How to Quit Your Job and Leave on Good Terms

Time To Say Goodbye sign, resembling the moment when it's time to quit your job

This article owes its existence to a former colleague who sent me a message a while back with a simple question: I am going to resign, but I don’t really know how to do it. Do I have to talk to human resources first? Or to my manager first?

I realized that if she had this question, it was because knowing how to quit your job (and not die trying) was something others might be wondering as well.

So if you’re about to quit your job and you don’t necessarily know how to do it, this article should help you answer all your questions.

These are my 18 tips so that you quit your job as smoothly as possible.

1. Have a concrete action plan before quitting

Sometimes we are in such a hurry to announce we’re gonna quit that we don’t really secure what’s gonna come afterward.

If you’re quitting your job because you found another one, wait until you have a contract signed with your new employer. I’ve heard horror stories of people who quit without having a written employment agreement and end up jobless. Don’t be one of them!!

Similarly, if you’re starting your own company or making a major career change, make sure you have a very good understanding of what’s waiting for you and what it takes in terms of savings, work, visa (if you need one), etc.

2. Don’t wait too long to take the leap

Your notice will start the day of your resignation.

If you’re quitting because you found a new job, resign as soon as you have a contract signed! If you wait too long, you might miss out on your new opportunity. Your new employer ain’t gonna wait forever!

If you’re starting your own company or making a career change, resign as soon as you know you have what it takes. Don’t be a victim of paralysis by analysis!

3. Give a long-enough notice

Depending on the country, legislation,  contract, company policy, your notice period will differ.

For some, it will be mandatory. For others, it will depend on your good will.

For some, it will be 3 months. For others, 1 day.

In any case, provide sufficient time for your resignation notice: 2 weeks is the minimum for your manager to have time to implement a contingency plan.

This will demonstrate your professionalism, which will be appreciated by your current employer and the ones to come.

Your future employer can insist that you join them as soon as possible. But if you explain that you want to finish your projects properly, you’ll be perceived as a loyal and respectful employee, which is a great reputation to start your new job with!

Of course, this notice does not have to be respected when the situation is unbearable: Harassment, not getting paid, serious family circumstances, etc. If your health is endangered by the job stress don’t push it.

4. Don’t announce your resignation through email or phone

I know, to quit your job is stressful, and confronting it face to face is even worse. Yet you must do so in order to properly end the relationship with your manager.

You wouldn’t like to be dumped by phone or text message, would you?!! For your manager it’s the same, you have to tell him/her in person.

5. Announce it to your manager first

There is nothing more offensive for your manager to learn about your resignation through human resources or corridor gossips.

 He/she is your direct manager and therefore must be informed first. The interview with human resources will take place at a later stage.

When you do so, make sure you both will have the time and disposition to have a comprehensive discussion. It is important to take the time to talk to your manager. Don’t make the announcement when he/she is in the rush or in the middle of two appointments.

6. Explain the reasons for your resignation

Some people argue that you should not justify yourself. However, I think it is right to explain the personal and professional reasons that led you to quit your job.

This is not justifying yourself, but explaining your choice. 

Your manager also has the right to understand the factors involved. That’s part of having a good relationship with him/her.

You are not required to go into details, nor to talk about your future company but to explain how this choice is relevant and consistent for your career and life.

Be honest, truthful, but with respect and politeness. 

Afterwards, express your desire to make the transition as easy as possible. That will set the tone and pace for the rest of the process.

Finally, thank him/her for the opportunities offered and what your learnings as a result (unless, of course, if your manager is like Voldemort!).

7. Refrain yourself from unconstructive criticism

Even if you bear a grudge, try to stay positive. You can give factual reasons, of course! But lashing out on your manager or the company, nope. 

Make constructive remarks if you feel that your manager is inclined to feedback and remain as objective as possible.

In short, end on a positive note, quit your job with grace 🙂

8. What if your boss reacts badly? 

The scariest thing about announcing that you’ll quit your job is that we don’t know how our manager will respond.

If the relationship is great, you’re afraid of disappointing him/her. If the relationship is complicated, you apprehend an aggressive reaction. 

I don’t want you to imagine the worst, especially since it’s much more likely that he/she will react with respect and understanding. Turnover and resignations are inherent to the life of a company. 

But if this is not the case, do not correspond to his/her aggressiveness. Here’s what you could do:

If he/she is visibly annoyed but still able to listen 

Remain pragmatic, tell him/her about your departure date and ask what he/she expects from you to facilitate the transition and then leave the room. You will get into more details when he/she cools down.

