How To Quit Your Job Without Burning Bridges

Last September, I wrote an article questioning whether the U.S. was truly in economic decline. I was still living in Jamaica during the Great Recession of 2008, so this was my first recession on U.S. soil. In comparison, America seemed to be experiencing a strange economic movement, but it did not feel very much like a decline. The stock market was shooting up, stores were empty and car lots were running out of inventory.

A year later, economists are scratching their heads at the record numbers in which Americans are quitting their jobs. This is despite employers begging people to come to work and raising wages to record highs as an incentive. Personally, I find my first American recession to be an interesting and amusing experience. So, rather than cast judgment, I’ll give advice on how to quit your job without burning bridges.

You might feel 100% certain you’ll never return to the job you’re leaving behind, but you never know what the future might hold. I’ve seen a lot of people return to the same company at lower positions with their pride bruised and purple. As for me: I quit three jobs in the past six years and have dropped several clients for one reason or the other, so I think I know a thing or two about calling it quits when enough is enough.

1. Evaluate Your Decision

We have all acted impulsively at some time or another. When it comes to our careers, this is the worst time to make a decision without thinking it through. No matter how sure you feel that you don’t need the job, let’s crunch the numbers. Do you have another job lined up? What does your savings look like? If your Plan B doesn’t work out, what will you do? If the answers to these questions are unfavorable to your plans, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t quit your job. It means you need to take some time to craft a better exit strategy.

2. Check Your Contract

Chances are that your employment contract includes information on the termination process. More often than not, you’re expected to give two weeks’ notice. This provides enough time for your employer to begin the process of preparing to fill the role with a new or existing employee. Even if your contract does not require two weeks’ notice, it’s a fairly reasonable expectation that most professionals follow. Quitting with immediate effect is rarely a good idea, especially if you want a good recommendation for your next job.

3. Submit Your Resignation in Writing

Submitting a written resignation eliminates the risk of disputes later on, based on what someone claimed you said or didn’t say. When you have your resignation in writing, you can simply pull up the document and show precisely what was said and when. Email is an acceptable way to submit your resignation. Following up with a printed letter is not required, but some employers appreciate it. Is it possible to just text your boss that you’re quitting in two weeks? Yes. Is it a good idea? No.

4. Keep Your Ego in Check

Whether you won the lottery or your business just turned into a seven-figure success, sometimes, no one needs to know that. The more you hype yourself up before you leave, the worse you’ll feel if you ever need to return. Trust me when I say people won’t forget the bragging. I have listened to the cafeteria chatter about coworkers who were new to me, but were old, cocky news to my colleagues. This isn’t to say you shouldn’t let your boss or coworkers know your reason for leaving, but there’s a difference between sharing information and belittling your current position.

5. Offer To Prep Your Replacement

When you submit your resignation, your boss will either find someone to fill the role temporarily or permanently. Some people like the idea of showing the boss how important they were by leaving and taking all the knowledge with them. Instead, train the person hired to fill your role. Your boss will appreciate it and so will the colleagues you leave behind. After all, they’ll be stuck working with the replacement while you’re gone. It will be much easier for them to get things done with someone who actually knows what they’re doing.

Quitting your job is a big decision that you shouldn’t take lightly. It can be difficult to rebuild that momentum once you leave. If you haven’t yet quit your job and you’re looking for tips on how to get out of the rat race for good, I wrote an article about that too. Entrepreneurship isn’t for everyone, but it often feels a heck of a lot better than being a cog in the wheel. I wouldn’t trade it for anything – well, except retirement.

6 thoughts on “How To Quit Your Job Without Burning Bridges

  1. I am on this point myself, with my business slowly picking up I keep questioning when do I stop my current part time job? I don’t know why, but the doubter in me still wins this fight right now…

    1. That’s awesome! You’re one step closer to having full control over your life. I totally understand the hesitancy. I held on to ONE shift at a security company for a long time as my just-in-case plan. It was the pandemic that finally let me give up my 8-hour security workweek and focus only on the business.

      If you haven’t already, I would recommend checking out that second article I mentioned:

      All the best!

  2. Yes, I’ve heard of the “Big Resignation,” especially among Millennials like ourselves. We all come from different paths, and for myself, I do wonder at the reasons why some people choose to quit, especially during these tumultuous times. Maybe it’s because my work experience, up until recently, have been limited to contractual work (never lasting more than two years, so when my contract was up, it was up) and lay-offs. As a result, now that I have a steady career going for me, I wouldn’t want to quit, especially after going through so many short-term work and unemployment. I guess some people choose to quit because they aren’t feeling the job or are in a toxic work environment, so I can understand that; I just hope they have a back up or already got another job offer prior to quitting. Because rash decisions can be just as harmful as hating your job.

    1. According to the statistics, people were quitting for two main reasons: (1) They were lazy and just wanted to cash in on unemployment instead of earn an honest living and (2) They were ambitious and realized that with more people dropping out of the workforce, this was an excellent time for upward mobility. So, they quit when they found better jobs.

      I gave up my corporate job to travel and write, so I pass no judgment. To each their own!

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