying to teach me – that relationships are important, and that they’re worth working for.

That old boss – once my nemesis – has now become a friend. He and I still keep in touch a year and a half later, even though I now live 800 miles away.

39 Dave February 1, 2013 at 6:40 am

@Nathan: Burning the bridge is a terrible idea, even if you hate the job. Most professional industries are very close-knit. I left one employer of 8 years to work at a competitor, and found out one of my human resources contacts from company #1 now worked at #2. Eventually I ran into about a dozen co-workers at that company.

Whenever I leave a position, I first draft a resignation letter and sign it. I then present this to my manager as I am telling him that I am leaving. I like to use this as an ice breaker, plus if you work for a shady company, you have proof that you did the right thing. They can’t just fire you and say you never quit.

40 Eric February 1, 2013 at 8:15 am

A few more points:
Your current boss might try to get you to stay. I had a GM offer me a 10% pay bump and a company car when I told him I was leaving (which would have got me at least closer to the compensation I got at the new job). Of course, even if it exceeded the compensation I was going to leave and made it clear that it wasn’t about money, but opportunity. And it turned out to be a much better place (until it wasn’t… at which time I had to run away).

If you’re running away from a bad situation and not finding a better one, look at the first year or so of the new job as the “do-over” time. Prior to leaving, pay off debt (you’ll likely accumulate more if you are moving or take a pay cut), sell off things you don’t want or need, maybe sell that expensive to fix car and get yourself a beater. If you adjust your lifestyle before you quit the pay cut won’t feel as bad.

As for burning bridges, make sure everyone knows what you do. Work with any direct reports and your boss to make sure the reports get done, the little day-to-day details are known and offer some “tech support” for a time after you leave. There’s always something that you do that no one realizes until the little thing blows up and becomes a big thing. Keeping contact for a little while (especially with anyone who might be a candidate for your replacement) will go a long way to keeping your reputation in good shape.

Along those lines, if you have someone in mind for your replacement (especially if you are in a lower management position and the company promotes from within) make sure your boss knows who it is. After all, you likely hired that person, and you’ll know what you do all day. The two times I’ve recommended someone they got the job and were an excellent fit (I hate to admit it, but they were both better in the position than I was).

Finally, remember that when you decide to leave, you are in control. Don’t feel rushed to quit after you decide it’s time to go. Just because you decided to leave doesn’t mean you have to tell anyone, just keep it to yourself until you have a plan in place. It’s a good time to research other parts of the world where you might want to live. Maybe look at complementary industries that you haven’t thought of before. If you show your cards too early your employer may start to pressure you to go before you have a landing pad and you’ll take whatever comes along just to get out. Don’t do that!

41 Dennis February 1, 2013 at 9:20 am

My mom worked in personnel for years and she told me that she would sometimes see the losing employer bid high enough to keep the leaving employee, and then find their replacement without their knowing it. Weeks or months later, same interview but this time being fired.

42 NuclearCannoli February 1, 2013 at 9:29 am

“[W]hat if you are leaving a toxic, destructive environment and you do what the vast majority of corporate weasels do — play nice and say nothing resembling the truth about why you’re leaving.” – Bob

Yes. If you’re leaving because of what you perceive as bad to grossly incompetent and even abusive management, the brutal truth is your feedback isn’t likely to change it, and if you’re right they will pay an economic price for it anyway. People who are pricks can still find a way back into your life to make your life miserable or hinder you in some way. In fact, they’re more likely to do that than a good person is to help you advance. If you want to do ‘the right thing’ as you say, follow Gandhi: be the change you want to see in the world. You behave well, let others contrast the bad behavior of your employer with your good behavior.

I’ve been in corporate HR for 10 years now in small and big companies. Two weeks notice is good, and it’s not just for your current employer. When I interview people and they’re still working but say they can start immediately, it’s a red flag. People leave, that’s a given. If people leave my company I want the respect of two weeks notice, when they leave another company to come to mine, I want them to offer the same respect to the company they are leaving; golden rule.

