The ultimate guide to quitting your job (professionally)

Updated on August 7, 2023
how to quit a job professionally

It is perfectly normal and expected to quit your job at some point in pursuit of another role or other endeavors.

If you have made the decision to leave, then it is best to quit with professionalism in mind. But what does that mean anyway?

Quitting your job in a professional manner is all about doing it respectfully and minimizing impact – the impact that your departure will have on your coworkers, your boss, and the company.

Here you will find all the steps that you should take to ensure quitting your job is done smoothly and on good terms with everybody. But first…

1. Consider your reasons for leaving your job

reasons to quit a job

Generally, quitting your job impulsively is not a great idea. Especially if you don't have a financial safety net.

The most common reasons why people quit their jobs include:

  • No remote work options
  • Finding a better-paying job
  • Finding a more meaningful job
  • Lack of flexible schedule
  • Occupational burnout
  • New career path
  • Problems with boss/coworkers
  • Bad managers
  • Job dissatisfaction
  • Starting own business
  • Health problems

While all these reasons are perfectly respectful, you can see that some of them are not ideal for the person quitting in regard to personal finances.

In any case, leaving is best when you have another job offer waiting or some kind of financial security.

If you have been working at the same place for quite some time, then here's a helpful perspective on how long you should stay at a job.

2. Consider the most appropriate day to quit your job

This is something that you may not have thought about but informing your supervisor about your decision to leave could be quite impactful on their workday, especially if you have been working at the company for a while and you have a pretty good professional relationship.

So think about what day and time would be best to tell them that you have decided to quit in case you care about how they would feel after you tell them.

For example, Monday usually is a busy day at every company, so you wouldn't want to add one more thing to your supervisors’ to-do list.

Friday, on the other hand, is just before the weekend. So in most cases, from Tuesday to Thursday would be ideal.

3. Tell your supervisor that you will be leaving

quitting a job respectfully

When quitting your job, the professional thing to do is to always inform your supervisor first. It would be quite disrespectful if they learn that you will be leaving through somebody else at work.

When the timing is right, request a personal meeting with the person who supervises you and inform them of your decision to leave.

Naturally, expect them to want to know your reasons for leaving, so be prepared to provide them with some kind of answers that you are comfortable with.

If you are struggling to find the right words, here is what you can say:

“First, thanks for taking the time to speak to me. I wanted to tell you that after some deliberation, I decided that it is time for me to leave the company / move on to another role / change my career path.”

It's up to you how specific of an explanation you are willing to give them. Also, make sure to ask them what your next steps should be – if you should be contacting HR, etc.

Give them the chance to dictate the process of your leaving.

How to quit your job over email

If meeting or calling your supervisor is not an option, then the next best thing that you could do is to send a short email explaining that you will be quitting.

This is a perfectly polite way to approach the matter, and it could serve as your official notice. Here is how to write such an email.

  1. Write a clear subject line (your name + notice)
  2. Stick to a formal tone when writing the body of the email
  3. State in the clearest way possible that this is your notice of leave
  4. State what date would be your last workday (as per your notice period)
  5. Mention that you expect them to tell you what your next steps should be
  6. Thank your supervisor for having the chance to work with them

If you have a hard time finding the words, here’s an example template on how to write a resignation email.

Subject: [Your name] – notice of leave

Hello [Supervisor’s name],

I wanted to tell you that my time to leave the company has come. Consider this email to be my [formal/informal] notice. I am giving X weeks notice as per our company policy – this means that my last at work should be on MM.DD.

I wanted to thank you for working with you and having the opportunity to be part of the team.

Also, can you please advise me on what my next steps should be in regard to formally quitting?

I remain at your disposal if there’s anything you’d like to discuss with me.

Thank you

How to quit a job over text

Quitting a job over text is generally not a good idea, and it wouldn't be professional. But it would be fine if you are particularly close with your supervisor and you know them at least on a semi-personal level.

If this is indeed the case, then simply write a brief message explaining that you have decided to quit and ask them what your next steps should be.

