How to Quit Your Job Without Burning Any Bridges or Closing Any Doors

Whether you don’t see any room to grow at your current company, you’ve had it up to here with a boss who constantly steals your ideas and talks down to you in front of colleagues or you’re just ready to move on to greener pastures, you’re ready to quit your job. This can be a tricky task: You want to leave, of course, but you also don’t want to burn any bridges on your way out. (You never know where your former colleagues will end up...) From setting your successor up for success to writing the perfect goodbye email, here’s how to quit your job in the most painless way possible.

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1. Carefully Consider Your Decision

Anyone who has had a job has, at one point or another, thought, That’s it. I’ve had it. I’m quitting. The urge to resign after a particularly stressful week or frustrating annual review with your manager is strong, but it’s important to realize that quitting is a pretty huge decision—one that shouldn’t be made impulsively. Career coach Priscilla Claman told the Harvard Business Review that you want to ask yourself several questions before you get to a breaking point. Consider:

  • Am I working for the right organization?
  • Am I in the right position?
  • Am I positioned for the future career I want?

If you struggle to answer these questions or find yourself second guessing whether this is the right move, postpone that meeting with your supervisor and think about ways to improve your work situation without resorting to quitting. If you’re feeling bored, is there a new project you can propose? If you’re at odds with a coworker, is it worth asking to move your seat? Think long and hard about why you want to leave and consult loved ones or professional mentors for their advice before going through with it.

2. Tell Your Manager First

No matter your personal feelings about it, office gossip happens, and in some cases, it happens a lot. Even though it might be tempting to reveal to your cubicle-mate that you’re planning on putting in your two weeks’ notice, there’s a good chance that information will end up with your manager—possibly before you have the chance to tell them yourself. That’s not a good look. Once you’ve decided to quit, your manager should be the first person you tell. From there, you can share the information with others and will likely have some kind of conversation with your company’s HR.

3. Help Set Your Team Up for Success

Once you’ve given your notice, it’s easy to act and feel like you have one foot out the door (you kind of do). Still, it’s courteous and responsible to do your best to ensure that the transition of work from you to your successor is as seamless as possible. In some situations, your work will be divided among people already on your team, making it easy to set up quick meetings to make sure they’re all set with their new responsibilities. If the person who will be taking on the bulk of your responsibilities hasn’t been hired yet, the career experts at job listing site Indeed recommend that you, “Document your day-to-day efforts, where you’ve saved important files, how to use various pieces of equipment and other information crucial to your position. This will ensure whoever replaces you will experience a smooth transition.” You don’t want to leave on a sour note, after all.

4. Write a Goodbye Email

Depending on the size of your team, it might not be possible to say goodbye to everyone you’ve worked closely with before your last day. Enter the goodbye email. This doesn’t have to be a pages-long, detailed account of your tenure at the company; a quick note expressing that you’ve enjoyed working with your colleagues and look forward to seeing all they accomplish in the future should suffice. Before signing off, include a note about wanting to stay in touch and be sure to share your personal email, should anyone want it in the future.

5. Don’t Diss Your Old Company at Your New Job

Congratulations! You successfully quit your old job and started a new one. Let’s say you absolutely love it and it’s nothing like your previous position. That great, just don’t vent to your new colleagues about how horrible your old company was. As we mentioned before, you never know who knows who in your industry, or who’s going to end up hearing your rant through the grapevine. Even if your old company truly was the worst, resist the urge to trash talk former employers to new ones. It’s not worth it in the long run.  

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sarah stiefvater

Wellness Director

Sarah Stiefvater is PureWow's Wellness Director. She's been at PureWow for ten years, and in that time has written and edited stories across all categories, but currently focuses...