But because of a fun little thing called consequences, we have a responsibility to ourselves to leave our workplace in a way that doesn’t come back to bite us in the arse.
For some, resigning is a wonderful, long-awaited experience, with any awkward bits shrouded in the glow of a new, better job ahead. We’d like to bottle up that kind of satisfaction if we could. But a lot of the time, resigning is not fun at all — just uncomfortable, intimidating and soaked in the fear of making the wrong decision.
But if you’re at the point of no return and ready to hightail it out of that dreary office, we’re here to help you get on your merry way by breaking down exactly how to quit. Read on for the R29 guide to quitting your job.
Before you quit
First, even if you’re completely fed up and nothing would feel more satisfying than giving your seniors a piece of your mind, rage quitting is never a good idea. This is especially true if you’re planning on staying in your chosen industry — but even if you’re not, it’s a small world and you never know who is going to know who. One way to get around this urge is to allow yourself some time to process your emotions.
We recommend speaking to friends, family, coworkers or even seeking out a professional, to look at what exactly it is about your job that doesn't suit you, and whether or not those things will change at another workplace.
Of course, quitting a job means waving goodbye to an income, and it could have an impact on your ability to pay bills, rent, or handle any unforeseen expenses. If you’re in a toxic workplace that's taking a toll on your wellbeing, then getting out quickly is necessary. But if you don’t completely despise your job, it’s worth taking the time to really think about the idea of quitting, what it means for you, your finances and whether it’s the right time. Is it just a particularly gruelling week? Are other places currently hiring? Is the industry as a whole still where you want to be?
Then, begin your job search! Unless your plan is to take some time off, it's good to secure another position before you quit your current one. And, because things can get tricky, try to lock in a contract before resigning. Before you sign, read your current contract thoroughly to make sure you're not breaching any agreements (such as a competitor clause), and to understand the termination process, including things like whether you get to keep your shares or equity.
How to quit
Once you've made the decision — and maybe even locked in a schmick new job — it's time for the fun stuff.
To get the process rolling, you're going to want to schedule a meeting. Of course, if you regularly catch up with your boss, that's great. But it might catch them off-guard if you just bring it up when you're out for a coffee, so carving out some solo time is best.
We know that the request may be with a confused 'Meeting? about what?' To that we say, don't panic. Keep it vague with something along the lines of "I just wanted to catch up" or "I just wanted to discuss some work matters."
Before heading into the meeting, some things you might want to think about preparing include an idea of how you would hand over outstanding projects or tasks and what your expected notice period is.
What to say when quitting your job
Just like breakups, quitting conversations can be daunting, as there are a million things you could say. The relationship dynamics you have with your manager will also factor in — i.e, if your boss is a friend, it can add additional stress about leaving, but at least you can keep the language a little more informal.
When facing your boss, we recommend being straightforward about leaving, but being wary of your workplace's response to criticism or feedback in the moment — not for their sake, but for your own. Whether you've simply found a better job, or you're leaving because the work environment is untenable and the employees are tyrants, it's all too tempting to unleash that pent-up rage and frustration.
But while it may feel good at the time, that's the kind of stuff that may make the process even more difficult, or worse, spur them to retaliate. So for now, try to keep things simple and professional — even if that's the farthest thing from how they've been. And besides, exit interviews exist for a reason, and you can request one if you feel like it would be helpful.
If you're not convinced that they really need to hear your specific reasons for leaving, workplaces are rife with vague, corporate language you can actually use to your advantage.
To help you out, we've suggested some scripts to help nudge you in the right direction.
If you're leaving for another job, imply that you were approached and that the decision was difficult — even if you were begging for anyone to save you from your hellhole of a workplace. There are classic lines such as "I've been offered a role I couldn't turn down for my career," or, "I've recognised the need to move on with my career." Or you can expand with "I've come across an opportunity that feels more in line with where I see my career going." Something that spins leaving as 'moving on' is one way to cushion the blow.
If you're framing your departure around expanding your skills, you could get more specific with something like "Managing a team of my own feels like a natural next step for me in my career," or "While I've enjoyed my time developing my skills in X, I'm interested in learning more about a different side of the industry."
It's not everyone's reality, but try to draw focus to what you’ve learned in your role under your manager's leadership, adding that the acquired skills will help you in your future roles. Think about the positive aspects of the job and butter 'em up with those recollections — they could help down the line.
Writing some general points down is a good way to remember the things you want to say. Even if you've worked somewhere for years, how you leave can determine whether or not you get a good reference so it's not something you want to wing completely.
At this point, your manager may be shocked, horrified, or even quite upset. Check in with how they're feeling. They may appreciate the empathy, but if they begin to lash out, know that it's not about you, muster up every ounce of patience in you and try to remain calm. They'll never forget that you took the high road when they lost it.
Try for a positive closing statement, something that keeps the door open for you. "I hope our paths cross again" or "I hope to work with you again in the future." And — only if you mean it — thank them for everything they've done for your career progression.
Lastly, remember that you don't owe it to anyone to explain why you're leaving. People leave jobs that are just fine jobs every day. Cut yourself some slack and recognise what you deserve in a job.
After you quit
So you're on your way out — congrats! But the limbo you face now can a tricky one. If you're leaving on good terms, it doesn't hurt to correspond with your coworkers. Ask anyone left to deal with your handover if they need any clarification on what your absence will mean for them. It's best to be accommodating in order to make the transition smooth, but don't overextend yourself, especially if the company hasn't been very good to you.
Most importantly, try not to completely check out. We've all been there when we're just biding time in a job, but you don't want all of your slack to fall on your team members, so try to show up and take pride in your work — even if you're actually just doing the bare minimum.