The only point in this article I disagree with is the need to transition and not get trunky. It’s a fine line, but there is a difference between turning into a complete flake and simply acknowledging that you ARE leaving and you can’t be reasonably expected to ensure the future of the business in the final two weeks of your service. Transition plans are good for higher up positions, but even there you should not be busting your rear end to do the impossible. The business will not fall apart without your presence, you don’t own it, it will go on without you, and if there’s so little succession planning in the company that your mere absence will affect their performance, that’s part of the price they pay for such bad preparation and management.

You should always do what you think will reflect best on you now and in the future given the current circumstances.

43 Eric Granata February 1, 2013 at 9:40 am

I left my job of 6 years a little over a year ago. Leaving with civility came easy because after that much time, I had come to care about many of the people I worked with and I did not want to leave them in a pickle. With that in mind, I gave 4 weeks notice to give us time to transition.

Because I had known for some time that I was on the outs I had spent time documenting everything that I did. This included vendors I used, login information, contacts, documented processes, creating screencasts, etc.

Leaving them in a good place and on good terms was good for both of us.

My only regret (and I’d be interested in your opinions here) was that during my exit interview, I may have been a little too honest when asked, “What could we have done differently to keep you here.” My answer was civil, but honest. That guy cold shoulders me every time I see him (which is weekly).

44 Dave February 1, 2013 at 9:53 am

I just did this for the first time ever a week ago, and my last day is next Friday. I was very anxious and felt like I’d be leaving my team in a lurch, but the new opportunity is just too good to pass up. Everybody seems OK though, so the transition is calm. New company wanted me in something like 9 days and I had to push back so I could give my current gig proper notice. Later I found out from HR that *not* doing that would have potentially blacklisted me against any future rehiring here, but I just thought it was professional courtesy.

Weird that in my almost 20 year career I’d never had to do this before, but before here I was with one company for 12 years, moving around internally, and before that it was short-term gigs and/or less-professional environs.

45 Marcie February 1, 2013 at 10:51 am

I left my job a couple weeks ago, but I didn’t do it right. They were not paying me in a timely manner and I had already checked out mentally. I gave my two weeks notice on Wednesday, and went in on Thursday and told my supervisor that Friday was my last day. I did have an explanation in writing.

I know that was unprofessional but I was not at peace. And they have not paid me for my final work, so I am certain that I made the right decision.

I do know that I will need this organization again because of a project I am working on. However, I don’t think any bridges were burned because of the situation.

46 Kyle February 1, 2013 at 11:16 am

Two suggestions:
1) If you’re considering taking a counter offer please remember that they’ll never trust you the same way again. You’ve been disloyal once and could do it again. It will color a lot if you return.
2) When I’ve quit, on the last day co-workers wanted to take me out for a simple last get together such as pizza and beer. They thought they were paying but I got to the waiter beforehand and I paid the check. If someone was willing to take me out to say good-bye, I wanted to treat. Later on, some of these people came to where I was working as employees and the rapport was great. It was well worth the hundred bucks or so in the going away party. Yes, the very last impression counts.

47 Lamont Cranston February 1, 2013 at 11:31 am

Anonymous Fornow -
I don’t know how relevant it is to you, but at the major land-grant university where I work, it’s a common practice for new mothers to take their entire six weeks of maternity leave, and then never come back. It’s so bad that we just ASSUME that pregnant women aren’t coming back.

On the other hand, a friend of mine is retiring, and has given her notice, effective the last day of her vacation.

If you were working for me, I’d like to know as soon as you know. The paid leave is already in the budget. The farther out you give me the notice, the better off I am.

48 Dutch February 1, 2013 at 1:09 pm

Good article, and pretty on point. At the end of the day YOU are an enterprise of one and your public image is key to your continued success.

The only point that I think is missed or not fully represented is to not be a coward. And not just when it comes time to quit. When you do a job you are filling a needed role, and likely have much perspective on how that role is best filled. Nobody likes a complainer, but the day you give your notice should not be the first time you give constructive feedback to your employer; be it on institutional shortcomings related to the work you do, issues that are preventing better performance of your work, or opportunities to improve them. A big part of the disillusionment many people come to feel in their jobs has to do with their own willful submission to the role of slave. You are not a slave. You should never act like one. Furthermore if your employer chooses to treat you like one, disregarding your informed perspective on the work you give the majority of your life to, then this alone should be the writing on the wall that its time to move on.

