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How to Quit Your Job Without Burning Bridges

There’s something exhilarating about securing a new job. But, once you’ve accepted a new position, you have to do something that can be uncomfortable and even anxiety-inducing — you have to quit your existing job.

It’s important to know that there’s a right and a wrong way to quit a job. Quit the right way, and you’ll find that your old position and the people you worked with become a helpful part of your network. Quit the wrong way, and you’ll find that there’s absolutely no benefit or upside. In short, you’ll burn your proverbial bridges.

Are you wondering how to quit a job without burning bridges?

Here’s a look at the 7 steps to take.

  1. Be Sure

When you’re quitting a job, there’s no room for hemming and hawing. So be sure you really want to quit before you sit down in front of your boss to deliver the news.

In fact, it’s a good idea to visualize the conversation and think through the exact words you’re going to say. Does it sound right? Does it feel like you’re making the best choice when you practice those words? If not, you might want to reevaluate your decision.

Oh, and it will be a conversation — an in-person conversation at that. Never tell your boss you’re quitting via email.

  1. Anticipate Responses

Something really cool sometimes happens when you quit a job: Your existing company tries to get you to stay. They may offer you a raise, a promotion or both.

So anticipate possible responses to the news that you’re quitting, and know what you’ll say. For example, what will you do if they offer you more money? If money is a factor, think about the amount it would take for you to stay. And then craft a diplomatic way to share that amount.

For example, the conversation might go like this:

Your Boss: “We don’t want to see you go. If money is a factor, we can work with you on that.”

You: “I really appreciate that. Money is a significant factor in this move. I’d like to stay, but I would really need somewhere in the range of X% more to make it work for me and my family.”

If they say no, it’s not a problem. After all, you have a new job to go to.

  1. Write a Letter

This one’s easy: Draft a resignation letter before you go to deliver the news. If you don’t draft one, they’ll ask you to write one for their records — so you might as well get a jump on things.

What should you include in your resignation letter? First, keep it brief. Simply state that you’ve accepted a new position at a different company and that you’ll be resigning your current position. Then, add the specific date on which your resignation will go into effect (more on this in the next section).

If you’ve been at the company a long time, and/or if you’ve particularly enjoyed your time at the company, feel free to include a 1- or 2-sentence note of personal regard, something like: “I’ve really enjoy my time working here, and I appreciate the opportunities I’ve been afforded.”

  1. Give Notice

You need to at least give two weeks notice. If you’re particularly high up in a company, consider giving a little bit longer. If you’re leaving for a competitor, your current company may ask you to leave immediately — and there’s nothing wrong with that.

As a general rule of thumb, be sure to leave your current company in as good of a position as possible. Keep in mind that, when you walk out that door, you’re taking with you some amount of institutional knowledge. Consider creating a transition document for your successor that outlines as much of that institutional knowledge as possible.

  1. Stay Positive

Quitting is not the time to air your grievances or to tell your boss how much you didn’t like working at the company. Instead, remain positive. As you’ll see below, you may need your old employer in the future at some point.

Many companies ask for exit interviews with human resources. These interviews are designed for you to air your grievances — human resources departments even encourage it. If you have an exit interview, keep the emotion out of it. Share the facts about what you liked and what you didn’t, but keep it constructive and professional.

  1. Ask for a Reference

As noted, you may need your former boss and/or your former company in the future. So ask if you can use them as references. This need not be a long and drawn out request. When you quit, simply say something like: “I’ve really enjoyed working with you, and I hope you won’t mind if I use you as a reference in the future.”

If you have any semblance of a relationship with your boss, he or she will say “of course!”

  1. Stay in Touch

This is the part that so many people overlook after they quit a job: Stay in touch with your former boss. Keep him or her warm in case you need something in the future. Consider setting up a calendar alert to follow up a couple of times a year with a quick email.

You can email when your old company turns up in the news.

You can email when you hear that one of your old colleagues has retired.

You can email when you have some sort of news to share.

Always keep it short, simple and easy to reply to.

This maintains the relationship. In the future, if you need a letter of recommendation or if you’re looking for another new job, you will be able to lean on that maintained relationship for support.

Looking for Jobs in Keene, NH?

Considering jumping ship? To quit a job the right way, you first need a new job to go to. At, we offer a nice list of current opportunities in Keene, NH. We’re here when you’re ready to explore your next career step.

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