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How to Quit a Job Without Burning Bridges

Follow these tips for a graceful and professional exit from your company.

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Whether you're looking to leave your current position for an opportunity that your company couldn't offer, or perhaps for a completely new career, or a larger paycheck, you might wonder how to quit your job without burning bridges. After all, leaving on good terms is simply good business practice.

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Just as first impressions are crucial when interviewing, quitting a job on good terms can often be overlooked but is just as imperative to your reputation and professional career. You never know what life will throw at you, and you may eventually return or need to leverage the network at your former employer.

No matter the reason for your departure, consider these tips if you're wondering how to quit a job with class.

Practice discretion during your job search.

You may feel tempted to search online job boards at work or even set up an interview during company time. This is not recommended. The last thing you want is for your current employer to find out. It's unprofessional.

Also avoid using company resources for your job search. In other words, don't use the company laptop when searching for your next big career move. Recruiters know discretion can be part of the hiring process, so be transparent about your situation, and they should be able to accommodate around your schedule.

Job search sites like ZipRecruiter also have features that let you switch off account settings that allow companies to find you if you don't apply — decreasing the likelihood of your current employer discovering that you're looking for a new position.

Prepare a letter of resignation and set a final day.

Once you have a confirmed offer from another company that you plan to accept, you will need to prepare a resignation letter informing your organization that you are leaving. Your resignation letter is a formal document that you can use to thank them for your time there while leaving the door open for future opportunities.

In the letter, make sure note when will be your last day. Two weeks' notice is the general rule in most business cases. Be sure to communicate with your new employer that you will need two weeks to finish out your tenure in your current role.

Tell your boss first.

After you draft your letter of resignation, your direct boss should be the first person you inform of your departure. It can be a difficult conversation, but you'll be glad you did it. From there, they will determine the best course of action and how to proceed at work.

Your company will likely connect with human resources and tell you when it is appropriate to communicate the news to other employees and clients. You can also use this meeting to discuss how to best use your remaining time at the company.

Work until the last day.

Remaining professional through your last day of work is essential for assessing how to quit a job. You'll want to ensure a seamless transition of your work to a backfill or establish a plan until your former company finds your long-term replacement. Update your company voicemail and email to ensure the right person is contacted in your absence.

Prepare for an exit interview.

The exit interview is your opportunity to provide feedback. These meetings might feel intimidating, but they can be a productive conversation for you and your former company.

Arrive for the meeting prepared with answers to the following:

  • Why are you leaving your current role?
  • What did you like about your former company?
  • How was your relationship with your manager?
  • Would you consider returning to this company?

You'll feel plenty of complex emotions when leaving but knowing how to quit a job right is a critical step in solidifying relationships for the future. Always keep in mind that this next step is what's best for your career, and just because your professional relationship with a company is ending doesn't mean you won't return or eventually want to leverage a reference.

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