I have said things to bosses that would shock you. But I got away with them because presented I them in a professional and relevant manner, and pointed to my accomplishments as proof of the many benefits that my same sense of judgement as afforded the company. What this accomplishes is twofold. First and foremost, it puts the ball in the company’s hand. Its a ‘your move’ strategy, that will quickly illuminate how the company really feels about you. Provided that you are professional in the presentation of your case, if they ignore/punish/laugh at you then you know where you stand. But you may also be surprised and find your message received and perhaps see a remedy to the thing that was making you consider quitting in the first place. And reassuring you that you are needed, respected and not totally wasting your time. The second thing it accomplishes is preventing you from having to explain yourself if or when you do decide to quit. Instead, when that day arrives, you simply can state, with full calm and confidence, that you provided feedback on relevant concerns only to see them ignored or dismissed, and leave it at that. I call this the ‘fair game dig’. Yes its a dig, and it feels good, but it is also nothing that anyone can fault you for. I have done this on more than one occasion and even though my employer might not appreciate it, they nonetheless couldn’t hold it against me. In fact I have even recounted such instances in interviews for new jobs as proof of my ability to constructively handle bad situations, and have been commended for it. I did this exact same thing at the last job I held before starting my own business, and guess who became my first, and still biggest customer of my new business: my former employer.

It all comes down to one simple rule. ALWAYS be professional…but NEVER be a slave.

49 Mali February 2, 2013 at 8:43 am

NEVER BLAST OR ATTACK THE JOB YOU ARE LEAVING, you will need them for references in your future employment.

I nearly cursed at my managers at the job I was leaving, two weeks later my new job wanted references from this old job, luckily I chose to leave quietly because it would have ruined my chances of a new job.

50 Steve Wood February 2, 2013 at 4:22 pm

I agree with Mark Ruddick: In higher-level positions, whether professional or executive, four weeks’ notice is better than two. Indeed, in some fields, such as academics and health care, it is expected. A physician, scientist or administrator who resigned with only two weeks’ notice from my medical school employer would be burning his bridges behind him.

Then again, kicking an employee out the door because he’s had the temerity to quit is also pretty much unknown in these fields. How can people stand to work for a company that would do such a thing?

Otherwise the article is spot-on. No matter what field you work in, it’s a small world. You’re always better off leaving the best possible reputation behind you, regardless of your private opinion.

51 nate February 2, 2013 at 8:00 pm

This is an article that every man should be familiar with before leaving high school. I have experienced both a “good” quitting experience and “bad”.
The bad was when I was not ready for a counter offer. I immediately accepted the extra $5,000 salary boost but failed to consider why I was looking for a new job to begin with. Within six months of accepting the counter offer I found myself so miserable at the workplace that I blew up and left with bridges not only burned, I dug up the pilings and burnt those too.
The good experience involved doing everything advised in this article. I left being a sushi chef at a place that I loved working, but I had an offer I couldn’t refuse and they could not match. Because of my good relationship and my quitting with respect and dignity, I have received work in my current job (a type of contracting) from my former employers and I regularly return to the sushi bar not only to eat but to make sushi when I have a free evening.
Also, if you have worked with anyone that has taught you new skills or been a mentor, let them know you appreciate their contribution when you leave. Nobody likes an ingrate.

52 M. Sanchez February 2, 2013 at 11:22 pm

well then I guess this little gig isn’t going to go well
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9A4UGtM4hDQ

53 Pastor Joshua February 4, 2013 at 9:26 am

I have quit several jobs over the years. Some for school, others for career advancement, and one or two because of differences in opinion. I have left badly and well. At one job I simply walked in and said, “I’m done” followed by a rant of how they had failed as bosses. I didn’t cuss or throw the management under the bus to everyone I knew, but my response was not constructive. My most successful quitting allowed me to not only have references, but I returned to the company a few years later as a part-time employee while my wife finished college. I simply went to the office reintroduced myself to my former boss and he hired me on the spot to start the following week. Much better.

