It’s rare for workers to stay with one organization through their entire career in the modern job climate, especially in the wake of the pandemic. The Great Resignation is still ongoing as new opportunities evolve and employees seek value from their employers. Regardless of the reason, at some point, it’s likely that you’ll resign from your current job.

Even if you’re choosing to leave because your boss or your current job is a nightmare, you’ll still want to follow the proper etiquette when quitting. You don’t want to burn any bridges you may need down the road or provide your new employer with any red flags! Leave on the best possible terms by embracing these guidelines.

Gather anything you may need

Before you set things in motion, make sure you have everything you need from your current job before resigning. Once things are set in motion, you’ll never know how things could play out. Even when giving advanced notice, you may be asked to leave or be terminated before that final proposed date.

Alison Doyle suggests saving any files you may need access to on a flash drive, the cloud, or through an email copy. You may have lists of contacts or projects you have the rights to that you could lose access to. You’ll also want to clear out any personal details or emails on any work-owned devices.

While doing this, don’t give any indication otherwise you’ll be quitting, such as taking down personal photos.

Don’t tell your coworkers first

You don’t want anyone to know you’re quitting before you’re able to give the official notice to your boss, which is why you keep your personal photos and such up. Even if your trust your coworkers, there’s a high chance the information will get leaked.

If your boss hears you’re quitting from a third party, it can sour their mood and have the exit process take a turn for the worse. They may not respect how they heard this and take it personally, and you’ll lose them as a reference in the future. In fact, you might turn them into an obstacle down the road.

Give advanced notice (in person if possible)

Not only should you let your boss be the first to know you’re leaving, but the notice should be delivered in a formal resignation letter.

“If you hate your job, you likely want to get out as soon as possible. However, leaving before giving two weeks’ notice could potentially hurt your reputation and your chances of getting hired in the future. Plus, during that time, your employer will need at least two weeks to ensure that your duties get distributed to other employees until they hire a replacement.” –Dillon Price, Monster.com

A short but detailed letter is the way to go, according to Ian Taylor. It doesn’t need to be a novella, but it should be more formal and explanatory than “smell ya later.” Ian says to clearly state your boss’s name, your position, and your expected final day. Take him to thank them for the opportunities you were granted, and try to list some positives and things you’ve learned. Finally, end by offering to make the transition as smooth as possible. For more details and examples, check out Ladders’ Ashley Jones’ excellent guide.

If you’re able to deliver this in person, do so, recommends Allison Doyle. Set up a formal meeting time to deliver your resignation and discuss related manners in a distraction-free setting. They may try to talk you out of it, but if your mind is made up, stay strong but polite.

Be careful with your wording

Even if you’re leaving because of a toxic environment, you’ll want to stay professional. Don’t mention the toxicity or things you hate about your job in your resignation letter or exit conversations, even if your internal voice is screaming for it.

Forbes’ Jennifer Landis-Santos says to consider your legacy. What words do you want to define your tenure with the organization? Not only will this be good for your future endeavors, but it will help you keep perspective when choosing your words. You want to stay classy and take the high road! You may still get mixed reactions, but that’s business.

“Focus on the skills you have learned, the friendships you have made and the positive experiences you have had when talking to people in your current and new place of employment.” –Indeed

Say goodbye

Even if you’re leaving the job behind, you probably won’t want to cut ties with every relationship you made.

Forbes’ Julia Wuench says to send a goodbye email to your team on your last day to bid your good wishes and thank those that have assisted you. You’ll likely want to stay in touch with some coworkers as friends or as networking partners, and this act shows that you view your colleagues as fellow people.

Keep communication open with your valued colleagues, and, if possible, be there for your replacement during the transition phase. These small acts of kindness could pay off in the long run, even if you hated your job.

Wrap up

Even if you’ve already got an amazing offer lined up, don’t leave your previous job on negative terms. Be respectful, be direct, give notice, and be prepared for extra complications like being asked to leave before your final date happens or being asked to complete an exit interview. If nothing else, you’ll leave on terms you can feel good about, and you may have valuable contacts down the road!

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