Think Before You Walk: 7 Tips For Saying ‘I Quit’

A woman places her glasses on the tip of her nose as she sits at her work desk in this vintage inspired office photo.
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Go no further than TikTok to find people quitting their jobs in high-drama ways.

“I’d rather not pay my rent than work for someone like you,” a young woman says to her boss — with camera rolling.

“Today is my last day working in this toxic workplace,” a one-line resignation message reads.

Another man announces he’s quitting by playing the Justus Bennetts song Real Life Sux, which includes the lyrics: “I tried a 9 to 5 and I made five bucks, I might as well just take the whole year off.”

These scenarios are a great way to go viral, but aren’t so great for your career. Even if your work experience has been brutal, you need to leave on the best terms possible.

Why? Think about it. You might need a reference down the road. You might encounter your boss and coworkers in other situations. And news of a high-drama departure might reach a boss you’d like to work for.

Here’s a primer on all you need to know about how to quit your job and plan your next move during an period that has been called “The Great Resignation.”

7 Things to Do Before You Quit Your Job

Many people reevaluating their life and career these days don’t have their next full-time job or entrepreneurial gig in place. So here’s a handy employee resignation checklist to get yourself ready for a transitional phase.

  1. Negotiate large bills such as medical costs into monthly, no-interest payments.
  2. Pay off big expenses such as new tires while you still have a steady paycheck.
  3. Take care of looming medical procedures while you have insurance, such as a teeth cleaning or a colonoscopy.
  4. It’s ideal to have six months of your salary saved. But if that’s not possible, have some kind of savings account for emergencies.
  5. You might get compensated for unused vacation time, but probably not for any hours you worked in exchange for time off (often called paid time off or PTO). Find out the policy and take off any time you can’t recoup in money.
  6. Learn how to roll over your 401(k).
  7. Learn what it takes to start a business, if that’s what you are considering.

Call-out box: Are you burned out on your second (or third) job? You need an exit plan for breaking up with your side gig, too.

How to Write a Resignation Letter

A resignation letter gets all your key points in writing.

  1. Cover the basics. Include your last day of work, what projects you will finish before you leave, what you can do to train your replacement.
  2. Ask questions in writing, too. You’ll need to know about any extension of benefits, the date of your last paycheck, returning company equipment and changing cell phone accounts.
  3. Say thank you. End on a good note and smooth the way for future references. Cite the experience you gained, mention your camaraderie with coworkers or compliment your boss.

Landing a Bridge Job After You Quit

If you don’t have your own business ready to roll or your next dream job in place, a side gig or bridge job can keep you financially afloat until the next big thing.

The obvious side gigs are driving — Uber, Lyft or delivering food. But there are also apps for personal shoppers, dog walking, handyman services and courier services that can bring steady income. And if you can market your services to friends, family and neighbors directly, you’ll make more money.

Here are some things to know about various side gigs.

  • Uber and Lyft. What you make per hour depends on the city where you drive, the time of day, and the location. Having a clean car with phone chargers and water increases your tips. Here are seven hacks to boost your tips and your hourly rates.
  • Uber Eats. One man earned $8,000 in on month as an Uber Eats driver. He worked long days (and nights), but after one exhausting month had some wiggle room to plan his next move.
  • Restaurant jobs. While many people are resigning from these jobs as a career, they offer good part-time employment if you’re quitting a position in another industry. Here’s a story about which restaurants pay the best. 

And don’t be afraid to think outside the box. Beyond the gig economy, retail and restaurants, there are many part-time jobs that make great bridge jobs.

As museums, theaters, theme parks, water parks and other arts entertainment venues come back to life with full crowds, many are hiring.

The International Spy Museum in Washington, D.C., for example pays $17 an hour for entry level “guest services operatives” who take guests’ temperatures, guide groups and help lost kids find their parents.  And Indeed shows movie theaters are paying an average of $10 an hour.

Katherine Snow Smith is a freelance writer in St. Petersburg, Fla., former Penny Hoarder staff writer and author of Rules for the Southern Rulebreaker: Missteps & Lessons Learned.