More people are quitting their jobs than ever before. In fact, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, since 2010, the number of employees leaving their jobs has increased for nine consecutive years to just over 40 million in 2018. According to Danny Nelms, the president of Work Institute, “With a healthy economy, robust confidence and an abundance of jobs, workers are expected to be increasingly selective about where they work and will voluntarily change jobs when a better opportunity is present.” As a result, more people are having the “I quit” talk with their boss. It’s the conversation many people dread. You may have been dreaming about this day for months, or maybe even years. But now that the time has come, suddenly you have feelings of guilt and anxiety. These emotions are absolutely normal. No one enjoys having the “break-up” discussion with their manager. Whether you’re leaving because you can’t stand your boss or simply because you found a better opportunity, it’s important to handle the situation as professionally as possible. To ensure you quit your job without burning any bridges, here are five essential tips:
1. Give a reasonable amount of notice
When you quit your job, it’s important to meet with your manager in person and provide at least two weeks’ notice, which is still the norm. You may also consider providing additional lead time—it really depends on you and your relationship with your employer. The only downside to giving more notice is that your manager may find a replacement more quickly than you planned, so just be ready in case your boss asks you to leave a little sooner than you anticipated.
2. Consider your relationship with your manager
Many people ask me whether they should be honest with their boss about why they are quitting. My response is, it depends on your relationship with your manager. If you have had a friendly rapport where you have been able to talk freely, there is nothing wrong with providing an honest explanation. It really comes down to how you feel and what you’re most comfortable with. Follow your intuition.
3. Practice the night before
It may sound silly, but rehearsing what you’re going to say and how you’re going to say it goes a long way in calming your nerves. It may even be helpful to create an outline in the form of bullet points. Your goal is to be as factual, positive and succinct as possible. Make sure you have answers to where you are going and the date of your last day. Try to end the conversation by expressing gratitude and asking for a future reference. Overall, make sure you’re in control of the conversation.
4. Plan for the unexpected
If you are leaving to go to a competitor, your employer may ask that you leave immediately. In that case, you’ll want to be prepared to pack your things. Also remember that you will need to return any company-owned items like cell phones, laptops and tablets and will lose access to any documents or projects that you’ve worked on. Another scenario may involve your boss asking you to stay longer to ease the transition. Think about whether you would consider this beforehand so you’re not caught off guard. You may also find that your manager is willing to counteroffer. Again, think this through in advance. Are there any terms you would accept that would cause you to stay? If not, remain firm and don’t waver.
5. Offer to help with the transition
Helping your boss with the transition will go a long way in cementing a mutually beneficial long-term relationship. Creating a formal transition plan is also a good idea. Your manager will thank you, and it will help ensure that you have enough time to get everything done. Set realistic goals and make sure all your projects are wrapped up by the time you leave.
Resigning from your job doesn’t have to be a gut-wrenching experience. The most important thing to remember is that you’re not doing anything wrong by trying to advance your career. With a little planning and preparation, you’ll be able to quit your job while keeping your professional relationships and reputation fully intact.
If you’ve been thinking about being your own boss for a while but aren’t sure if it’s the right time, download my free guide: 5 Signs It’s Time to Leave Your Soul-Sucking Job!