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How to quit your job without burning bridges

One of the most uncomfortable facts of life is accepting that at some point in your career, you're going to have to quit a job and it's going to be awkward and uncomfortable. In fact, my career coaching clients tell me often that just the IDEA of quitting has held them back from looking for a new job.

I find that fascinating; a one time conversation is holding people back from a potentially life changing opportunity? Did you know the average employee has 12+ jobs by the time they're 54? With that in mind, we all have to get used to breaking the news to employers that you're moving on.


While I understand the apprehension (I've had to quit a few jobs myself and it's never been fun!) I want to make this easier for you. Rip off the bandaid, have the tough conversation and move on to your new job without burning bridges by following these steps:


1. Give your supervisor a heads up


As a manager, nothing bothered me more than having an employee come into my office or ask if we could chat on the phone quickly and they dropped a bomb on me by saying they're quitting. It threw off my whole day and it was obvious they hadn't prepared. Do your supervisor a favor by sending them a Slack message, email or text and let them know that you need to talk about your future at the company. This is where it's sort of like dating- you want to warn them that you need to talk, and make sure that they know this about you, not them.


2. Remove emotion from the decision


By the time you're telling your employer that you've accepted a new job, you should have decided that you're moving on. If you're unsure, or wanting to use the new offer to negotiate, then you need to approach this differently. I've found that giving my boss a heads up also ensured I didn't chicken out and wait even longer to have the discussion. So if you're truly ready to quit then you need to remove the emotion from the decision and just make it happen.


This means you've already decided not to pick the past apart, not to focus on why you're leaving and you do not want to have a heated discussion about all of the promises your manager didn't keep. At this point it's not personal and you've got one foot out the door.


All your manager needs to know is that you're going to handle your final days in your job professionally, and that you're thankful for the opportunities you did have while in your role. Do not engage in conversations about who is causing you to leave, or how long you've been looking. It's not relevant and unnecessary to waste time discussing.


Frankly, I think the concept of the two weeks notice is outdated. Work with your employer and make sure that all loose ends are tied up, but also ask them what they expect from you. I found that many times it was toxic to keep employees around who were ready to move on, so think about what would work best in your situation.


3. Write out a script and follow it


In difficult conversations it can be tough to stay on message and focused on the true purpose of the conversation. I've found a lot of power in writing out my formal resignation letter beforehand and using it to guide the conversation with my boss as I quit. If meeting in person or on Zoom, you could even print it out and have a copy to go over with your boss. After you've told them the news, send the formal email to them, HR and anyone else that needs to be made aware. See a sample below.


Hi ________,


As we just discussed, I've decided to take an opportunity outside of the company and my last day will be ______. I have truly enjoyed my time here and I'm really thankful for the opportunities I've been given. {Insert something


I will make sure that my responsibilities are handed off and projects are tied up before I leave. Please let me know when you'd like to meet to ensure the smoothest transition possible.


Thank you, _________


Bonus Tip


I've always written thank you notes to the people I've worked with and used them as a way to say goodbye on my last day. This small gesture meant a lot and made saying goodbye less awkward.


Quitting is never easy, but if you do it right AND make sure that you remember to focus on the future, it'll work out for your good. And remember, you have a new job to think about, so that needs to be your focus.

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