9 Best Ways to Quit Your Job and Leave Gracefully ٩(⁎❛ᴗ❛⁎)۶

Apr 23, 2020 | 0 comments

How to quit your job and leave gracefully

I.     Introduction

Have you had enough of your loud-chewing coworker? Are you done with having to ask for permission each time you want to open the window and let some fresh air in? Or, better still, have you got an exciting job offer that promises to take your career to the next level? In either case, it is high time to quit your job.

Here’s the thing with quitting your job, though: it’s not nearly as simple as it sounds. If done right, it could do wonders for your growth as a professional. But if done wrong, it could wreak havoc on your relationships, public image, and opportunities for future development. So, no pressure.

Lucky for you, this comprehensive guide is chock-full of tried-and-tested tips on how to quit your job in a way that is graceful, considerate, and leaves a good lasting impression. Drawing from the combined industry experience of leading HR experts, these tricks of the trade could help you secure stellar references, boost your resume, and step up your networking game.

The best part?

I will provide you with a ready-to-use sample resignation letter as well as thank you cards and farewell email templates to send to your boss and colleagues. You may use them as they are or change them to better fit your situation. Best of all, they are 100% free of charge!

If you want to:

  • Quit your job gracefully and with dignity
  • Leave a great last impression
  • Avoid burning bridges
  • Keep all your work friendships
  • Use your resignation as the great network opportunity that it is
  • Ensure that your boss puts in a good word for you

… this guide is for you.

So, stretch out a bit, make sure you are hydrated and get yourself settled. We are about to do some serious resignation planning.

II.     Quit Your Job in Style: A Caveat

Before we dive into the do’s and don’ts of how to leave your job strategically, here’s the fine print. All of the tips below are entirely optional and highly dependent on your personal and financial circumstances, as well as on your workplace culture and how well you get along with your colleagues.

Therefore, don’t just follow them blindly but consider how they may or may not apply to your particular case. What’s more, get creative and try to think of ways in which you could adapt our suggestions so that they work for you and your career. And if you come up with an original idea, feel free to share it with us and the rest of the world in the comments section down below. It would be much appreciated and could be of great help to so many people out there!

III.     9 Ways to Quit Your Job in Style

1. Know How to Answer the Question “Why Are You Leaving Us?”

You didn’t expect we’d start with this one, did you? One would think that anyone who has decided to quit their job would be able to answer this question in their sleep. As surprising as it may sound, however, that is most certainly not the case.

“But how is that possible?” you may be wondering. Look, I am not saying that most people don’t know why they are quitting their jobs. Of course, they do, and usually, they have some very good reasons. However, many people don’t have a ready, well-rehearsed, and well-thought-out answer to give their boss and colleagues — and that is a massive strategic mistake.

Here is why.

» The Power of Confidence

When you quit your job and hand in your resignation to your employer and HR, you want to come across as professional, mature, and 100% convinced that what you are doing is the right thing for you. Even if you decided to quit on a whim, you should behave as if you’ve been planning your departure for at least half a year. You want to project strength, conviction, and optimism.

Why is this important?

It is important because projecting confidence will gain you the respect of whoever is sitting at the opposite end of the table. And if people respect you, they are more inclined to trust you, like you, and take you seriously. And that, friends, is the key to successful business negotiations and networking. Confidence can help you secure the best resignation deal possible and could even prepare the ground for productive future cooperation with your soon-to-be-ex employer.

» What Makes a Great Answer?

With this in mind, you’d probably agree with me when I tell you that:

  • Incoherent mumbling
  • Being at a loss for words
  • Being unable to put together two complete sentences in a row
  • Seeming utterly unconvinced with what you are saying

… are not likely to get you very far — especially in response to a question as simple as “So why are you leaving us?”

To make sure that doesn’t happen, come up with an answer that is articulate and try to keep it as short as possible. Say all you need to say, but don’t go into too much detail.

Your answer also needs to be credible. Note that I am not saying it should be truthful. Obviously, you shouldn’t outright lie, but if there is anything that is best left unsaid, don’t say it. For instance, it’s generally not a great idea to tell your boss that their poor management skills are one of the main reasons you decided to quit your job.

Finally, your answer should be rational. The last thing you want is to leave the impression that your emotions got the better of you and caused you to quit your job. That would make you seem weak and unprofessional. Even if you are resigning because you can’t stand your toxic colleagues for one more minute, make it look like you’ve thought long and hard about it, and this other company is the obvious next step for your career.

Last but not least, make sure to prepare your answer way before you tell anyone that you are leaving. Then, rehearse, rehearse, rehearse — ideally, in the mirror. The more you practice, the better and more confident you will sound.

