Introduction: Quit Your Job the Classy Way

Picture of Quit Your Job the Classy Way

Once you've decided it's time for to quit your job, there's a lot to consider. This Instructable contains tips and suggestions for making the smoothest resignation transition from your current full time job possible, both personally and professionally. Don't burn bridges or jeopardize your financial security! With a little thoughtfulness and perseverance, you can preserve career-strengthening relationships as well as your own sanity, even if you have no idea what you want to do with your life after you quit.

Step 1: Prepare

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Save up three month’s worth of expenses - Know how much money you need to get by just in case you can't find work for a while. I use mint.com to stick to a budget and identify extraneous spending. For me, the main areas for improvement were unused subscriptions and reminding myself to cook more at home vs. ordering delivery or eating out. New York is a delicious city.

Update your resume and website - If you're in a creative field, create a video reel or portfolio of your work to show off your accomplishments and abilities. If it's been a while since your last job change, make sure to get feedback on your resume from trusted friends before sending it out to any potential employers.

Decouple your digital life - This is important if you use a computer that belongs to your employer, or any other equipment that might have your personal data on it. You have to prepare for the possibility that you might be locked out of such equipment/accounts immediately upon tendering your resignation; some companies take a very conservative IT security approach. Back up important email and portfolio materials and remove your personal data and logins from your work computer:

  • password managers/saved passwords
  • browser cookies/browsing history/extensions
  • app logins like Skype, Spotify, etc.

Don't make any other drastic life changes - Plan to stabilize the rest of your life for the foreseeable future. This includes your living situation and personal relationships. You want to protect your mental resources so you can make decisions with clarity and keep your sanity throughout.

Square away your healthcare - If you're in the US, plan for a health coverage hiccup. Get those doctor’s visits out of the way and update/fill any prescriptions you may need. Research independent insurance and get ready to compare it with the cost of using COBRA to extend your current coverage, which will be revealed to you as part of your exit procedures.

Talk to your family & friends - It's important to have trusted supporters during this turbulent time. However, take their advice with a grain of salt, especially if they're not in your field. For more career, specific guidance...

Seek advice from trusted mentors - Explaining your career goals and thoughts during this time can help you get some perspective on your transition, and even lead to opportunities down the road. Take notes during these important conversations for later reflection.

Line up some stable part time work - What does the freelance version of your job look like? Seek out paying projects and small part time jobs for your transition period. This will take some of the stress out of your finances and help keep you motivated. Make sure any work you do does not conflict with your current employment agreement.

Write your resignation letter - Keep it professional and include the following elements:

  • intention to resign
  • when your last day will be (give at least 2 weeks notice)
  • intention to help with transition duties
  • expression of gratitude

Don't feel as though you have to explain your reason for quitting in your resignation letter. Attached is a sample resignation letter template you can use to flesh out your own.

Step 2: Self Care

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Don’t talk trash - Projecting negativity will only reflect negatively on you. Don't gossip or complain around your coworkers or colleagues in your field. If you need to express any negative feelings, do so with a loved one, and then thank that loved one with a favor or gift.

Pamper yourself - Change is hard. Hopefully you are leaving your current job to have an overall positive change in your life, so why not kick off that positive change with a massage, pedicure, facial, or even a hot bath? Feeling like your best self will help you comport yourself well throughout your transition.

Engage in positive social activity - Regularly surround yourself with people who make you happy and intellectually stimulated. Take a continuing education class, join a gym or hackerspace, etc. They'll help keep your mood normal by taking your mind off your stress.

Celebrate cathartic release - Plan two big indulgences, such as an extravagant meal or hot air balloon ride: one for after tendering your resignation, and one for after your last day.

Take a vacation or staycation - If you can, take some time off after your last day. Sleep in and chill out, but try to still get plenty of exercise and eat healthy food.

Step 3: Persevere

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So you're ready to pull the plug, congrats!

Resign in person - Give plenty of notice, and have a paper and email copy of your resignation letter ready for following up right after the meeting. You don't have to explain your reasons for leaving if you don't want to. Consider beforehand how your boss might react to your resignation, and be prepared with some neutralizing language that expresses your intentions to leave as smoothly as possible.

Don’t let your work performance suffer - You will be remembered for how you behave during this time. Make sure you're performing your work duties as well as (if not better than) you normally do. A bad reputation can follow you around in your career, especially if you're in a small field.

Publish your resume - Make a social media announcement and send your resume to potential employers. Publish your reel or updated portfolio, and spread the word that you're looking for work.

Set aside time to take a calls and emails - If you do plan a vacation, make sure you're available by email and phone for potential new employers

Stay positive - Reach out to important colleagues and express your appreciation for having worked with them, and exchange personal contact info if you want to stay in touch. Even if you are not feeling great during your notice period, put on a smile and stay positive during remaining days, politely entertaining all wrap up duties that are requested of you. If you do explain your reasons for leaving, stay consistent

The exit interview - Now's not the time to air your gripes with the company, but rather to leave a positive lasting impression and honest assessment of your time there.

