How To Resign Properly, Without Burning Bridges

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Congratulations—you’re ready to quit your job! Whatever reason you have for doing so, moving on can often feel exhilarating (if a bit nerve-wracking). Just because you’re leaving, however, doesn’t mean it’s okay to throw decorum to the wind and burn the bridges you’ve built at your current place of employment. It would be a shame to undo all the good grace you earned with your hard work because of improper resignation etiquette. (Plus, you never know when you may need the favor of a former boss or colleague.) Here, how to quit gracefully without making enemies in the process.

As with any other breakup, it's important that you give the dumpee their due respect by telling them to their faces that it's over. This is not something you should ever do over e-mail or, worse, by inter-office chat (e.g., Slack) or text message.

The last thing you want to do is leave your boss high and dry, drowning without a replacement to take over the work the company depends on you to do. Although two weeks' notice is customary, sometimes it's appropriate to stay on longer so your transition is more seamless or so you can properly train the new hire taking your place. That said, it's also important not to let your employer take advantage of you—if you've worked for them for a long time, there can be a lot of stress associated with leaving, and they might drag out the hiring process if you leave your exit date open.

Sometimes, the truth is that you hate your job and you just want to get the you-know-what out of there. This is not what you want to say when you resign, so if this is the case, you should probably make something else up. (Though you should feel free to say it nicely during your exit interview.) Outside of this example, however, it's not usually advisable to lie about your reasons for quitting—like saying you have a family emergency when you don't—because if you get caught, it's going to reflect poorly on you.

Your employer invested a lot in you—don't force them to start from scratch when you leave. Instead, make documents to organize important information and offer to train new employees, or ensure that your assistant (if you have one) has all the tools necessary to on-board your replacement. If you say you're going to do any or all of this, don't leave without getting it done.

It's true: Quitting is fun—or at least it becomes fun once you've had the big talk with your boss. Everyone knows the best time in life is the short period between gigs wherein you have nothing to worry about for basically the first time since elementary school. Still, it's important to remain professional in your work environment and not openly behave as though quitting is the best thing to ever happen to you. Your boss will definitely notice and may take it personally.

Even if your boss was the worst, it's important to thank them for the opportunity and experience. Employing and managing people can be incredibly stressful and often thankless (the boss is always the bad guy), and it will take you five minutes to write a note to make them feel appreciated. This small act will leave a good taste in their mouths and help ensure that they speak highly of you when prospective employers contact them for references.