How to Quit Your Job

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Are you looking for a career swap and want to know how to quit your job? Here are a few tips on how to quit your job professionally so that you can maintain a good relationship with your former employer.

[Featured Image] Person looks out the window.

Whether you're looking for a higher salary, a more fulfilling role, or career growth, there's nothing wrong with quitting your job. What matters most is how you quit. It's important to leave an employer on good terms for a few reasons, whether you plan to return to the company in the future or not. First, potential employers may contact past employers about your work to determine whether or not you're a good fit for their company. Past employers can also be valuable network connections. If you're considering a change, use the following article to learn when and how to politely quit your job.

How to know when to quit your job

If you're still on the fence, you may want to reflect on the reasons you're quitting and practice preparing to share them with your employer. Having a plan in place can help you think more rationally and make good decisions moving forward. Be honest with yourself about why you want to leave your current position. You might ask yourself questions like:

  • Does this job impact my mental health? If you often feel stressed or experience burnout from your workload or coworkers, it may be a sign that it's time to move on. Do you find relaxing after a long workday difficult, even when you've already left the office? Is it challenging to get yourself to perform everyday tasks? Think about how you feel the evening before returning to work after a day or two off.

  • Do I have career growth opportunities? If you feel stuck in your current role or like you don't have opportunities for upward mobility, think about how that fits into your goals. How would you feel if you were to peek five years into the future and see yourself in the same position?

  • Does this job align with my moral and ethical values? Sometimes, a company or business may behave in a way you disagree with. Think about whether or not you feel proud to be associated with your employer and if you feel good about the work you do every day.

Read more: When is it Time to Quit Your Job?

How to quit your job gracefully

You’ve probably heard of giving “two weeks' notice” when you quit a job. This is the standard time frame employers accept to make arrangements for your departure. It can vary depending on the industry and specific role, especially if you're in a higher-up position. If training your replacement will take additional time and you'd like to help your employer make the transition easier, you might consider providing a longer notice.

However, too much advance notice can negatively affect the remainder of your time at the company. If you decide to provide longer notice, make sure your workload doesn't become too unmanageable alongside your training duties. It is professional and polite to consider the dynamics of your workplace when leaving a position, but you should also prioritize your own needs. The goal should be to provide a respectful, sufficient amount of time without overreaching or negatively impacting your transition into a new role.

How to quit your job without notice

If you have been mistreated or experienced unacceptable behavior, you may want to leave your job immediately. Although two weeks' notice is the proper etiquette, you should never put yourself in an uncomfortable, hostile, or potentially compromising situation for the sake of professionalism.

If you need to quit your job without notice because you have a time-sensitive offer or opportunity lined up, it's best to prioritize it. However, employers are likely to understand and appreciate your desire to provide adequate notice to the job you're leaving. Discuss your situation with your new employer to determine the best outcome for everyone.

If you need to quit your job immediately due to a personal or familial crisis, your prioritization is perfectly understandable. Provide any information you feel comfortable sharing with your employer to maintain your professional relationship under these uncontrollable circumstances. Your employer may even work with you to determine a leave of absence or an open-ended offer to return to the company once your personal matters have been resolved.

You can still quit your job respectfully without notice, but you should first consider the risks. For example, if you work in a niche field or a tight-knit community, leaving your job without notice could reflect poorly on you. In some roles, you may lose access to certain benefits upon quitting. Review your employment documents and consider the outcomes before making the decision to quit. If you've determined it's in your best interest, here's how to take the next step:

  • Communicate your exit as soon as possible. Although you may not be able to provide the full two weeks, your employer may appreciate whatever time you do have to spare.

  • Use professional language. Although emotions can run high when you're leaving a job that has treated you unfairly, it's best to maintain a professional tone. You are not required to share the reason for your departure, but you may wish to. If so, consider scheduling an exit interview with human resources (HR) or writing a resignation letter rather than having an in-person conversation to ensure your tone remains calm and respectful.

  • Acknowledge the situation. Leaving a job without notice is not desirable for you or the employer. To remain on good terms, you may apologize for the inconvenience or offer to take on any responsibilities you can to make your exit go smoothly for your coworkers.

