how exactly do you quit a job?

Quitting your job can be surprisingly anxiety-producing. Not only are you preparing to leave a job and co-workers who have grown familiar to you, but having the actual quitting conversation with your boss can be stressful even if you are thrilled to be leaving.

And if you haven’t quit many jobs before, you might not even be sure exactly how to do it. Do you have to do it in person? By formal letter? Do you need to say why you’re quitting or can you just… be done? Here’s everything you need to know about how to quit your job professionally and without burning bridges.

What’s the actual mechanism I use to quit? Like, exactly what do I need to do?

Ideally, you resign in an in-person conversation with your boss. Ask if they have a few minutes to talk and say something like, “After a lot of thought, I’d decided to move on and my last day will be (date).” That’s it! Your boss may have follow-up questions, but this is how you initially deliver the news.

If you don’t work from the same location as your boss (if you’re remote, or they are), it’s OK to do this by phone or video chat instead. You wouldn’t need to make a special, out-of-the-way trip to do it in person; whatever method the two of you normally use to talk in real-time is fine.

Do I have to give a reason for why I’m leaving?

Not technically, but it can come across as chilly if you’re asked and refuse to answer. If there’s an easy explanation you can point to—like “I’ve accepted another job,” “I’m going back to school,” or “I’m moving to another state”—it makes sense to explain that.

If the reason you’re leaving is bad management or mistreatment, this isn’t a great time to get into those issues, at least if you’re trying to preserve the relationship. At this point, you’ve already decided to leave and there’s usually not a lot to be gained by providing a list of grievances. (That said, if you have a good relationship with your manager, it might be fine to acknowledge that, yes, this is because of the salary, the hours, or the workload, especially if those are concerns you had raised with them previously.)

What’s the deal with resignation letters?

Some employers will want a written letter of resignation for their records, but don’t deliver the news that way initially. Start with a conversation, and your boss will let you know if you need to put something in writing or not.

If they do want a letter, keep it short. For example: “After three years working for X Company, I am resigning my role as Y and my last day will be August 15.” If you want, you can add some niceties like, “I’ve enjoyed my time here and wish the company all the best in the future.” But that’s it—no need to go into your reasons for leaving. This is just documentation that you did in fact resign.

Am I supposed to just… blindside my boss when I quit? Or should I have given them a heads-up earlier that I was thinking about leaving?

In general, no, you’re not expected to give your employer a heads-up that you’re considering leaving. Doing that can sometimes put your job in jeopardy; some employers will push people out when they know they’re getting ready to leave, or you could end up at the top of a layoff list because they figure you’re leaving anyway.

That said, if you have a very good relationship with your boss and it will be obvious that you were planning your departure for a while—like if you’re leaving to go to grad school or for a long-planned move—sometimes it does make sense to talk with your boss ahead of time. But this is very, very relationship-dependent, and the risk is too high to do it unless you’re confident that your employer will handle it well.

Is it OK to give more or less than two weeks’ notice?

As a general rule, two weeks’ notice is the professional standard. You should try hard to avoid giving less unless it’s truly unavoidable, like a health emergency. (Otherwise it’s the kind of thing that could hurt you in reference calls in the future.)

If you’re thinking two weeks sounds like a really short time to hire a replacement, it is! Notice periods aren’t intended to provide enough time for your employer to hire someone new; they’re for letting you transfer your work or create documentation for whoever eventually will take it over.

However, some people do give more notice than two weeks, especially if they feel warmly toward their employer and want to help with a smooth transition. If you’re considering doing that, make sure that your company has a track record of handling longer notice periods well and doesn’t push people out earlier than they’d planned to leave.

Anything else I should know about the timing?

Sometimes you won’t have a lot of choice in when you give notice; if you have a new job that needs you to start soon, you might need to announce your resignation right away in order to be able to give enough notice. But other times you might have more flexibility in your timing and can use it to your advantage. For example, a lot of companies will pay for your health insurance for the full month as long as you’re working there on the first of the month; in those cases, you could benefit from leaving at the start of a new month rather than at the end of the previous one.

What if my boss is away or hard to reach and I can’t get in touch with them when I’m ready to resign?

If your boss is around but just hard to pin down for a meeting, you’ll need to be assertive. Call, text, pop your head in their office, whatever it takes for a chance to say, “I have some time-sensitive news that I must speak to you about today. I just need two minutes.” Even if you’d normally defer to your boss’s schedule and not push so hard for time when they’re swamped, when you’re resigning people do expect that you’ll make a higher-than-normal effort to connect. And while meeting in person is ideal, if the only way you’ll get time with them that day is to do it by phone or video chat, do that!

