Employee leaving job happily

How To Leave a Job on Good Terms

It's no surprise that the "Great Resignation" is upon us. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 4.4 million Americans quit their jobs in September of 2021. Those statistics align with our 2021 Talent Retention Report, where 31.4% of the 3,948 employees surveyed admitted to voluntarily quitting their jobs between September 2020 and September 2021.

If you plan to join in on the Great Resignation by leaving your job soon, you’ll be putting plenty of energy into landing your next role. At the same time, it’s just as important to determine how to tell your employer that you're leaving, so you can part on good terms and keep your professional reputation intact. By taking the time to decide how to leave a job on good terms, you’ll be setting yourself up for long-term relationships and references.


When It's Time to Part Ways With Your Employer

Determining how to resign from a job, including putting in two weeks’ notice and what to say when resigning, is essential when you're wondering how to leave a job on good terms. Even if you’re excited about your new job and ready to dash out the door, you don’t want to burn bridges with your current employer. Remember to:

  • Remain tactful and calm
  • Give plenty of notice (two weeks minimum)
  • Communicate your notice verbally and in writing
  • Discuss your departure in brief
  • Notify coworkers and clients
  • Complete and transition tasks
  • Do the exit interview

Let's take a closer look at each of these.


Resignation letter


Remain Tactful and Calm

Your new job is waiting for you, and you’re ready to do the happy dance down your current employer's office hallway. Word of caution: Don’t! The last thing you want to do is offend your current coworkers and boss. Instead, remain tactful and calm and focus on effectively transitioning out of your current position.


Give Plenty of Notice

Most organizations require you to put in two weeks’ notice when you choose to terminate your employment. If you know further in advance that you plan to leave, it’s a kind gesture to let your employer know to give more time to facilitate the transition. However, if you’re concerned that your employer might walk you out the door by giving them ample, early notice, then stick with the two-week timeframe.


Communicate Your Notice Verbally and in Writing

One of the most critical elements of determining how to resign from a job is how to tell your employer that you're leaving. Communicate your decision with your direct supervisor before anyone else. Once you share your desire to leave verbally, give your boss a formal resignation letter (even if your organization doesn’t require it). Email or provide a hard copy letter based on your personal preference or the company’s policy.


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Discuss Your Departure in Brief

It’s natural to wonder what to say when resigning. The best rule of thumb is to be brief and to the point – express your intent to leave and your last day of employment. You might choose to give a reason for leaving if you feel it’s appropriate, though it’s not typically necessary.


Notify Coworkers and Clients

After you’ve let your direct supervisor know you are resigning, reach out to your coworkers and clients to inform them of your plans. Doing so gives them a heads-up about the transition and an opportunity to tie up any loose ends before you depart. If appropriate, send an email to coworkers and clients, sharing your intent, next steps for your transition, and your personal email or LinkedIn profile to keep in touch (if desired).


Complete and Transition Tasks

Ensure you complete any outstanding tasks before your last day of employment. For projects you won’t have time to finish, leave very clear and thorough instructions on addressing them. You might also offer to assist in hiring and training your replacement if the employer fills your role before you leave.


Exit interview checklist


Do the Exit Interview

Even if your employer doesn’t have an official exit interview process, ask to have one with your direct supervisor and HR anyway. An exit interview allows you to share your experiences and your gratitude for the opportunity you’ve had with the organization.


When You Resign, Do it With Grace and Tact

Considering how to leave a job on good terms doesn’t need to be complicated or stressful. By following the steps provided above on how to resign from a job successfully, you’ll be able to leave with grace, tact, and your head held high. For more job search and career advice, visit our Job Seeker Resource Center.

By iHire | December 13, 2021
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