If he/she is unable to listen

You have 2 options:

1. Leave the room and tell him that you will be ready to discuss once he/she is calmer and recovered from his/her emotions. 

2. If your boss is really over the top, tell him/her you want to ensure a smooth transition and minimize the impact of your departure on the day-to-day activity. But that given his/her reaction it is probably better that you leave today (beware on the impact this outcome could have for you).

He/she should calm down quickly and become more reasonable. If not, it will only confirm that you’re doing the right thing!

9. What if you get a counteroffer?

When announcing that you’ll quit your job, your boss may make you a counter-offer, so stressed about the idea that your departure will harm the normality of the operation and the overall performance of your team.

He/she can offer you a raise and seduce you with compliments in order to convince you to stay!

Be careful not to be hypnotized by a raise or even a promotion. Keep in mind that this isn’t happening because of the recognition of your work, but rather because of the fear of the turmoil caused by your departure.

It’s a shame that upon the announcement of your resignation it’s that your manager decides to give you a raise or promote you… isn’t it? 

In addition to that, think about the various reasons that led you to quit your job in the first place. Usually, decisions about resignation aren’t made only considering the financial factor. You might also be making this choice because you aren’t satisfied with your manager, your team, your career, etc.

Keep in mind that, should you decide to remain, those other factors are unlikely to go away.

So, if you are made a counter-offer, be as objective as you can. Weigh the pros and cons carefully and choose what’s best for your life as a whole.

10. Respect your boss’s choice of communication

Of course, you can talk to your trusted colleagues about it. But before spreading the information more widely, talk about the announcement with your manager first.

Your departure has a real impact on your team’s performance. It’s up to your manager to decide how to handle the communication keeping in mind the best interest of your team.

Maybe he/she wants to wait a little longer so as not to destabilize the team. Or wants to wait until he/she has found your replacement to reassure the staff. Or maybe he/she wants to announce it with you. In short, do not leak information without aligning first.

11. Announce it to Human Resources

Announce your resignation to Human Resources and define all administrative aspects:

  • Compensation due
  • Paycheck
  • Benefits
  • Accrued vacation
  • Pension plans
  • Health insurance 

12. Document everything

It is essential to document everything in order to facilitate the transition:

  • Key processes
  • Main tasks
  • Stage of the progress of all projects you’re carrying out
  • Important upcoming deadlines
  • Contacts
  • Access codes

Be cooperative, so that your successor or colleagues can ensure continuity.

In addition, inform all external stakeholders with whom you are working that you will leave, and let them know about their new contact.

13. Train well your successor

If your company finds your replacement before you leave: Train them and train them well. Do something today you will be proud of tomorrow. 

The temptation to do something else or spend your last moments with your colleagues is strong, but your successor does not have to pay for your weariness or your desire to be elsewhere.

Also, even if you have resentment or irritation from your manager, company or another person, do not tell them. Resist the urge to let off steam and criticize.

Don’t spend your time sharing the negative. Let them make their own opinion. Don’t bias their opinions with your own.

14. Stay committed until the end

I think that’s one of the hardest parts, which in my experience I had trouble respecting!

In the last days, weeks and months, we are more interested in laughing with our colleagues than in working seriously on projects that we know we will not see through!

Yet, remaining motivated and invested will emphasize what a reliable and accountable professional you are.

It will leave a very good impression on your manager and colleagues who will appreciate your team solidarity.

Everyone will remember you as a dedicated employee who does things the right way. On the other hand, if you are totally not invested and leave an unfinished pile of work, your image won’t be the best.

If you go to a restaurant and your dessert is not good, you will be disappointed with your meal, won’t you? A bad dessert can ruin your meal because the last piece is fundamental!

Talleyrand said: “Beware of the first impression… it’s the right one” I would add: beware of the last impression… it’s the one we remember.

Thus, keep committed!

15. Clean up your computer


Don’t forget to delete your personal emails.

The emails you sent to your colleague asking where you are going to eat at lunch deserve a place in the graveyard!!

Delete all private emails. Nice ones, like compliments about your work, send them to your personal mailbox. It’s always good to have a record of the good things you did in the past 🙂 

Also, save and organize your business emails if you can. That will allow your successor to find information or contacts if necessary.

I remember making something dumb at the end of one of my internships. I deleted all the messages from my inbox. I wanted to leave my computer super clean and empty, but my boss didn’t really like it.


Delete your personal documents: Your plane tickets, the pictures your family sent you from your childhood, the hotel reservation from your previous vacations… Gone!!

Do the same with your browsing history! Delete your history and passwords saved on your professional computer. We tend to forget it, but it is necessary!