But if your boss is staunchly unavailable—or on leave and not scheduled to be back before the clock starts ticking on the notice period you want—you can resign to their boss or to HR. That’s perfectly fine to do when you don’t have other options. (And you can then ask that person for guidance on the best way to fill in your boss; they might prefer to get a hold of your manager themselves or suggest a method for you to do so.)

So I really can’t just quit in an email, huh?

No. I mean, you can, but it generally won’t be seen as professional unless there are truly extenuating circumstances. With email, there’s also a possibility your message could be missed, or not seen for several days. Email might feel easier, but you’ve really just got to have the conversation. It can be a short one though!

When do I tell my coworkers I’m leaving?

Even if you’re tempted to tell your coworkers right away, it’s considered professional courtesy to tell your manager first—and there’s always a risk a coworker could spill the beans before you want them to. Once you’re ready to announce your departure to others, you can either let people know one-on-one or send an email to your team, depending on the norms of your office. (You should wait to post it on social media for the same reason.)

What if my office contacts me with questions after I’m gone?

Once you no longer work there, you’re not obligated to respond to work questions. That said, if you want to preserve the relationship, it’s generally wise to be willing to answer a few short questions. These should be things like “where is the X file stored?” or “who was your contact at Z?”—not anything that would take up significant amounts of time or involve you doing actual work. If they do contact you for more than that, it’s reasonable to say, “I’m sorry I can’t help, my new job is keeping me really busy” or “hmmm, I can’t remember after all this time.”

Of course, before you leave, ideally you’ll write up documentation of your key projects and processes for whoever takes over your work. Then if you do get these calls, you can say, “It should be in the documentation I left!”

Originally published at Vice.

{ 98 comments… read them below }

  1. Mike*

    I speak to my direct supervisor to let them know as soon as I’ve signed my offer letter with my new job. Best to “rip the band-aid off” as soon as possible, rather than delaying the inevitable. I try to give as much notice as possible — not just two weeks if possible; 4-6 weeks is best (I have projects that need to be transitioned, etc). A written letter comes that day or the day after. A day or two later I start informing my team, so they don’t hear it through the rumor mill.

    1. Junior Assistant Peon*

      Hard disagree – two weeks is ideal because they might ask you to leave immediately, or sooner than the end date you asked for. It’s not your problem if the transition can’t be neatly wrapped up in two weeks, and you can choose to continue answering questions after your last day as a courtesy. If your start date at the new job is more than two weeks in the future, keep it under your hat until two weeks before your chosen last day.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        That depends on your relationship with your boss, though. I’ve had bosses who would be fine with that and others who wouldn’t.

        1. Emily*

          Elizabeth West: Exactly. It’s very much a know your boss/workplace type of situation.

        2. Kevin Sours*

          That’s really an “it depends” situation. I’ve generally given four weeks. But
          a) I’ve never been in a situation were I thought it would be badly handled.
          b) I don’t think I’d have much problem moving up my start date in the jobs I was moving to
          c) Push comes to shove any extra couple of weeks to chill would be doing me a favor.

          But if you don’t have that trust, timelines are inflexible, and you can’t afford to be off work then it’s a completely different ballgame.

      2. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        This also depends on whether you’re in a financial situation where you’d have trouble not having income for those few extra weeks. If you’ve got enough cushion that you can shrug and use the “bonus” 4-6 weeks off to unwind between jobs, then the risk is much different than if you can’t afford that month+ without pay. (Many people do try to have at least 3-6 months of living expenses banked somewhere if they can manage it. Others, of course, aren’t in a financial place where they can do that.)

      3. NotAnotherManager!*

        It’s really a “know your situation” type thing. I’ve only moved someone’s exit date up once in over a decade, and that’s because they were not effective and made a lot of mistakes (so I didn’t need them around for another month, at best, doing nothing and, at worst, making messes for others to clean up). I can’t replace a productive worker in two weeks, so if someone is able to give me more notice, it’s virtually always to my benefit to keep them around as long as they are able to stay.

        I think forcing people out is more common in sales or situations in which employers are concerned the departing worker is going to take clients or other proprietary information with them.