Field new job offers - Weigh options for new jobs, but always sleep on any offer before accepting.

Or do something else - Maybe you want to start a freelance career or small business, or sell all your stuff and travel the world. Regardless of your path after resignation, I hope this Instructable offered you some helpful tips for your own job transition.

Comments

doer_1 (author)2016-06-05

Hi there,

I see you've used a photo of my old High School , on Flatbush Ave Ext.,

as a lead photo. It has been 56 years since I attended there. The one comment I have after a lifetime of jobs, is don't jump into a job just because it is handy.

Research the company, talk to the employees, and find out what goes on between

the Management and the workers, before making a decision. You'll find you'll have fewer letters of resignation to write.

bekathwia (author)doer_12016-06-05

They do look similar but it is not the building you mentioned!

Mjtrinihobby (author)bekathwia2016-07-05

Yeah that guy is not right in his head.

rjkorn (author)bekathwia2016-06-11

I thought it was the building MEI Gowanus is in. Made me want to buy stuff ;)

JohnG220 (author)2016-06-11

The persevere part can be tough, but just keep telling yourself, "only two more weeks, only one more week, only two more days". You've made it that far, might as well not burn a bridge by saying to hell with this I'm leaving now and then just walking out. Just keep telling yourself after a few more days you will never have to deal with that job again (and hopefully your next one is better :-).

jimdkc (author)2016-06-05

Never understood the "2-weeks notice" BS... When they fire you, you don't get any "notice"!

ToolboxGuy (author)jimdkc2016-06-06

When someone "fires" you, it's usually because it's not a very good idea to keep you around to continue doing whatever you did (or didn't do!) to get yourself fired.

I've seen companies also "let go" people the same day they give a two week's notice. In those cases, it's to prevent any opportunity for exiting employees to throw any spanners in the works, such as getting other people jealous of said new position, or slowing down the workflow, chatting all day long about the new job at the new place. Short-timer's disease strikes many people after they've given notice - as they've given up at that job, one way or another, and their productivity generally suffers greatly.

Of course, we're now incredibly off topic, aren't we? Thanks for the 'ible!

Reality check: Few people "plan" for anything three months in advance, and in many people's cases, saving three months of salary can take years to accomplish. If you have that safety cushion already, my hearty congratulations. However, I disagree that you should wait around when looking for a new opportunity over such criteria. You may be losing more money by not changing jobs. I received a 30% pay increase by changing jobs. It's the missed opportunities which cost you the most.

lmarques1 (author)jimdkc2016-06-06

Well, here in Brazil, they need to they you with one month advance, thay can only fire you directly if you did some awful thing, them, it is reasonable cause

mrbrian1969 (author)2016-06-06

I actually was just walking past the hr managers desk and said "by the way, i have acepted a pposition with another company" she said 'what do you mean?'

choppelas (author)2016-06-06

Great advice! As a consultant, I often leave projects when they are done, and if you manage your exit well, it is not uncommon to be invited back when another project ramps up. You have to gracefully exit to be invited back, which means no bad attitude, working hard to the bitter end, and keeping those connections. It also goes a long way for your reputation if you are in a small market/industry that networks.

grannyjones (author)2016-06-05

When I retired, I gave three MONTHS notice. It was an awesome place, with amazing colleagues. They gave me the sweetest retirement party!

NiTaLuH (author)grannyjones2016-06-06

Retiring is quite different from resigning. Resigning usually means you're not happy with your job, retiring is, well, retiring. Definitely more ceremonious :)

ossum (author)2016-05-24

I agree with almost all of this, sounds like a good level-headed approach. I would caution anyone to leave their job before they have a new one though, even (or only?) with three months worth of expenses money. Then again, it is probably field specific, and depends how employable/picky you are.

FlorinJ (author)ossum2016-06-05

True - was going to say this myself. I work in an industry where unemployment is practically zero worldwide, and still never left a job without getting a new one first. (Why do comments to instructables not have a like button?)

old pennywise (author)FlorinJ2016-06-06

I work in an industry where unemployment is practically zero worldwide,

just curious what would thie be

NiTaLuH (author)old pennywise2016-06-06

yah programming or IT in general is worldwide and used everywhere

FlorinJ (author)old pennywise2016-06-06

Programming.

itsjustmescotty (author)FlorinJ2016-06-06

I SO agree about the like button, it could certainly cut down on a lot of comments.

billbillt (author)2016-06-05

I also was let go at once when I tried to give two weeks notice.. I think the boss gets some kind of thrill by doing it.. It is his/her way of "getting even" because you are leaving.. It did not matter.. Actually, it gave me a two week vacation before I started my new job..

