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.