54 Nicholas February 5, 2013 at 6:09 am

Great article and some solid manly advice here!
A few months back I got a job offer for my dream job and so I was going to fly to my boss’ city for some meetings and also tell him that I would be quitting. Well, that morning one delay led to another and I missed my flight. I was fuming at the delays, but in the four hours I was waiting, I took a closer look at the offer letter from the other company, realized that they were offering me 30% lower salary than the job posting and decided there was no way for me to take that job with the level of pay they were willing to offer me. Needless to say I was not so annoyed about missing my flight then: had I been on that plane, I would have landed and told my boss right away that I was leaving. Then I might have had to backpedal, which would have been atrocious.
So yes, timing is key, as well as knowing all the details in the new job offer.
P.S. what happened in the end is I took on both jobs: I stayed at the one full-time and have the other one going part time on the side.

55 Nicholas February 5, 2013 at 6:11 am

Another factor when it comes to timing is the company bonus, if applicable.
I just had a coworker leave the company on Dec. 31. What he didn’t realize is that if he had stayed around till Feb. 28, he would have gotten the 10% yearly bonus, which is over a month of salary. I’m sure he was kicking himself when he found out he had worked the entire year, only to pass up the bonus.
So yes, think about all these factors when timing a move.

56 Matt B February 5, 2013 at 12:28 pm

This article came at an amazing time. I am 20 years old and have had 6 paying jobs over the last 5 years, but I have never formally quit one before; I always left due to seasonal employment. I am about to quit a job I’ve had for the last 2 years because I was offered a new position in my chosen field, and I have been wondering about the best ways to go about doing it while remaining civil, courteous, and respectful. I was about to start searching the archives when, lo and behold, AoM delivers again! Thanks for the advice guys!

57 John Parker February 6, 2013 at 3:13 pm

Thanks for the great advise! This article may come in handy for me one of these days! Cheers

58 Jay February 8, 2013 at 11:36 am

I tend to agree with Bob. Sometimes, you have to stand up for yourself and for the (former) colleagues you are leaving behind. This advice is geared towards the very best case scenario and covering your own a$$. And, granted, there is a place for that. But what if you are caught in a terrible situation and are compelled to do right by yourself and by other employees as you head out the door? It just seems like such a cop-out to play nice and walk away with a fake smile in order to keep bridges intact. The good solider thing too often strikes me as a shirking of personal responsibility.

59 A. S. February 8, 2013 at 2:51 pm

I quit a job six months ago. I had been employed with them for 5 years but felt the need to leave for many personal reasons. My supervisor lived and worked 3 states away and only came to my site twice a year. I am old school so didn’t want to quit in an email or over the phone, so I waited for him to come to site for a visit. When he came for the site visit I was very professional and informed him I was putting in my two weeks notice for personal growth reasons. To say it went smoothly would be a jest. I have never seen some one flip out like he did in my life. I thought for sure I would be getting into a fist fight with this guy just to get out of the room. He started throwing around paper and screaming at me like a nut job, he said he wouldn‘t accept my resignation with out a well written report on my reasons to leave my position. After about 5 minutes of this I just put on my jacket and left the building. One thing I learned from that ordeal is get to know the personality of your Employer/Supervisor before Quitting. It might be in your best interest to just email them you are quitting.

60 craig February 13, 2013 at 1:02 am

I quit a job a couple of years ago. It was for a small company. I liked my boss and he taught me a lot about my field. I had a better job offer from another company that could pay me much more than my boss could afford to.

We discussed it and I told him I would miss working for the company. He gave me a counter offer but I had to decline. Both of us handled the situation like men and ended the conversation with a firm hand shake. He later got me a going away dinner which was nice of him. We occasionally share emails to this day.

61 Mr rockface February 17, 2013 at 12:22 pm

I quit my job with no notice , just left . I kind of regret it because it was unwise , but it was still a big corporation so they did not give a damn about me . Sad part is I loved the company … it had potential , but I immature back then , never even dressed well , I used to go to work dressed like a kid

62 DK February 17, 2013 at 3:42 pm

As very few people leave jobs nowadays that are actually working for them to go to “something better”; we can assume people are leaving because things are fairly terrible. “Something better” isn’t on the horizon right now for the majority of workers, unless you have a freshly minted degree or you’re moving out to your own successful business.

So, sorry, it’s nice advice but it no longer applies to the current corporate or retail situation in the United States.

