How to Tell Your Boss You’re Quitting? 10 Tips to Leave Without Drama

Is your current job too much? Or, contrary, not enough? There are many reasons why you want to leave your job. There are also many ways to do it. Be sure you choose the right one. This guide will teach you how to tell your boss you're quitting the right way.

You may be thinking about dancing your way out of the door or baking a resignation cake. However, going out with a bang rarely pays off.

It doesn't make sense to burn bridges. What about leaving with grace instead? After all, everyone wants this process to be as painless and smooth as possible. 

If you quit the right way, you have a great chance to end up with a strong network that will support you in your future. And that's what you want, after all!

How to tell your boss you’re quitting

Let’s have a quick overview of the steps necessary!

1. Prepare the scene

Do it in an in-person meeting and make sure there are no distractions. 

2. Express gratitude

Focus on the positive and leave with a good final impression. 

3. Remember the reasons why you’re leaving

If fear suddenly makes you less sure about your decision, calmly remind yourself of the concrete reasons for your departure. 

4. Don’t disclose too much

Don't overshare or talk in detail about your future job. 

5. Avoid burning bridges and venting

You want to keep your valuable connections for the future. 

6. Show that you’re willing to help with the transition

Look for a new candidate or offer the company that you'll help with the training of the person whos replacing you. 

7. Determine the date of your last day

Make it clear and transparent so any confusion can be avoided. 

8. Don’t breach any confidentiality and non-compete agreements

Stay away from legal trouble by double-checking your contract and sticking to it - even after you quit. 

9. Be prepared for every scenario

You may leave right away, in a month, or you may even decide to stay - you never and its the best to be ready for any of these scenarios.

10. Get your official paperwork ready

Never forget to hand in an official paper of notice. 

Now that you know what is required, let’s talk about each step in more detail!

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1. Prepare the scene

Once you make the decision to tell your boss you're quitting, the first step you should make is to set up a meeting. 

When you do that, you want to make sure that: 

  • you deliver the news in person
  • you don't talk to your boss at an inconvenient moment
  • you want to talk one-on-one and without distractions
  • as far as the meeting goes, you have a lot of control over the situation — it’s you who should lead the conversation, not your boss

Also, remind yourself that quitting is a natural part of the working world. You’re not the first and not the last person who’s ever quit. And no matter how irreplaceable you think you are — your boss is sure to find a replacement soon.

Keeping these things in mind will help you create some distance between you and your job — which will make the conversation just a little easier.

2. Express gratitude

Even if you’re really angry and unhappy, there’s always something good you can say about your job.

Think about things you’re grateful for. There might not be many, but each of them counts. Always remember to keep things positive and pepper the conversation with expressions of gratitude. 

If nothing specific comes to mind, you can always lean on the general phrases

  • Start out by expressing your gratitude for the opportunity to learn new skills and grow in your current position.
  • Say how grateful you are for the inspiration and support you’ve got from your employer (even if it's not true).
  • Express thanks for the chance to work with your colleagues. Make sure to give credit to specific members of your team you’ve enjoyed working with.

3. Remember the reasons why you’re leaving

Now that you filled your conversation with appreciation, it’s time to change the tone and say that you need to move on.

Once you’ve already made up your mind, stop thinking about all the reasons to stay. Before entering the manager’s office, remind yourself of your motivation for looking for a new job in the first place.

What made you make this move? Was it a higher-level position, more meaningful work, shorter commute, higher salary, or better work-life balance?

Make it clear that your quitting is a result of your dreams and aspirations. Naturally, you want your boss to see you're quitting to chase your goals rather than running away out of frustration.

Regardless of the motivation you had for making a change, you’re going to feel great once the conversation is over. Keeping the positive motivation in your mind will help you stay calm and positive rather than losing control.

How to tell your boss you're quitting

4. Don’t disclose too much

There’s one piece of advice for talking about your future prospects — be honest, but brief.

Your employer isn't entitled to know where or why you’re moving on. There’s no reason to leak details of your new company’s awesome perks or how much more you’ll be making.

Whichever way the conversation goes, it’s particularly important that you don’t feel guilty about moving on — or feel like you need to over-explain. In this way, you won’t feel under pressure to reveal everything about your next move.

You can also speak in general terms and allude to your new job in a general way:

  • “I have several possible options, and I’m taking a few weeks off to recharge before I make the final decision.”
  • “I can’t be public about it just yet, but it’s a managing position at a startup where I’ll be responsible for creating social media campaigns.”

5. Avoid burning bridges and venting

Although you may have complained about a thousand different things while working at your company, now, you need to leave these things behind.

Keep any negative feelings to yourself. Building bridges takes time, but you can burn them in a flick of a moment. Don’t destroy your connections and valuable friendships. It would be the dumbest thing to do when quitting.

Remember and remind yourself that: 

  • Nobody fired you. It was your call to leave for a better opportunity. So even if it’s your boss that is the reason why you’re leaving, don’t make it personal. 
  • Maintain your composure and keep emotions in check. This will help you remember your final day as the day of firm handshakes and perhaps even a few hugs.
  • The more professional your farewell turns out to be, the easier it will be to get a decent reference from your former boss later on.
  • Similar to your first interview, the last conversation with your employer should leave them with a good impression rather than embarrassing memories. You never know when your paths cross again, especially if you intend to stay in the same industry or city. 