However, if you are texting your supervisor because you didn’t get a response to your notice of leave email, then simply text them that you have sent them an important email and they should check it out soon.

If they ask you what the email is about, then it is fine to say that it is about you leaving. Here you can check our complete guide on how to quit over text (there are examples, too).

How to write a resignation letter

Your company policy may require you to write a formal resignation letter. It is possible that your company has a form that you just need to fill in with the necessary information and then submit to the HR office.

In case your company doesn't have an existing resignation letter form, then here is a basic outline of what such a letter should include.

  • Date
  • Title
  • Resignation statement
  • Last day of work
  • Your name
  • Position
  • Signature
  • Contact details

If you have a hard time filling out this template, then here's an example.


Resignation letter of [Your name] (position)

To whom it may concern,

This is my formal letter of resignation. I have decided to quit my job as a (role) at (company/organization).

As per company policy, I am providing (time period – two weeks/one month) notice.

This means that my last work day at the company should be MM.DD.YYYY.

Thank you for the opportunity to work at (company name/organization)

Your name, position, signature
Contact details:

4. Anticipate that your supervisor would like to have a word with you

Your direct manager will be the person who is most interested to find out what is going out and what circumstances have brought you to the decision to quit.

So they might ask you to have a conversation to discuss the matter.

Take the time to have this conversation with your supervisor and answer their questions in a polite manner. In such cases, being truthful is optional. It all comes down to your actual reasons for leaving.

For example, if you’ve been given another job offer, you might decide to tell your supervisor in case you respect and trust them.

This meeting will also give you the chance to discuss more trivial matters, such as the transfer of your projects and duties to another coworker, the return of company property, etc.

5. Anticipate a counteroffer to persuade you to stay

If you are an experienced professional who is a valuable employee, then it wouldn't be surprising if your manager comes up with an enticing proposal for you to stay.

In other words, an offer to counter your decision to leave the company.

The offer might come in the form of a salary increase with or without any extra responsibilities.

Perhaps extra benefits and an eventual promotion might be on the table as well – it all depends on what your supervisor is willing to do for you in order to convince you to stay.

If the offer is great and it aligns with your professional (and financial) goals, then consider taking it. Maybe your supervisor will give you a day or two to think about it.

However, if you have set your mind on leaving, thank your supervisor for the offer and politely decline.

This way, they will know for certain that you have made up your mind and there is nothing they can do to make you change your decision.

6. Tell your coworkers that you will be leaving soon

telling your coworkers you are leaving

Depending on your situation, you should determine the best way to inform your fellow coworkers that you have decided to quit – be it through email, text, or in person.

This could be an emotional moment for you and some of your coworkers if you have been working together for quite some time.

Saying goodbye to the people that you work with can be tough but hopefully, they will be happy that you have found something else to do.

7. Continue to work diligently

Even though you will be leaving soon, do your best to remain productive. Remember, you still have duties and are being paid for the work you are supposed to do.

It is perfectly understandable if you have quiet quit already, but the professional thing to do would be to do the bare minimum of work so as not to impact your coworkers in a negative way.

8. Attend an exit interview with HR if asked

A representative of the HR department might want to have a word with you to discuss your reasons for leaving – especially if you have worked for the company for a very long time or if you were assigned to a key position.

The professional thing to do in this case would be to attend the interview and answer the questions that the HR rep has for you.

There is no need to be thorough (or entirely truthful) with your answers, but you could at least hint at what are your reasons for leaving – who knows, the company might change for the better after your feedback.

9. Ask your supervisors and coworkers for references

Probably the most important factor when asking your manager and coworkers for references is timing. Don't wait for your last day at work. Approach them soon after you have given your official notice.

It is also important to personally approach each person that you’d like as your reference in order to thank them for working together and explain that it would mean a lot to you if they agree to be listed on your resume as a reference.

In any case, don’t be that person who sends a group email to a bunch of people expecting everyone to respond with a written statement and their contact details.

