Calling it quits

Whatever your reason for moving on from your current employer, the process of calling it quits can be delicate – especially if you want to use them in the future as a referee. Whether you’ve accepted a more senior position or escaping a toxic workplace, resigning with poise and professionalism is always the best means of making a smooth exit.

Firstly, be sure

Before you saunter in to the boss’ office with your letter of resignation in hand, be sure you've thought long and hard about whether quitting is your best long-term option. If you’re resigning due to workplace drama, make sure you’ve considered all your options. If you’ve been dealing with one of the 7 types of difficult colleagues or bosses, ensure you’ve done all you can to resolve any conflict, and left jumping ship as a last resort.

The art of resigning

No matter what your reasons for leaving, resigning is seldom easy. If you love your current job, but you’ve decided to take up a new position because it’s the best thing for your career, quitting can be bittersweet. Your boss will probably do their best to convince you to stay, so have your mind made up before you approach them.

If, on the other hand, you’re moving on from a toxic workplace you might be tempted to take the opportunity to tell your boss what you think of them. It’s in your best interests to remain professional, because once a career bridge has been burned there’s usually little chance of repair… and you never know who might pop up again in years to come.

These 5 quitting must-dos can make the process a little easier:

  1. Resign on a Friday afternoon. This will give everyone two days to regroup before you work out your notice period.
  2. Speak to your most direct manager first. It’s often nice to discuss your resignation informally first, before making it official.
  3. Always make your resignation official with a formal letter, confirming your end date with the company.
  4. Give plenty of notice so you can be suitably replaced – particularly if you’re leaving a company that has treated you well.
  5. If asked, keep your reasons for leaving brief, without placing blame or making things personal.


In most cases you’ll be required to work out a notice period of two weeks or a month, depending on your position and contract. You might be excited to move on but resist slacking off, even a little, during this time. If you’re asked to participate in an exit interview, don’t think of it as an opportunity to air grievances. Leave a positive last impression, because no matter how well you performed in your role, it will often be those final week’s you’re best remembered for.

It’s always ideal to have a new role to move on to, but if this isn’t the case, amp up your job-seeking activities outside of work hours, and put the word out to your professional network that you’re looking for a new opportunity. Finally, be sure to ask for a letter of recommendation, because it can be easy to lose track of past employees as time passes.

There’s always the possibility you’ll cross paths with former colleagues and employers at some stage in your career. Resigning with professionalism will make your transition into a new role smoother, and will also help you avoid awkward situations in the future. 

Resigning with professionalism will make your transition into a new role smoother, and will also help you avoid awkward situations in the future.