      4. MCMonkeyBean*

        I think it depends entirely on the job and your personal circumstances. If you cannot afford to be out of work if they ask you to leave immediately then definitely don’t take the risk! But a lot of people would be able to (and might even enjoy getting some extra time off in between jobs, I know I would have loved that with my last transition). In those cases offering a little extra notice can help leave on really good terms–for me that has been important because when I left my first job I wanted to make sure they would be willing to hire me back if I didn’t like the new job, which is exactly what ended up happening.

    2. Senior Accountant (Public Practice)*

      I resigned, in person, to start my competing business – I gave a months notice, and in my letter stated I would be starting my own firm.

      I also acknowledged my non-solictation clauses for clients and employees. I work for good people, and it’s a small town, but I want to try running my own thing. I had some fees to repay and we’ve sorted that out. I also mentioned that I was careful to only look at things I was assigned to recently, and if they do an electronic audit, there won’t be any big (or small) blips of me downloading sensitive data (small town).

      I’m continuing to work out my notice period (half way there), and am still a member of the team who is working on new stuff (and wrapping up old).

  2. Lizzy*

    I’m actually putting my notice in tomorrow so this is perfect timing! I’m pretty nervous but this is the right time for me to move on. I’m just hoping it won’t be too awkward.

    1. Mike*

      Best of luck! Remember, you’ll feel better after you have the conversation. Your boss and coworkers will likely understand and feel happy for you.

    2. Moniker*

      I just did this. The anxiety was all anticipatory and did not materialize at the time. I was lucky that I just happened to have a meeting scheduled with HR and my supervisor to talk about a request for permanent work form home status for one of my team members, so the meeting just got repurposed. People leave their jobs all the time. If there is any awkwardness it will not because your choice to move on.

  3. T J Juckson*

    Thank you, I’ve been meaning to search the site for any previous advice on this, and here it is. I keep not giving notice because of the anxiety of doing so (I am quitting without another job lined up) but not quitting is making me miserable as well…. which is why I need to quit. Gaaaaa.

    1. Bella*

      I did that. I waited until the last possible moment, too. Promise you’ll feel better once you just go in and get it done. <3

    1. Monty & Millie's Mom*

      I haven’t read the article yet, so maybe it’s mentioned, but I think I prefer a condolence card – “sorry for your loss, I’m a delightful person and you are SO gonna miss me”! Although fish has its place as well!

      1. quill*

        Cod by Close Of Day is an underappreciated Treehouse Kids book. But then again, nobody really reads the series about the Treehouse Kids as teens working customer service.

      1. Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii*

        I had heard about the legendary fish, finally i get to see it!

  4. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

    Been in the situation many times.

    I always would go to my manager and VERBALLY state that I have been offered a job by another firm, and it appears that I’m going to accept it.

    This gives your boss the ability to – if he wants to – and if you’re willing to hear him out – make a counter offer. In spite of the scary stories that recruiters (“headhunters”) say – it’s always in one’s best interest to listen. In fact, your resignation may provide the impetus for your manager to push through a stalled promotion or raise that his/her superiors have pushed back on. You don’t want to walk out on a situation you’ve invested 5-10-15 years in, over a conflict that your manager can’t easily resolve.

    But if there’s nothing to agree on, follow up with a resignation letter the next day, opening with “as we discussed yesterday,….”

    Of course, I have also been a little too candid in some of my resignation letters – one, in particular – I was leaving for more money – and was being grossly underpaid even by the company’s standards – AND – I had attempted to negotiate but after three months of dialog, it proved fruitless. Management was happy to see me go (and I was happy to leave).

    1. ecnaseener*

      I think this depends on if a counteroffer could possibly solve the problems that made you want to leave. If you’re quitting over salary, fine, but if you’re quitting because you hate your coworkers and the work makes you miserable, a counteroffer won’t fix that.

      1. BRR*

        Also take into account if the only way you could get a raise is by leaving. I’m currently job hunting primarily because of salary and while I intend to ask for a raise next week, I have a strong hunch I will be told no and there are not steps I can take to get my compensation to match my responsibilities. I could potentially see a counter off when I have another job lined up, but if my value is not recognized without the threat of me leaving that tells me a lot. But I also don’t expect my manager to go to bat for me about it and that’s a big part of it.

