Dear Employees: Here's How to Quit Your Job
For many who've quit, the decision was life-changing. Even overdue.
For others, participating in the great resignation quickly turned into their great regret. "I left for better pay but wish I'd known it came with a micro-managing boss. Unfortunately, I didn't do a great job of leaving the door open at my previous employer," said Paul, an electrical engineer. "At least now I have a better idea of what to look for and ask about in my next interview."
Paul's experience raises a couple of important questions for those considering a change:
- How do you know when quitting is the right choice?
- And if it is, how exactly do you quit a job?
Before you quit, make a list of why you're unhappy or dissatisfied, along with a solution for addressing it. For example:
+I haven't had a pay raise in over a year and my motivation has taken a hit. Here is how I feel my value has increased (describe). I’d like a raise, is there anything you can do to help me get it?
+ My commute is getting tough and I'm missing out on a lot of things at home. I'd like to work remotely two days per week.
+ I've been working on the same projects for a while and keep getting similar ones that aren't very exciting to me. I’m really interested in working on x,y,z. Could you help make that happen?
Most managers are reasonable, supportive people who want to help you feel happy and see you succeed. If yours doesn't and you don't feel like you could have this conversation with them, it's probably time to move on.
If You're Going to Quit, Quit Like a Pro
Some people regret quitting altogether; others regret how they quit.
While it may be tempting to go after that viral video on social media, maybe don't. Even if you're certain you'll never return, things change. The world is small. Careers are long. Paths cross and cross and cross. Quitting like a professional means honoring the relationships you've built, keeping doors open for the future, and respecting the lessons this experience has taught you.
As you prepare to let people know about your decision, it might be helpful to operate from this perspective: How can I conduct myself in a way that this company, or my manager, won't think twice about taking me back in the future?
1. Develop a clear, consistent message.
When it comes time, you’ll want to deliver the message quickly to the people who must hear it from you, especially your immediate manager. As soon as one person finds out, everyone will find out. So, make your list: who needs to hear the news from you?
2. Determine how much notice you'll give.
This decision considers your needs, but also those you've grown to care about. Be prepared to offer a thorough rundown of outstanding projects and related tasks, along with a plan for how you'll help transition the projects, ideally over a period of two- to-three weeks. How you assist with the transition could be the last imprint you leave on an organization, and you'll want to make that as positive as possible. But don't stay too long. Once people process the news of your departure, they'll begin to move on quickly. Overstaying will be awkward for everyone.
3. Determine the right delivery method.
Face-to-face is the best option if you have a strong, or long-term relationship with your manager. If your relationship is strained or difficult, a phone or video conversation is also appropriate.
Email or text messaging should be used as a last resort since tone doesn't translate through email or text and is easily misinterpreted.
4. Prepare for a variety of reactions.
Counteroffers, surprise, tears, anger, frustration, desperation. Prepare for all possible scenarios and have a standard response prepared, “I know this is surprising/upsetting, but I appreciate your support and will always value what I've learned here.”
Providing an exit out of the conversation is also a gracious gesture for a surprised/upset manager, and a way for you to remove yourself from an uncomfortable situation, "I know this is surprising/upsetting. I'll give you some time to process this news. Please reach out with questions or next steps whenever you're ready."
In the best-case scenario, your employer will be disappointed, but also appreciative of the value you've brought to your role and express hope you'll consider returning one day. Afterall, a good employer loves a boomerang*, especially one who performs—and quits—like a professional.*Boomerang employee: An employee who leaves an organization but later returns.