How to Quit a Job: Tips for Leaving a Job Professionally
Quitting a job you hate, or one that doesn’t treat you well feels great. Why do you think so many fed-up workers are doing it nowadays? There’s no better feeling than quitting a job, especially if something better lies ahead.
Don’t get carried away, though. As tempting as it may be, don’t be that person who tells off your boss and leaves in a huff and then posts a fiery “I quit” video on Tiktok: You just watch that place fall apart without me.
Problem is, you might discover that you need those professional references in the future, and that a bad reputation can follow you around in your chosen industry. Think twice before making enemies.
If you’re unhappy at work, then quit. Even if you’re not unhappy, leaving your current job can be a route to a higher salary, better work-life balance, and more fulfilling work.
But it’s important to leave the right way. You don’t want to separate from your current employer in a way that could create problems for yourself later — especially if you plan to stay in the same industry.
We’ll give you pointers on how to quit a job.
Know the Job Market
Obviously, it’s best to have your next job lined up before you quit your current gig. But hey, we’re not always in that situation, are we?
At the very least, before you quit you should have an idea of what the job market is like out there for workers with your skills and experience.
For this, your best bet is to explore a massive, popular online jobs board like ZipRecruiter, which is free to use for job seekers. You can search for job posts based on factors like desired salary, location or various keywords.
You can post a profile on the site that potential employers can see. You can post your resume, references, social network handles or a profile picture, among other things. If a company likes your profile, they can invite you to apply for their job. And if you’re interested, you can apply with a click.
An online job marketplace like this is the most efficient way to launch a job search.
How to Quit Your Job
1. Give Two Weeks Notice
So how much notice should you give? Two weeks notice is still the standard length of time that you’re expected to give your employer before you leave.
Tell your employer what you liked about working there (c’mon, there has to be something). You might want the job back some day, or prospective employers in the future might talk to your current employer. To whatever extent possible, try to leave on good terms.
Make sure to do your job professionally while you’re still there. Your co-workers shouldn’t have to pick up the slack.
(Of course in some cases, you may be asked to leave right away, so be prepared for that, too.)
If you’re working under an employment contract, check your contract to see what its rules are regarding the length of notice.
2. Put Your Resignation in Writing
In most cases, your initial conversation should probably be with your direct manager. But you’ll also want to write a formal resignation letter to your supervisor and human resources.
If you’re not sure what to say, look for templates and examples of resignation letters online. Essentially, you want to explain, give a time-frame and express gratitude for the opportunity to have worked there.
This is your official two weeks notice.
3. Time Your Announcement Properly
If you want to leave on good terms, don’t tell your boss you’re quitting when they’re in the middle of a crisis. That’s not how to quit a job. Give them your letter of resignation when they’re comfortable, feel good about your work and have room to breathe.
4. Volunteer to Be Laid Off
If you’re ready to quit and you think there are layoffs coming, talk to your boss and volunteer to be let go.
Unlike when you quit, if you’re laid off you’ll probably be eligible for unemployment compensation. That will help your transition to whatever you’re doing next.
5. Be Honest in the Exit Interview
If your company’s human resources department conducts exit interviews, give constructive feedback about why you’re leaving. You can be brutally honest without being nasty about it.
6. Wrap Up Your Work Gracefully
In most cases, you’ll have about two weeks left on the job. Work with your manager and co-workers on a smooth transition and figuring out which co-workers are going to be taking over your duties when you’re gone.
Make sure to document the information they’ll need. Also, this is one last chance to network with your current co-workers, which can always help down the line.
Get Ready to Quit
Don’t just bail on your current position right off the bat, even if you really want to. There are a few things you should do before you quit. Consider this a little pre-quitting checklist:
1. Have Savings in the Bank
Even though there are a lot of job openings these days, you might not get a new job right away. Before you quit, financial experts often recommend having enough savings to pay six months’ worth of living expenses — although that can be a pretty tall order.
In any case, you should have enough savings to support yourself for several months. Try funneling some of your current paycheck into a separate savings account, so you won’t be tempted to spend it.
With an online account, you could be earning way more than the average interest on your savings.
2. Keep Track of Your Vacation Days
Make sure to tally up how much vacation or other paid time off you have left. You’ll want to take that time off or — preferably — get paid for it in a lump sum when you leave.
3. Spend the Money in Your FSA
If you have a Flexible Spending Account through your employer as part of your health insurance plan, remember this key fact: The biggest drawback with an FSA is that you lose whatever money you don’t use up by the end of the year — or whatever money you don’t use by the time you leave.
You can pull money from your FSA to cover the cost of prescriptions, office visit copays, over-the-counter medical supplies, eyeglasses or contact lenses. Your account typically comes with a debit card you can use to pay for medical expenses whenever they come up.
Tick tock! Use it or lose it!
4. Make Sure You’ll Have Health Insurance
You’ll want to have health insurance, even though you won’t have it as an employment benefit anymore.
If you’re married and your spouse’s employer offers health insurance as a benefit, then your loss of insurance coverage should open up a special enrollment period for your spouse’s plan.
If not, COBRA allows you to continue coverage under your former employer’s plan for up to 18 months, but it’s really expensive. You’re not eligible for government-paid COBRA premiums if you voluntarily left your job.
Instead, consider shopping on the federal health insurance marketplace, which offers a variety of plans at differing levels of coverage and cost. Depending on your income, you may qualify for a subsidy to help pay for your insurance. However, federal plans might not match what you’re used to with employer-provided health insurance coverage.
5. Don’t Forget Your 401(k)
If you’ve been in your current job for long enough that you want to quit it, then you probably have a 401(k) retirement account through your employer.
It might be tempting to cash it out and have access to all that money, but that’s not a good idea. It comes with penalties and taxes while reducing your retirement savings.
You should probably just leave your 401(k) account as it is until you get a new job. Then you can roll it over into your next employer’s 401(k) plan. Or, if you’re going to be self-employed, roll the money into an IRA, an individual retirement account.
Remember, the best way to quit a job is to have another job lined up. A better job. And that’s where a massive job board like ZipRecruiter comes in. Did we mention it’s free to use for job seekers? It’s the No. 1 rated job site in the country, and it will show your profile to employers that are a good fit for you, so they can invite you to apply — candidates who are invited to apply are nearly three times as likely to be hired.
Get a better job. That’s the best way to quit a job.
Mike Brassfield ([email protected]) is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. He has gracefully resigned from several jobs.