The right way to quit and stay on good terms, without burning bridges: use these resignation letter templates and scripts to make the best impression.
How you leave is just as important as what you did on the job — learn how to leave thoughtfully and grow your professional network.
Two distinct but important elements to keep in mind:
Good reasons to quit your job:
Think to yourself: when you're 80 and looking back, will you have regretted leaving this company?
This is one of the most common reasons to want to leave.
All managers have idiosyncrasies and a set of acquired bad habits — recognize that it's your job to design your relationship with your manager for your benefit.
Being effective at this is an essential skill and to grow as a professional you need to really push your ability to turn interpersonal conflicts around.
Certainly, sometimes the situation is beyond recovery. Manager conflict is only a good reason to leave if you've tried multiple times and in many different ways to improve the relationship but it just isn't working.
Bad reasons to quit: for a little more money, for more prestige, a title bump, or another rung up the ladder.
There is more to life than these things, and if you have a fulfilling job, with good benefits, the flexibility you want, and you work with people you like — then you’ve reached work nirvana and you just don’t realize it.
Interviewing before you've left can be logistically difficult but it's very much a normal part of the process: some of your colleagues are probably currently interviewing and your manager certainly has done it too.
You can structure your job search around legitimate out of the office activities, like planned work from home days, lunchtime, or doctor’s appointments. For onsites and longer interviews, be prepared to take a vacation/personal day to give yourself the breathing room to perform well in your job interviews.
Don’t feel overly pressured by recruiters to be available if you truly cannot be available to meet. This is a relationship and it starts at the beginning — they should respect that you have prior obligations you need to work around.
Recruiters are familiar with the difficulty of interviewing and will try to accommodate, for example by arranging for evening interviews or video calls.
When to give notice, to whom and in what order is critical to not burning bridges and growing your professional network.
You should absolutely plan to give a minimum of 2 weeks notice, unless you have a really good reason to quit immediately. Exception: if you’re the head of a department, a senior leader or in a mission critical role, you should give a 3-4 weeks notice or more if possible.
Some considerations as you think about your departure date:
Note: You can be asked to leave immediately and the company is under no obligation to pay you until the day you indicated was your last day. Most companies will respect your departure day, but in especially sour breakups, be extra careful about upcoming deadlines.
Always tell your manager first. Be careful about seeking advice and counsel from colleagues, even close ones — your manager can't hear about your resignation through the grapevine.
Always have this conversation in person — never just send an email or quit over text. When you're ready to announce your resignation, ask for a meeting with your manager.
In the meeting, don't dance around or take a windy path to get to the point: start by announcing plainly that you're resigning.
At this point your manager will try to dig into the issues and, especially if you were very valuable, may make extensive promises to address your issues. Avoid criticizing the issues of the workplace and redirect the conversation to the logistics of the transition.
Managers can be insistent: be kind, but firm. If you genuinely want to share your concerns to help the company improve, suggest a separate meeting, but reiterate that your decision is final.
Don’t let them guilt you or negotiate you into staying longer than you really want to.
If your manager forces you to "think it over" and speak with them in a couple of days: again, be kind but firm in repeating that your decision is final and that you want to focus on a successful transition.
You do not have to tell anyone what company you’re joining if you don’t want to — saying “you're not ready to talk about it” is sufficient.
You can certainly offer to pick up the phone and help if there's any questions, but as soon as you introduce money in the equation, things get complicated quickly. Your new employer likely has a policy against outside employment and especially if they're a competitor, it could really get you in trouble.
Sometimes, a forced consulting period ("garden leave") is even part of the employment contract for senior employees, precisely because it prevents you from working for competitors.
Our suggestion: the money involved in a consulting agreement is not worth the headache. Instead, be generous about offering to train your replacement, documenting your work and offering to answer any questions if they come up.
Your manager may come back with an aggressive counteroffer — title bump, big compensation increase, new perks — but taking a counteroffer is rarely something that works out long term. It's an offer born out of fear and desperation and the extra cash/title is unlikely to really address your fundamental issues.
There are exceptions, of course. Ask yourself: if they valued your work so much, why didn't they help grow your responsibilities or act on your concerns before there was a threat?
Getting external offers can be an effective way to get a raise or promotion, but if that's your goal, you should follow a different playbook — reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org for help.
Once you've had the conversation, and make sure to follow up with a written confirmation and resignation letter.
Confirming what we spoke about earlier: I'll be leaving the company and July 26 will be my last day.
I've learnt so much in my last 4 years here and deeply appreciate the opportunity — thank you.
Over the next two weeks, I’ll be working to handoff my ongoing projects. Let me know if there’s anything else I can do to help create a smooth transition.
Next, tell your direct reports and immediate peers/cross-functional partners. Don't gossip or overly focus on the issues you have with the company, even in conversations with close co-workers. Focus on what's great about the new destination and how excited you are.
Once you've spoken to your close co-workers, send an email to the broader team announcing your resignation, offering to stay in touch and sharing your personal contact information:
I've decided to leave the company — my last day is July 26.
It all started for me 4 years ago and it's been heartwarming to see the team grow — I’ve truly valued working with you and would love to stay in touch.
Here’s my personal email address and my LinkedIn profile: [link]. Please say bye this week and I’m hoping we can grab a coffee or lunch in the next couple of months.
Thank you! I’m proud to have worked with you.
Do not send an all company goodbye, only email the group of people on your immediate team/the people that you work with everyday.
The best way to support your co-workers is to put together a written document of all the important things you've been holding in your head. For each project or area of responsibility, list the tasks that need to be done and who will be responsible for them going forward.
Don’t expect that your manager to know everything that you do — take the lead on figuring out who will pick up your responsibilities. Actively work to train or brief each of the people on your list.
On your final day, you'll typically meet with HR where the following will occur:
In addition, you might also receive your final paycheck. Look at the deductions carefully: you may pay extra in health benefits if you’re leaving early in the month, but watch out for any other suspicious deductions. States like California carefully regulate what can be deducted from your final paycheck, e.g. negative vacation or sick balances.
Additionally, ensure all of your expenses are submitted before you offboard.
If you're receiving stock options, you'll generally have 90 days to decide whether you want to buy (exercise) the options.
This is a major decision with lots of complicated tax implications. Even if you don't have the cash on hand to exercise, companies like ESO Fund can help loan you money.
In addition, companies may sometimes have a clause that the company can buy back your shares at a fixed price if you choose to exercise.
There's often tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars at stake — you owe it to yourself to speak to an experienced CPA.
There are several things you should know about your benefits as you depart:
Find out how much you’re worth and how to ask for more — the right way.