Pick one of these 7 ways to quit your job
Which method are you most likely to use when you make your grand exit?
Make your exit without any drama.
If you’re wondering how to quit a job, think of it like dating. Quitting your job is like breaking up with a partner. Sometimes you feel terrible about it; other times you feel pretty darn elated to be moving on. Alternately, you could feel overwhelmingly…neutral.
According to a Gallup’s State of the American Workplace, 51% of American workers are actively looking for a different job or watching for openings right now. If you’re one of those people, listen up. Harvard Business Review outlined seven different methods of quitting that employees use. Monster asked career experts to take a look at the quitting methods and explain when it’s appropriate to use each one—and when it’s not. (For the record, going out in a blaze of swear words is never a good idea.)
The by-the-book quit
What HBR says it is: You meet with your manager to explain why you’re leaving, and you give them a standard notice period.
What it might sound like coming out of your mouth: “I’ve accepted a position with XYZ. It’s a step up for me, and I’m looking forward to a new challenge. My final day will be two weeks from now.”
When you should use it: “This should be your default approach,” says Robby Slaughter, principal consultant and workplace productivity expert with AccelaWork in Indianapolis. “It’s respectful, professional, and provides room for the company to make the best choices to prepare for your departure. Use it when relationships are generally positive and when you have respect for your job.”
When you should not use it: Avoid this method if your time at the company was filled with negative experiences or if you fear retribution from your supervisors. (If that’s the case, see further down this list.)
The grateful quit
What HBR says it is: Similar to a by-the-book quit, this method focuses more on how grateful you are for the opportunity to have worked at the company, and sometimes includes an offer to train a new person.
What it might sound like coming out of your mouth: “I can’t believe I’m saying this, because I’ve loved every second of my time here and I’m so grateful for the opportunities I’ve been given…but I’ve accepted a position elsewhere. I will happily help train my replacement.”
When you should use it: Use this approach when you want to end your job on a positive note and acknowledge that your supervisor or co-workers have gone above and beyond to make your time at your job really excellent, says Joseph Liu, a career-change consultant and host of the Career Relaunch Podcast, based in London. Offering to train your successor “minimizes disruption to the business and makes life easier for your manager,” Liu says. “It also demonstrates you’re a true professional, especially because you no longer have any ‘skin in the game.’”
When you should not use it: “I wouldn’t recommend this approach if you and your manager have a history of trust issues,” Liu says, “or if you believe your show of appreciation would be seen as disingenuous, which could just exacerbate any tensions.”
The in-the-loop quit
What HBR says it is: You told your manager a while back that you were looking for a new job or thinking about leaving, eliminating most of the surprise from your final announcement.
What it might sound like coming out of your mouth: “Remember back in June when I told you I was looking for a new job? I found one and accepted their offer. Thanks for being so understanding.”
When you should use it: “This transparent approach can be especially useful if you want to prioritize your manager’s planning needs and maintain good relations,” Liu says.
When you should not use it: Avoid this approach if you’re leaving for a direct competitor or you’re concerned about an early dismissal from your current job, Liu says.
The perfunctory quit
What HBR says it is: This is the same as the by-the-book quit, minus the explanation.
What it might sound like coming out of your mouth: “I’m leaving the company. My final day will be in two weeks.”
When you should use it: Your employer is not automatically entitled to an explanation about why you’re quitting or where you’re going next, says Karlyn Borysenko, principal at Zen Workplace, an organizational development consultancy based in Merrimack, New Hampshire. If you feel like your employer would cause problems for you or attempt to interfere at your next job, this is a recommended approach.
When you should not use it: Borysenko cautions against this method if you’ve got a good relationship with your employer and want to maintain that. If you don’t give an explanation for why you’re leaving your job, she says, your boss may invent one that has nothing to do with the truth. If you’re comfortable with them, she recommends just being honest.
The avoidant quit
What HBR says it is: You leave your manager a note or send them an email, or you tell HR or colleagues and let the message filter back to your manager.
What it might sound like coming out of your mouth: Silence. (That’s the point.)
When you should use it: Slaughter recommends this approach if your manager is unavailable or unresponsive. “You might have a boss who is on an extended sick leave, or who travels all the time and never responds to your calls,” he says.
When you should not use it: Don’t use this method just to avoid an awkward conversation. If you’re worried your supervisor will behave inappropriately, you can always tell HR first and ask for someone from that department to be present when you inform your manager, Slaughter says.
The impulsive quit
What HBR says it is: You haven’t thought about how to quit a job. There was no planning; you didn’t give notice, and instead you just quit in a hurry and left your company to worry about filling your spot.
What it might sound like coming out of your mouth: Nothing. You leave one day and never look back.
When you should use it: If your employer has a history of unethical behavior or has created a truly toxic or unsafe work environment, ghosting is acceptable, Borysenko says.
When you should not use it: If you’re on good terms with your employer and want to maintain that after you leave. Ghosting will definitely kill that. Also, if you’re living paycheck to paycheck, you don’t want to leave on a whim. “Plan for it. Build security. Set yourself up with resources to live off of while you’re finding your next job,” Borysenko says.
The bridge-burning quit
What HBR says it is: You attempt to sabotage the company or your co-workers, often with verbal assaults or other unsavory maneuvers on your way out.
What it might sound like coming out of your mouth: Expletives and insults. (This is sometimes done via email or social media, too).
When you should use it: Cursing is always bad form, regardless of your situation, but bridge burning isn’t necessarily verboten. “The ONLY reason you may want to burn bridges is if maintaining solid relations with the people in your company would somehow have an adverse effect on your long-term career goals or personal brand,” Liu says. If your company is undergoing a public investigation or known to be an abusive environment, it’s understandable for you to sever those ties as thoroughly as possible, he says.
When you should not use it: Knowing how to quit a job requires tact. “No matter how upset or dissatisfied you are with your manager or company, resist the temptation of using your departure as a time to vent all your frustrations,” Liu says. “It won’t accomplish anything, and it leaves people with a bad lasting impression of you, which can come back to bite you in ways you never expect.”