Do you dread going to your job every day? Are you constantly counting down the days until the weekend or vacation?
If this sounds like you, it might be time to quit your job. But before you do, there are a few things you need to keep in mind.
In this post, we will discuss how to quit a job in a way that won’t damage your future career prospects. We’ll also talk about what to do once you’ve quit your job and how to deal with the negative emotions that often accompany it.
So if you’re ready to break free from a job you hate, keep reading!
Understand Why You’re Feeling Unhappy at Work
Before you walk out the door, try to understand why you’re feeling so unhappy. Is it because of a workplace issue, such as bad management or lack of recognition? Or is it something more personal, like feeling unfulfilled in your current role?
Taking the time to figure out why you want to leave can help you make an informed decision and avoid making the same mistake.
Studies have shown that 79% of people quit their jobs due to a ‘lack of appreciation.’ This information is why it is so crucial for employers to ensure they provide adequate benefits and show appreciation to their employees.
But, even with lack of appreciation cited as a leading factor, not everyone decides to leave.
According to Rahkim Sabree of Overcoming Financial Trauma, “Whether leaving your job to get another or to start your own business, fear plays a role because you don’t know what’s coming on the other side of that change.” Remember that although it may be scary, it may be necessary for personal growth.
If applicable, raising any concerns to the Human Resources department is essential. Bringing the situation up will allow you to try and resolve the issues without leaving your job. If this is not possible, it might be time to start looking for a new job.
Understanding why you are unhappy will help to ease the fears you may experience when job hunting or embarking on your new endeavor. It will make a smooth transition and ensure you leave on a positive note.
How To Quit a Job Professionally
If you do decide to quit, make sure you do it in the most professional way possible. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:
Give Your Employer Adequate Notice
Resist the urge to just clock out one day and never return. You may feel like a cool rebel for a day, but doing this can be detrimental to your career over the long term. Regardless of how miserable you feel, try to give at least two weeks’ notice.
It is essential to check your employment contract and agreements. Some employers specify in your new hire paperwork if any particular notice time is needed to preserve getting paid for unused benefits (such as paid time off). Even though you leave on good terms, you don’t want to miss out on money because you didn’t provide enough notice.
While a notice period is not mandatory, it prevents burning bridges and potentially hindering your chances with a future employer.
Write a Formal Resignation Letter
A resignation letter is a formal, written record of your decision to leave. It should include the date you plan to leave, any reasons for your departure, and a thank you for the opportunity. It is crucial to write this letter professionally so that it doesn’t come across as aggressive or insulting.
While this may seem unnecessary, it could be helpful if you need a reference or are applying for another job. It also shows your previous employer that you respect their time and appreciate the opportunities they have provided.
A word of caution – provide only a little detail in your reasons for departure if it’s negative. Being overly negative could leave a bad taste in the employer’s mouth. Instead, keep your resignation letter broad and polite. A brief explanation will suffice.
It is easy to get caught up in emotion, so try not to draft a formal letter when angry or in a bad mood. Type up a first draft, then come back with new eyes before you sign it and turn it in.
Prepare for The Possibility of Having to Answer Difficult Questions
When you submit your letter of resignation, be prepared for some challenging questions from your employer. They may want to know why you are leaving, if there is anything they can do to keep you, or if any other concerns need addressing. Be honest but also be professional in your responses, as this reflects how you handle difficult conversations.
If the questions become too uncomfortable, it is okay to decline to answer politely. You can provide only what you are comfortable with.
Have an Exit Interview With The HR Department
During your two weeks’ notice, the employer may request an exit interview. An exit interview is an excellent opportunity to provide your employer with feedback on improving the employee experience. It can also be a chance to discuss your unresolved issues during employment.
Before the meeting, take some time to think about what you want to say. Thinking ahead will help you stay on track and ensure your feedback is constructive, not just a litany of complaints.
Remember, quitting a job can be an emotional experience, but try to stay professional. Doing this will ensure that you leave on a positive note and have the best chance of getting a positive reference in the future.
Again, you can decline if you are uncomfortable with providing an exit interview. Declining is a good idea if the person or situation is emotionally charged. Use your best judgment!
How To Quit a Job and Protect Yourself Legally
Before you go, consider the potential legal implications of leaving your job. If, for example, you get fired rather than resigning, ask your employer to provide a separation letter stating the terms of your departure. Doing this protects you and demonstrates that you are taking steps to protect yourself legally. It can also help if you are going for unemployment benefits.