No matter what you do, there is no nice way to leave a job situation any longer. Middle managers immediately begin to whine unceasingly and throw juvenile fits because your departure means paperwork, interviews and throws the stability of their team into question. Essentially, you’ve created more work for them and they’re not happy.

Your co-workers will have similar reactions as now you’ve created more work for them until your replacement arrives which could be months or never.

You’ve also shifted the internal politics. People who were ducking the drama, will now be in focus and the henpecking will start until someone bleeds.

There is no civil way to leave a job anymore and if a manager can throw you under the bus on the way out to save their own reputation, they will do it without hesitation.

Two weeks notice = two weeks to blame you for a team failure. It also gives HR two weeks to say you’re not eligible for something you thought was rightly yours.

Best advice, leave the place without fanfare as quickly as you can. Be VERY CAREFUL as you exit. And don’t call or email anyone from your old job for at least six months so as not to get re-entangled.

63 Patrick February 18, 2013 at 12:35 am

I had to leave a job that I loved because they were forcing me into a position that I hated and knew I wouldn’t be good at. I was angry at management for tricking me into the other job (and yes,they tricked me), but I left cordially and even got a recommendation from them. Now I’m in my own business (same field), and that former employer is a great source of referrals. Never burn bridges!

64 Jake February 25, 2013 at 1:28 am

I left a fast food company I was working for after about a year of employment their. I pretty much knew the store forwards and backwards and was generally well liked by crew and management but the paid was poor and the hours were limited due to Obamacare. When I was given the official word from my new job I submitted my 2 weeks notice in written form and called the GM to let her know. I stated that it was a great experience, thank you, ect, I enjoyed the opportunity and you have my full commitment until the end of said two weeks. They let me finish out that week and I did like normal. When I let I posted a short “exit letter” to all the employees telling them how great they all were and how much I enjoyed it their(which was true).

As a result of that to this day I’m confident I could walk into that restaurant, tell them I want back on and be on next week’s schedule.

The problem with quitting like DK suggests is that you could be wrong. Everyone thinks their job sucks, but it could be worse. If you get to your new job and you find out its horrible you won’t have any place to go back to. Now if management burns the bridge for you well nothing you can do but at least you tried.

65 Bob George March 3, 2013 at 7:16 pm

I just got out of Paramedic school along the way i was working in a warehouse.. on Friday i got a call from a leading company in my medic field offering me a job to start on Monday knowing that i had another job… in my case I cant give a two week notice so I’m wondering how it is going to pan out

66 Seth March 12, 2013 at 12:21 am

Make sure to get letters of reference from managers and coworkers.

67 David April 11, 2013 at 3:20 pm

The day I resigned was the best day I ever had at a particularly unpleasant job. For a while the writing was on the wall that I was likely going to be fired, probably after they expected me to triple work harder in order to keep my position. .

So I decided to leave on my terms and resigned—without another job lined up.

I was professional. I had the letter, presented it to my two managers. When asked by my department supervisor why I was leaving, I simply told him, “I decided this isn’t the kind of work I wanted to do.”.

But when he asked me where I was going next, I smiled and replied, “I don’t know yet.” I could see he was shocked I was choosing unemployment since he knew I just had baby. He was also pissed, although he tried to conceal that, because this was completely unexpected.

Damn right I “trunked” my last two weeks. I still put in the hours and completed my ongoing projects, but pretty much disengaged from any meetings or planning sessions.

But I was also completely forthright in my exit “interview” (really just another form to fill out). I outlined my issues with the company, with management in general. But I did so professionally as well.

I also posted reviews on job sites about the job, being careful to make it very clear that this was MY experience. I too felt it was my responsibility to provide some semblance of transparency to a culture that I believed thrived too much on politics and hidden agendas.

Maybe it helped, because I’d see frequent frequent postings for my old job on career sites. One two months later, another five months later, and then another seven months later. I also heard that they finally hired someone to fill my position, but she quit before she even started.

With hindsight, I would have done the same exact thing.

68 Charlie May 14, 2013 at 1:24 am

Love the no scorched earth policy. I did something very similar and instead of quitting, was actually offered a remote work arrangement which I happily took.

