How To Tell Your Boss You’re Quitting Your Job (With Examples)

By Chris Kolmar - Jul. 11, 2021

Find a Job You Really Want In

Score! You just got an offer for your dream job. Now, to give notice to your employer without causing drama. Just the thought of telling your boss you quit can cause a panic. Have no fear.

We’ll share how to quit your job the right way to maintain a positive relationship with your employer and coworkers.

The Worst Ways to Quit

Many people daydream about leaving their jobs in a blaze of glory, giving their boss a piece of their mind. While that sounds great, in reality, it’s not smart. If you’ve ever quit a job, you’ve probably left respectfully. Here are the ultimate worst ways to resign from your job:

  • Classic no-show. You just stop coming to work. No notice. They just wonder where you are. You let the phone ring. You block the work phone number. You are free and have never been happier.

  • Big scene midday exit. You dramatically pack up your things. Stand on your desk and shout, “I quit!”

  • YouTube video. You have written a special song talking about everything you hate about your job and boss and make it go viral on Youtube. You build a cult following, and your video is seen on the evening news.

  • Facebook official exit. You tell all your friends that you plan on quitting. So before you even get to tell your boss, he has heard through the grapevine and is not happy.

  • Tell your work buddies announcement. You go cubicle to cubicle telling your work buddies about how you plan to quit. Before you know it, the secret slips, and your boss is in the know.

  • Bad performance technique. You start wearing sweats to work. Then you play video games on your phone all day while napping at the desk, hoping your boss will fire you.

  • Text resignation. Because telling your boss that you quit is hard, some workers opt to text their boss saying they quit.

  • Total blow out. This is like what Jennifer Anniston’s character Joanna did while quitting her TGI Friday’s job. They were pushing her to wear an obnoxious amount of flair. Joanna flips him off and responds, “I do want to express myself, and I don’t need 37 pieces of flair to do it. There’s my flair.” And, just for good measure, she adds, “I hate this goddamn job, and I don’t need it.” Perfect.

Things You Hated About Your Job But Never Said

You don’t want to rant about why your job sucks. The company could have been engaging in illegal activities. You could have been having total catfights with coworkers. Maybe you want to trash talk the team member who always took credit for your ideas. Your boss may have been having you burn the candle at both ends with uber-long workdays. Or your boss was practicing favoritism.

These are things it’s better to keep to yourself. Don’t badmouth the company, management, or your coworkers. You never know who you may cross paths with in the future.

How to Tell Your Boss You Are Quitting

Figuring out how to tell your boss you’re quitting is a hard thing for most of us. It’s worth investing the time in preparing a graceful exit. That’s why we have some simple tips to make it easy.

  1. Ready to quit. When you decide it’s time to quit, consider what you want to say. They will want to know why you are quitting. You aren’t required to say who your new employer is going to be.

    Don’t say anything negative that could be held against you afterward. You may need this employer for a recommendation down the road. Decide when your last day of work will be. Two weeks’ notice is pretty standard.

    Clean up your computer and work phone, so there is no incriminating evidence on it. Clean out your files. Put personal files you need in an email, USB drive, or on your Google Drive. Collect any contacts of vendors, associates, and anyone you may need. Clean your inbox of any unnecessary emails.

    Clean out your desk. (Believe it or not, one time I started a new job and opened my desk only to find fingernail clippings. Ugh! Don’t be that person.) Pack up your personal belongings in advance.

  2. Find a quiet place. Wait for the right time and place to share the news with your supervisor. A face-to-face meeting is best. You will want some privacy when you tell them. Ask if you can have a quick chat with them. Then pull them into a conference room or their office.

  3. Tell your boss. When you notify your boss, try to stay calm. Know that this news may shift her mood. Stay grounded and know what you want to say. Here are eight ways that your boss may respond to your resignation.

    Share gratitude for the opportunity the job provided. Share what you have achieved and learned since working there.

    Make sure he knows you will do everything you can to transition your workload to another team member. Share your last day of employment with him. Check your employment contract to see what length of notice is required.

    Your boss’s reaction could be shock, horror, anger, joy. They may even offer you a counteroffer trying to get you to stay. Would a promotion or boost in salary change your mind and make you stay? Be prepared.

  4. Have a transition plan. Write a list of your responsibilities with plans of how and who can handle them. Offer to assist in training and developing team members. Have a plan for delegating duties to your replacement. Share what you do and how it’s done.

  5. Write a resignation letter This letter should explain why you are quitting. Start by stating your final workday, then share gratitude for the opportunity. Finally, express your willingness to assist with the transition.

  6. Leave gracefully. Know that your boss may ask you to leave immediately. Be prepared for that. Otherwise, when your final day comes, keep it positive. You don’t want to burn bridges.

  7. Stay connected. Trade contact info with key personnel who you want to stay in touch with. Down the road, they may be helpful for recommendations or job connections.

Sharing the Reasons for Leaving a Job

Don’t be a Negative Nancy. If you say anything mean it could haunt you later on in your career. So refrain from sharing why you hate your boss, how a coworker is annoying to work with, and how angry you were that the other guy got the promotion.

