Knowing how to quit your job the right way can protect your professional network, as well as your personal reputation. A little tact and grace can go a long way when you sit down with your boss.
While there are certainly those who find the career of their dreams right out of college, there are many other workers who continue to search for the perfect job — even while they take less interesting employment positions to help pay the rent and put food on the table.
Even if you’re happy with your job, you may find yourself tempted by from other organizations.
If you find yourself considering an offer from a competitor, you’ll want to keep your boss in the loop. After all, you don’t want to burn any bridges.
By maintaining a respectful and professional relationship with your current boss, even while you entertain competing offers, you’ll have the benefit of preserving a positive reputation in your field. You may even find that your boss is willing to hold your position open for you to return to, should your new job not work out the way you hope.
Of course, in order for this to be the case, you’ll need to know how to quit your job — or consider a counteroffer — with tact.
Here are some tips to help you do just that.
Practice the conversation
Your first step is ponder the conversation that you’ll have with your boss. Practice what you plan to say, and be sure you are using a respectful tone and phrasing. Now is not the time to air past grievances or to tell off your superior for all of the times that he or she failed to live up to your expectations. Instead, calmly explain your reasons for considering another offer, and allow your employer a chance to express their own thoughts on the subject.
Your boss may ask why you want to leave. He or she may wish to — or not.
Either way, you will want to be prepared for the meeting. A pleasant demeanor can sometimes provoke a counter offer from a current employer. The most important thing to remember is to show one’s appreciation for some aspect of the job. Every job gives a person a chance to learn something, even if the lesson is harsh.
Find the time to work a “thank you” into the conversation. Thanking your employer for the opportunity to work with them may leave the door open for future opportunities.
Choose your words carefully
No matter your reasons for wanting to leave, choose your words wisely when speaking with your boss. Use ‘I’ phrases, such as “I feel as though I’ve grown as much as I can within this organization,” or “I believe this new position will better help me achieve my .”
Avoid ‘you’ phrases (such as “You don’t pay me enough,” or “You stifle my creativity”), which are much more confrontational. Even if you are leaving for reasons directly associated with your boss, consider addressing the more positive aspects of the new offer, rather than trying to place blame. Here are a few other reasons you might consider sharing with your employer:
- “I feel that this new position will allow me to make a bigger difference in the world.”
- “This new position seems like a better fit for my schedule.”
- “I believe that this new position will help me become a more well-rounded individual.”
- “I want to explore other options.”
Remember that your goal here isn’t to convince your boss to let you go (you are of course free to leave whenever you want, unless contractually obligated to stay); your goal is to help your boss see that you are making a choice, and that you respect him or her enough to include them in that process.
Avoid stating monetary figures or discussing petty altercations with fellow employees. The main goal is to keep the door open so that returning to your former employment (should the new job fall through) remains a possibility.
Type a professional resignation letter
Type a professional just in case you decide to take the alternative job offer. It is up to you to choose whether to put the name of your new employer, or the reason for your departure, in the resignation letter. The resignation letter should state a date for termination of employment — two weeks is a courteous amount of time to give the employer to find a replacement. Some departing employees may want to give their employers up to four weeks, as a professional courtesy.
Your resignation letter should offer thankfulness and appreciation. After all, whatever other concerns or issues you may have with your employer, he or she did give you the chance to work, and to earn money and experience. Focus on that gratitude, rather than any problems you may have had during your time with the organization. When possible, deliver your resignation letter in person, rather than relying on internal communication channels.
Finally, above all else, be sure to remain polite throughout the entire process. Kind language and smiles are essential items to use when you’re trying to have a smooth departure discussion. The end of the meeting should include a firm handshake.
You should finish your notice period with high performance and diligence, showing that even though you are leaving the company, you respect the organization and your coworkers enough to do everything in your power to make easier for them.
A counteroffer from your employer is nice, and could even sway you stay. But even if no counteroffer is made, you should be sure to work hard enough to leave you current employment on a high note. After all, until you clock-out for the last time, this is still your job, and it’s your responsibility to perform it well.
Lewis Robinson is a business consultant specializing in social media marketing and sales. He’s had the opportunity to manage his own startup businesses and currently freelances as a writer and business consultant.