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Quitting a Job

Last updated 25th Nov 2022
There is a right way and a wrong way to do just about everything; including quitting a job. In fact, leaving a job behind can often invoke a lot of emotion, which can sometimes lead to costly mistakes in the end. In this article, were going to discuss the right way to go about quitting a job. We're going to first provide some statistics around the numbers of workers that quit or leave their jobs voluntarily. We'll also talk briefly about the potential loss of benefits that can occur when someone quits their job. Finally, we'll explain the importance of exiting a job in such a way that long-term career plans remain intact.

Reasons for Quitting a Job

There are many reasons to quit a job. Some people get passed up for a promotion, or might believe they've been treated unfairly by their employer or manager. Being offered a better job elsewhere requires employees to resign from their job; typically providing two weeks' notice.

Unemployment Statistics

The United States Bureau of Labor statistics keeps track of how many unemployed persons quit or leave their jobs voluntarily. The statistics are remarkably consistent from the years 1997 through 2007. In particular:
  • Approximately 800,000 adults age 16 and older are unemployed because they quit their job.
  • Job leavers represent approximately 12% of the total unemployed.
  • Job quitters account for approximately 0.6% of the total civilian labor force.

Downside of Quitting a Job

The most significant downside of quitting a job can be the loss of state and federal benefits. For example, individuals living near the poverty level might not be eligible for food assistance if they quit their current job. It's also possible to lose unemployment benefits, although this loss will depend on the circumstances, for example:
quitting a job
Suppose someone quits a job because their spouse was transferred to another location. This worker had a very good personal reason to quit their job. However, since there is no fault by the employer, the worker might be disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits. On the other hand, if a worker notifies their employer that certain conditions at a worksite pose a safety hazard, and the employer does not, or cannot, correct the problem, then the worker might still qualify for benefits even if they quit their job.

Best Way to Resign

As mentioned earlier, there is a right way and a wrong way to leave a job. It's not a good idea to leave a job and create bad feelings among ex-coworkers. No matter how someone feels about their former manager, they should resist the temptation to tell everyone how they really felt when they were passed up for a promotion. That being said, there are several important steps to follow when quitting a job gracefully:
  • Leave on a High Note: keep things positive about the former and future employer. Now is the time to build bridges, not tear them down.
  • Express Enthusiasm: be enthusiastic about the new employer, and career opportunities the new company provides.
  • Paychecks: avoid the temptation to boast about a larger paycheck. What someone earns is their personal business, and flaunting a big raise in salary will only serve to diminish a coworker's opinion.

Planning an Exit

Before announcing an exit from a company, carefully prepare both written documents as well as rehearse what is going to be said when announcing the resignation, for example:
  • Draft an Explanation: it's always a good idea to write down a draft of the explanation for leaving a job. That explanation should focus on the positives, not the negatives.
  • Provide Adequate Notice: the sign of a true professional is to provide former employers with adequate notice. Unless placed on a special project, two weeks is the standard for notice.
  • Tie up Loose Ends: before leaving, it's important to tie up loose ends. Clean up both the desk and work areas before leaving. If it's not possible to finish all outstanding assignments, then create a status report indicating exactly what still needs to be completed.
  • Praise the Employer: when discussing reasons for leaving, praise both the existing and future employer.
  • Express Gratitude: thank former managers and coworkers for all their help. When possible, let people know how much their help has been appreciated through the years.
  • Make Peace with Adversaries: oftentimes, it's not possible to agree with a certain coworker's point of view. Before leaving, be sure to recognize those differences but also express respect for their opinions.
  • Rehearse Remarks: before giving notice, rehearse all remarks. Just like the draft of the explanation, practice the answers to the more difficult questions.
  • Keep it Personal: whenever possible, say goodbye in-person. While it may not be possible to shake hands with everyone, pay a personal visit to anyone that might be contacted after leaving.
  • Write a Resignation Letter: write a formal resignation letter. Keep that letter concise; include the facts and a brief thank you. An illustration of a letter is given immediately below:

Example Resignation Letter

<Date Here> I hereby give you two weeks' notice of my intention to leave my position of Manager of Operations at the XYZ Company. I wish both you personally, and the XYZ Company, much success in the future. I would also like to thank you for providing me with the opportunity to be part of the Operating team for the past four years. Sincerely, Your Signature

Questions and Counteroffers

If someone's asked why they are leaving the company, it's best to stay focused on the opportunities at the new employer. Don't dwell on the past, or leave a coworker with the impression the current employer doesn't offer those same opportunities. Don't leave anyone with the impression of anger about something that occurred in the past. Remain focused on the future prospects that have been offered.


Occasionally, an employer will attempt to retain an employee via a counteroffer. Many times, this dialog can evoke the urge to tell that employer how unhappy the situation really was at work. Again, resist the temptation to "burn a bridge," and instead reiterate the great opportunity that's already been offered.

About the Author - Quitting a Job

Moneyzine Editor

Moneyzine Editor