Finally, if you really feel that your boss is open to criticism and you’d like to give some feedback, do so face-to-face and in a constructive manner. But if you want to be safe, instead of bringing up any negative reasons, focus on the positive aspects of your new position:

“Working more independently and supervising others is the next logical step in my career advancement.”

6. Show that you’re willing to help with the transition

We can't repeat this enough — it’s best to quit in a way that will ensure a smooth transition and minimize disruption to your employer.

Still, you may unintentionally leave the company in dire straits and your employer’s business can suffer due to a void in expertise and experience.

However, there are things you can do to ease this situation. You can always: 

  • prepare clear documentation of your work
  • complete your ongoing projects;
  • tell your boss that you’ll keep your eyes peeled for potential candidates

It’s likely that the company will need your guidance and expertise to train your successor. Your boss may also ask you whether they can reach out to you in the future with questions. 

If you happen to be leaving on amicable terms, consider making yourself available in the weeks or months to come.

On the other hand, you need to set some boundaries upfront. That way you'll save yourself from being continually bombarded with endless phone calls and emails as you’re trying to move on to the next thing.

7. Determine the date of your last day

The traditional amount of notice in the U.S. is 2 weeks. However, make sure you always double-check this in your contract

Here, the notice period should be always defined and the length of the resignation period depends on several factors, such as: 

  • the type of contract
  • your position
  • the current projects you’re responsible for
  • the country in which you reside

Alternatively, a situation may arise when you may have to leave before your notice period is up. If that happens, try to ask your employer politely if there's any way you could end employment sooner.

All in all, you and your boss should agree on an official termination date that will be your last day of employment. Any accrued compensation or benefits will be calculated as of that date.

How to tell your boss you're quitting

8. Don’t breach any confidentiality and non-compete agreements

We can't repeat this enough — in case of quitting, always look at your contract carefully. It may contain a confidentiality (non-disclosure) agreement with your employer.

The document serves to protect any type of information that the employer deems valuable. 

And the violation of its terms by sharing your employer’s confidential and proprietary information could easily put you in legal trouble.

Last but not least, make sure you’re not under the obligation of a non-compete agreement that could prevent you from breaking free from your current employer and starting your own business.

However, if that’s the case, review the terms and conditions carefully and consult an attorney to determine your next steps.

9. Be prepared for every scenario

After you’ve said your piece, it’s time to wait for your boss to respond. However, there are about a million different ways he can react.

He can ask you to leave immediately, stay a bit longer than you expected, or make you reconsider your decision by offering a considerable pay rise.

The best way to deal with this uncertainty is to prepare for every possibility. Consider the following outcomes:

  1. “Leaving now” scenario. Chances are your employer will ask you to pack up your things right away and cut off electronic access to any documents you worked with. Be also prepared to say farewell to your company-owned equipment and turn in things like a company car, phone, laptop, pager, or tablet immediately after expressing your intentions.
  2. “Staying longer” scenario. Even if you’re already thinking of your next job, it might still be feasible for you to stay a couple of weeks longer than you originally intended. Be smart and consider asking your employer for a positive reference or recommendation letter in return.
  3. “No quitting” scenario. What to do when your boss wants you to stay? If you’re still undecided, ask for some time so that you can sleep on it. Stay rational and weigh all the pros and cons. If it makes sense to stay, do so. But bear in mind that even if you decide to stay on board, your attempt to quit is very likely to affect your relationship with your boss in the future. You also shouldn't forget to decline your new offer in a polite way. 

10. Get your official paperwork ready

Because of legal reasons, it's important that you inform your boss about your resignation not only verbally, but also on paper.

For this reason, have a letter of resignation ready on the same day when you're announcing that you're quitting. This will help to avoid any kind of a future legal mess. 

Make sure you have it in both electronic and printed versions and that you've signed the document. 

Then you can relax knowing you did everything properly and your boss can’t lie about the day of your resignation. 

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Don’t be afraid to tell your boss you’re quitting 

I know talking to your boss can often be quite difficult, especially when it comes to quitting. But believe me — once it’s done, you’ll feel a huge surge of relief and happiness.

It will mean that you once again reclaimed control over your career and decided to carve your own path. And that’s what people call freedom, I suppose!

If you're ready to take the next step, check out our ultimate guide on how to write a killer resume or create your own in our online resume builder right away! 

Good luck on your new journey! 

This article was recently updated. The original article was written by Jakub Kapral in 2018.

  • Kaja Jurcisinova
    Junior Writer
    Kaja Jurcisinova is a junior copywriter at Kickresume. Kaja completed her undergraduate degree in Art History at the University of St Andrews in 2018 and graduated with a Master’s in Arts and Culture from the University of Groningen in 2021. She was an intern at multiple cultural institutions across Europe, including the Dutch Museum Association in Amsterdam, the Matter of Art Biennale in Prague, and the European Cultural Centre in Venice. At the moment, she resides in Visby on the Swedish island of Gotland.

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