      2. NotRealAnonForThis*


        A counter-offer would have done nada to mitigate “reasons why I left the last job”. I had never agreed to the adjusted/accelerated travel schedule that I was being given (because I’d refused a promotion that would’ve required me to relocate my entire family to another major metropolitan area in another state), I couldn’t stand the new leadership in my office, I refused to deal with scheming manipulative middle managers.

        My direct boss was no dummy and had been attempting to get me under the umbrella of a different leadership group to no avail, and to his credit, his attempt at a counteroffer was “is there a single thing that I could do that would make you reconsider this?”, but he very much understood my “no”.

        Hilarious/ironic part was that the office leadership who I’d bailed out because of? Yeah. After giving me crap about not wanting to relocate, and assigning me a ridiculous travel schedule to make up for the fact that I would not relocate to the other office (he sent me there every other week instead – in the previous 18 months I’d been there twice, then 35 times in the last 18 months that I was at the company), he quit with basically no notice…to relocate as a trailing spouse.

      3. Smithy*

        This is absolutely critical – because sometimes your boss is the person who has the ability to say “don’t leave – we can give you XYZ”. But often your immediate supervisor may need to elevate your departure to someone even more senior and expend some of their own capital to be able to offer XYZ.

        If overall you have a good enough relationship with your manager and the issues are such that an easy fix won’t help (i.e. more money, moving to another team) – then you may be best served by not going too far down the counter offer road. On my former team, there were a number of changes that resulted in a lot of people leaving. For those who were pitched counter offers – it was also clear that those counter offers were requiring capital. And therefore, there was a heavy expectation of someone staying in the role for a while and that they would have less standing to complain about certain management pieces.

        Certainly, this is a know your team/know your industry – but if your issues are about the office being chaotic, really be mindful how much money will actually make that tolerable.

        1. Artemesia*

          A place that requires you to leave to get a promotion or salary is likely to then have a target on your back e.g. they know you are not ‘loyal’ and so will get their ducks in a row to let you go down the road. Or when it is time for the next raise, there you are.

          There are businesses where leaving is often the only way to get a raise — many universities operate this way so that there are huge disparities in pay between sought after faculty and those less able to. move or less sought after. (guess how this affects women). But most businesses that don’t reward their good people, are not going to be good for you after you agree to a counter offer. It also affects your reputation when it is time to look for the next job if you are known as someone who ‘just interviews in order to get a salary increase where you work.’

          Almost always a mistake to take a counter offer. It is almost always a cynical move by the company.

          1. TardyTardis*

            Admittedly, traveling between one university and the next helped my daughter with her salary *and* with getting tenure–probably an outlier, but gave me an excuse to brag. :)

    2. Kevin Sours*

      Counter offers are a tricky business. If the relationship has gotten to the point where you already have the first foot out the door is it really worth salvaging? There is going to be an implicit sense feeling of coercion which you are going to need to deal with in the future. There is also the potential for burning bridges with the people who extended the new offer. Nobody wants to be the stalking horse. And, lastly, do you want to work in a position where the only way problems get solved is successfully going through an interview process?

      Usually once it gets to the point of having an offer on the table your best course of action is to move on.

        1. BRR*

          This is one of my favorite AAM posts. I see a lot of people talk about counter offers as a good thing for an employee and I always send people this post.

        2. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

          And also see the replies I made to that as anon-2, in that thread.

          Is accepting a counter-offer a good thing? IT DEPENDS. Every circumstance is different.

      1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

        Quite often your manager and the people at his level are hamstrung. But a resignation letter can often force the issue. Quite often the manager is grateful.

        I was at one place that had a “do not promote unless you have a resignation letter” where a couple of resignations ended up with 15 overdue promotions being fulfilled. It depends on the place, the time, etc.

        Just like “there’s no money in the budget” but there might be an “off budget” slush fund to resolve salary disputes.

        1. hbc*

          I wonder if there are certain personalities or careers where that approach works well and others where it’s a recipe for disaster. For me, I can’t imagine working at a place where I had to play games or prove that I really really really mean it to get what I want and deserve. But I’m also the kind of person who just wants to pay what the car is worth and not have to figure out which day the salesperson will be most desperate to close a deal.

          1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

            In the IS/IT world – this is a common occurrence.

            Another one – not so common but it happens – someone is either fired, or forcibly chased out the door – and several months later is approached, “could you please come back and help us?” – especially when they learn that the firee/harrassee wasn’t quite as replaceable as they thought.

            But that rarely works for management – if they guy or gal was any damn good, he/she landed on their feet and has moved forward, onward, and upward.

