How to quit your job the right way: 3 major pitfalls to avoiding burning bridges

ByJames Dennin

Let's say you've dazzled recruiters with your succinct and impressive resume and have managed to land your dream job. Now, it's time to make a graceful exit from your current place of employment. 

This means avoiding doing anything that will inspire your current boss to retaliate, as well as finding a thoughtful way to make peace with the colleagues whom you're leaving behind. Here are the three major pitfalls to avoid since, hey, the world is small and people love to talk. 


Don't spill the beans to your coworkers.

Look, we get it: You've spent the last several years commiserating with your workplace BFF over coffee breaks and trips to the water cooler, and you're just bursting at the seams to dish to your work pals about your new gig. This is a major mistake, as workplace gossip tends to work its way to the top. 

"You'll hear stories of people texting their boss or telling their friends or colleagues before their boss," Monster careers expert Vicki Salemi said. "If you're resigning, you need to be professional and polished about it so the first person you need to tell is your boss."

That may be easier said than done, Salemi conceded — especially if you've got a Devil Wears Prada-type boss with a packed schedule. If that's the case, then phone-quitting is fine, Salemi said, especially if you follow up with a handwritten note. 

Keep where you're going a secret (at least for now). 

One of the striking pieces of advice Salemi had for quitting your job was to stay mum about where you're going — especially if you're going to a competitor. 

"If you tell your company that you resigned and you're going to their competitor, someone in the group probably used to work there," Salemi said. "They can sabotage you before you even start."

Avoid the possibility of a career-ending game of telephone by politely deflecting when your boss or your colleague asks about your next move. "I want to stay focussed on finishing up my projects" is a a very tactful way to signal that you'd rather not talk about it. 

Make a few courtesy intros because you're classy like that. 

Most people understand that the "two weeks notice" is meant to make sure that you've got a little time to wrap up all your business. While you're probably pretty checked out, that doesn't excuse you from putting together a summary of your outstanding projects and briefing your boss and colleagues about where everything stands. 

Unfortunately, that's really only the bare minimum, and many eager quitters neglect to pass on institutional knowledge or connections that will create problems once you've moved on. To avoid this, Salemi recommended making a few introductions. If you're in sales, for instance, Salemi suggested arranging drinks with one of your biggest accounts. No matter how dispensable you think you are, there are probably things about your job that only you know how to do. 

It's extremely hard to keep your wits about you, particularly once you think you've no longer got any skin in the game. With the obvious exception of retirees, Salemi noted, "your next job isn't going to be your last."