How To Resign Professionally


Quitting a job can be a great career move. However, it’s important to know you’re quitting for the right reasons, and how to amicably part with your employer. A graceful exit can protect your professional reputation and improve your employability in the future, but a clumsy exit can damage both. Even after you have a good reason to change your career path, you need to develop a transitional plan that works for both you and your employer.

Reasons For Quitting a Job

If you're considering quitting, you want to know you're doing it for the right reasons. Future employers may want to know why you decided to move on, which is another reason to be sure you’ve got a good reason before taking such a serious step.

Company Restructuring

Whether the result of company restructuring or fickle management, roles and responsibilities among employees can end up shuffled. When you find yourself doing something you didn’t sign up for, quitting may be the right choice. That’s especially the case if your new tasks don’t directly contribute to your career path, or otherwise are making you unhappy in life.

Career Change

When you have career aspirations, you don’t want to stay in stepping-stone positions for any longer than necessary. After you’ve learned everything you can at your current post, it’s a good idea to make the move to a job where you can keep learning.

Medical Reasons

Health is another good reason to call it quits. When working conditions are detrimental to your health, quitting is almost universally regarded as the most prudent decision. Whether you’re actually ill or not, health concerns are a reason that nearly any employer will sympathize with. If you’re actually leaving your job for reasons that may not positively reflect on you, like failing to get along with coworkers, then you may be better off citing medical reasons.

Unethical Practices

Unethical, illegal, or other shady business practices are another reason to consider quitting. This is especially true if you’re the victim of discrimination, or have some other issue that management has shown an unwillingness to resolve. If you’re thinking about resigning but haven’t figured out the next step, then you’ll definitely want to take a look at MyPath’s ​Career Wizard​ to help find your way forward.  

How To Quit Your Job Step-By-Step

Resigning professionally is a three step process. It involves trying to ensure a smooth transition, looking for references for future employment opportunities, and formalizing the process with a letter of resignation.  

Step 1 - Meet with Your Boss in Person

You want your transition out of your job to be as smooth as possible for everyone you’re working with. If your boss finds out you intend to quit from another employee, they may feel out-of-the-loop about critical information affecting the workplace. That could make them understandably upset, and bitter feelings won’t make parting any easier. Before telling anyone you plan to quit, setup a meeting with your boss so they’re among the first to know.

Step 2 - Find References  

Like resumes, references can help demonstrate you have particular skills. Good references add weight to an application because they’re a form of weighty evidence employers can use to gauge your abilities.  And who can speak to your abilities better than the people you’ve worked closely with?

Getting a reference from your boss is often your best bet, but colleagues or clients can make great references as well.  Anyone who can speak to your abilities in vivid detail will make an excellent candidate to ask for a letter of reference.

Step 3 - Provide a Resignation Letter

After verbally informing your boss that you intend to quit, you’ll want to formalize the process by providing a letter of resignation for their records. Resignation letters are a succinct statement of your intention to quit, including the current date, the date your services will end, and your signature.

If you haven’t had a great time working in your position, you may be tempted to use the letter as an opportunity to cast blame or vent frustrations. But you never know who you’ll be working with in the future, or if you’ll ever want to return to the company. Remaining professional and positive allows you to keep all your options open, which makes it the smart career move.

Give Two Weeks’ Notice (Or More)

Most employee contracts make use of a standard two-week notice, but you’ll want to read the fine print for your own organization because you may have agreed to more or less. As much as they may hate to see you go, most employers will appreciate being given as much heads-up as possible. The hiring process can be tedious and slow, and providing more than two weeks of notice can help take pressure off your employer.

You also might want to offer to train new employees, or otherwise help with the transition in any way you can. This can help you stay on good terms with the company. Employers depend on their employees, and suddenly losing one can create a painful transition for everyone left behind.  Ensuring the transition goes smoothly will make it easier to get letters of reference, and will help you avoid sewing professional grudges along the way.

Calling it Quits

Quitting can be an emotional time for you, your employer, and your coworkers. But resigning professionally one of the best long-term decisions you can make during your career. Knowing how to quit your job is about being tactful. As long as you follow the three step process outlined above, you should be able to keep clear of the kind of common mistakes people make while quitting.