Career advice: How to quit a job gracefully and professionally — and leave on good terms


Are you thinking about quitting your job? You're not alone. Millennials have been called the "job-hopping generation," with Gallup polls showing that they "move freely from company to company, more so than any other generation."

So when it's time to quit your job — and sooner or later it will be always keep it classy. That means following best practices for business etiquette so you don't burn your bridges and sabotage work relationships. These tips can help. 

Be generous when giving notice

It's always important to give your employer at least two weeks notice, even if you're leaving under unpleasant circumstances. This gives your boss time to figure out who will handle your responsibilities once you're gone, whether that involves hiring someone new or giving your work to someone already on staff.

What's the best way to give notice? Schedule a meeting and break the news in person, rather than by email, text or phone. It will definitely feel awkward, but meeting face-to-face "shows respect, self-confidence and that you have strong interpersonal skills," career expert Sue Fox told U.S. News & World Report.


Be clear about why you are leaving  a new job, going back to school, moving, whatever  but don't say anything negative. Instead, focus instead on how much you've learned and how the new job will challenge you.

Even though you should give notice, your boss may ask you to leave immediately. "Sometimes they walk you out the door. As an employee, you need to be prepared for that," Barbara Pachter, author of The Communication Clinic: 99 Proven Cures for the Most Common Business Mistakes, said in an interview. 

In case that happens, make sure you've already packed up any personal items, computer files and professional contacts that you may need. More importantly, plan ahead financially by saving up in case you have to go without a paycheck until your new job starts. 

Help your employer with the transition

If you want to maintain the best relationship possible with your old boss, it's on you to try to minimize the disruption your departure causes. 

Finish any tasks you've already started. "Even if finishing whatever is currently on your plate requires more hours than you would like to spend on your current job, it’s your responsibility to not leave any loose ends (or, if it really can’t be wrapped up in two weeks, to leave detailed instructions)," the Muse advised. 

Next, ask what your boss needs from you before you go. Accommodate any reasonable request as best you can for maximum goodwill.

You may even want to help find your replacement. "The most important piece of advice I would offer to someone who is quitting a job is to help your manager fill your position before you depart by referring candidates to them," Dan Schawbel, bestselling author of Promote Yourself and Me 2.0, said in a phone interview. "By doing this, you are alleviating the stress and productivity loss your manager will have trying to scramble to replace you."

Tell everyone you work with that you're leaving — after you tell your boss

Although you always want to tell your boss first about your impending departure, it's a good idea to make the rounds with everyone else you worked with as well. 

"Let other people know and thank the people who have helped you along the way," Pachter said. "You may be working with them further down the line. You're building a career and building a network." 

You may also want to tell outside contacts. "Let customers know who will be handling accounts and reassure them that everything will move smoothly even though you're not there," Pachter advised. 


Keep up with co-workers after you've left

Telling people personally that you're leaving is also a great way to open the conversation about how to stay in touch once you're gone. You may think you'll never see these people again, but chances are you will. Maybe you'll need one as a reference one day, for example, or maybe you'll wind up recommending one for a job at your new company.

At a bare minimum, make sure you get your soon-to-be ex-coworkers' personal emails and add them as contacts on Linkedin. Add them on Twitter or Facebook, if you haven't already. You may even want to make plans for drinks or lunch after you've started your new job.

What matters most is that you don't just disappear the second you walk out the door. Staying in touch gives you valuable contacts that can last a lifetime.

Sign up for The Payoff — your weekly crash course on how to live your best financial life. Additionally, for all your burning money questions, check out Mic’s credit, savings, career, investing and health care hubs for more information — that pays off.