How To Quit Your Job With Integrity

I was so nervous the first time I quit a job. I wasn’t sure what to say or how to handle the transition. I relied on Google to give me the right steps to take. I prepared accordingly, told my manager, handed in my resignation letter, did all of the other necessary steps, and left knowing I’d have a good reference if I needed one in the future. I was able to quit my job gracefully and keep the professional and personal relationships I built at the company.

Want to know how I did it?

Here are a few things you need to know about quitting your job—with your reputation and a reference in hand.

How to know if it’s time to quit your job.

If you routinely think, “I’m going to spend the next 20 years of my life coming into this office every day, doing the exact same thing every day, and the best possible thing that could happen to me is that I get a 3% pay raise every few years. Then I’ll retire and then I’ll die. “

That’s a clear sign that it’s time to quit your job.

Reasons that people don’t quit their job.

Even when you know you don't want to do this job anymore, you’re also realistic. You think, “It’s a steady paycheck, it’s recession-proof, it’s the mature thing to do to stay with a company.”

“Not every person gets to absolutely love their job. It’ll be the same thing anywhere else I go, It could be worse, I’m actually very lucky.”

Sound familiar?

1. Create Revenue With Your Side Business FIRST

When you give your two week notice at your 9 to 5 job, make sure that you set up the side hustle(s) that will help you keep afloat while trying to build your business. 

Within six months of hustling, my online business began to generate more clients, and I was able to leave my 9 to 5!

The ultimate goal is to grow your business and income substantially until it can replace the money you receive from your regular job. It may take months, maybe even years for you to do so, but this is one of the most reliable routes to get you there.

Either way, you’ll need active income. Yes, active! Money you’ll be able to receive in exchange for a skill or work you’ve exchanged time for. Many get their foot out of the office door by doing freelance work or starting a service-based business (Hint: That’s what I did!).

2. Prep Your Bank Account

There’s nothing worse than coming to a crossroads in your career and making the leap way too soon. If your funds are low and can only hold you over for a few months, nine times out of ten you’re not quite ready to make the switch.

No matter how much your mindset has shifted, how many masterminds you’ve attended, or how many hours you’ve spent binge-watching Gary Vee's pep talks, fully amped or not - just don’t do it. Wait until you’re ready financially regardless of how much you dislike your boss, your co-workers or your job.

 How much should you have saved (one of the most commonly asked questions I get!). Well, the answer to that will be relative to what your individual financial responsibilities are.

Single? Living rent-free? A couple thousand dollars (maybe more) will suffice. But if you’ve got a mortgage, a few kids to take care of, multiple car loans and your bank account is almost in the negative; you need a plan — a really, really, good one!

Create a strict budget, set monthly goals on how much you’d like to save, and invest in a side hustle or an online business (or both!) preferably one with a flexible schedule that can be done outside of normal working hours. Doing this will allow you to double your income overtime and it’s much faster than relying on only one stream of income.

Saving a year’s salary worth is a bit of a stretch, but for the average person anything upwards of $10k for an emergency fund will have you on the right track - just don’t forget you’ll need a side gig.

3. Tell Your Manager

Your manager should be the first person to know that you are resigning from your position. You can tell Human Resources and your work friends afterwards. It’s better that the news come from you.

Email your manager to set up a time to speak. You don’t have to tell them that you are setting up a meeting so you can resign. (That’s the work equivalent of a breakup text or breakup email.) You can be vague and say that you’d like to speak with them and ask to put time on your manager’s calendar.

Start the meeting by telling your manager that you’ve decided to pursue a business that you’re passionate about and that you appreciate their support.

Stick to the facts and try to leave emotion out. This was the hardest task for me to accomplish, especially because I had a personal relationship with my boss. The moment is very high on the emotional scale, so it's very easy to get caught up in the emotions of the moment.

I'm not perfect by any means and I did shed a few tears (after!). I loved the people at my job and I will miss them, but I needed to do this for myself.

When I spoke with my boss, I kept it very short. There's no need to throw anyone under the bus, complain, or dwell. Just tell the boss what they need to know and end the conversation.

