I was surprised to read that the number one most Googled career question of 2018 was “how to quit a job.” With all the intense drama last year, I would have guessed there would be many other big-picture questions to ask.
Since this is clearly a highly sought-after question, I’d like to offer my advice on what to expect once you receive an offer and how you can quit your job with class and dignity, while avoiding burning any bridges.
There is an interesting path that I’ve witnessed time and again dealing with job seekers. They start the interview process interested in a certain position and become more excited as time goes on. Toward the end of the process, they become elated. Once the offer is made, the mood abruptly changes. Reality sets in and people start to get nervous. Their friends and family ask questions and the candidate sheepishly realizes that there’s a lot more about the job that he needs to know.
Everything they disliked about their company doesn’t seem so bad anymore. You sneak a peek at your boss and start feeling that maybe he’s not so bad after all. Although you complained about the commute, is it that dreadful? You start getting a queasy feeling and wonder, “Am I making a huge mistake?” Don’t worry, this is completely normal and almost everyone goes through these last-minute bouts of doubt. Allow yourself some time to process what’s happening. If you believe that the new salary is great, there is the ability to grow your career, the people are friendly and the opportunity is too good to pass up, then it’s time to move on from your current job.
Be prepared. At this time, you will start dreading the conversation you’ll eventually have to have with your boss. The first thing to do is let your boss know that you would like to speak with her. Once the meeting is set, the most effective way to inform your manager is with the “ripping off the Band-Aid” approach. When you were a little kid, your mom or dad may have thought they were being helpful and pulled off a Band-Aid slowly—and it hurt! Now that you’re older, you know to rip it off quickly to get it over with. Similarly, the best thing to do is to directly discuss your resignation with your boss right away. Avoid procrastination, as it will induce more stress and anxiety.
Calmly and politely inform your supervisor that you have accepted a new job. You should say, “I appreciate everything that you have done for me. This was truly a great experience. I have learned so much from you.” You could then add, “I wasn’t actively looking, but this new opportunity was brought to my attention. I checked it out and the role turned out to be the perfect next step for my career”.
If a human resources professional asks for an exit meeting, avoid any finger pointing or negativity. You want to reiterate what you said to your boss and remain cordial and polite. The goal is to leave on friendly terms and avoid any potential traps that could lead to burning bridges.
When speaking with your manager, avoid being non-committal. He will view this as a sign that they could lure you into staying. It is easier for a company to throw some more money your way than to start a search for someone new. These counteroffers hardly ever go well and you’ll always be viewed as a traitor who hit them up for more money. If you come across indecisive, the manager will bring in his manager and then they will exert nonstop pressure, guilt and incentives to stay. If your boss offers a counteroffer, it’s best to nip it in the bud and say, “I appreciate that you are trying to keep me here. Please wish me well in my new endeavor, as it is perfect for me. I’ll be glad to help with hiring my replacement and make myself available to help them after I have left.”
As you start telling others, remember not to gloat about your good fortune and avoid any negativity. The goal is to depart amicably on a positive note, so that you can maintain future relationships with everyone throughout your career.