How to quit my job
December 30, 2008 4:22 PM   Subscribe

I'm planning on quitting my software engineering job in the near future, and I'd like some practical advice on how to go about it.

As a practical matter, what protocol do most people follow when quitting their job? The only thing I can think of doing is going to my boss's office and saying "My last day will be X" (my boss is not a friendly person--in an introverted, arrogant, misanthropic way--so I don't think he'd expect, nor be comfortable with, much more than that). I hear about "resignation letters"--is it common these days to actually write a letter, or would a brief email suffice? Who would I address it to (my boss, I presume)?

Actual anecdotes would be especially helpful. Thanks!
posted by mpls2 to Work & Money (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Every job I've ever quit, I did it with a chat with my boss and a perfunctory letter. I've had no super misanthropic bosses away from whom I was not promoted, so no great insight for you there.
posted by Medieval Maven at 4:41 PM on December 30, 2008

Previously. Richard Nixon resigned with just one sentence; so can you.

I've always written a short letter, addressed to my manager, with my expected last day of work. Your manager should take it from there.
posted by xil at 4:47 PM on December 30, 2008

... oh, and take it in to your manager's office, close the door, and give them the news. Usually it takes about two seconds for him or her to realize what's going on.
posted by xil at 4:49 PM on December 30, 2008

HR types like written letters of resignation. I don't know why, since there's no legal requirement for them on either side.

As always, leaving a job is as simple as telling your manager that you'll be leaving in two weeks and presenting a letter of resignation for the records. Be aware that they may do anything from providing you with an incentive to stay all the way to firing you immediately and escorting you off the premises. Most likely, you'll get a, "I'm sorry you're leaving," and a discussion on how to handle the transition the easiest.
posted by saeculorum at 4:49 PM on December 30, 2008

In my opinion, just like interviewing for a job, there is no harm erring on the side of being more formal and polite. At least a formal (hard-copy) letter, I would think. There is no need to burn unnecessary bridges.
posted by applesurf at 4:50 PM on December 30, 2008

Best answer: Go into your managers office, close the door, tell him/her that you're quitting, and that this is two week's notice. Give him a document, in writing, and signed, that says you are resigning your position, effective on $date. Immediately after the meeting, give a copy of the same letter to HR.

Follow your manager's instructions regarding when/how to tell your coworkers.
posted by toxic at 5:01 PM on December 30, 2008

I've always written a letter; and in one case, I wrote a very pointed letter about exactly why I was leaving. HR has always wanted letters to put in personnel files (I don't know why, so they can forward them to the FBI, maybe? I mean, you're not working there anymore, why keep a file?), so I've obliged.

I'm with applesurf - it's always best to err on the side of being too formal or too polite. toxic's instructions sound dead on.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 5:19 PM on December 30, 2008

Don't know where you are located; in Ontario, you don't have to give *any* notice as an employee, but two weeks is considered 'professional'. Depending on how your boss may react to your impending departure, that's something to keep in mind.
posted by lowlife at 5:53 PM on December 30, 2008

The above advice (letter, short meeting with boss, err on the side of professional and polite) is great - I'd just add that you might want to say, as part of that short meeting, "I'd like to make the transition as smooth as possible, so please let me know how I can help the team prepare" (or "so here are some things I could do to help the team", if you have some ideas along those lines).

Good luck!
posted by kristi at 6:55 PM on December 30, 2008

HR has always wanted letters to put in personnel files (I don't know why, so they can forward them to the FBI, maybe?

At many companies, you're not eligible for rehire if you quit without notice, so the resignation letter is proof of that. I could also see HR wanting proof that you quit (as opposed to being laid off), so that you couldn't fraudulently claim unemployment.
posted by Violet Hour at 10:20 PM on December 30, 2008

Back when I wanted to resign, I searched for a guide on how to quit and found this site.

I Want to Quit my Job! A Complete Guide to Resigning
posted by bleary at 10:21 PM on December 30, 2008

I forgot the anecdote part of my reply. I worked in a toxic work environment, and I needed advice on how to resign as gracefully as possible, without responding in kind to the psycho boss (like I emotionally wanted to). The website in my previous comment gave me some tips on writing the resignation letter.
posted by bleary at 10:31 PM on December 30, 2008

Make sure you take home whatever personal files - ohotos / documents etc you have on your office computer before actually giving the letter - less they restrict your access to the computer.
posted by bbyboi at 10:35 PM on December 30, 2008

>> ... you're not eligible for rehire if you quit without notice ...

I've fantasized for many years about just not showing up. Most places I've worked, I would expect someone would eventually call me at home, and then I would say, "Oh wow! Did I forget to give notice?"
posted by Bruce H. at 12:01 PM on December 31, 2008 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I typically write a very short (nixon length) letter, hand it to them. I've quit 3 software jobs like that. One time I finished out a project and spent 2 weeks cleaning up what I was doing. Another I was told "ok, thanks, don't bother coming in".

Along with the letter, write up a short list of passwords, locations of source code, important logins (domain names, servers, contacts at hosting companies, whatever), and include it in the letter. Basically, make it really easy for them to "fire" you, and resecure everything they might need to.

Have any keys, door badges, photo id, etc handy and ready to turn in. Remove excess stuff from your desk if you've accumulated any. Just taking a few books home won't be suspicious early, but will make final packing much easier.
posted by cschneid at 1:35 PM on December 31, 2008

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