Quitters never win. Unless you’re quitting your horrible job for better pay, more vacation days, free beverages, or to finally give your mom something to brag about at weddings. Unfortunately, telling your boss that you’re quitting can be nerve-racking. This is one of your last moments to make a good impression. Here’s how to quit with class, leave with your dignity (and a good recommendation) intact, and avoid stress.
Give Enough Notice
Yay! You’ve finally snagged that dream job! Your mom is so proud! Time to celebrate! Whoa, hold your horses, buddy. First things first — you’ve got to tell your boss. And before you set up the meeting, make sure you’re giving them enough time to plan for the imminent future. You don’t want to stride into your boss’s office thinking you’re hot shit and announce that it’s your last day, only to get yelled at for the next three hours (or worse: get escorted out of the building). Those hours will be better spent saying your goodbyes, perfecting your stick-figure legal pad doodles, and stocking up on a lifetime’s supply of free staplers (oh and planning an epic goodbye party, but more on that later).
- While it may feel great to group-text your managers “Two weeks’ notice! I’m outie... ¯\_(ツ)_/¯,” you’re not twelve and this isn’t AIM (sry). Don’t give notice digitally. A face-to-face meeting may be more daunting, but in the end, it’ll be less stressful. Hopefully your boss is a considerate human. If you show them respect, they’ll reciprocate. The interpersonal contact will add a human dimension to your resignation, and help you avoid unwarranted resentment.
- A caveat: you don’t always have to give two weeks’ notice. If the stress at your current job is negatively affecting your mental or physical health, just leave as soon as possible and start fresh.
- Offer to help find your replacement and train them. This might go beyond what your boss expects of you, but it will show you’re considerate. Remember that helping to reduce your boss’s stress will keep your own final days tension-free.
Be Honest, But Don’t Go Overboard
Now time for the exit interview. I know, I know — HR is scary. From the stressful performance reviews and all the damn questions about bank account numbers and health insurance, it’s as if the whole department is turning your life into a series of long questionnaires. Relax. You’re just going to have to speak up for yourself like the adult you are.
While you might want to put on blinders and ride out into the sunset, you should seize this opportunity to call bullshit on unfair practices at your current job. In the end, it will be a relief to get all that off your chest. But strike the right balance — you don’t want to freak out and then leave worrying that Fred from finance is whispering about your little blow-up. It’s stressful deciding when to hold your tongue, but you never know when you’ll have to hit up good ole Fredd for a job in the future.
- The exit interview is the best time to air your grievances — it’s basically what they’re made for. While it may be hard to tell the head of HR that the lack of unlimited beverages and therapy golden retrievers really impinged on your ability to work, go for it. Many bosses are willing to update their policies to satisfy their team. Hook your coworkers up!
- Stick to constructive criticism. This will help your company focus on things they can actually change. Don’t point fingers: even if Fred from Finance never answers your chats, you don’t want to come off as accusative or defensive. Keep calm and rational.
- Be polite even if your boss or the HR manager presses you on why you’re quitting. Forget what your mother taught you — when in doubt, lie! Even if it’s not exactly true, say your new company has more growth opportunities or better benefits. Try not to point to the fact that Jonathan’s daily egg salad sammies are creating a hostile work environment for you. Even if the oppressive stench is why you’re leaving, you want to avoid sounding rude, resentful, or angry.
Before You Leave, Get Prepared
It’s the final countdown! Your journey is coming to a close! You’re looking forward to your new job and new responsibilities. Now it’s just a mental game between you and the damn clock — which is most likely moving at a snail’s pace at this point. (Has it really been only 30 minutes!?)
While you may have already set your sights on brighter cubicles, don’t slack or procrastinate. While you will want to half-ass your way through your last day and enjoy them rather than scramble to complete projects on time, be considerate toward your bosses and coworkers. Make any necessary arrangements to ensure workplace efficiency even after you’re gone.
- After you’ve told your boss you’re leaving, tell your coworkers. Office politics are similar to middle school playground politics complete with awkward crushes and lots of fun gossip. You don’t want your boss to find out from someone other than you, otherwise he’ll feel left out and talk about you behind your back.
- Take notes for your replacement and send out an overview email before you leave letting your coworkers know who they can contact in your stead. In the hectic few days before your departure, this will make you feel less anxious about the transition.
- A goodbye party will give you a chance to say farewell and ensure that you leave on a high note. But you don’t want that event to be more stressful than celebratory, so avoid awkward conversations with coworkers you barely know and/or like. Invite your closest coworkers for a low-key get-together at a bar. After all, nothing says “I’ll miss you” like karaoke, happy hour buffalo wings, and drunken darts, right?
- On your last day, send out a nice goodbye email (no “So long, suckers!” vibes, please). Crafting the perfect goodbye may seem like an art form, but don’t be intimidated. Keep it simple and make sure you detail how your coworkers can contact you so don’t fall into the land of forgotten coworkers.
- Sure, you may be pumped to start afresh, but whatever you do, don’t update your job-related info on your social media profiles before you’ve actually started at your new company. That just looks bad, man.
If all else fails (and you’re trying to be extra passive-aggressive) just send this article to your bosses and pray they get the picture. And remember, no matter how hard-working, important, and extra special you are, the office will continue without you. What may seem like an enormous problem may not actually be so bad. You may be employee of the century but the company’s success probably doesn’t hinge on you. And in your fancy-pants new position, don’t forget the friends you left behind. Stay in touch! Connect with your coworkers on (work-appropriate) social media sites, and occasionally get drinks or coffee with them after you leave.
Now that you’re a quitting pro, you’ll have the confidence to leave your job without freaking out. And thanks to Gillette Clear Gel, you can go ahead and put in that two weeks’ notice — minus the stress. #NoSweat
Illustration by Rob Dobi.
Nandita Raghuram is a Senior Writer for Studio@Gawker. She tweets here.