Seth C (author)billbillt2016-06-05

I quit an engineering job once and gave one month's notice, my work was all up to date so I was asked to leave (nicely) virtually there and then and my one month notice was fully paid out. It was explained that it was company policy to let a terminating employee leave immediately and not work out their notice in case there was a workplace injury during the notice period and the company would be saddled with workers compensation payments and accident investigations etc.

re3e-yul (author)2016-06-05

in my line of work (IT) there is no such things as 2 weeks notice , even if they are usually paid , my way of doing things : get 2 or 3 signed contracts to choose from , and then walk in the boss office , quit on the spot , turn away and never look back , they usually call back with a counter within the next couple of weeks

MillerI (author)2016-06-05

Mine was not a political comment; yours is. If you remember, somebody named Donald used to have a show where he fired people. Please be positive and constructive, as per the user agreement.

Walt1950 (author)2016-06-05

I really don't understand the part time job thing. If you have the desirable skills another employer needs, you will be that much more desirable with a job when you apply, as apposed to being unemployed. Trust me, I've hired hundreds. Also, there's this little subconscious thing going on about feeling you're taking perhaps a good employee from another employer. It's just human nature...

MillerI (author)2016-06-05

Please, oh please, write an instructable (with vid if possible) on that!

NeilM29 (author)2016-06-05

Two weeks notice! My last employer demanded 3 months. I managed to shorten it a bit by cashing in some unused annual leave and for a couple of weeks technically had two jobs. This confused the tax man, who thought I had two jobs for the whole year and taxed me accordingly. I am hoping for a rebate soon.

geopro (author)2016-06-05

Obviously Becky is a sweet caring girl, but even so, her resignation letter is so over the top kissy kissy I just had to comment. First of all most of it is implied and it's never going to happen anyway. Allow the quitter to be part of the hiring process? Hardly. Typically the quitter is asked to pack up their desk and is escorted out of the building within the hour. A true wham bam, go to hell moment. The letter is a formality usually caused by some sort of an on-going problem and nothing more. You generally don't quit because your happy with your job. Here is my version of Becky's resignation letter.

Dear ____, Please accept this letter as notice of my resignation My last day of employment will be ___________. I and will make sure my reports and records are up to date before my last day of work. Sincerely,_____________

grannyjones (author)2016-05-24

When I gave two weeks notice, My manager said to leave immediately. I demurred, as a big holiday weekend was coming up, and I wanted to support my colleagues. Once the holidays were over, I simply did not show up. I figured I was toast at any time anyway; knowing they were aware of my intentions. It was a sucky retail job anyway, so no biggie.

Laughing_Dog (author)grannyjones2016-06-05

I too also question the need to give two weeks notice. There was a time when the employer-employee relationship was much more equitable. In this dog-eat-dog society that we have most employeers would not give you two weeks notice that you were being laid off (labor laws not withstanding) so why should you extend the courtesy?

RubenFixit (author)Laughing_Dog2016-06-05

I worked for a boss/owner of a small company, with the understanding that I would only be there until I found a real career. Then one month, when work was really slow, he fired two of his oldest employees (that worked for him 8+ years), without any notice. He feels this behavior is just fine, cause he gives a "generous" partting bonus. Then told me that if work gets any slower, he'll have to let me go too (Since I'm only here temporary) So I started looking for work elsewhere. When I found work, I had to start right away. So when I told him, I was quitting, he was furious. And refused to give me a bonus because I couldn't give two weeks notice.

fixfireleo (author)2016-06-05

you started off with a mistake. you should have said "save 3 months of expenses (financial advisors say we should ALWAYS have 6 months saved in case of emergency) AND dont quit your old job UNTIL YOU FIND A NEW ONE." it is much harder to get a job when you are unemployed. employers want a responsible person ansd telling them you quit your old job before finding a new one sounds irresponsible at best and like you are LYING about getting fired at worst.

MikaelaHolmes (author)2016-05-30

This is so well said. I love it when people turn their non-making-related life experiences into Instructables. Thanks for sharing. Obviously you landed on your feet ;)

sheME (author)MikaelaHolmes2016-06-05

I agree. I had a job that was so boring it hurt my brain. I sent in a nice 2 week notice. I was asked to remain the two weeks and they threw a wonderful going away party. I was given wonderful references and went to a Twins game with my old boss. Stay nice.

johng652 (author)2016-05-24

Excellent instructable! If done in this manner most employers will respect your decision and let you leave on your terms. I did say most. They will also give and continue to give good recommendations as you continue your career. I can say that every employer I ever had has done this. In fact I have gotten a few jobs over some more qualified applicants just because I have that history of providing those recommendations. Good luck to you in your new ventures.

BeachsideHank (author)2016-05-24

Be careful, a notice given by you is not an inviolate contract to remain for a set period, companies have the right to classify such an action as job abandonment and end the relationship on the spot. In any right to work state, such as here in Florida, an employee or employer can end the job without giving a reason, so long as it is not based on violations of State and Federal labor laws. In other words, it can be a gamble to serve notice of intent, so consider it carefully.

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Bio: Becky Stern is a content creator at Instructables. She has authored hundreds of tutorials about everything from wearable electronics to knitting. Before joining Instructables, Becky ... More »
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