Career Transition

How to Quit Your Job Without Ruining Your Professional Reputation

Quit your job

So, you’ve secured a killer new position that you’re excited about and are ready to move on to the next step in your career. Or maybe you want to take some time off to learn new skills and earn a degree. Sometimes taking a step back from your professional life can help you gain perspective and re-evaluate what you want to do. That’s great! There’s only one problem: You haven’t told your boss that you’re leaving. Eventually, most of us will leave at least one job. But how do you quit without damaging your reputation?

There’s a ton of advice on how to get a job, but not so much on how to quit one. Don’t worry—here are a few steps you can take to ensure a smooth transition to your next position. 

How to Quit Your Job and Keep Your Contacts

1. Tell your boss first in a private meeting.

Set up a meeting with your boss and tell them that you’re leaving your current position. Prepare an explanation for why you’re leaving. Your boss may ask for feedback about your current position—especially if you’re moving on to a similar role. This is your chance to improve the job for the next person who holds it. Offer constructive suggestions, and, if possible, concrete actions your boss or the company could take to improve the role. Also, don’t forget to thank your boss either in person or via a short e-mail for your time at the company and the opportunity to learn from them. Always leave on a positive note. Your boss was part of your professional development, and you probably did learn a thing or two from them.

2. Write a resignation letter.

resignation letter formally notifies your employer of your intention to leave. It should be addressed to your boss and contain a few things: your official title, the date of your last day, thanks for your time at the company, and your contact information. Think of it as your formal goodbye and act accordingly. Keep this letter short and professional. This isn’t the time to air any grievances. Remember to send a copy of this letter to the HR department as well as keep a copy for your own records. 

3. Give two weeks’ notice.

Quit your jobIf you are leaving an especially toxic or unsatisfying environment, it can be tempting to simply walk out of the office and never come back. Unless it’s unsafe or absolutely unbearable to continue your work, you should give at least two weeks’ notice. Even if you have bitter feelings about the company, think about your coworkers. Leaving suddenly puts them in a stressful position and can affect their ability to meet their responsibilities. If you don’t particularly care for your coworkers or your company, think of yourself. Not giving proper notice is bad form and detrimental to your professional reputation. Business leaders remember the people who leave them in a lurch. You don’t want to develop the reputation of being unreliable or a potential liability. 


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4. Put your social media on lockdown.

In an age where most of us occupy significant digital space, consider making all your social media accounts private while you transition out of your current job. You should never take to social media to vent frustrations about your job or your company. It’s best to keep any less-than-fuzzy feelings about your former position or company to yourself. We all have bad days and may not tweet judiciously. But you never know who could be lurking on social media, and it only takes one off-hand comment to hurt your professional reputation or sink a potential job offer. If your job isn’t directly tied to your social media presence, go incognito for a bit and make your accounts private. 

5. Make a “cheat sheet” for your replacement.

Remember your first day? You didn’t know where anything was, who to talk to about specific tasks, and if Cronos was buggy for everyone or just you. Make a file or a folder of anything you think might be helpful for your replacement to know. This will help aid them in their transition into your position—and, more importantly, it will show that you’re invested in a company’s success beyond your individual role. It will also foster some goodwill on your behalf. If down the line a recruiter calls your manager to check your employment history, they’ll be more likely to discuss a positive experience. 

6. Don’t treat the exit interview like a mic drop.

Your exit interview is probably your last impression with a company, so make it count. If you are leaving because of a toxic office culture, it will be tempting to enumerate the myriad of behaviors and tasks that caused you to seek employment elsewhere. But hold that impulse back. Be professional above all else, even if those around you are not. Offer helpful feedback, be honest about your reasons for leaving, and express gratitude for your time with the company. Leave on a positive note and preserve any relationships you can. 

Resigning from your job is an opportunity to start an exciting new chapter in your life! It’s also the ideal time to plan your next steps with intention and perspective. When you quit your job, you’re shaping how the world sees you and are given the opportunity to control the narrative. What do you want your story to be about? 


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About the Author

Katherine Jamison is a Queens-based freelance writer and editor. She tweets @Not_the_whiskey, exists on Instagram, and tries to maintain a blog at https://www.notthewhiskey.com/.