I recently had the good fortune to be offered a new job. As excited as I was to accept that job and get started right away, there was one major hurdle in my way: resigning.
I dreaded telling my colleagues whom I admired and respected that I was leaving them behind, and I dreaded the resignation discussion with my boss. It definitely helps to have a game plan going in. With that in mind, here are tips on how to quit your job with dignity, respect, and professionalism.
1. Be Respectful And Gracious
I cannot tell you how badly I wanted to march into my boss's office and list the ways I felt I'd been wronged or unappreciated. I had visions of standing triumphantly over him as he humbly acknowledged his faults. But unless you are leaving the profession entirely, making an enemy of someone with more experience and more contacts in the field than you is a really terrible idea. A professional focuses on the positive aspects of his employment and sincerely and respectfully thanks his boss for affording him opportunities for learning and growth. You don't want to give your boss any reason to bad mouth you after your departure, and maintaining a positive relationship with your former company can only benefit you in your career.
2. Silence Is Your Friend
This was the best advice I can give you, but it's also the most difficult to follow. After you tell your boss you are resigning, there will likely be some gaps in the conversation. It is not your job to fill in these gaps. You owe your boss nothing beyond a sincere thanks and a reasonable transition period (at least two weeks).
3. Don't Feel Obligated To Justify Your Decision
This goes hand-in-hand with not feeling obligated to fill in silences. It is quite possible that after you tell your boss you're leaving, he or she will ask why. It's up to you what you say and how many details you give. The bottom line is that you don't owe your boss any reasons at all, and the more reasons you give, the more opportunities you give your boss to argue with you about your decision. If you could be convinced to stay at your present job if your boss sweetened it a bit, then by all means, bring up that factor which, if matched by your present job, could make you change your mind. However, if you are determined to leave, it's best to get the conversation over as quickly and pleasantly as possible, which is most likely to happen if you just keep your mouth shut.
4. Keep The Office A Gloat-Free Zone
After you resign (a much better word than "quit," by the way), you may feel euphoric and anxious to get the hell out. However, remember that you are leaving troops behind--those colleagues whom you like and respect. During the transition period, it might be hard for you to not talk about your amazing new job. However, this type of gloating is unseemly and disrespectful to your colleagues.
5. Tie Up Loose Ends
Depending on the size of your company, it might not be possible to say goodbye to every employee with whom you have interacted. However, you should try to say a personal goodbye to as many people as possible, especially those who have been mentors to you. Depending on your interaction with clients, vendors, and other third-parties, a phone call or email to them might also be in order. If you are the contact person for paper supplies, for example, make sure to call your supplier and provide him or her with the contact information of your successor.