Quitting A Job Gracefully – How To Resign From a Job
If you’re wondering how to resign from a job, then you’re in the right place.
If you’re wondering, “Do I need to give two weeks notice?”, we’re going to cover that too.
Giving a two week notice is an essential part of quitting a job gracefully, and I’ll explain the two big reasons why below.
Then, we’ll look at the other steps you should follow when you resign from a job to make sure you leave a great last impression and quit gracefully and professionally.
Should You Give Two Weeks Notice When Resigning?
So you might be wondering why bother with a two week notice? Who cares about the last impression? You’re leaving anyway, right?
Well, there are two big reasons to care about how you resign from a job.
Reason #1 To Give A Notice When Quitting
It’s likely you’ll run into one or more of your coworkers in the future. They change jobs/companies too and you never know when you’ll see them again.
And leaving them with a bad final impression now could stop you from getting hired at the employers they work at in the future.
Even if they’re not the hiring manager, the person in charge of hiring will likely see that you worked together in the past (via LinkedIn) and ask them about you.
Reason #2 To Give A Notice When Quitting
You’ll need good references if you plan on getting hired for future jobs.
So you always want to leave on good terms with your former bosses/managers so you can feel comfortable asking them to be a reference.
That’s why you should give a two week notice.
In the next section, we’ll look at how to resign from a job gracefully and professionally, and I’ll recommend a few easy templates you can use for writing your two week notice.
How To Properly Give Two Week Notice And Resign From A Position
Now that we looked at why it’s worth giving a two week notice, I’m going to walk you through the right way to quit your job gracefully and how to properly give two week notice, plus some mistakes to avoid.
This is how you give a two week notice and quit a job the right way:
1. Make sure you’ve thought about your decision
Don’t resign or give your two weeks notice out of anger or short-term frustration in the heat of the moment.
Quitting a job should be a well-thought-out decision. Think about what you’re doing and your financial situation, and make sure you’re not reacting in the moment and doing something you’ll regret.
To be clear – I’m all for quitting a job if it’s a bad situation or if you have a better opportunity.
I’ve personally quit two jobs with NOTHING lined up and it worked out fine both times.
(One time I traveled a month and came back to find my first ever job as a Recruiter! And the next time, I quit my last job as a Recruiter to go into business for myself!)
But just make sure you’ve thought about the decision.
2. Schedule a specific time to talk to your boss (in-person)
I like sending an email… Something simple like, “Hi <NAME>, can we talk for 15 minutes this afternoon? I need to speak with you in private.”
Don’t bring up the topic at the end of another meeting or conversation with your boss (like a regularly-scheduled weekly check-in).
Have a separate meeting to discuss this.
3. Walk in with a printed letter of resignation and tell them that you’re giving your two weeks notice
There are plenty of simple, short resignation letter templates on the internet. Here are a couple you can use:
I recommend keeping it very short and simple.
And keep it professional and positive because the company will keep this document on file! This isn’t a place to vent, let out frustration, etc.
If you’re resigning, it’s no longer your problem or concern. Just keep it generic and polite and non-emotional.
NOTE: Some templates online have a place where you tell your boss where you’ve accepted a new job. I don’t recommend this or think it’s necessary.
When you talk to your boss in-person and deliver the letter, you can share where you’re going next if you’d like. But I don’t think it’s necessary to write it in the actual resignation letter.
4. Have a normal conversation after
If your boss is half-decent, they’ll ask what you’re going to be doing in your next opportunity, they’ll wish you luck, etc.
Don’t let anxiety take over and rush out of the room.
This is a chance to leave a great final impression with your Manager and even suggest keeping in touch if you feel it’s appropriate.
They may be in a different company you want to work for in the future.
You may want to use them as a reference.
There are so many reasons to leave on great terms whenever possible. Those are just a few examples.
And it’s worth sticking around for a few minutes (if your Manager is up for it) to discuss your future plans, thank them for any help/mentoring they gave you, or for the opportunity in general.
5. Submit your notice to your boss before you share the news with your work friends
This is especially true in a small or mid-sized organization but I think it’s important advice in any organization.
