Finding your dream job is the perfect reason to leave your current one. But how to tell your boss you’re quitting for good?
After all, you’d rather part on good terms. Especially, if you expect to receive glowing references or just don’t want to ambush them with your resignation letter. So how do you tactically break the news? Here’s our expert take.
How to Quit a Job Without Burning Any Bridges
The standard advice is filing a two-week notice letter to HR and calling it a day.
But the truth is: most work relationships are more complex than that. If you are working in a good environment, you don’t want to let down the people depending on you or act behind your superior’s back. On the other, you might feel intimidated to approach your boss if they are known for a not-so-pleasant demeanor.
The tactful way to inform about your decision to quit a job is this one:
- Have a private conversation with your boss first
- Explain your reasons for quitting
- Discuss the transition period
- File a resignation letter with the HR
Now let’s zoom in on those steps.
How to Discuss Your Resignation with Your Boss
Having a discussion around your decision to quit can be gut-wrenching. But it’s the right thing to do. It’s better when your manager learns about the news directly from you, rather than from a colleague or the HR department.
Thus, pull yourself together and be ready to lead the conversation!
Before you enter the room, make sure you have a clear message you’d want to pass on. In particular, be prepared to talk about:
- Your reasons for leaving the job
- Where you are going next
- Whether you’d be willing to stay on different terms.
Remember: a good manager will always try to retain a valuable employee. But if you are firm in your decision and already accepted another offer, this part of the discussion can get awkward. Thus, pounder over how you might reply to a counteroffer and what would you do if your superior suddenly gets emotional (this can happen too!).
If you need a little prompter, here’s a “how to tell your boss you’re quitting” script from our team:
“[Name], I know this conversation may sound unexpected, but I’ve taken the decision to move to a new position. I greatly enjoyed my time at [Company Name] and very much appreciate your guidance. But I decided to quit for [your reason] and wanted to inform you that I already accepted an offer from another employer. They are flexible on the start date, so I’d like to discuss with you how we can make the transition smooth for everyone.”
The above is a nice short opener. It shows appreciation, lays down the key details, plus shows that you are firm in your decision to move on. Yet, eager to help during the interim period.
How to Explain Your Decision to Quit
One of the main things your boss will be interested in is what prompted you to leave.
While candidness is typically appreciated in companies with good work culture, you might want to avoid being too blunt. Don’t say that you are quitting because you felt bored, you hated the working hours, or found your colleagues or upper management ineffective and annoying.
Instead, wrap those reasons into a more polite wrapper. For example, you can tell that:
My New Job Offers Me Better Career Progression
If there is a lack of opportunity within your current role for any career advancement, then it makes sense to look elsewhere.
In this situation, it pays to be honest with your current boss. You can explain exactly how the new job better fits your career path. Your boss will most likely understand your reasons for leaving and it will help to ease any tensions between you while you work out your notice.
Sometimes a move like this can open the eyes of your current employer. It can help them realize there may be a problem with career progression within the workplace and they can take steps to avoid this happening again. In some cases discussing the lack of career opportunities within the company can result in some major restructuring. This could even lead to an offer of promotion in an effort to tempt you to stay.
The New Job Has A Higher Salary
There is no denying that ‘money talks’. Any boss in the land wouldn’t argue with that. If your new job offers a higher salary or better perks, then, of course, you are going to be tempted! Unless your current boss can equal the pay on offer or raise it higher, then you would be unlikely to stay put.
However, selecting this reason may prompt further salary negotiations. Your company may want to counter the offer or offer you some other perks as a last-ditch retention approach. But if money isn’t the only reason why you are quitting, such negotiation can get uneasy for you. Especially, when you’d have to refuse their offer and come up with some other excuse. So use this option with caution.
My New Job Offers More Security
There are times in life when job security becomes a priority. This can be because you have gotten married and are starting a family. You may be buying a house and need the security of a regular wage to pay the mortgage. Or you just want to set down roots and settle down after a few years of moving around with work or exploring the world.
If you have concerns about how safe your job is, then it makes sense to look for employment elsewhere that can offer you more long-term security. If the company you work for is going through a rough time financially, then you may be worried about the chances of layoffs, downsizing, or furloughs.
Speaking with your boss will confirm your suspicions about the future of the company. They will understand that in times of uncertainty some employees will jump ship. They would never hold this against you.
Other Questions to Be Ready to Answer
Your boss would be curious to learn more about your decision to quit. So as you prepare for the conversation, brainstorm answers to the following questions too.
Where are You Going Next?
Two scenarios are possible:
- You already have another job lined up
- You plan to do something else — freelance, start a business or go back to school
In either case, it pays to be brief. Merely state what you are going to do next without giving too many specifics. If the boss presses you to tell more, politely deflect the question. Say that you are “still ironing out the details” or “cannot discuss the terms of the new position”.
But reassure them that you are not breaking any non-compete or non-disclosure agreements if there are any in place.
Can We Prompt You to Reconsider?
By asking this question, your boss wants to learn if they should be lobbying the superiors for a counteroffer or another type of incentive to make you stay.
Again, it pays to be frank here. If you are open to negotiation and still didn’t sign another contract, propose your terms. Explain the specific issues you’d want to have resolved if they want to retain you. For example, you may want to negotiate your salary, ask for a promotion, or transfer to another department.
However, if your decision to quit is firm, don’t beat around the bush. Explain that you’ve already signed the offer and feel ready for a new challenge. But you’d love to keep good relationships and may be open to returning to this company sometime in the future.
When Do You Want to Leave?
Hiring can be a lengthy process. Your boss wants to know how much time they have to find a replacement and whether they can count on you during the transition.
Again, the ball in your court here. If you are willing to stay for longer than the standard two weeks (or another timeline written in your contract), say that you have a flexible start date and willing to assist during the transition. Another smart move? Suggest a replacement for your role — a fellow colleague who’d appreciate the promotion. You can also offer to train them before you leave.
On the other hand, you may be eager to leave the current posting for personal reasons or because your new employer already proposed suitable start date. In such a case, tell your boss that you already due to start by a specific date and cannot stay for longer. If you have a good relationship, you may also pitch them an idea of staying as a part-time consultant until they fully onboard a new hire.
If you’re going to change jobs soon, you should always try to leave on a positive note. Burning your bridges is never a good idea. At some point in the future, you may cross paths with an old employer so you will want to leave them with a good impression of you. Who knows? You may end up back working with your old company once again but under a different format or structure!
So keep the conversation candid, professional, and polite. Be flexible (to a degree possible) and try to work a smooth transition out of the job!