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How To Quit Your Job Without Burning Bridges

August 18th, 2011 · 2 Comments

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quit job burning bridgeAn article about quitting in today’s economic climate may seem slightly oxymoronic, but an increasing number of people are discovering that it is actually more monetarily advantageous to create their own small business and work from home.  Small things like being able to eat three meals a day in your home, no longer needing weekly dry cleaning service, cutting down on childcare costs, and reducing the necessity to pay for gas or other commuting fees, can have a large impact on a family’s economic health.  Branching out on your own requires a lot of planning, and if you have a number of monetary responsibilities it is advisable to achieve a certain level of stability with you small business, before leaving your primary position.  If a level of stability has been achieved, and leaving your current work environment is an option, there are appropriate ways to go about giving your notice, and a couple of actions that should avoided.

1.  Start at the Top

Even if all of your friends know that your custom cake business is a huge hit and that you have so many clients you can barely keep your eyes open during the day, do not tell your best office buddies that you are quitting.  Start the resignation process with the person who hired you.  That person took a leap of faith in inviting you to join their business, so they should be the first person to know that you are leaving.

2.  Write a Letter of Resignation

Writing a letter of resignation allows your boss or supervisor to read the letter when they have a moment.  Knocking on your supervisor’s door and announcing that you are leaving in a few weeks is a recipe for disaster, as they may have their mind and energy focused elsewhere and your news will seem quite jarring and unpleasant.  The letter should be positive, clear, and devoid of lies.  If you feel that you need to give a reason for leaving, make the reason about the new opportunity as opposed to how much you dislike you current situation.  Thank them for their understanding and be prepared to do refuse any counter-offers or incentives to stay.

3.  Give Appropriate Notice

Two weeks notice is standard and anything less is rude, frankly.  Unless an emergency necessitates a quick exit, two weeks from the day you hand in your resignation is appropriate.  If you hold a job with a number of responsibilities, or a position that is highly specialized, consider giving a few more weeks notice, so that a smooth transition can be made.  Work until the agreed upon date and maintain an appropriate work standard during your last few days with the company.

4.  Formulate an Exit Strategy

Leaving positively is extremely important.  If you go off on your own and it does not work out the way you planned, you may find it necessary to return to your previous position.   Do not drop everything and walk out.  Try to wrap up any projects and open-ended discussions that have not been resolved.  If you have the opportunity to train your replacement, leave notes about everything.  The notes should give information about the history of a project or client, but not instruct the newcomer as to how things should be done.  Your replacement will most likely find the working process that is most appropriate for them.

5.  Check Back-In

A few months after you leave, check-in.  Ask how everyone is doing.  Find out if your replacement has any questions.  Maintaining a positive relationship with your former job is very important, as you may need a recommendation from them in the future.  Also, good friendships can form at the office and it would be a shame to quit those along with your former position.

Leaving the stability of a corporate environment is certainly not for everyone.  No matter whether you have a small business that is thriving, or you have chosen to focus on childrearing, or maybe you have just decided to pursue one of the millions of online degrees available, leaving your current job with a modicum of finesse is extremely important.  Be clear, concise, honest, and above else, committed to your decision.  Best of luck!

This is a guest post from Terri Lambert, from

Related posts:

  1. 10 Signs You Should Quit Your Job

Tags: Getting Ahead · Recession

  • Daniel Lakstins

    Point #3 is so critical.  I know lots of people who have given less than 1 weeks notice before quitting leaving their employer in a huge bind.  I believe in never burning a bridge.  A past employer is a valuable future contact.  So why leave them hanging?  If at all possible 2 weeks notice should be given.

  • EDSI

    It’s very important to maintain good relationships with former employers and colleagues, and this is good advice. Giving enough notice and checking back in are key!