Quit your job? 3 Ways to Gracefully Tell Your Boss About It

You’ve reached a crossroads in your career and it’s time to let your boss know you’re quitting your job. Whether you’re leaving for a new role, starting your own business, or taking time off, you need to know what to say when you leave your job to end things the right way.


If there’s one word to keep in mind when leaving your job, it should be respect. Just as it’s commonly believed that you need to make a good impression in a job interview, it’s also a good idea to leave your current position on a high.

How an employee quits can certainly impact their future career opportunities. Here are some things not to do when quitting your job: don’t make rash decisions, tell your boss last, leave others behind, burn bridges, or walk before you speak.

Although the emotions you feel about quitting may vary — from relief to fear to regret — there are standard procedures to follow. When considering what to say when you leave your job, keep in mind that you need to leave on the best terms possible.

Here are three things you’ll want to do if you decide to tender your resignation:


1. Go directly to your manager
When it comes to telling you about your termination, don’t let anyone come between you and your manager. You want to have control over how news about your projects is presented to your boss. To have the information reach him any other way — through department grapevine or office gossip, for example — is unprofessional and, frankly, insulting.

Since a face-to-face meeting probably isn’t an option right now, arrange a virtual meeting or call your manager on the phone. Email is a last resort, but can be used when circumstances warrant.

If you’re looking to leave your job, start your search for a new role with Robert Half. We can begin your search for you as you prepare for your final days.

2. Know what to say when you quit your job
Make sure you know exactly what your message is before approaching your boss. Even if you leave on good terms, the conversation can be awkward and difficult. You don’t want to trip over your words.

At the same time, you want to be firm in your decision and be prepared for any questions or potential objections raised by your manager. Are you ready to say no to a counter offer? What if your manager asks you to reconsider and suggests resuming the conversation in a few days? What if he or she gets emotional? (It can happen, especially if you’re a key team member or have a close relationship with your boss.)

Keep the meeting professional, and most importantly, don’t give in to the urge to vent your frustrations. While it can be fun to fantasize about a dramatic exit, it’s not recommended to get creative when quitting your job.

3. Put your resignation in writing
Even after telling your boss about the resignation, it’s wise to send the information in writing as well (email is fine, but hard copy is better). A resignation letter ensures that there will be no confusion about when you gave the notice and when you left. Many companies include a copy of your resignation letter in your HR file as final documentation.

What to say when leaving a job? Your resignation letter should be brief and include the following information:

The date of the last day you plan to work – The notice standard is not less than two weeks. If you are in a senior position or special circumstances apply, such as a deadline for a major project, you may want to offer to stay longer.
A Brief Explanation of Why You’re Quitting – When explaining why you’re leaving your job, it’s okay to keep things general and say something like, « I’m leaving to take a position at another company. » You don’t have to go into more detail than you want, even if your manager presses you for additional information. If you’re leaving a job that isn’t right for you or because of issues you’ve had with the company, keep your explanations vague rather than becoming negative. It is acceptable to say that you are resigning « for personal reasons ».

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