            This, I know for a fact

        2. Kevin Sours*

          Sure. And with an offer on the table why do you want to stay at place that dysfunctional? Maybe there are good reasons. I doesn’t matter if it’s your direct manager or senior management a counter offer means they failed to solve the problems that led you to leave until you backed them into a corner. That they did it as deliberate policy… does not make things better.

        3. Smithy*

          While maybe there are hamstrung managers who need an offer letter, for other managers – they often need to extend their own capital to get a counter offer. It can often mean an urgent meeting they need to schedule with their boss/boss’ boss and/or HR, and then to pitch they have a valuable team member they want to try to keep – can $X be approved urgently?

          If the issues at play aren’t money, or if the money they could reasonably offer you wouldn’t be enough…..leaving with a nice reference from your manager may be a better way to part.

      2. JRR*

        If I accepted a counteroffer, I fear my employment would continue only long enough for my employer to hire and train my replacement.

        1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

          Not if you’re good enough and a valuable player. They might not have extended the counter if they didn’t want you to stay.

          1. Artemesia*

            They may not want you to quit now — it doesn’t mean they won’t consider that their reason to recruit someone ‘better’ and push you out when you no longer have that other offer. People who don’t reward their talent are likely to have other unpleasant characteristics.

          2. Kevin Sours*

            If you were that valuable why didn’t they solve the problems before you were halfway out the door? In the *best* case this is the shock that caused them to get their heads out. But do you want to rely on that?

            Why at this point is the place you are leaving better than the place you are going to?

            1. Kevin Sours*

              By waiting until you had an offer on the table to address the issues that caused you to leave they’ve told you something very important about themselves. It’s usually wise to listen.

    3. NerdyKris*

      “In spite of the scary stories that recruiters (“headhunters”) say”

      Lots of non headhunters or even recruiters say that counter offers are often bad because you’ve now signaled that you’re about to leave, so you might be limited in advancement going forward. Alison says it on this very site quite often.

      1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

        In the private, for-profit sector, sometimes managers lose focus on what we would call “the big picture”.

        For instance – XYZ programmers might make $100K on average in a particular region. However, someone might be a whiz-kid in the XYZ language, yet is only making $50K. tests his market value and comes back with an offer for $80K. He then goes to give his notice. His boss responds with a “oh, poverty! POVERTY! we can’t afford that…. what do you want from us?”

        Whiz-kid then says “cut the s**t. You had record profits last year. There is growth here. And, you’re probably paying my colleagues more than me in this place.” They CAN counter and match BUT — Whiz-kid knows, he’s STILL underpaid and may use the counteroffer as a launching point for his next jump.

        Which is why, from a management viewpoint, counteroffers tend to temporarily heal things.

        Now, if Whiz-kid is brought up close to market value, he’s likely to stay long term. But if he’s merely appeased for the moment, his next job – in a few months = will bring him to market value.

        Those who were victims of “the passover shuffle” – that’s more difficult to resolve.

  5. a nony mouse*

    One note is, many larger companies forbid employees to give letters of recommendation or professional references (apparently to avoid lawsuits?). Reference checkers are referred to HR or an outside company that confirms dates of employment, job title and sometimes whether the employee is eligible for rehire. Nothing else. And most companies don’t put a whole lot of stock in a yes or no rehire answer, if no reason is given.
    In this case, if you are feeling wronged by the company, 2 weeks is up to you. You will get the same reference if you give two weeks, or you come in on Sunday and leave your badge and keys on your empty desk or if you give 8 weeks notice. So unless it’s a niche industry and it might sully your reputation if word got around, do what’s best for you.

    1. Kimmy Schmidt*

      I think most industries, even large ones, are smaller than we think they are. People know people from the strangest connections, and people talk.

    2. BRR*

      I think you should still give two weeks unless there is extenuating circumstance. It’s professional and it’s just two weeks. Yes there can be reasons why you shouldn’t stay two weeks but “feeling wronged” is too broad of criteria to just leave.

    3. Ann Onny Mous*

      My industry is large but highly networked. A lot of people know someone who know someone who know someone. It’s also common to bounce back and forth between and among companies. Extenuating circumstances aside, it’s best to give your two weeks and maintain a professional reputation.

  6. Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii*

    My favourite is the Marina Shifrin music video (you can YouTube it).

