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How to (professionally) quit a job

March 1, 2022 - 20 min read

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How to quit a job (professionally) in 6 steps

Can you quit a job on the spot?

5 factors to consider before quitting

How to write a resignation letter (with examples)

Ready to quit?

Just a few months ago, I quit my job

I’d been with my previous company for more than five years. I’d built solid relationships, held different positions on different teams, and had gained a lot of experience.

But I knew I needed to quit. I was ready for my next challenge and adventure. 

Like millions of other people in the Great Resignation who were also quitting their jobs, I wanted a better opportunity. 

Quitting your job can be anxiety-inducing, especially if you’re working remotely. It can feel like a breakup. You might feel a sense of sadness about leaving your teammates and friends. You could feel uncertain about what the future holds. 

You could also be burnt out and overworked. You might not have had a good relationship with your manager. Or your values might not have aligned with your company’s core values. Frankly, you might hate your job

But no matter how done you are with your current job, it’s important to leave a company without burning bridges. 

How to quit a job professionally

A record number of Americans have quit their jobs in pursuit of new career opportunities. You might be in a position where you simply just want to quit as soon as possible.

Your impulses may be itching to just leave your role today. While rage-quitting might give you some immediate momentary satisfaction, it also can do a lot of harm in the long run.  

But what does that process of quitting professionally actually look like? Here are six steps to consider. 

1. Decide you want to quit (and when) 

Be confident in your decision to quit. Once you quit, there’s not a lot of wiggle room to change your mind. 

Timing is also an important factor. For example, if you stayed with the company for just one more month, what would you gain? I’ve had friends who, when employed at publicly traded companies, have waited until equity vests, as an example. Is now a good time to quit? 

If you’re on the fence about quitting your job, try seeking advice. A coach or mentor can help talk through your options and weigh the pros and cons. 

2. Prepare for a counteroffer to your resignation 

I recently had a friend who received an offer at another company. She had decided to interview here and there with the intent of quitting her current position if she received a good enough offer. 

The job offer was tempting. It was higher-paying, increased responsibilities and ownership, and entirely remote — all reasons why she started to interview for new roles. She decided to let her manager know that she planned on accepting the opportunity. 

But in her conversation with her manager, her manager countered. She asked, “What’s it going to take to make you stay?” 

My friend took some time to think about it. And for her situation, she realized she could stay if certain needs were met. She ultimately declined the job offer

As more and more employees are quitting their jobs, more and more employers are doing whatever it takes to retain talent. Be prepared for that conversation: what will it take to make you stay? 

This might not even be an option for you. You might’ve made up your mind that you’re leaving, no matter what counteroffer comes your way.

But if there’s an inkling of opportunity of you staying with your current employer, consider what you would need to stay. Be prepared to respond to this question. 

3. What to say when you’re quitting your job 

As I mentioned, I made a career move a few months ago. I knew that I wanted to quit — and I knew that I wasn’t in a place where I wanted to stay with my previous employer. 

But when I signed my offer for my current position as a writer with BetterUp, I consulted my mentor. Should I call, email, or Zoom? Should I wait until my next one-on-one with my manager? What’s the best way to give your two weeks’ notice? How do I tell my boss that I'm quitting

Set up a face-to-face meeting or live call with your manager (yes, it’s OK if it’s virtual). You might be leaving your current position because of your manager relationship.

Or you might be really grateful for your current people leader. But ultimately, you’ve decided there are better opportunities for you elsewhere. 

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Regardless of any challenges, you may have had with your manager, they’ve undoubtedly invested time and energy in you. It’s a good idea to make the space for a live conversation out of respect — and that respect and integrity will reflect on you and your character. 

Try to structure your conversation like this: 

  • Be direct about your decision to quit. Get to the heart of the matter early and be clear and direct
  • Be clear about your two weeks’ notice. Make sure you’re clear about when your last day will be. You may want to say something like, “This is my formal two weeks’ notice. My last day will be on …” 
  • Give some explanation as to why you’re leaving. Feedback is so valuable. Share a brief explanation of why you’re leaving. For example, you can share that you’ve found a position that pays more.

    Or you’ve found a role that allows for more flexibility. Or you’ve found a role that gives you more career opportunities. Whatever it is, make sure you make some space to explain your decision. 
  • Be grateful for your experience and what it’s taught you. Even if you’ve had a horrible career experience in your current role, you’ve probably learned something from it. Express some gratitude for what you’ve learned in your current role. This also helps to make sure you’re leaving on a good note with your current employer. 
  • If fitting, ask if your manager would be willing to serve as a future reference. If you’ve had a good relationship and experience with your manager, this might come up in your conversation. Ask if your people leader would be willing to act as a future reference. 