➤ Example Answers

“I’ve learned so much here over the years, for which I’m incredibly grateful, but I feel like I’ve now reached the end of the learning curve. [ABC Company] seems like the next logical step for my growth as a professional.”

“I love working here, and I’ve got the best team I could wish for. However, my [family/health/personal life] requires my full attention at this time. I would need to take quite some time off from work.”

“I love my job, and I’m very grateful for all your support and guidance over the years. However, seeing as the industry is changing by the minute, I’ve decided to go back to school full-time to acquire new skills and knowledge and gain a competitive edge.”

“As much as I love working here, I feel like I need a new challenge and a change of scenery. I’ve been growing more interested in [other industry], and I think I am ready for a career change.”

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Important:

Remember to project confidence, professionalism, and conviction when talking to your boss or HR. That will win you their respect and extra leverage in the negotiations to follow.

2. Give Plenty of Notice

People often overlook this one, but it could be the key to building a great long-term relationship with your employer.

» How much notice should you give?

Well, for starters, don’t quit your job without notice. You must give the minimum required notice as per your employment contract. Depending on your industry and line of work, that could be anywhere from two weeks to three months. The bare minimum is enough to keep you out of trouble. But if you want to make the most of your resignation, you need to do better than that.

If possible, give your boss an informal heads-up before serving your formal notice period — the sooner, the better. No one else needs to know, and it doesn’t even need to be in writing; a quick chat face to face would suffice. Just make sure that you can answer the question “Why are you leaving” (see above) and that you have another job or plan B lined up.

» Why should you give more notice than what is legally required?

It’s very simple, really. The more notice you give, the more time your company has to prepare for your departure. HR would have ample time to scout out and train the best replacement, and your manager would be better able to plan the distribution of tasks and any upcoming projects. Overall, the whole process would be much less stressful for everyone involved.

And if you show that you care enough to make your employer’s job easier even as you are on your way out, they might return the favor by giving you a stellar reference and maybe some useful tips on how to nail the new job and impress your new boss. You never know — it’s a small world, and people in higher positions in the same industry are very likely to know each other.

Pro Tip:

When you quit your job, give more than the minimum required notice if possible. Your boss and HR will certainly appreciate it.

3. Make Sure That Your Boss Is the First to Know You Are Leaving

Whether or not you choose to give your boss more than the minimum notice, they should always be the first one to know that you have decided to quit your job.

» Please note: this rule is an absolute must, and there are no exceptions.

You could be close friends with some of your coworkers. You might even be married to one of them. It makes no difference — you don’t tell them before you tell your employer. Well, okay, if you work with your spouse or partner, that’s probably the only exception, but they are going to have to be very discreet.

It’s basic common sense that if your manager or HR hears that you plan to quit your job from someone else, that’s probably going to reflect poorly on you. You want to help your boss stay three steps ahead of the game, and that’s not going to happen if they are the last to learn about impending staff changes. Put anyone on the spot like that, and the last thing they’d want to do is be nice to you and share valuable career advice for your new job.

What’s even worse is that your boss could get the impression that you’ve been spreading rumors and talking behind their back about how much you can’t wait to leave that workplace. So, spare yourself a great deal of embarrassment and have the courtesy to break the big news to your manager first.

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Important:

If your boss hears that you plan to quit your job from someone else, that could reflect very poorly on you.

4. Write a Killer Resignation Letter and Farewell Email

When it comes to quitting your job, there are two key pieces of writing that you need to get right: the resignation letter that you will hand in to your manager, and the farewell email that will go out to all your coworkers. Write them well, and you could be reaping the benefits for years to come.

» The Resignation Letter: Why You Need One and How to Write It

A basic resignation letter serves to formally let your employer and HR know that you are quitting your job. It also informs them of your last day at work, and maybe what you plan to do with your life next.

A first-rate resignation letter, however, does a lot more. It can be the key to leaving a great last impression and successful future networking. It could help you to not only avoid burning bridges but also make new professional connections.

» The Building Blocks of a Great Resignation Letter

There are a few tricks to writing a great resignation letter, but the good news is that anyone can learn them. Here is what should go in there, from top to bottom:

  • Your full name
  • Your up-to-date contact details
  • The date of posting
  • Your manager’s name
  • Their contact details
  • A subject line that goes like this: “Resignation — Your Full Name”
  • A salutation: “Dear [Addressee’s Name]”
  • Paragraph 1: Inform your employer that you are resigning. Let them know when your last day is going to be
  • Paragraph 2 (optional): If the notice is short, apologize. Say why you are leaving and what your future plans are
  • Paragraph 3: Offer to help ease the transition
  • Paragraph 4: Thank your manager. Wish them and the team success
  • Paragraph 5 (optional): Include your new contact details
  • Close
  • Sign
  • Type your name
  • CC to HR and any third parties

Pro Tip:

When you quit your job, put as much thought and effort into your resignation letter as you did when writing your motivational letter when you applied for the position.

