How to Quit Your Job: Best Practices for Communicating Your Decision to Leave  

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Whether you are quitting your job to attend an MBA program or accept another job opportunity, being thoughtful about the best time and way to resign is critical for maintaining a positive reputation in the marketplace.  

Here are a few questions to consider before communicating your resignation:   

  1. What is your goal for the conversation?
  2. Who is the right person to inform of your decision? What type of relationship do you have with that person, and what will be their likely reaction?  
  3. What is the right time and place to communicate your decision?
  4. What are your primary concerns about communicating your resignation?
  5. What are the company norms in terms of resignations? 
  6. Is there anything that could convince you to stay?  

When engaging in the actual in-person conversation (or via phone/video conference call if your boss is not at your location), we recommend taking the following approach:

  • Be direct, but focus on the positives of your experience at the firm. Try to be specific about how you grew and what you learned during your tenure at the company. Show gratitude by thanking your boss for the opportunity and their support. 
  • Explain why you are leaving, and indicate it was a tough decision. Share what you value in the new opportunity, which is ideally something that your current company cannot match.
  • Preserve goodwill. Focus on your boss’s desire to have a smooth transition by asking about their key concerns and offering solutions including helping to find a replacement, training the replacement, staying through an upcoming crunch period, being available for questions after you have left, and crafting a transition plan. If you are leaving to attend business school, offer to serve as a brand ambassador for your former employer. 
  • Agree upon an end date. Consider when you want/need to leave as well as what makes sense for your projects. Be prepared that following this conversation, your employer might ask you to pack up your things and leave immediately and might cut off your electronic access to company documents.
  • Find out about specific company policies or notifications that are required to terminate your employment, and understand the details of your employee benefits. 
  • Express a desire to stay in touch with your boss and other colleagues. It is a small world, and you never know who could be helpful to you in the future. If you have not done so already, connect with your boss and colleagues on LinkedIn.

Finally, accept that your boss is likely to be disappointed and you are unlikely to change that, so focus on what you do control. Be kind, appreciative, and thoughtful while making your departure as smooth as possible.

Have you been admitted to business school? If so, do you want to get a head start on defining your career goals? Do you need help preparing for job interviews or learning how to effectively network with your target employers? Or maybe you want to be a top performer in your current role but are unsure how to maximize your potential. Let an mbaMission Career Coach help via a free 30-minute consultation

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