How to quit without harming your career

CAREER ADVICE   |   2 minutes  |   December 5, 2016

The average worker today stays at a job for 4.6 years, according to research done by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, before searching for more career opportunities.

In a world of startups, the word “failure” has become acceptable and even celebrated. But quitting is still not. Mostly due to the fact that it’s associated with tension, unresolved issues, and awkward exit interviews.

If you’re planning to quit your job but are unsure how to go about it, use this advice to ensure you leave on good terms and don’t do damage to your future career opportunities.

Communicate to your boss in person


Firstly, ensure you tell your boss face-to-face before any of your coworkers. According to career coach, Caroline Ceniza-Levine, resigning in a negative way is the biggest mistake professionals make, and can impact future career opportunities.

However, this doesn’t mean you can’t have an honest and straightforward conversation with your employer about your reasons for leaving.


  • Keep the communication positive, professional and constructive
  • Ensure the reasons you give to your boss and coworkers are consistent


  • Be disrespectful or insulting, no matter how awful your boss was
  • Bring up issues or flaws without proposing helpful solutions
Time this big career decision carefully


You don’t need to give a long notice period in order to quit your job with dignity. However, it is important to read over your company’s policy before you quit, as that will give you an indication of the minimum notice period you’re able to give.

Most companies require at least two-weeks notice, but you want to be prepared in case they require you to leave immediately.

Tip: To ensure all parties are happy, aim to give your employer and team as much time as possible to handover your projects and job role to a new hire. This may require putting the decision in your boss’s hands as to when would be best for you to leave.

Ensure a smooth handover 


Nothing will communicate more positively to your boss about your character than a willingness to ensure the handover process is as easy and efficient as possible.
Here are 3 impressive actions you can take:

  1. Write up a detailed succession plan for the person assuming your job. Include everything you do, how you do it, and how to achieve success in that role. Add in access to key files, login details and any suggestions for how this person can improve processes.
  2. Offer to also draft a job description of your role, suggest possible candidates and be willing to assist with the interview process.
  3. Make yourself available as much as possible to assist the new hire before you leave.
Work harder than ever



When it comes to your career, last impressions matter.

It’s often expected that once someone hands in their resignation they will be “checked out” during their last few weeks or months at work. The best way to leave a good impression on your boss and coworkers is to prove this expectation wrong.

Action: Use this time to work even harder:

  • Ensure that nobody else has to tie up your loose ends when you quit
  • Finish up as many projects and tasks as you can
  • Offer your input in meetings
  • Give it your all until the moment you walk out the door for good

At the end of the day, the way you conduct yourself in your final moments at your company will be the greatest driver of getting good recommendations for future career opportunities.


Like what you’ve been reading and want access to other career-advancing advice?

Check out further content on career change.