How to Quit Your Job: Resigning with Confidence

Photo Credit:  Guille Faingold

Photo Credit: Guille Faingold

So, you’re ready to resign from your current job. You’ve found a better opportunity elsewhere and accepted it. You are so ready. Now all you have to do is put in your notice and tie up loose ends. You’ll want to find a time to give your boss the news and have your talking points prepared. This can sometimes be a nerve-wracking experience, so I always advise my clients to have a plan.

Many people get very nervous because they think they absolutely must resign in person. However, this isn’t necessarily the right thing to do in all circumstances. It’s best to give your boss your notice when you are both able to focus on this brief conversation. Whether it’s in person, via Skype, or over the phone, this conversation should have both of your undivided attention. If you’re attempting to cram a meeting into your boss’s schedule on a particularly busy day, or try to snag them for a “quick chat,” it’s unlikely they’ll be fully able to focus. Maybe you plan a phone call after the workday has ended, or ask when would be best in their day to talk, when you have contextualized the conversation as needing their full attention.

How to Quit Your Job: Resigning with Confidence

Before you find a time to discuss your resignation, you should already be preparing what to say and how you want to communicate it. Be sure to reflect on the following areas so you can answer questions, have clear talking points, and plan for the days following your notice.

  1. Inventory your contractual obligations.

    How much notice do you need to give? Are there any contingencies in your contract to think about?

  2. Make a list of your responsibilities.

    Assuming your boss will need to post this job immediately, have a complete list of your responsibilities organized by function so they (or HR) can determine the the replacement should be one person, multiple people, or can be delegated internally. They can also choose to hire certain aspects of your role more quickly than others.

  3. Make a list of deliverables you will complete before your last day.

    It’s best for you to go in with this list to provide an anchor point for the discussion. You are the one to decide whether anything gets added or removed. Be realistic, but also be fair. And you don’t have to give into unreasonable demands.

  4. Make a list of what your employer owes you.

    Travel or professional development reimbursements are two examples of what may be owed to you that’s caught up in accounting somewhere. Maintain a list of any type of benefit payout or other outstanding issue. Ensure there’s a plan to resolve it by the time you leave, and certainly be aware of the appropriate point of contact if it is still unresolved as of the day of your departure.

  5. Practice stating your resignation out loud.

    In advance of the meeting, practice what you plan to say in the mirror. Lots of people think this is corny; however, if you are particularly concerned about your boss’ emotional reaction, this will help you build confidence and resolve.

  6. Prep a resignation email.

    Once you finish your conversation, send this email immediately to officially start the clock on your notice. You don’t want any discrepancy later on regarding when your notice was effective.

Though I recommend you have all these things prepared by the time you give your notice, you do not need to cover every point in the initial conversation. The first talk should last around 15 minutes. During this conversation, you’ll focus on the following key ideas.

  1. You’ve received a job offer you are thrilled about that provides an incredible opportunity for you to advance your career.

  2. You have accepted this offer (assuming you are not open to negotiating to stay).

  3. You are not open to discussing options for staying in your current role (assuming you are not open to negotiating to stay).

  4. You want to focus on planning for your departure and ensure it creates as little disruption as possible.

  5. You want to schedule time with your boss to discuss the logistics of your plan.

Go with the general flow of the conversation. You might not need to state that you’re not open to discussing options for staying in your current rule, but you might need to state your final day clearly. Keep it brief, and stick to your main points as much as possible.

Do your best to keep the initial conversation from becoming emotional. Emotions may come later, but it is not your job to manage your supervisor’s emotions during this conversation, regardless of your personal or professional relationship. However, it’s important to be prepared for an emotional reaction and have short and clear answers to questions like “Why are you leaving?,” “Why didn’t you say you were unhappy,” or “What did I do wrong?” and statements like “I can’t believe you’re just leaving” or “this is really going to hurt this company.”

Your resignation can be challenging and uncomfortable, but with preparation, you should be able to have a conversation that’s mature and professional. However, if you anticipate your boss to be particularly emotional or difficult, I encourage you to read the other pieces in this series.

How to Quit Your Job: What to Do If Your Boss Freaks Out

How to Quit Your Job: What to Do If Your Boss Says No