How To Quit Your Corporate Job With Grace
Quitting jobs has always been one of my absolute biggest fears in life, and a decision that gives me so much anxiety I quite literally get sick over it.
It’s actually ironic, considering how many jobs I’ve had in the last 10 years of my life, as I’ve struggled to find my place in the working world post-college, but yet it never gets any easier each time I decide it’s time for me to move on.
In many cases, and by no means am I proud of this, I’ve done anything possible to avoid the act of quitting, including never showing up again, mailing back keys to the employer so I wouldn’t have to see them, sending email resignations, sending text resignations. You name it and in the past 15 years, I’ve probably done it. It’s embarrassing. But I’ve ultimately learned a lot from those choices.
My incredibly unrealistic fear of quitting is something that has been on my mind a lot when diving into my own self-reflections. Maybe my fear comes from the thought of giving up on something; maybe it’s the idea of being considered a failure and not “good enough” to handle the job; maybe it’s a fear of how I’m perceived. But I also think it’s something within myself that makes me feel like I just can’t seem to figure this whole working world thing out. Regardless of what it is, it’s an irrational fear I’ve worked hard to conquer over the last four years as I’ve quit two “big girl” positions.
Since I was 26 years old, I’ve been working in Corporate America –– offices and cubicles, break rooms and meeting rooms, outlook scheduling, and conference calls. This has been my life, and I really have mostly enjoyed it! I worked hard to create a name for myself in both corporate jobs I’ve been in the past four years.
It ultimately means quitting with grace would be even more expected of me –– and rightfully so! Within my most recent position I also reported directly to our company’s CEO, which held me to a higher standard than other positions I’ve had before. While that means leaving may be even scarier, it also means that leaving on good terms is even more important.
So what do you do when you decide an opportunity isn’t right for you anymore? Where do you start? Do you quit in person or over email? How much notice do you give?
These are all really great conversations to have with yourself and questions that will depend most on your own unique position and situation. Speaking from experience, here is what I’ve found to be the best tips to keep in mind when leaving a job of any kind.
Quitting Best Practices
Put yourself first
Step one for me is creating a strong sense of self. For me this means finding any way possible to remain calm and in control. As I’ve mentioned above, the thought of quitting a job sends me into a completely paralyzing state of fear. Sleepless nights, flutters, anxiety jitters, digestive issues, crazy eating schedule, stomach aches and literal sickness as my immune system gets all out of whack.
I create a terrible amount of stress on myself, all of which is ultimately not needed and not going to help me transition through my process.
The self-care practices I’ve found the most helpful in preparing for my transition include: structured exercise, journaling, anxiety reducing supplements like CBD, creating an action plan in my head of what to say and how to say it (and practicing what I would want to say either out loud to myself or to someone else), and trying my best to get adequate sleep.
Pro tip: Remember, worrying about the outcome of the future doesn’t serve you at all and makes you have to live through that experience twice! (Easier said than done, I know, but still!)
Give your notice in person
The number one ultimate fearful part of quitting a job: doing it in person. This has always terrified me in every way possible. The thought of confrontation, in having to tell your boss that you don’t want to do this anymore, completely overwhelms me. I think this stems from my intrapersonal connective nature of relating to others and forming bonds and relationships with people I meet, and having them think I “give up on them” or “quit them” versus the job itself.
Regardless of what fear you may have, you should always quit your job in person, out of respect and to allow you the ability to have a face-to-face conversation about your situation. Who knows, maybe there is something that can be worked out to better your position and allow you to stay, or further networking opportunities available. Either way, this is a bridge best not burned and you will be given the highest regard from your superiors by quitting your job in person.
Don’t get me wrong, email is a way easier method, especially in this technological era we live in. But if I’m being honest, it’s also a cop out. It’s a way to avoid.
Most recently, in quitting my corporate Executive Assistant position, I was 100% fully prepared to send an email. I even had the entire draft written. But I knew deep down inside that it didn’t feel right and so I thought it over for a few days and even talked with some friends who ultimately made me realize that sending an email would be a humongous mistake. Providing your notice in person shows maturity, and respect for yourself and others.
Pro tip: You may also find it helpful to bring a printed copy of your written notice with you when quitting in person. Write your notice in a letter format and print on letterhead or as is. State an overview of why you are leaving, what you have learned from working here and what value you have found in your position or those you have worked with.
Provide two weeks notice
Unless you have a circumstance out of your control, such as an immediate need to relocate or start a job quickly, it is best practice to provide a two weeks notice, out of courtesy to your employer. Consider this standard practice to allow them time to decide what they are doing to do about your position and how they will replace it.
One of the things I’ve struggled with a lot in terms of my notice is how long of one to provide. I always feel a sense of owing something to the company, as if I should provide a longer notice because I feel bad, or I know it will take a while to replace me, or I do so much work and who is going to do it when I’m gone … blah, blah, blah.
The biggest takeaway here is that you do not owe anything to anyone in terms of leaving a position. People leave jobs all the time, and quite honestly you are replaceable. Your position is replaceable. The most important thing is for me to worry about myself and what is best for me. There is no reason to need to provide longer than a two week transition, as that is the standard societal practice.
Disclaimer: The only exclusion to the two week notice would be if you are bound by a contract or other sort stating that you must provide x weeks notice. This is very position dependent and I am speaking from a ‘standard’ point of view only.
Tell your Boss before telling others
Do yourself, and your employer a big favor and don’t go around spreading your news to others before you have had a chance to tell your leader. You wouldn’t want it to get around to them before you have had a chance to talk to them, because who knows…that could result in immediate release.
The best practice here is to tell your leader prior to telling anyone else, and to discuss with them any timeline or specific way that they would like you to share the news with others in the company or within your own department. In most cases you should be able to collaborate together a way that works best for all.
In my experience, I have scheduled a time to tell my team in a meeting and also discussed a date when an email would go out to other leaders in the company to allow me to anticipate the reactions.
Pro tip: The only exclusion to this best practice is if you have a very TRUSTED work bestie –– someone who you can ultimately work through this process with to help guide you and offer you helpful, positive advise through your process. It would be expected that this person also does not go around spreading your news to others and fully supports you throughout all your decisions.
So you’ve decided to leave, for any number of reasons, and that’s great! But that doesn’t mean that you should talk negatively about the company or anyone you know while fulfilling your last two weeks.
Frankly, it’s just not classy and it’s not a good way to shine your true colors on your way out the door. Karma is real, so make sure not to skip over the golden rule here: Treat others how you would want to be treated.
Pro tip: In many cases, you may also have an exit interview or have an opportunity while speaking with your leader to provide feedback on your time with the company or on your position. I like to state things that worked well, and things that could be done differently or improved upon.
Brace yourselves, a farewell email is coming
The biggest key in quitting any job is to trust yourself, go with your gut instinct and remember your own worth. There will always be other jobs and other opportunities in life. There are also many more ways to live a successful life making money, aside from the typical corporate/working routine most generations before us have grown up in and are used to.
It’s okay to be different and it’s okay to want more out of life. If you’ve decided a job isn’t right for you, either for another kind of opportunity or altogether, that’s OK. Just remember that no matter what, it’s not any reason to burn the bridges you’ve created or to purposefully disrespect those you have worked with.
Always quit your job with grace, as you never know when you might need these people or opportunities down the road. Keep your best composure, be confident in your own decisions, and then move on with your life! You’ve got this. I believe in you!