Pro Tip:

Don’t go over one page. You can never go wrong with short and simple.

Pro Tip:

Use the standard business letter format, high-quality stationery, and a neutral font such as Arial or Times New Roman, size 12.
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Important:

Do NOT print your resignation letter on your company’s branded stationery! Use plain, high-quality paper.
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Important:

Pick either American or British English spelling, as appropriate, and make sure you stick to it throughout.

➤ Resignation Letter Templates

Confused? I don’t blame you. To help make things clearer, here are a couple of ready-to-use sample resignation letters that you can use directly or amend where needed to reflect your situation. Just make sure to delete the parts highlighted in yellow, and edit the text in the brackets as appropriate.

» Resignation Letter Template #1

⇊ Download the Template ⇊

Your contact details
[Full name]
[Street address]
[City, state, zip code]
[Telephone number]
[Personal email]

Date of posting
[Date]

Your employer’s details
[Full name of the addressee]
[Title of the addressee]
[Name of the company, organization, or institution]
[Street address]
[City, state, zip code]

Subject line
RE: Resignation — [Your full name]

Salutation
Dear [James/Ms. Turner]:

I am writing to let you know that I hereby resign from my position as [Head of Digital Marketing] at [ABC Ltd.]. My last day at work will be in one month, on [Tuesday, August 7].
Click to download letter of resignation template #1
While I greatly enjoyed working at [ABC Ltd.] for the past [five years], I have decided to take on a new challenge. As of [September], I will be joining the [Marketing and Advertising Team] at [XYZ Ltd.] as their new [Head of Marketing].

I appreciate that my departure may temporarily increase the workload of some of my coworkers. Therefore, I would be happy to assist in any way that I can in the interim, including by helping train my replacement.

I also wish to take this opportunity to thank you for your invaluable guidance and continued support over the years. My work here taught me a lot and helped me grow both as a person and a professional. I will always look back at my time at [ABC Ltd.] with great fondness and will miss everyone on the team. I wish you all every success in the future.

Should you need to contact me after my last day at work, you can reach me at [your new contact details].

Thank you again. It has been a real pleasure working with you.

Sincerely,

[Hand signature]

[Type your full name]

CC: [Full names and titles of HR staff and any third parties]

» Resignation Letter Template #2

⇊ Download the Template ⇊

Your contact details
[Full name]
[Street address]
[City, state, zip code]
[Telephone number]
[Personal email]

Date of posting
[Date]

Your employer’s details
[Full name of the addressee]
[Title of the addressee]
[Name of the company, organization, or institution]
[Street address]
[City, state, zip code]

Subject line
RE: Resignation — [Your full name]

Salutation
Dear [Mr. Cohen]:

I am writing to let you know that I hereby resign from my position as [Junior Business Analyst] at [XYZ Research]. My last day will be [in two weeks], on [Friday, November 10].
Click to download resignation letter template #2
While I love my work at [XYZ Research], I have decided to go back into education. As of [September 15], I will be starting [a three-year, full-time course in Finance and Economics at ABC University College], where I hope to gain new skills and extra competitive advantage on the employment market.

As I appreciate that my departure could be a stressful time for the organization, I would be happy to help in any way that I can during this time of transition.

I also would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your support and guidance over the past [three years]. I am forever grateful to you and everyone on the team and wish you all the best of luck for the future.

Sincerely,

[Hand signature]

[Type your full name]

CC: [Full names and titles of HR staff and any third parties]

» The Farewell Email: Why Send One and What It Can Do For You

A resignation letter is all about professionalism and being and a highly functioning adult. Typically, its only addressee is your boss.

In contrast, a farewell email is all about bittersweet humor, reminiscence, and being a human. What’s more, it goes out not only to your boss and HR but also to all of your coworkers. Well, if you work in a large company and are not that close with all 500+ employees, you should probably only CC the people from your team or department.

Okay, but why should you bother to write a farewell email?

First of all, it’s a kind thing to do. Your colleagues are certainly going to appreciate it.

Secondly — and more importantly — it shows that you really care about the people you have worked side by side with for weeks, months, and, quite possibly, years on end. That will ensure that you part on great terms (if you’ve been nice to them all along, that is). And that could come in handy the next time you need a reference, career advice, or favor from one or more of your coworkers.