10. Be careful how you conduct yourself during your last two weeks at work

Even though you will be leaving soon, do your best to remain polite and respectful when you interact with your coworkers and manager.

You certainly should not remind them unnecessarily about your departure from the company as this might be upsetting for some of them.

Remember that people don't just leave good jobs, and some of your coworkers will be aware that, at some level, you are not satisfied with this job.

You might want to check our complete guide on how to survive your last two weeks at work in case you are unsure what behavior would be appropriate.

My experience with quitting a job professionally

Believe it or not, I have been employed at the same company for over a decade, which means that I haven't quit my job in quite a while.

However, I have seen many of my coworkers quit their job for various reasons. And from what I have experienced, the majority of them have done so in a professional fashion with everything that this entails, as described above.

It's perfectly natural that most of them were not as invested in their work assignments and ongoing projects anymore, but they did their best to remain productive and helpful until their very last workday at the company.

In the end, what kept them going was their respect towards their coworkers and managers, the understanding that the small community of people they were about to leave for good still counted on them to do their job for a few more days.

My advice on how to quit a job you hate

People often stay in jobs they hate because of the financial security they get without realizing that this comes at a tradeoff.

The stress and emotional burden that come with working a toxic job can severely affect one's mental and physical well-being. This can have serious consequences for a person's well-being.

From what I have found out from talking to all kinds of professionals working in tech who downright hate their respective workplaces is that they are often too afraid to leave.

And what I have always told them is the simplest thing: you can always start looking for another job without quitting your current one.

If you feel like you are stuck in a job that you hate, then I recommend that you check our guide on how to quit a toxic job by ensuring your psychological safety first.

My advice on quitting a job you just started

So you just started a job, but after two weeks or so, you feel like this is simply not your thing. Or perhaps a new exciting job opportunity has popped up and you just have to take it.

Well, there is nothing stopping you from leaving, even though you started just recently.

You might feel a bit bad for wasting the company’s time and the fact that another candidate who might have stayed for longer was not hired because of you.

This is just one of the harsh realities of employment – employees could leave (or be fired) at any time.

So simply apologize to your supervisor and take the steps described above to ensure you conduct yourself professionally. And if you feel really bad, then check out our guide on leaving a job that you started recently.

My advice for quitting a job without notice

In the USA, If you are an at-will employee, you can quit your job at any time without any notice whatsoever.

Still, If possible, don’t do it. This is the opposite of being “professional” when it comes to quitting your job.

However, this is yet another harsh reality of employment. There are all kinds of positive or negative circumstances that could lead to a person leaving their job without notice.

In this case, the least you could do is apologize to your boss and coworkers and tell them that you wish the circumstances were different.

Frequently asked questions about quitting your job

When is the right time to quit a job?

The right time to quit a job varies from person to person and depends on a variety of factors. Generally, it might be the right time if you're feeling unfulfilled, stressed, or unhappy in your current role, if there's no room for growth or advancement, or if you've received a better offer elsewhere.

How much notice should I give when quitting a job?

The standard practice is to give at least two weeks' notice when quitting a job. This allows your employer time to find a replacement or redistribute your tasks among the team. However, the required notice period may vary depending on your employment contract or company policy, so it's always a good idea to check these first.

Should I tell my coworkers that I'm quitting?

It's generally best to inform your boss first before telling your coworkers about your decision to quit. Once you've spoken with your boss, you can then share the news with your coworkers.

How do I handle a counteroffer when I quit my job?

Consider why you're leaving. If it's not just about money or benefits, a counteroffer might not solve your issues. Furthermore, employers usually give you counter offers to buy some time until they find a replacement and let you go.

What should I say in an exit interview?

Provide honest, professional feedback about your experience and suggestions for improvement. Avoid personal criticisms.

How do I transition my responsibilities when I quit my job?

Create a handover document, provide training to your replacement if possible, and ensure all your work is up to date before leaving.

Written by:
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co-founder / office worker
Alex has been an office worker for more than 10 years. He is dedicated to helping other office workers to achieve the perfect life-work balance through well-being, effective communication, and building productive habits.

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