    BTW at first i thought this article would be about quitting with no notice and/or spectacular departures. No idea why that was my thought from just the title but it was.

  7. Megan*

    I (female) had a female boss who groped me and treated me like garbage after I told her I wasn’t interested. We worked at an Irish bar so I gave her my 2 weeks notice on St. Patrick’s day just to make her day that little bit worse.

    For anyone worried about the sexual harassment, my city is currently going through a reckoning of sexual harassment in the service industry and the reporter who is working on the story has been told about my experience.

  8. CustomerS3rvic3*

    Well, this is oddly relevant seeing as half my department is likely putting in their notice….

  9. Quail*

    Incredibly relevant since I’m job searching! Are there usually any extra hoops to jump through if you’re union?

    1. Lana Kane*

      Refer to your union contract and/or steward, but I manage union staff and there’s nothing union-related that comes into play when resigning. But always check the contract, and get help from your steward if you’re unclear.

  10. Kimmy Schmidt*

    If your boss asks for an official letter of resignation, could that be an email?

    1. MCMonkeyBean*

      I would have one already prepared.

      I take it to the meeting, but don’t pull it out until after having given notice verbally. Then at the end you can say something like “I have this letter if you need that for records, or I can email you a copy if you would prefer.”

  11. Sea Anemone*

    I am waiting for the final details of a new offer to be put together, and I really hope it takes long enough that I can wait until August 9 and write a resignation letter that says “I hereby resign the position of tea pot painter.” Only I will get the Nixon reference, but it will still be totally worth it.

  12. NYC Taxi*

    A few years back one of my direct reports on her first post-college job put a handwritten note on my desk that just said, “I quit! Bye!”. I was a little mystified by it as I never had issues with her, and she was an excellent employee, very smart and earnest, and great coworker. So I asked her about it and she told me her older brother told her that was the proper way to quit. He was kidding but she didn’t know it.

  13. Cavalier Librarian*

    I quit a small law firm job with no notice because I was verbally abused by my boss. He was a micromanager and had lost three Legal assistants in a year. He severely underpaid for what was effectively a paralegal. I knew it would only get worse and didn’t want to be fired for his anger issues. My lawyer parents advised me how to quite safely.
    My recommendation is if you have to do this: 1) make a list of all your personal objects at the office 2) Wake up early 5-6 am to retrieve said objects 3) know what agency deals with employment incase you aren’t paid (I was technically owed a full paycheck but I didn’t want to see this boss again, so I just accepted the days worked) 4) Be graceful

    Update: I am now in a better place. I am happier. I wish this situation could have been better dealt with, but I carry no guilt. You can’t reason with some people. The job is not on resume.

  14. CanWeHaveSinglePayerPlease?*

    Just resigned today, so this is super topical!

    In my case my direct boss’s last day is this Friday, and she’s only been around for 3 weeks, so things are weird. Everyone else that I would inform is off-site.

    I settled for telling my current boss in person and emailing a resignation letter to the person who will probably be the interim when my current boss is gone, the VP above that person, and the head of HR.

    I wanted to make sure my notice was documented because there’s a fair amount of PTO that doesn’t get paid out if I don’t give two weeks, and I’ve already given my new position a start date.

    In my case there’s no point in waiting around for a response from my boss in terms of counter offers or anything like that. I’m not interested. What I want is to leave this organization, not more pay.

  15. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

    I decided to wait until all the paperwork with NewJob was signed. I almost couldn’t do it because there was nobody in charge in the office, but finally one of the owners showed up and told him I was leaving. Also, I had to submit my formal (written) resignation. I only gave them one week notice, which is more than what they deserved.

  16. Tasha*

    My best resignation story: my boss and I both worked remotely (this is pre-Covid) but were going to be in the office the same day because he wanted to do my annual review in person. So first thing in the morning we head off to a conference room and he says, “Aren’t you going to bring anything?” I think he meant a pen and paper to capture feedback. Then as soon as we got in the room I said, “I’ll make this short and easy, I’ve accepted another job.” (But I still wanted to hear his evaluation, he was a good boss and not the reason I left.)

    Also twice I’ve resigned near the end of the calendar year and counted Christmas holidays in my two weeks’ notice.

  17. I miss my walking commute*

    I hope to be delivering this news soon so this is very timely! I haven’t had to have a proper “I quit” conversation before thanks to a combination of freelancing early in my career and getting laid off during the pandemic. So fingers crossed!