So I guess what I would add to the list is to know what would make you stay. Then mention it. Even if it seems outlandish. I was leaving because I wanted to move away from the city I was living in – the only city in which we had an office. No one at my level had ever done remote work before, but that didn’t stop me from offering it as a possibility.

But I offered remote work as a possibility. And my boss took me up on it. I was thrilled to stay with my company and still get to move.

69 Cindy May 19, 2013 at 8:20 am

I am quitting my job tomorrow. I am very nervous over the reaction of my supervisor!
But, realistically it is a test for the company and how they handle a employee exiting the company. I feel that a great supervisor should handle the situation with grace. Be supportive of the employees decision and wish them well. If there is cause of anger etc.. Due to leaving then you do not want to work for this organization anyway!
I’m still nervous!

70 JR May 20, 2013 at 12:11 am

I’ll be giving my 2-week notice tomorrow. 5 years. I accumulated 86 vacation hours and 144 sick hours. None of it will be paid out. I was all set to ask for 2 weeks off and give notice right before. Then I read this article and it changed my mind. To live a virtuous life, a noble life, one with integrity, one must embrace those very traits. I feel ashamed of my initial decision and I am thankful for that little voice inside saying, “That just doesn’t feel right.” Thanks AOM for helping me to heed it.

71 Frances June 7, 2013 at 2:16 pm

David, you just made me smile. I am in the situation now. I have yet to give my notice, but is coming. I will do the two weeks and will try not to “truck” those last two weeks.

72 CO June 10, 2013 at 9:44 am

This is very good information! I have already taken an offer from another company and plan to leave my current sales job in a month. The problem I have encountered, is with sales, once I put in my 2 weeks notice, I do not see them wanting to continue paying me to work there. I am wondering if anyone has any information for sales positions, as I need help! Thanks

73 Cee June 18, 2013 at 5:21 pm

I am quitting my job and have been working there for almost 2 months. Do I still need to give two weeks notice?

74 Anonymous June 19, 2013 at 12:38 am

“When I interview people and they’re still working but say they can start immediately, it’s a red flag”

So when you’re asked if you can start immediately, that’s just another gotchya question. Ah the joys of corporate game playing.

75 lalala July 1, 2013 at 12:00 am

According to this, it would appear that I have already made a mistake! I told my second manager that I wanted to leave the job due to a mismatch of interest. Being fresh out of university, I took job hoping that it will lead me to a solid career path but obviously I was wrong! I only hope he keeps mum about this as I told him in the strictest of confidence. I acted naively in thinking that he could be friend that I could confide into.

As for bidding my colleagues with warm goodbye. I don’t think that is possible for everyone in my team.

76 RAS July 11, 2013 at 1:45 pm

I was dealing with a great deal of personal stress and in the midst of a rather sudden serious depression. I resigned from my job due to my sense of feeling hopeless about everything. I gave 4 weeks notice (I am a manager) and stated my reason was that I just did not feel challenged or passionate about my job. I have always received very high scores on my evaluations, I volunteer, in 25 years I have never had a single write up or corrective action. Well my doctor intervened and stated that I should not resign because my depression was clouding my judgment. I asked to have my resignation rescinded which it was. I had to sign an agreement that this was a one time thing and any resignation I submit in the past would be permanent. This seemed reasonable although there was no indication that I was trying to manipulate them. So I went back to my job. 2 months later my performance appraisal is done. I got the highest marks in every area except one – Communication and Teamwork – I was given a “needs improvement’ I was told this was being done because my resignation had to be considered and I needed to have my performance downgraded. Well I did not agree – my performance never changed. I was out sick 3 days – I still worked while I was out. Anyway – last week (3 months later) I am told that they are creating an assistant position for me because “if I left they would be vulnerable w/o my skills and knowledge”. I don’t believe this for one second. Am I wrong to assume they plan to replace me because they no longer feel they can rely on me? I am not angry – I guess I can see their point but I don’t like being lied to either. How should I handle?

