How do I quit my job?
June 13, 2016 9:53 AM   Subscribe

Seriously, what do I say?

I've posted about my job before. It may be easier to just look at my other questions than explain it all again.
After promises of training when I tried to quit, over 2 months later nothing has happened. The vibe at my company is totally different now and I just can't see the training happening and I can't see this environment being a positive place to me. My underlying mental health issues are coming to the foreground again and I think this whole thing is making me unstable. Coupled with the grieving process after my mother died, I just need to make a change in my life.
I don't have a job lined up but I will be looking. Finances aren't a concern.
In an industry that is all about networking what exactly should I say when giving my notice? I absolutely love my boss, the president of the company, and I'm so grateful to her for being a mentor, and very much being there for me while my mother was dying and afterwards. I don't want to burn a bridge and I want to keep a positive relationship with her.
Do I tell her I need a change? Do I tell her I'm not happy here? I know she will absolutely want to talk about my reasons and my plans and I want to know how to put it to her in a way that doesn't sour anything. I can't just refuse to tell her anything.
I have never given notice at a job and quit before. I don't know how to do it and I'm so nervous and need guidance from those who have been in my position.

Thank you again metafilter.
posted by shesbenevolent to Work & Money (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Give them only the information they need to know, which is that you are giving your written notice and will be ending your employment with them on X date. You can add something like "I have enjoyed my time here and thank you for the opportunity...." but it's not necessary.

In my opinion, additional complaints or comments about the job or management really serve no function when you're headed through the exit door and if you are seeking a recommendation. Others may disagree with me but it seems to me the cleanest way to leave without burned bridges. If you must tell your boss something, just say you're looking for a change.
posted by futureisunwritten at 10:02 AM on June 13, 2016 [6 favorites]

I think it'd be ideal to tell her a positive story, about something you're moving towards. Something that makes sense in terms of your hoped-for career trajectory, so she will see you as moving along that path (and maybe support you with that, when it comes to references down the line). The best way to do that convincingly is to line something up, even if it's not a job. A training course, an intensive volunteer commitment (maybe your own project?). A lateral move to the same job at another company would be good, too, you could cite work/life balance, or wanting to gain exposure to X part of the industry. If you could find a way to make steps towards that, it would help you, too. Could you work on that now, and try to compartmentalize to get through the workday for a little while longer? Maybe give yourself a month or two to set something up? (Also worth doing because even if you don't need the money, it's just harder to get a job when you don't have one, and I know you're doing a career switch... momentum is important in this case, I think.)
posted by cotton dress sock at 10:13 AM on June 13, 2016 [4 favorites]

Notice letter/email:

Dear [boss],

I have decided that it's time to move on from [company]. My last day will be [date].

Thank you for.... [all the good things].


In person, just say you think a change will be good for you. If they as for details, say you'd rather not talk about it right now, and you just want to thank them for everything, and you hope to be in touch.

Then talk/ask about what needs to be done before you leave to make your job easier to transfer to someone else.
posted by zennie at 10:13 AM on June 13, 2016 [8 favorites]

The only thing you really owe them is your resignation letter. I was really nervous to quit my last job and spent two weeks agonizing over how I was going to break the news. In the end, the way it played out is that I set up a meeting with my boss and during this meeting I thanked him for the opportunity of having worked there and told him that I was there to hand in my written notice. I was expecting to have to explain myself, but no explanation was required.

If you google "resignation letter", you'll find some good examples on how to word your letter.
posted by ohmy at 10:14 AM on June 13, 2016 [1 favorite]

"I've decided to pursue a different path. Thank you for your time. My last day will be XYZ."

Yes, your boss will want to talk afterward, and leading up to it is the hardest, but you just have to do it. When they ask why, you don't have to tell the whole truth, but maybe a nice version of the truth. When they ask what you're going to do next, if you don't know, then you can just say that you're not really sure. After I quit, my boss offered to give me a reference if I needed it. I'm still in touch with a prior boss, who sounds similar to your boss. They're just human, after all. Treat them with the respect you want given to you.

She will hopefully admire you for doing what's best for you.

Good luck!
posted by hydra77 at 10:18 AM on June 13, 2016

Promise not to thread sit. I'm actually 85% sure I'll be helping out at the production company my boyfriend works at. Not a job per se, unpaid, but I was considering saying they've offered me a position that would allow me to gain experience in a smaller company and will allow me to work with him.
posted by shesbenevolent at 10:19 AM on June 13, 2016

In writing, you say [X will be my last day, thank you so much for the opportunity to be a part of this team]. That's it.