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4. What not to say when quitting your job 

Burning bridges serves no purpose for you. It’s important to maintain respect and integrity, especially in this final phase of your employee experience

If you’ve had a terrible experience, it can be tempting to let your manager know how you’ve honestly felt. But there are ways to provide feedback without burning a bridge

Say this … 

Not this … 

I’ve had the opportunity to learn from you and your leadership. I think I should pursue opportunities elsewhere to continue my learning journey. 

You’re the worst manager I’ve ever had. 

I haven’t been happy with my role or career trajectory here. I’ve decided to leave because I want a place where I feel a deeper sense of belonging and trust. I want to meaningfully contribute and prioritize my work-life balance

No one is happy here. 

I’m grateful for all that I’ve learned from this company and this role. I know I’ll take these learnings with me in the future. 

Here’s what’s wrong with this company/role. 

I wish you and the entire company the best and hope to see you succeed. 


I found that my personal value system is more aligned with …. 


I’ve decided to leave because I believe there’s more opportunity for me in these ways … 

This company isn’t going to be successful. 

5. Send a formal resignation letter 

Follow up your conversation with a formal resignation letter. You’ll learn more about how to write a letter of resignation in the section below. 

6. Complete an exit interview 

Many companies offer exit interviews as part of the offboarding experience. If your company doesn’t offer one automatically, request one. 

Your HR team should be capturing feedback as part of the exit interview process. In an exit interview, you have the opportunity to be a bit more candid about your experience.

This helps the company look inward to identify areas for improvement. They can also identify trends (i.e. if multiple people from a specific team or department are leaving for similar reasons). 

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Can you quit a job on the spot?

Legally, in the US, you can do it. But should you? We don’t recommend it. 

Quitting your job on the spot doesn’t do you or your employer any good. It’s likely you’ll burn bridges in your exit. You might impact your co-workers and teammates when you leave. Your workload will likely need to be immediately distributed to others without a real plan. 

However, there are some circumstances where quitting a job on the spot might need to be a viable option. For example, you might find yourself in a hostile work environment. You could be a victim of harassment, sexual misconduct, discrimination, or other illegal activity. Consult legal counsel and your HR department. It’s important to file a formal complaint for documentation and legal purposes. 

You can also work with a coach on your “quit plan.” Your coach will be able to provide valuable insight and advice on how to best approach your situation at hand. 

5 factors to consider before quitting your job

There are a lot of factors to consider before you quit your job. According to Fiorenza Rossini, BetterUp Coach, keep these 5 factors in mind

  • A personal conflict, commitment, or change. Now more than ever, our personal and work lives are intertwined. If your personal life has impacted your work life, you may consider a change. This might be especially true if your current workplace isn’t accommodating.

    For example, your spouse might be offered a dream job in another location. But your current company won’t allow remote working. Or maybe you’ve grown your family and you need to forgo any business travel. Maybe your current role was 80% travel, and you need to find something new. 
  • Lack of opportunity. Human beings are living, breathing, and growing creatures. We like to learn, we like to challenge ourselves. We want to pursue opportunities to reach our full potential. If you’re missing this in your current workplace, it could be a sign that it’s time to go.  

How to write a letter of resignation

A resignation letter can be daunting to write. But with this formula and example letter, you should feel prepared to professionally resign. 

Make sure you hit on these four key aspects: 

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Here's a template resignation letter you can use. 

Dear {Insert Name},

Please accept this letter as formal resignation from my position as {insert title} at {insert company}. My last day will be {insert date}.

Thank you so much for the opportunity to work in this position for {insert time period}. I have so much appreciation for the opportunities I’ve been afforded during my time here. I’ve learned so much about {insert business components}. I know I will take these learnings with me throughout my career journey. 

I plan to tie up all possible loose ends. I will do everything possible to wrap up my current workload. I’m happy to help with anything you may need during this transition. Please let me know if you’d like to set up a transition meeting to talk through current projects. 

I wish nothing but the best for you, the team, and the company. Thank you again for the opportunity. 

Sincerely,

{insert name} 

Ready to quit? 

The job search and job hunting is a stressful process. If you've landed a new position and are ready to make a smooth transition, congrats!

You're ready to tie up loose ends, start a new job, and officially quit your job. It's important to maintain professional relationships and leave your current job on a positive note.

In the Great Resignation, more employees than ever are re-examining their career goals. But you don't have to navigate this experience alone. The right way to quit a job may not fully exist. But there are guidelines and factors to keep in mind. Whatever you decide in your final days, you want to continue to leave a good impression.

Whether you've already received a job offer or need to polish up your LinkedIn profile, BetterUp can help. By working with a career coach, you can feel prepared for your next job. Lean on your coach and career experts for career advice.

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Published March 1, 2022

Madeline Miles

Madeline is a writer, communicator, and storyteller who is passionate about using words to help drive positive change. She holds a bachelor's in English Creative Writing and Communication Studies and lives in Denver, Colorado. In her spare time, she's usually somewhere outside (preferably in the mountains) — and enjoys poetry and fiction.

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