What You Should Do (And Not Do) When You Quit Your Job

Robin Schwartz

What You Should Do (And Not Do) When You Quit Your Job

Everyone will be faced with the uncomfortable act of handing in their resignation to an employer at some point in their careers. Sometimes professional opportunities arise that make it impossible to pass over. When this happens, resigning can be bittersweet.

Other times, we secretly wish we could send a text from a far-off tropical paradise and never see our co-workers again.

No matter the circumstances surrounding your decision, make sure you follow what to do and what not to do so you can avoid any harm to your professional reputation.

Don’t Quit On Impulse

Make sure your decision to quit your job is well thought out and not done in a moment of anger or disagreement. Screaming at your boss that you quit and storming out of the office will likely be a permanent decision, even if you change your mind later.

If you have another opportunity being offered to you, be sure it is a formal and confirmed offer.

You should have a signed offer letter in hand before you provide notice to your current organization. There is nothing worse than quitting a job to have the other position fall through.

Give Proper Notice

It’s important to be aware of the policies and procedures within your current organization. For some, a two-week notice period may be all that is required. For others, a minimum of four weeks may be expected if they are in management or senior staff level positions.

If you don’t know how much notice you have to give, talk to an HR representative confidentially or consult the company’s personnel policy manual.

If in doubt, provide the standard two-week notice and be flexible if you are informed it is different. Provide your resignation in writing after you have delivered notice to your boss verbally.

Don’t expect to provide a two week notice and then inform your boss you’ll be taking the last week as vacation. Many companies don’t permit employees to use vacation or other leave during their final notice period.

Don’t Check Out Before Your Last Day

While it may be tempting to spend the last couple of weeks in your job scrolling through social media feeds or streaming TV shows, be present and accountable for your work. That means continuing to show up on time, taking only your allotted breaks and lunch times and leaving when you are supposed to.

You are still responsible for the impression you are making on your colleagues and your organization.

Should you ever need another professional reference in the future, you don’t want your former boss to remember your final days as ones wasted.

Offer To Help With The Transition

Whether your organization intends to replace your position or have other staff members take over the workload, be a willing participant in the transition period.

Your work will likely be tapering off once colleagues discover your impending departure. You likely have a lot of institutional or job related knowledge that needs to be shared with them.

Even if your boss doesn’t engage you to train anyone specifically, prepare some documents that include standard operating procedures for your role or what you determine to be important information. It will go a long way when the company trains your replacement and they will appreciate it.

Don’t Gloat About Your Resignation

Even if you weren’t entirely happy with your job, there’s still no reason to spend your last few weeks in the office telling anyone who will listen that you are getting out there.

If you have critical things to say about your job or the organization, wait to voice them to the right people and in the right setting. You only stand to push away your (almost former) co-workers by belittling or badmouthing the organization they still choose to work for.

Avoid convincing yourself that this professional move is the right one for you by telling everyone you see in the breakroom about it. Those who are close colleagues in your office will likely be excited about your new opportunity. The new intern doesn’t need to hear why it’s so much better than your current job.

Know How You Will Handle A Counter-Offer

If you are a highly valued employee, your company may attempt to counter the new offer you have with a higher salary, a promotional title, better schedule, etc. Give serious thought before handing in your notice to how you plan on handling any potential counter offers.

It may be that you have a certain number of demands that need to be met to stay. It may also be that you are ready to move on no matter what your company offers you.

It’s important that you don’t expect your company to provide a counter-offer if you received a new position. If you are accepting another job to urge your company to offer better terms, you are gambling with your career.

Don’t Burn Bridges

Even if you couldn’t stand coming to work for the last 486 days, don’t leave on a negative note. Do not write a long, strongly worded email to your boss on your last day or deciding not to finish out your notice period.

Unless the environment is unsafe or unhealthy, keep future professional opportunities in mind.

You never know when you might work with former colleagues again. You don’t want a reputation to precede you.

Make Sure You Are Given What Is Owed

Talk to your supervisor or the company HR representative to determine what is due to you upon termination. If you have accrued vacation owed to you, make sure you know when it will be paid out and at what rate.

If you work in a commission-based environment, it may be necessary to negotiate final commission payments, which would have been paid out after your departure. You should know when other benefits like medical or dental coverage end so you aren’t caught uninsured.

While it is important to know what is owed to you, make sure you don’t leave with what is not owed to you. Don’t take company property or supplies. You don’t need them where you are going.

Quitting a job may either leave you feeling sentimental or relieved, but either way, it’s important to go about the process professionally.

About The Author

Robin Schwartz

Robin Schwartz has nearly a decade of experience providing HR expertise to employees and management in higher education. Her broad experience includes benefits, compensation, performance management, employee relations, payroll, talent acquisition and management. She received her masters degree from American Military University and maintains a PHR certification.

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