Don't forget, shake hands when you are finished and end on a professional note!

Also, remember to stay positive even if you didn’t enjoy your job, and are so excited to be handing in your notice. Tell your manager that you had a great experience, learned a lot, and that this move is what is best for you and your family. Staying positive is one of the keys to leaving on a good note.

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4. Offer at Least Two Weeks Notice

Two Weeks Notice isn’t just a great romantic comedy starring Sandra Bullock and Hugh Grant. Most jobs expect you to give at least that amount of time when you quit, meaning that you work for two weeks after formally resigning. Your manager may ask for you to give more than two weeks, or you may want to offer to stay longer to wrap up projects.

You’re more likely to be in good standing with your current company if you make the transition as seamless as possible—even if it means staying a week or two longer. This is especially important if you have a senior position or if you’re working on client work that will be finished within a reasonable amount of time.

5. Write a Resignation Letter

After meeting with your manager, write a formal resignation letter for Human Resources to keep on file. Be brief, straightforward, and positive. Date it, sign it, and notify them of your last date with the company.

6. Help With the Transition

Do as much as possible to help with the transition as you exit your role at the company.

Write down details like important deadlines, notes about clients, and other pertinent information. Additionally, organize all papers and electronic files so that they can be found easily (and no one calls your cell phone with questions).

7. Complete as Much Work as Possible

Finish as many projects as you can before you leave. You understand the work best, so there is a higher likelihood that the work will get done correctly and efficiently if you’re the one doing it.

Finish as many projects as you can before you leave. You understand the work best, so there is a higher likelihood that the work will get done correctly and efficiently if you’re the one doing it.

If you can’t finish in time, or if it’s an ongoing project—add details, action items, and descriptions to your transition document.

8. Tell Your Colleagues

Let your coworkers know that you’re leaving. Make sure to tell a consistent and positive story—even if you’re leaving because your boss makes Miranda Priestly look like a piece of cake. Don’t start the rumor mill because your reputation may suffer as a result.

Let them know what you’re doing next, connect on LinkedIn, and ask people you worked with closely for a LinkedIn recommendation.

9. Write Thank You Notes

Write handwritten thank you notes to your manager, mentors, people you managed, and people you worked with closely. In your letters mention what you learned from them, your appreciation for their work, how much you enjoyed working with them, and let them know how they can stay in touch in the future. Some companies will even allow you to write a company, office, or team-wide email.

10. Be Diplomatic in Your Exit Interview

Many Human Resource departments will ask you to complete an exit interview. The purpose of the exit interview is to solicit your feedback about your role and time at the company and to make note of your reason for leaving.

Don’t use this as a time to vent, because the details will be recorded. Simply answer diplomatically, positively, and explain that you’re leaving because you’ve found a new opportunity that will be good for your career path and accomplishing your professional goals.

Mention that you enjoyed your time at the company, learned a lot, and are excited about the next step.

11. Stay Positive When You Leave

It is a very small world and you don’t know how people are connected or what could get back to your potential employer. Stay positive in the story you tell in person and on social media when you leave. Oh, and don’t raid the supply closet for notepads and ballpoint pens when you leave!

One of my life mottos is to never burn bridges. Who knows—your colleagues or company may be a future client of yours! You’re also likely to need references as your business progresses.

And finally,

Follow these tips when you do quit to help you leave your job gracefully, while maintaining the important relationships that will help you continue to grow your career.

Knowing you want to leave and actually resigning are two very different things. It took me MONTHS to finally muster up the courage to hand in my resignation.

I’ll tell you what though, as soon as I did I felt the weight lift from my shoulders. Cliched I know, but that’s truly what it felt like. (And others I have talked to that have given their notice said they experienced the same thing!)

It’s scary to leap into the unknown. We try and convince ourselves that ‘it’s better the devil you know’ but when work is affecting your health, relationships and confidence, ‘hanging in there’ is probably not the solution.

Which ones did you agree with? What steps are you going to take if you are ready to quit your job?

Where are you going to be next year at this time?