  • Don't forget about your final check. Although quitting without notice may feel final, it won't be your last communication with your employer. When you communicate your exit, be sure to include updated contact information or request steps for receiving any unpaid benefits.

Read more: Searching for a Job with a Mental Health Condition

Write a letter of resignation.

Your resignation letter is a critical component of how to quit your job professionally. It’s your chance to communicate why you decided to quit and lay out your plans going forward. This is also your opportunity to express gratitude for your time with the company and ensure you leave on a positive note. 

Some key points to include in your resignation letter include your date of resignation, along with your reasons for quitting, future plans, and a note of thanks for your time with the company. It may be best to keep the letter short and to the point. You also want to leave on good terms, so maintain a helpful, positive tone. Once you’re ready, remember these steps for an amicable departure.

Read more: How to Write a Resignation Letter (Template + Tips)

1. Stay positive. 

A resignation letter shouldn’t be a list of complaints. Address necessary issues, but don’t use this as an opportunity to air every small grievance. Even when you lay out your reasons for quitting, avoid being overly negative or placing blame on individual employees.

Instead of listing the reasons why this job isn’t working for you, focus on the positive aspects of the job that you’ve enjoyed during your time with your employer. If you want to let your employer know you’ve found employment with another company, you can use phrases like “a new opportunity” instead of “a better job.” Avoid being unnecessarily condescending or critical. 

A good way to tie positivity into your resignation letter is to open with a note of recognition. It could read something like this:

“Dear Jane,

My job here at Company123 has been a positive experience for me in many ways, and I have enjoyed my time with your company.”

Read more: Reasons for Leaving a Job and How to Talk About Them

2. Be clear and concise. 

After opening on a positive note, be very clear on your intentions. Avoid wavering, offering compromises, or going too in-depth on why you’re choosing to quit your job. Instead, be concise and to the point. Be honest where appropriate, and use discretion when sharing information about your next steps. For example, you wouldn’t want to say that you've taken a better job. That information is irrelevant. 

It’s not necessary to offer an explanation as to why you’re quitting. You can offer this information if you’d like, but it isn't a requirement for an effective and professional letter of resignation. Remember, your main intention is to notify your employer of your decision to quit and what that move will look like for you. 

3. Consider offering help in the transition. 

A helpful offering when drafting your resignation letter could be providing assistance to your employer during the transition phase. Maybe you could help to fill the position by posting a job opening notice. Or maybe you could negotiate the terms of your resignation to allow the employer to train another employee to fill your position.

Some employees may also offer to train the person who will be filling their position. While it might not be required, it’s a nice gesture that could help sweeten the situation for you and your employer. It can even be a way to “pay it forward” if someone helped to train you into your position when you were new to the company. 

4. Express gratitude. 

In the vein of positivity, be sure to express your gratitude for the opportunities given to you by your employer. Keep in mind that they hired you and gave you the job you currently hold. Don’t dismiss the power of simple gratitude. Be specific about what you're grateful for if you can. For example, did they provide paid training, help you attend conferences, or offer you any promotions while you were with the company? Even if you don’t necessarily feel grateful in the moment, a basic thank you will suffice. 

How to quit your job over text

How you notify your employer is equally important as when. Generally, requesting an in-person meeting to tell your boss about your decision to quit is best. Try to avoid just sending a resignation text, email, or letter. While your resignation in writing is a formal declaration of your plans, it does not substitute for an in-person meeting. If your situation requires you to quit without a formal meeting, opt for an email rather than a text message. Text messages can feel informal, even if they're typically your primary means of communication with your manager. If you absolutely must quit over text, ask your boss if they would prefer another delivery method so that everyone can document your exit.


Maintain a good relationship with your employer. 

It’s key that you maintain a professional relationship with your current employer and all of your co-workers. These individuals will be listed as references on your resume, and you wouldn’t want to jeopardize your chances of future employment with bad references.

Maintain good relationships with everyone in your company, not just your boss or hiring manager. This means avoiding gossiping about others, bad-mouthing your company, or complaining about aspects of your job. When everyone knows you’ve decided to quit, don’t let that be your pass to start talking badly about your employer. Maintain a positive attitude and approach when sharing your news.

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