Maybe your computer will be completely reset, but if not, you don’t necessarily want your successor to see “Super Bowl Result”, or “how to deal with an unpleasant coworker!!

16. Prepare for the Exit Interview

The Exit Interview should not be confused with the discussion you have with your manager when you announce your resignation for the first time.

The exit interview is a more formal Human Ressources process, which does not yet exist in all companies but it’s getting increasingly popular. The goal is to understand the reasons for your departure. 

It can be a face-to-face meeting, a survey to be completed, or a combination of both. 

Typical questions are:

  • Why are you leaving your job?
  • Were you satisfied with your salary?
  • What did you like about your job? 
  • What did you dislike?

Let’s be frank. Even if the Exit Interview starts from a good intention, effective action is rarely taken after your comments. Your feedback won’t change the organization! Most of the times, your remarks are read and stored in a dusty folder.

As a result, some people say that we should say absolutely nothing and remain as neutral as possible. 

But I don’t share that opinion. If you don’t give feedback at that moment, when do you? I think what matters is not so much what you say but how you say it. 

If you quit your job, it means that everything wasn’t all pink!

Therefore, it’s relevant to express your remarks so that the company, even if it probably won’t take any action, hears what you have to say.

Do it in a constructive, polite and respectful way in order to avoid incisive comments having negative repercussions on possible references in the future. So:

  • Be precise, factual, and pragmatic
  • Share specific examples with concrete information in order to back up your statements

If you provide constructive feedback, you will not compromise your future references and neither will you refrain from giving honest remarks. It’s a win-win situation 🙂 

17. Organize a farewell drink or breakfast

If you choose breakfast, you’re one of mine!!!

The professional world is small. Your manager today can become your referent tomorrow. Your colleagues today may become your customers tomorrow. You may meet them again in the professional context.

So it is relevant to organize a farewell with your colleagues, managers and the people you want to say goodbye to. Maintaining good relationships and expressing your gratitude will leave a very good image of yourself and may come in handy in the future.

And this gesture will help you do just that!

18. Write a goodbye email

It’s time to say thank you! If you’re leaving, it’s because not everything was perfect, but there was surely something positive too and it is time to express gratitude for it.

Here’s a sample you can use:

As you already know, today is my last day with you.

While I am excited about the new opportunity, I am also sad about leaving you all. I can’t tell you enough how much I have enjoyed working with such a great team, and how much I value the support you have shown me since my day 1!

Thank you [Manager name] for your trust. I have grown so much professionally working by your side thanks to your experience and guidance.

It has been great working with you all and I will definitely keep in touch, it is not a “goodbye”, just a “see you later”!

I’m leaving my contact details for you to reach out anytime:

Email address:
Phone number: 012345678
Linkedin: [Insert link]

I wish you all the best!

A Way Searcher

Bonus: Resignation letter samples

You have to hand it directly to your manager the day you tell them you will quit your job.

And also to your Human Resources department.

This letter states clearly that you are leaving and specifies your departure date.

Sample without notice period on your contract

[Your name]
[Name of the company]

Subject: Resignation letter

To whom it may concern,

I would like to inform you that I am resigning from my position as [your job title] as of the date of this letter.

Thank you for the support and the opportunities you have provided me during the last months/years. I will be always grateful as I have grown a lot, both as a person and as a professional in this company. I greatly appreciate your trust and everything the company taught me.

You can count on my willingness to facilitate my replacement so that the handover goes as smoothly as possible.


[Your name]

Sample with notice period on your contract

[Your name]
[Name of the company]

Subject: Resignation letter

To whom it may concern,

I would like to inform you that I am resigning from my position as [your job title] as of the date of this letter. Hence, as per the terms of my employment agreement, my last day will be on [departure date].

Thank you for the support and the opportunities you have provided me during the last months/years. I will be always grateful as I have grown a lot, both as a person and as a professional in this company. I greatly appreciate your trust and everything the company taught me.

You can count on my willingness to facilitate my replacement so that the handover goes as smoothly as possible.


[Your name]


Announcing that you will quit your job is a very stressful moment, sometimes rich in emotion (I cried like a baby!!) that requires a certain amount of courage.

Don’t worry, very often reality is much softer than our imagination. 

From the second you announce your resignation until you leave, remember that you’ll still be a representative of the company. So remain professional and elegant and close this chapter of your life with elegance.

You may have fear of the unknown and even be hesitant about whether you made the right call. Just remember:

A man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.

Andre Gide

Very beautiful things are waiting for you. When you resign, you have made a decision in agreement with yourself, your desires and your needs.

The best way to predict the future is to create it.

Peter Drucker
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