Quitting a Job… The Right Way

Picture this: I’m 16 years-old, just received my driver’s permit, and dreaming of driving around with my friends – top-down, wind blowing through my hair – in my cute red convertible my mom’s 2007 baby blue Toyota minivan. Now picture this: me realizing operating a motor vehicle would in fact cost money. So, like many 16-year-olds do, I secured my first part-time job. Local ice cream shop server, turned sundae-maker-extraordinaire, turned manager. I invested years of my life into a business that I thoroughly took pride in.

When it was time to prepare for college, I had a few ideas on how I was going to leave this job behind, some more colorful than others. Although it had presented its own unique set of difficulties, at the end of the day, I respected my boss and the opportunity he had given me. Moreover, I had developed close relationships with my coworkers.  I decided to go out with grace (as my name conveniently suggests), and here’s how you can too:

  1. Write a resignation letter. This will look different for everyone, especially depending on the job that you are quitting. Obviously, my position at the local ice cream shop was not comparable to that of a CEO in a Fortune 500 company (even though it felt that way when coaches brought their entire U-11 soccer teams in for sundaes). My resignation letter took the form a handwritten card that I delivered in person – use your best judgement to determine what form yours should take.
  1. Notify your boss… first… and in person. No matter how daunting a task it may seem, speaking to your boss in person about why you have decided to leave your job shows a level of professionalism, confidence, and respect that an email can’t convey. In addition, whether you’re quitting because you landed an awesome new job (score!) or you just can’t take the current job anymore (it happens), don’t talk about the decision with co-workers before your boss… especially if it’s the latter reason. Fact: nothing good can come of it.
  1. Give adequate notice. Two weeks is the standard but depending on the nature of your job, it might be best to give more than that. Allow your employer the opportunity to find and train a replacement.
  1. Finish strong. After you have spoken to your boss and done the actual “quitting,” the hardest part is over. Congrats! That being said, do not mentally check out. Keep working hard up until the last minute. It’s a reflection of your character and the kind of professional you are.
  1. Leave on a positive note. Unfortunately, the real world doesn’t have a reset button as much as we might want it to. If you burn bridges with your employers or even your coworkers, it might come back to haunt you when you’re trying to secure a job in the future (references are very real). Trust me, it’s more beneficial for you in both your personal and professional life to have a clean image and reputation.

Quitting a job is something you’ll likely have to do a couple times throughout your lifetime. And, if all goes as planned and you’re successfully forging your way through the professional industry of your choosing, each time you leave a job should be harder than the last. Start practicing the right way to leave now so that you’re always remembered as a class act.

By Grace Callahan
Grace Callahan