If any legal issues arise, such as a non-compete clause, make sure you understand them thoroughly before leaving. This may prevent you from working in a new position with a direct competitor. It is also a good idea to check any non-disclosure agreements you signed when you were hired. They can and will pursue this if they feel they need to.
Remember to check on any potential benefits you may be entitled to upon leaving the company. These benefits could include health insurance, pension plans, or other work perks.
Make Sure You Have All The Paperwork and Documentation in Order
It is also essential to make sure all paperwork is in order. Paperwork includes timesheets, insurance forms, salary information, performance reviews, and other relevant documents.
If you were issued any company property (such as a laptop or cell phone), return it in good working condition. In some cases, if you leave with company property, they can sue you for the unreturned property. Remember, when the company hired you, they probably had you sign a document saying you would need to return the property if separated from employment. These documents will hold up in court!
How To Quit a Job and Protect Yourself Emotionally
Don’t hide from your emotions at this time. You may feel guilty for leaving or anxious about starting a new job.
“Society tells us to be successful, we need to have a ‘real’ job,” says Rahkim Sabree, “Leaving a job can come with guilt in that you’re going against what you have been socialized to do.”
Stay positive! First, remind yourself that quitting a job is never easy, but it can be the right decision if you are unhappy or need to move on. Also, recognize that it is okay to have mixed emotions about leaving and that this is normal.
Second, take some time to reflect on the positive aspects of your job and how you have grown professionally during your time there. Reflecting positively will help shift your mindset from feeling guilty to proud of your accomplishments.
Third, make a plan for dealing with the transition period. Your plan could include talking to trusted friends and family, researching job opportunities, and doing activities to help you relax.
Fourth, contact your former co-workers and supervisors to keep in touch after you leave. Keeping in touch will help you build relationships for future job opportunities and make it easier to ask for references.
Develop Strategies for What’s Next
Make sure you have an action plan in place before you leave. Action steps could include researching job openings and networking with contacts that can help you find employment or even have a job offer already. Consider taking classes or participating in online training programs to stay up-to-date with industry trends and increase your earning potential.
In addition, you should also make sure that your resume and professional profile on LinkedIn are up-to-date with any recent projects and successes. Updated information will ensure employers can easily find your profile and get an up-to-date picture of your skills and experience. If you have been at your current job for an extended period, you may need to do extensive updating. Recruiters will use your LinkedIn profile and resume to determine your qualifications for the next job.
If you decide entrepreneurship is for you, ensure you have a sustainable business idea. Research the industry and create a plan for success. Seek mentors to help you get started or find investors to help fund your venture.
Regardless of what path you choose, always have a plan B. A backup plan could include having a fallback job lined up, financial savings to help weather any bumps, or simply being prepared to pivot quickly and look for other opportunities.
Create a Budget and Financial Plan For Supporting Yourself While Unemployed
Having a financial plan is the most critical step. Before you quit your job, you must create a budget and financial plan that will enable you to support yourself while unemployed.
I have made the mistake of leaving a job without enough savings and found myself having to take a position that wasn’t ideal because I needed the money. Do not let this happen to you!
Start by calculating your living expenses, including things like rent, utilities, food, and other necessities. You should also include any debt payments that you will have to make. The final number will tell you the bare minimum you must make at the next job or as an entrepreneur.
Subtract your expenses from your current income; the remaining number is how much you have left to start building your savings.
Once you have done this, create an emergency fund that lasts at least 3-6 months. Having savings available will provide a financial cushion if you cannot find a job quickly (or your business is not taking off as you thought).
Finally, it is vital to make sure you have health insurance. You can extend your current coverage for a limited time with a COBRA plan, or you may have to look into purchasing a new one.
Health insurance through the Healthcare.gov marketplace is available if you cannot access a COBRA plan. Marketplace plans are available even if you decide to be an entrepreneur. Losing a job (whether getting fired or quitting) qualifies as a life event, so you can enroll in a new plan during a special enrollment period.
Quitting a job can be a lot, but with the proper preparation and planning, it doesn’t have to be. Creating an action plan before you leave your current employer will give you more options for finding new employment or starting a business.
Make sure that your resume is up-to-date along with any professional profiles, and consider taking classes or training programs to stay competitive in today’s market. Keep in touch with former colleagues, as they can help with your new endeavors.
Additionally, ensure you have enough savings and health insurance coverage so that if things don’t go as planned, you can still support yourself financially until you find another job opportunity or get your business off the ground.
With proper preparation, quitting a job can open many doors of possibilities!
Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / Luis Molinero.