➤ Farewell Email Template

To give you an idea of what a good farewell email reads like, here is a free sample that you can draw inspiration from. However, you would still probably have to do a lot of editing to make it relevant to your circumstances.

Dear All,

As some of you may already know, I recently handed in my resignation. I have been offered a position as the new Head of Marketing at XYZ Ltd. and will be joining their team starting September.

The decision to leave was not an easy one to make. As much as I’m looking forward to taking on this new challenge, I am also sad that I will no longer get to see you all every day. We have shared so many great moments over the years, and I will miss each and every single one of you.

I honestly don’t know how I am going to cope without Stu’s constant snacking on Cheetos or Ruth’s staunch determination to keep the room temperature not one degree below 86F. It would take a lot of adjusting.

But I digress.

To end things with a bang, I am throwing an after-work leaving party next Friday, August 26. We’ll start with pre-drinks at the office at around 6 pm, followed by dinner at Franco’s at 7:30 pm. God only knows where we’ll end up next. Feel free to join at any time!

Finally, please stay in touch! I really hope we’ll be able to meet and catch up often.

Your friend,

Lauren x

Pro Tip:

Where appropriate, crack a joke here and there in your farewell email. Just make sure to use humor sparingly and in a way that your colleagues can all relate to.

Pro Tip:

It’s perfectly fine to get a bit emotional when you quit your job. Tell people you’ll miss them, and that you loved working with them — but don’t go overboard.

Pro Tip:

Say that you’d love to stay in touch, and follow it through. This way, you will not only save your work friendships but could also land some great networking opportunities in the future.
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Important:

Make sure that the style of writing and tone of voice are appropriate to your office culture. If you work in a more formal setting, you may want to tone it down a little.

» Offer to Help with the Transition

If you read the sample resignation letter above carefully, you should have noticed that the fictional employee offers to help with the transition, and even goes so far as volunteering to train their replacement. That’s one of the best ways to make a great last impression on your employer and everyone on your team when you quit your job.

Staffing changes are often stressful for companies and tend to put quite a lot of extra pressure on their employees. With you leaving, some of your colleagues would probably have to step in and take on your tasks until a permanent replacement is found. Your boss and others in managerial positions would need to plan and strategize to ensure that your departure causes as little collateral damage as possible to your coworkers, their productivity, and the company as a whole.

As you can see, that’s quite a handful, and your colleagues could probably use all the help they can get. Here is where you should step in and offer your assistance — and mean it. You will get to take some of the load off your coworkers’ shoulders. What’s more, you’d be investing in your relationships with what could later prove to be valuable business contacts once you quit your job for good.

» How to Help

If you are not sure how you could be of assistance, here are some examples of ways in which you could help:

  • Write guidelines that cover the most important aspects of your work for your replacement.
  • Stay after hours or come in early to help your colleagues finish their projects or meet personal deadlines.
  • Have a discussion with your boss about the best way for the team to move on without you.
  • Clean up and remove all personal belongings from your office, desk, and any drawers and cabinets you may be using. That will make it much easier for your replacement to move in.
  • If possible, take part in the recruitment of your replacement. Volunteer to write the job ad or to contact shortlisted candidates with further details about their interviews.
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Important:

If you are going to offer help, make sure you follow through. Don’t promise more than what you are able or willing to do — this could backfire badly.
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Important:

Always ask your manager if and how you could help. Don’t take any initiatives without double-checking with them first.

6. Leave No Unfinished Business

Before rushing in to help other people, though, make sure that you have finished all your work. One of the biggest mistakes you could make when you resign from your job is to abandon a bunch of projects and other smaller tasks halfway through. That’s extremely unprofessional and, depending on the scale of the projects, could even put the company in jeopardy.

As soon as you decide that you will be quitting your job, make a checklist with all your pending tasks. Keep adding new ones as they pop up, and make sure to complete all of them in time and well before your last day at work. This way, you will come across as a great team player and a responsible and trustworthy employee.

Pro Tip:

Don’t rely on your memory alone. Leaf through your planner, and go over the last six months to see if there are any unfinished tasks.

7. Offer to Put Your Ex-Boss in Touch with Your New Employer

The moment you quit your job and walk out the door for good, you are no longer your ex-company’s employee. You are now something quite different: a potentially valuable business contact and networking goldmine. This is especially true if your soon-to-be-ex boss and your new employer work in the same or related industries.