  18. SoAnon*

    I actually resigned via email once and wonder if anyone else has.
    I honestly hadn’t seen my manager in months as she was always off covering other locations and/or departments. (Hello dysfunctional workplace!) She also just wasn’t a good manager. The next morning she came in and scheduled a meeting with me to discuss and said “wow, I haven’t seen you in months”! She also told me that HR was declining a vacation request I’d made 6 months in advance and that she’d been putting off telling me.
    I’ve never done it this way before or since and won’t in the future, but I feel fine about it in this case.

    1. Sea Anemone*

      I have! And I plan to resign from my current job via email as well. The first resignation via email came as a surprise to my boss, but it should not have. My upcoming resignation should only be a surprise in the sense that I am doing it now. They know I hate the job and I’m very unhappy and I have as much as admitted that I am interviewing to HR.
      I suppose that the first time I should have actually said something to her first, but we had literally just had a conversation about my future where she said there was no work for me there. I felt like we had already had the conversation.
      This time coming up, I hate my management and don’t respect them enough to give them a call. They actually sit in a different building than I do, and I have never met them in person. I am not even sure if they come into the office or not. Email gives me the opportunity to avoid talking to someone I hate, which is the main plus, but also to inform HR and my boss’s boss at the same time.

    2. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

      No. Always in person if possible, telephone if not.

      UNLESS there are egregious circumstances of an extreme nature causing your resignation.

    3. Hen in a Windstorm*

      My husband did this for the same reason. Small company, president had retired, his boss was temporarily doing the president’s job from another location. She had skipped his mid-year review, she never replied to his emails, etc. He tried calling her for several days, but she never called back. There was no one higher to go to. He emailed her his resignation and then she still didn’t call him, only emailed to say his last day would be that Friday. That whole place was a dumpster fire.

    4. Gelie Fish*

      How about exit interviews? I’m looking and hoping I can quit soon since they are cutting my position next year. As such, I have no desire to do one. I don’t see how they can make it a requirement, thoughts? Any benefit?

  19. Murphy*

    I had a heck of a time pinning down my boss to quit my last job, even though it was on the day of our regularly scheduled meeting, which was a fitting end to my time there.

    (I did repeatedly state “I have something time-sensitive that I need to talk to you about today” which did eventually get him to pencil me in.)

  20. JRR*

    I hate the convention of giving 2-weeks’ notice. Having to train my replacement while continuing my normal duties and wrapping up projects more then doubled my workload.

    My reason for leaving was a too-high workload and inadequate pay. Being made to work even harder while delaying the start of my higher-paying job felt like a knife twist.

    1. Case of the Mondays*

      The convention helps you too though. You wouldn’t want to take over for someone that gave no notice and left their files a mess.

  21. SNN*

    Any advice on quitting a job after a short amount of time (six months) and not burning bridges. I like my current company fine, but this new opportunity is exactly in the field I’m looking for and kind of fell in my lap. I’m hoping to stay on good terms with my current supervisor and colleagues, but understand they will be upset. I plan to offer at least 3 weeks notice, if it would help with the transition. Thank you!

    1. Sea Anemone*

      Wooow Good for them, in a way, but not a good approach, in another way.

      At a franchise restaurant like Burger King, workers exposed to dangerous conditions like becoming dehydrated due to heat in the kitchen have recourse at the brand level. Burger King corporation has a vested interest in upholding its reputation, And an en masse notification at the district level could have given them results.

      Or, they could all just walk out as they did since, you know, it wasn’t a career job for most of them.

      1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

        An en masse notification to the district level might have gotten them all fired, and no change in the work environment. Going viral with it forced the company to address and FIX the problem.

        Furthermore, they don’t want this happening all up and down the chain, so they’re going to have to address it at ALL their stores.

      2. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

        I might add – this en masse resignation – was not from a professional organization, nor a group of people highly dependent on the paycheck – it was a group of people who were flipping burgers for close to minimum wage.

        They had nothing to lose by quitting.

  22. It's still a secret*

    I’m supposed to be getting a job offer next week so I very much needed to read this today. Thank you.

  23. Cassidy*

    Thank you so much, Alison! PERFECT timing.

    I’m looking to leave for a variety of reasons, but not for another 6 months to a year, and look forward to being able to follow your recommendations at a calm and steady pace while still being employed.