77 haywood September 19, 2013 at 4:39 pm

I quit my job a few months ago and have regretted ever since. I did everything wrong while quitting. I only left a weeks notice. I quit the week before a major project was underway. When I quit I lost a clearance level with the government. I cashed in 200+ hours of PTO which didnt amount to half as much as I expected. I quit with the expectation that I would have 2 week balance of PTO with the new job, which was extremely stupid and boneheaded of me. I knew within the first 10 minutes at the new job that I made a huge mistake. After starting the new job, it took me a day or two to build up the courage to call back my old boss and beg for my job back. That got me nowhere because I had left without giving 2 weeks. Keep in mind that I work in a very small work community and your reputation is everything. Now I have ruined my reputation. Im sure my old coworkers view me as a quitter. I am making attempts to return to my old company but if I do my tarnished reputation will always haunt me. The past couple of months have been a living hell for me and my loved ones. I have put them through a lot of stress dealing with me and my new found depression. Im not really sure why I quit my old job to be honest and I wish I could go back in time and un-f**k my life.

78 Allen November 21, 2013 at 9:25 am

Thank you for writting such a informative article. I found the information helpful in preparing myself for leaving my own place of employment. I agree one shouldn’t burn one’s own bridges. You never know if your new venture will work out and might need to take a step back. Words and intentions, attitudes, and gratefulness travel upwards like smoke in the corporate world. You never know how far up the signal goes once you’ve sent it.

Resentment, if any, only lasts so long, and if you dwell in the envrionment you left, you will carry that with you to the new one. I agree that bad feelings about whom and what should be forgiven. Why taint your new job?

I found personally that leaving a job can be hard. Yes you are ditching people, bonds, dependency of the company on you, etc. You are also doing this for yourself, thier worries are not your own. Help, prepare, train and so on, the best you can

Thanks for the opportunity to give my nickels worth of thoughts.

79 Amy December 9, 2013 at 2:50 pm

I am contemplating how to quit my job in the next few weeks. I have 2.5 days of personal time that I planned to use during the holiday week but I’m struggling to fit in all the demands of both jobs. The new job needs me during days and the current job is an 8-4 job. I want to stay until January 3 so I get to work 2 days in 2014 and get to keep my insurance coverage through them through the month. Is it permissible to give notice and still take approved time off? I’m willing to forgo my vacation approved time off to work the last two days of December to wrap everything up in those four days. Can I still get paid for my personal time even though I’m not working? Help!

80 Minnie December 11, 2013 at 8:20 am

I have made my mind to quit this job. I dont have another offer , but i wish to take some time out and then start applying afresh. So, actually there is no reason apart from tht, this job is not going to lead me up in my career.
what and How do i tell my boss this ?

81 Rainey December 14, 2013 at 9:07 pm

I was leaving a restaurant one time. I loved the job, and the people. The problem was that I had two other jobs and this particular job I didn’t feel that i was doing as well at and thought it wise to lose one of the jobs.

I put in my notice and agreed to stay on until New Years Eve (one of their busiest nights of the year).

My last night there, I met the Owner/Chef’s wife for the very first time. She did not know it was my last night there (this was the only night of the year that she worked there), and at the end of the night she said that she looked forward to working with me again next year. I informed her that this was my last night.

Her shock actually made me proud. She told me that she had never seen someone work like this on their last day in her life and that she was sorry to hear that I was leaving.

I hadn’t had much interaction with her husband that evening, but at the end of the night, he came out and told me that his wife had been singing my praises and that he was sorry to see me go.

I still frequent the restaurant. He was a great boss, but i din’t feel like i was reaching my potential.

Every time I have left a job since then, I have tried to repeat the same “last day” mentality that I did that night.

82 joanna December 20, 2013 at 3:41 am

I’ve been at this job for 1 year & 6m, its kind of hard for me to leave but its something I have to do but I just don’t know how to go about it

83 JAMES CARLINI January 4, 2014 at 5:49 am

Two-week notices went out with nickel beers. There is a huge argument as to the effectiveness of leaving a job with a one-day notice just like many companies of today give employees when they are reducing staff.

Here is a different perspective –
http://onpurposemagazine.com/2014/01/01/exit-strategies-two-week-notices-are-gone/

84 Bill April 17, 2014 at 12:32 am

Enjoyed the read and food for thought.

I’ve been on the job for 23 years and over the years many things have changed.

I think the new business model is push people to see how far you can.

There comes a time when enough is enough and sometimes it even earns a little respect to speak up.

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