Sometimes it’s just time to part ways from a job that is no longer working out. It’s time for you to take your job to a nice dinner, and break the news gently: “It’s not you, it’s me.” (Okay, let’s be honest: it’s always “you.”) If you’ve just plain reached the end of your patience and/or have a shiny new job waiting for you, there are ways to exit gracefully so that you can move on to the next opportunity with no regrets.
Determine whether you really want to quit
If you’re angry over a particular ongoing situation, or you find that your dread and anxiety about work are dragging down the rest of your daily life, think long and hard about what quitting would mean. If you don’t yet have another job lined up, are you financially able to support yourself while you hunt for another one? It can be very tempting to bolt when things aren’t going well at work, but make sure you’ve put a lot of thought into whether this is truly quit-worthy, and that your overall well-being is served by leaving the position.
Figure out whether you can fix the problem first
Again, impulse quitting can be a very appealing option. Ask yourself questions like, “Is this situation likely to resolve soon if I don’t quit?” and “Are there any steps I can take to fix the situation without drastic measures?” If possible, talk things over with your supervisor. Let him or her know that you’re not happy with the way things are going, and you’d like to find a way to resolve that. There may be options available that you’re not aware of in the moment, when everything seems awful.
If quitting is indeed the way to go (or you’ve got a better opportunity lined up), make sure you give an appropriate amount of notice. In most cases, that’s about two weeks. Your company may have a different policy, though, so double check with your HR department if possible. If you’re breaking the news to your boss in person, make sure you follow up the conversation with a professional email that outlines your resignation and your end date.
Be ready to train your replacement
Your departure could leave a bit of a vacuum for your colleagues, especially if you have crucial tasks and responsibilities that affect others. Work with your soon-to-be-former boss to determine what the needs are for the post-you workplace. That could mean showing other coworkers the ropes on particular processes, or even training your replacement if your company is able to line one up before you leave.
Don’t burn bridges
The most important part of all: be gracious on your way out the door, regardless of the circumstances. This is especially true if you’re staying in the same field. You never know who’s connected on LinkedIn, or who were interns together ages ago and still meet for monthly drinks. A little graciousness lets you leave your current situation (no matter how lousy) and enter your new one without baggage—because who needs that kind of negativity? Sometimes jobs just don’t work out, and it’s not worth risking damage to your professional reputation to go all scorched-earth on your current workplace.