Think ahead and put your ex- and your new boss in touch as soon as possible. You may not be able to do this when you hand in your resignation, though. You might want to build a good relationship with your new employer first, which could take a few weeks or months.

Once you do that, however, make sure not to miss the opportunity. Offer to facilitate future formal or informal networking between the two companies and organizations — and see it through. A lot of good things could come out of this for everyone involved, and both your current and new boss will surely appreciate the effort.

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Important:

When offering to facilitate networking between your old and new employer, make sure that you are not pushy or annoying. If one or both parties are not interested, accept it and move on.

8. Send Everyone Personalized “Thank You” Cards

This is one of the best and most heart-warming ways to show your gratitude and appreciation to your colleagues. In addition to the standard farewell email, you might want to also send them personalized “Thank You” cards or messages. You can use email, of course, but hand-written notes would be much more personal and classy.

So, you get bonus points if you write the cards by hand. You get extra bonus points if you also give people small, personalized gifts. Don’t worry; it doesn’t have to be anything too fancy or expensive. People’s favorite work-time snacks or cheeky customized key holders or pens would do the trick.

Why should you bother with any of that?

A hand-written card and a personalized message or gift shows two things. First, that you really care. Second, that you put some thought and effort into making your colleagues feel appreciated. There is hardly a better way to part on excellent terms and leave a good lasting impression on people.

➤ “Thank You” Notes Templates

If you are not much of a writer, here are some “Thank You” note templates to give you an idea or two.

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Important:

When offering to facilitate networking between your old and new employer, make sure that you are not pushy or annoying. If one or both parties are not interested, accept it and move on.

Dear Linda,

Thank you for your unending support, hard work, and the great times we’ve shared over the years. I will miss our coffee-break laughs! But I hope we can stay in touch and catch up often.

Love,
Kate

Dear Jay,

Argh, I will miss our chats and giggles by the water cooler!!! They always were the highlight of my Mondays. Please stay in touch and come see me for coffee and gossip in the new house! You know I make the best tiramisu in town. Mark and I would love to have you over any time.

Love,
Nadia x

Dear Peter,

Thank you so much for your continued guidance and support over the years. You were the best manager I could have wished for. Your patience, wisdom, and kindness helped me grow both as a professional and a person. I will be sure to take all your valuable lessons with me as I move forward in life.

It has been a real pleasure working with you. I wish you all the best of luck in your future endeavors, and, please, stay in touch!

Best,
James

Pro Tip:

Make your “Thank You” notes forward-looking: promise to stay in touch and suggest activities your colleagues and you could do together in the future such as drinks, gym sessions, or nights out.
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Important:

Just like with your resignation letter, make sure to use high-quality stationery. Don’t just tear a page off of your notepad. Buy professional-looking “Thank You” cards instead.
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Important:

If you don’t write by hand very often, make sure to practice writing the text a few times on scrap paper. You want your messages to be legible and esthetically pleasing.

9. Organize Leaving Drinks, Dinner, or Party

Last but not least, it’s a good idea to throw a leaving dinner, party, or drinks on your last day at work. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy. You can simply invite your colleagues for a quick drink in the nearby bar or an unassuming dinner in the local pizza place.

You don’t have to invite everyone, either. If you work in a large organization, you should probably only send out invites to people from your floor or department or the members of your team.

Whatever you do, however, don’t forget two things. Number one: make sure to invite your manager. Number two: the dinner or drinks should be on you. Being cheap when you quit your job won’t get you anywhere.

Pro Tip:

If you can’t afford to pay for everyone’s dinner or drinks, you can invite people to a home-cooked meal. If the weather allows it, you could also go for a picnic in the park.

VI.     Wrapping Up

If you made it this far, congratulations — and thank you! I hope that you found my tips helpful. Please let me know what you think and if you have used or plan to use any of them in the comments section below. I am open to all kinds of feedback and am always happy to answer all your questions.

Whether you want to quit your job to travel or start a business, or you are resigning from a job you love because of the demands of your personal life, I really hope you make the best of it and achieve all your goals.

Finally, to make sure you didn’t miss anything, here is a quick recap of what you need to do to quit your job gracefully.

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How to Quit Your Job in Style: Key Takeaways

  1. Know how to answer the question, “Why are you leaving us?”

  2. Give plenty of notice.

  3. Make sure that your boss is the first to know you are leaving.

  4. Write a killer resignation letter and farewell email.

  5. Offer to help with the transition.

  6. Leave no unfinished business.

  7. Offer to put your ex-boss in touch with your new employer.

  8. Send everyone personalized “Thank You” notes.

  9. Throw leaving drinks, dinner, or party.

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