Maybe they want to sit down and talk to you in detail. That conversation might simply be about a transition plan because they don't want to know why you're leaving. If they don't want to know, don't tell them. Be nice, be flexible if it'll make your hand-offs easier for them.

Every once in a while, management really does want to engage with you about why you're leaving in case there is something they could or should do either to keep you or to deal with a problem that's going to drive more people away. If they want to have that conversation with you, you can carefully and diplomatically maybe talk about a couple of primary things haven't been a good fit for you or what you identify as a potential problem for your successor or team - be cautious, make sure what you say sounds self-aware that the things you are unhappy with are probably subjective to some extent.

Also be aware that you probably don't know the whole story. I have been taken aside as I left a place and asked with concern about why I was leaving, spoke thoughtfully about it for several minutes, and had my manager hesitate and say, " didn't have any issues with any specific employee?" because it turned out someone in management was sexually harassing several of my coworkers and there were legal shitstorms brewing, but I didn't know anything about that and they didn't otherwise give a shit I was leaving as long as I wasn't also about to sue. So, don't waste your own time talking when they're not listening, watch them carefully and decide what to tell them as you proceed.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:27 AM on June 13, 2016

I would write two letters. One, would be a short and to the point resignation letter to the company. The other would be a longer email thanking your mentor and all she has done for you. Thank her for being there when your mother died. Thank her for her work advice. Thank her for her understanding that this is the right time to move on.
posted by AugustWest at 10:29 AM on June 13, 2016 [14 favorites]

Technically, all you need to say is that you are resigning, effective x date. To avoid burning bridges, and especially because you obviously have warm feelings toward your boss, I would advocate going beyond the bare minimum to express appreciation for the mentoring and support you received, that you've benefited greatly from your experience there, and your hope to stay in touch as you move forward in your career. That way you can couch your resignation in positive feelings and you've set the tone for a follow-up conversation should your boss initiate one.
posted by DrGail at 10:48 AM on June 13, 2016 [3 favorites]

I quit a job with a boss I liked without something lined up. Here's how I did it:

I requested a private one-on-one with my boss. This was not something I did often (maybe one or two other times during the three years I worked there), so she knew something was up.

When we sat down to the meeting, I said something like, "So, I don't know if you've guessed why I asked for this meeting..." and bless her, she said, "Oh no, you're quitting, aren't you?" And I smiled ruefully and nodded or something. I talked about what I was planning next (I was taking a couple of months off to travel and visit family, then doing a retraining program for an entirely different career), and she said she was disappointed that I wasn't staying in our field but she was happy for me.

I was FREAKING PETRIFIED of that conversation. And it went really, really well.

(Oh and I also had a bare bones resignation letter, "I, mskyle, resign from my position as BLAH effective DATE.")
posted by mskyle at 10:59 AM on June 13, 2016 [2 favorites]

Don't resign by letter. If they want one, just keep it to the effective date of your resignation.

In person, start off by saying you're leaving to explore new opportunities and are grateful for your time here. If asked, say where you're going next and where you'd like your career to go, and mention that you think your boss is awesome and hope to keep in touch. If pressed you could say you think it's time for a change, but no, definitely do not tell her you're not happy working here.
posted by J. Wilson at 11:58 AM on June 13, 2016 [1 favorite]

Don't just send a letter! It's too cold. I only used that for horrible jobs where I didn't care what they thought. If they need a formal one, type it up and send to HR after.

Set up a meeting with your boss, because you "want to discuss something with her about your position" or something similar. Tell her:

a. You've really enjoyed and learned from this job
b. But you want to pursue some other career opportunities.

That's it. She may ask for details if you're friends, so I'd have something nice to say about building new skills, learning a new industry, maybe even pursuing personal projects if that's something you're doing.

The trick is not to keep talking; say just enough and then stop. Let her say how much they'll miss you, etc. She might ask if there were any problems, and it's up to you whether you say yes. I would say no, you are just ready for a different challenge.

Remember: your boss has undoubtedly had to do this before herself. And seconds after it sinks in, her brain will be spinning on what to do to replace you. Because that's her job.
posted by emjaybee at 3:13 PM on June 13, 2016

Thanks so much everyone.
I told her. She was incredibly nice. I told her I'm not sure what I'm doing and after everything that happened with my mother I need time off. She was great but did say "someone should be in your role who will do everything it takes to do that job and move up". Ignoring that I was basically promised a promotion that didn't happen. After the meeting she told my other boss and she didn't look at me or say goodbye when she left for the day so that really is an immediate indicator I have made the right decision.
But as far as she's concerned we're separating on good terms and that's all I wanted.

You guys rule!
posted by shesbenevolent at 3:21 PM on June 13, 2016 [4 favorites]

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