  24. That One Person*

    I honestly can’t recall if one of my team leads was there when I started filling out my resignation sheet from HR, but that’s kind of the awkwardness of retail in some instances when there’s multiple teams. I feel like they heard about it quickly though, and one was a liiiiiittle sharp in her teasing about abandoning the team but I like to think that was due to the fact they were losing a seasoned and reliable employee. I was asked why I wasn’t simply transferring to another store when moving came up, so I settled for, “I want to try something new,” as my follow up answer. No real need to mention the mental distress and all the unhappiness I’d been feeling for a few years when it came to that place (loved the coworkers, but I am not a crowds person by far and having people wreck what I just fixed is super demoralizing even if it’s the inevitable outcome of retail).

  25. nonprofit writer*

    I’m 44 years old and I still feel a little embarrassed about my first resignation at age 23. I’d only ever had seasonal jobs before (or worked in my dad’s office) so I had never had to formally quit a job. I was working at a bookstore and the employee handbook said resignation had to be done by letter. So I literally wrote a 2 sentence letter and left it in my manager’s mailbox in the staff room. I had no idea that I could/should just tell him verbally I was leaving and that the letter was just a follow-up/formality. Also, it wasn’t some big weird departure because I was an American working in the UK on a 6 month work visa, so it would have been normal for me to just remind him that my end date was approaching. Definitely it was weird later that day when he came up to me in the store (we were around each other all the time!) and said, “Um, I received your letter.”

    Also cringing a bit about resigning from my first office job a year or two later… I was asked by other (also junior) co-workers to make all these requests during my exit interview with HR, like tell them how strongly I felt that we should really have the days off between Xmas and New Year’s and how it really negatively affected my time there. And I actually did it. Oh lord.

  26. Gelie Fish*

    How about exit interviews? I’m looking and hoping I can quit soon since they are cutting my position next year. As such, I have no desire to do one. I don’t see how they can make it a requirement, thoughts? Any benefit?

  27. Not So Little My*

    I think the idea for this Vice column is to advise people new to the workplace, but I love that it’s also a great resource for non-neurotypical people to clearly spell out neurotypical behavior norms in the workplace. So often these things are unspoken, and can really trip people up when they violate them. Maybe you could collaborate with an autistic writer on a workplace advice book, kind of like how the autistic author of What To Say Next collaborated with her non-autistic spouse.

  28. Flying Fish*

    In my field (physician assistant/nurse practitioner/physician in an office setting) 3 months notice is pretty typical.

    It can take 2-3 months from accepting a position to starting due to the licensing with the state/DEA, getting credentials with a healthcare facility, getting listed on insurances to be able to bill, etc. If you accept another position, you can expect a long time before you start, so it’s pretty easy to give longer notice. It’s also expected due to the time to wrap up patient care (bigger deal in a small office than a big one).

    Any other fields like this?

  29. First time poster*

    So timely!

    Question – how does the “in person” convention work right now with COVID? My office is in a somewhat hybrid set-up: we can come in if we want, but the office isn’t “opening” until the Fall. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve come into the office in the last 16 months, and wasn’t planning on regularly coming in until it was required.
    Also: I don’t have one boss, but work with lots of different people in management, so there’s not one person I “report to” who I “need” to resign to, but there are a few people who it makes sense I inform first.

    OK to resign by phone in this case, or should I reach out to the few key people to see when they’re going to be in the office (if they will be!) and schedule time IRL then?

    1. MCMonkeyBean*

      If you guys don’t regularly see each other in person then that’s always an exception. Whatever your normal meeting method is would probably be best then, whether that’s Zoom or Teams or if you only meet via phone calls then that’s what you would use.

  30. Cat Mom*

    I’m the one teaching the class for teenagers about all things work-related. So far we’ve covered finding a job, getting a job and being on the job.

    This post and Alison’s post made me realize that I should talk about how to quit and why to quit. This is so timely.

  31. MCMonkeyBean*

    I think the most awkward part is figuring out how to ask a meeting with your boss to give notice without being really obvious that that’s why you are asking to meet. The first time I gave notice I was lucky that we already had a one-on-one scheduled on the day so I just did it at the end of that meeting. I honestly don’t remember now what I did the second time…

  32. Anonymous Today*

    I always gave 2 weeks notice in writing. I would never have wanted to rely on someone remembering when I told them I was leaving. They can’t “forget” and claim I gave no notice and just walked out.

    The only time I gave way more advance notice was when I retired from the company where I’d worked for may years. That is totally different.

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