Here are some legitimate reasons why you may need to switch jobs:

  • Organizational restructure. Downsizing and restructures can affect the scope and workload of your job.

  • Layoffs. There was a new round of layoffs coming, and you were on the list of cuts.

  • Boss is pushing you out. Is your boss passive-aggressive? Sometimes your supervisor doesn’t like you and actively does things to make your life miserable, so you quit.

  • Got a new manager you can’t stand.

  • You started a job and want to quit the new job because it just wasn’t what you expected.

  • Career transition. Maybe you are switching from being a head nurse to doing legal nurse consulting.

  • Dream job. The top firm in the industry offers you a job with a pay increase you can’t refuse.

  • Relocation. Maybe your spouse got a job in Colorado, and you have to move.

  • Education. Are you quitting work to attend school full time and earn a higher degree?

  • Health. You may have had a health scare that requires you to take time off for surgery or recovery.

  • Take care of a family member. When your mom or dad needs extra care or supervision, you may need to focus on their care.

  • Starting a family. Do you plan on being a full-time parent?

  • Starting your own business. Working from home offers great job flexibility that a corporate job can never equal.

Resignation Do’s and Dont’s

Resignation Do’s:

  • Clean your computer before the conversation. While you might think you’re handing in a two weeks’ notice letter, there’s always a chance your boss will ask you to leave right away. Of course, if there’s a chance you’ll need work documents over your last two weeks, then keep all of those.

    But try to put everything in one folder, so it’s easy to remove everything quickly once it is your last day for sure.

  • Write a letter of resignation. Even if it’s a small company and you think a conversation alone will do the trick, a letter of resignation is a nice touch that solidifies your decision. Plus, it’s helpful for company records and will make a good impression when you come around to ask for a reference letter or letter of recommendation sometime down the line.

  • Give at least two weeks’ notice. Giving as much notice as possible (within reason) is just polite. The company needs to fill your role and quitting without much or any notice can leave them in a lurch, which doesn’t bode well for your chances of using this employer as a reference.

    Of course, there are plenty of good reasons to quit a job right away, and there’s a right way to go about quitting a job immediately (even one you just started).

  • Offer to help with the transition. Of course, only make this offer if you’re prepared to follow through. Offer as much as you’re really willing to do, whether that means just leaving some training documents for your replacement, or helping with recruitment and training in a more hands-on way.

  • Ask for references. While you might not need the references right now (especially if you’re quitting to take another job), it’s still handy to get these things while you’re fresh in people’s minds. Don’t sweat getting a full-on recommendation letter from everyone — a few LinkedIn endorsements for your skills can really add up to an impressive list of kudos after a while.

Resignation Dont’s:

  • Include negative statements in your resignation letter. Your resignation letter is not the place to tell off your boss or anyone else. It’s not the place to bring up salary disputes, policy disagreements, or personal issues. All these things can only hurt you down the road, and they certainly won’t ever help you.

  • Brag. Talking about how awesome your new job or how much better the pay is isn’t just bad practice for your career — it’s just an icky thing to do as a person, and others really don’t like it.

  • Forget to say goodbye to coworkers. Even if you weren’t exactly best buds with your colleagues, it’s worth the effort to say goodbye to each of them. Leaving folks with a good impression of you is important because you never know who you might run into later on.

How to Deal With Possible Boss Responses

Depending on your situation, you might be anxious about a few responses your boss might have when they hear you’re quitting your job. Here’s how to minimize the chances of being caught off guard by any of these situations:

  • Your boss wants you to leave immediately. This isn’t likely in most circumstances, but if you work in a highly competitive field and your employer is worried about non-compete or non-solicitation agreements being upheld, they might find it prudent to ask for your immediate departure.

    If you think this might happen, it’s best to have all your company-owned belongings (phone, laptop, car, etc.) ready to be handed over right away (or close to it).

  • Your boss tries to talk you out of it. If you’re a valued member of the team and you think your boss might try to tempt you to stay, have a plan for that. Sometimes you have to walk in knowing that you’re 100% certain (like when you’re moving far away or have already accepted another offer).

    But if you are open to a change in duties or a higher salary as tools to get you to stay, know where your line is before you enter this meeting.

  • Your boss tries to get you stay longer. You might be asked to stick around a little longer than you wanted. It’s usually best to be firm about your final date, but if you are willing and able, you can discuss remaining at your post for a bit longer.

Final Thoughts

In the end, your job has to be right for you. If you don’t like what you are doing, the money you are making, the work culture, or your boss, you have a right to leave. Even if your employer has been great to you, don’t feel bad about leaving.

Prepare to leave your job gracefully. Keep it classy. You will probably be full of emotions as you wave goodbye to colleagues and make the final walk towards the door. Just know that soon you’ll be walking into your new job. Opportunity awaits you. You’ve put in the hard work, and getting hired for your dream job deserves a celebration.

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Author

Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar is a co-founder of Zippia and the editor-in-chief of the Zippia career advice blog. He has hired over 50 people in his career, been hired five times, and wants to help you land your next job. His research has been featured on the New York Times, Thrillist, VOX, The Atlantic, and a host of local news. More recently, he's been quoted on USA Today, BusinessInsider, and CNBC.

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