News travels fast and people LOVE to gossip. Telling even one or two friends that you’re planning on leaving opens up the risk of them telling one or two other people, who then spread the news further!
If this happens before you personally tell your boss, it’ll leave them feeling betrayed and hurt, and will make you look extremely unprofessional.
The only guaranteed way to avoid this is: Resist the urge to tell friends before you tell your boss.
After you give your formal two week notice and hand in your resignation letter, you can tell people without this risk.
6. Be strategic about timing your resignation
I’d suggest doing this all in the afternoon on a Friday so you don’t have to go back to your desk for hours after.
Although, other people suggest doing it in the morning to get the “jitters” out of the way. You can decide what’s best for you.
The last time I quit a job I gave my two week notice after lunch.
You may want to consider which day is best, too.
A reader on LinkedIn offered this great advice when I brought up the topic of how to resign from a job:
“Be strategic about your last day… For instance, in my past role, if I stayed through at least the 1st of the following month, I received health care for that entire month (versus losing it immediately by leaving at the end of the month).”
Credit: Laura Riley
7. Get contact info and stay in touch with former colleagues and managers
Your network is the easiest and fastest way to find jobs in the future – IF you stay in touch with people and make an effort to maintain relationships.
(Contacting someone after two years of silence to ask for a favor is NOT networking and is probably going to get you zero results).
So as a final step, think about who you want to keep in touch with and get their contact info.
Connect with them on LinkedIn if you haven’t yet, or exchange emails or phone numbers.
Each job you leave can be a boost to your network if you follow the steps above and quit your job gracefully and professionally.
Optional Step: Sending “Thank You” Emails
I’m a big fan of sending “thank you” messages after an interview (I have 3 great samples here).
And I think it can also boost the final impression you leave when you resign from a job, too.
The message will be a bit different, but the idea is the same:
Take a few minutes to write up an email personally thanking them for their time, telling them you enjoyed working with them, learning from them, etc.
This is a great step toward being able to reconnect with these people in the future for networking, references, etc.
So pick the people you enjoyed working with (hopefully including your bosses/managers), and then send a brief email a couple of days later to each individual person, just thanking them a final time for everything (even if you thanked them in person, this is still a nice touch).
So that’s one more extra step you can use to leave a great final impression when resigning.
“Employers Don’t Give Me Two Weeks Notice If They Let Me Go. Why Should I?”
I get it – it’s not fair.
I’ve personally given a two week notice properly and professionally… and was forcibly WALKED OUT of the building midday as if I had stolen from the company or something.
It was humiliating and felt awful.
I remember riding the glass elevator down to the first floor with my bag and my boss standing next to me and feeling everyone looking.
It’s not fair and it’s not right that companies request a two week notice but don’t hold themselves to the same standard, or even guarantee they’ll accept your notice!
But here’s what I’ll say:
You can do what you feel is right, or you can do what’s best for your career. The advice above is how to resign from a job in the way that’s best for your career.
That’s what I’m here to help with.
Unless you were very badly mistreated by a company and have serious, legitimate reasons for not being able to be there for two additional weeks, that’s what I’d recommend doing.
You won’t regret doing things the right way. I don’t. The colleagues I did care about will remember that I conducted myself properly, even if the company did not.
How To Resign From A Job Gracefully – Quick Instructions
- Make sure you’ve thought about your decision and are not resigning impulsively
- Schedule a specific time to talk to your boss in-person
- Walk in with a printed letter of resignation and tell them that you’re giving your two weeks notice
- Remain in the room for a few minutes to thank your manager for the opportunity and tell them you hope to keep in touch (you never know when you’ll need a good reference or what company this manager will end up working for)
- Submit your notice to your boss before you share the news with any of your work friends
- Be strategic about timing your resignation – think about the best day and time to resign for your exact situation
- Stay in touch with past colleagues so you can network and hear about opportunities in the future
Note: If you’re quitting a job but haven’t found another one yet, be sure to check out our new job hunting resources: