How to Quit Your Job Nicely

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You’ve been side hustling for a while now, and you are ready to quit your job. Congrats! An early welcome to the world of the self-employed. But before you go reenact this guy’s overhead announcement and rub it in a manager’s face like the guy in this video, think about the long-term consequences. Instead of quitting in a way everyone will remember for how dramatic it was, be the one everyone wishes well after making it a smooth, easy transition for everyone else involved.

Start creating process documents for everything you do

Before you are ready to leave your job, start documenting everything you do in your job. Start with a daily or monthly to-do list, and build out individual documents for everything you do that no one else knows. I did this for nearly every job I’ve ever left, and created the documents in Word with screenshots and step-by-step notes so anyone can pick up the file and get through the basics without me.

Creating these documents, you are working ahead for something you will likely need to do in the future anyway. It also helps with the transition process of your work to other members of your group. Being proactive in this shows your soon-to-be old boss that you sincerely want to make the shift as easy on your coworkers as possible. It could also earn you a good recommendation or reference should you ever need it down the road.

Create your personal finance and work transition plan

Next, create your own version of what you think the process of leaving your job and moving into your new one, or your new freelance career, will look like. Don’t avoid little details. The more planning and thought you put into your transition today, the easier it will be when it comes time to quit your job and move forward.

Think about both work and personal aspects you want to take care of. Maybe you want one-on-one going away lunches with specific people. Maybe you want to minimize human contact from when you give notice until you leave. Plan for ways to realistically make those goals happen without burdening your current team. Also, remember to build up an emergency fund or make needed changes to your personal finances to get ready for the move!

Find the right time to tell your boss

Now you have a list of everything you do, documentation on how to do it, and a plan for how to move from your old job to your new one, including transitioning processes to coworkers. Now it’s time to get ready to tell your boss, and figure out what you’re going to say. If you don’t have a good relationship, you can keep it brief. If you are an integral part of your team and have a strong relationship with your boss, you may want to make it more elegant and thoughtful.

Find the right time to tell your boss that you want to quit your job. Don’t just drop a bomb on them in a staff meeting. Make it a one-on-one, and check your boss’s calendar if possible to look for a free block of time when they won’t feel pressured or have to run off to a meeting. You can decide if it makes sense to schedule a meeting on the calendar, but with a vague title, versus dropping in and asking if they have time to chat.

The big meeting

No one can tell you how to feel and the right way to deliver the news. Don’t do anything that would get media attention. Keep it calm and civil. Either tell your boss that you are moving on and give them a target notice period (two weeks, a month, whatever makes the most sense). Then just walk in and tell them.

It will probably be a meeting filled with mixed emotions. You may be nervous and excited at the same time. However you feel going in, hopefully you feel relieved on the way out.

Be flexible and make it easy on your team

When I quit my last job to become a full-time freelancer, I gave two weeks notice and my boss’s boss asked if I could stay for six. I said yes, as long as I could travel for part of that time looking for my new home in California. He obliged and accepted that deal. I got paid for an extra month while working part-time and finding a new home, but had to come back for some big monthly tasks and my last week. That seemed fair.

Most important to me was avoiding harming relationships. If this whole freelancing thing doesn’t work out, I want to have at least a few people that I worked with available to say good things about me. At the rate things are going, I won’t have to worry about that. But when I quit my job in 2016, I didn’t know how well my new business would work out. Never jump out of a plane without a parachute, and never quit a job without a backup plan.

Don’t burn any bridges

On the way out the door, take care to avoid burning bridges. You never know when those relationships may come in handy, or when a moment of bravado may come back to haunt you. If you quit your job the right way, you will leave behind a fond group of coworkers and friends who will miss your presence. That is the right way to quit your job.