So It’s Time to Quit and Move On: How to Make a Graceful Exit from Work
The elements of a proper resignation and why quitting etiquette matters
There’s a lot of stigma surrounding quitting and talks about quitters almost always raise eyebrows. “Quitters never win” is the general understanding, but here’s a healthier take: winners just know when to quit.
On the job front, there is absolutely no shame in quitting (in office speak: resigning). Imagine staying put at a meaningless, thankless job where there is no growth, greater purpose or future merely because you’re afraid to be labelled a quitter. Not very logical, is it? It isn't good for your wellbeing in the long run either. Instead of seeing quitting as the cumbersome act of waving a white flag, think of it as the necessary step that comes before beginning a new chapter.
Could it be time to make this career move? Have you given your current career a thorough enough assessment? You can click here to take the quiz and find out. But should you already have an answer, scroll through to know about the elements of a proper resignation. Remember: no matter what the circumstance, your exit has to be classy, graceful and respectful.
The Who: Your Boss
Having close buddies in the office is fine, but your boss should always be the first to know about anything and everything regarding your resignation. It does not speak well of your character when word has gotten around in your office and your boss is the last to know. To the end, avoid contributing to office gossip.
The What: A Final Decision
There are plenty of valid reasons to move on from a workplace: an unethical company, its maltreatment of employees, the perpetually low morale in your team, being underpaid. It’s important that once your resignation is on the table, you’re firm about your decision. Note that it’s part of the protocol for some companies to present a counteroffer. Valuable employees are usually offered a raise, better pay or some other incentive. Be prepared for this attempt to sway you to stay.
The What: A Letter of Resignation
Following a personal heads up to your boss, put your resignation in writing to formally give your two weeks’ notice (or more depending on the company policy). A personal note to your mentor if you have one at the workplace is always a wonderful, thoughtful bonus.
The When: Your Post-Resignation Plan Is in Place
So, you’ve concluded: the cons on your list outnumber the pros, and more importantly, the pros that should give you reasons to stay today won’t make sense in five years’ time. Before even speaking with your boss or submitting your resignation letter, you need to have a post-resignation game plan. Will you take a couple of months off? Will you follow the golden rule and secure your next job before filing your resignation requirements? Ask yourself all the necessary “what's the next” questions.
The Where: On Social Media, Keep It Clean
Keep everything on the down low as you transition out of your job and into temporary unemployment. This means no spilling the tea on your soon-to-be former colleagues, no talking smack about your company and no dissing your boss. Remember that future employers do check out their prospects’ social media accounts. Meanwhile, in the office, make sure you complete all pending projects and tasks before making your exit.
The How: An In-Person Meeting
Take the time to set up a one-on-one meeting with your boss when you’re through with all the necessary and formal requirements. The respectful thing to do (which also lets your boss know you appreciate your experience with the company) is to take things offline and sit down and chat. Lead with gratitude, too. This workplace was your classroom. Through good, bad, trial and triumph, you learned a lot here.
The Extra: Going the Extra Mile
To show that you are a team player through and through, offer to stay until your replacement is found—though ideal, this is not required. The other thoughtful thing to do is to recommend people you know for the job (but only, of course, if that office was a decent place to work in the first place).
There’s a reason resignation etiquette exists: a sloppy exist comes with more cons than pros. You will want your team’s last memory of you to be a pleasant, great and a memorable one…because chances are it won’t be the last. The working world is a small one. Protect that reputation!