What Is the Proper Etiquette for Quitting a Job?

What Is the Proper Etiquette for Quitting a Job?
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Resignation Letter

The first step when quitting a job is to write a resignation letter. Keep the resignation letter short. Indicate clearly that you are resigning from the position, and the date you wish to be relieved from your duties. Employers expect to know the reason for leaving, but it is not mandatory to include the same in the resignation letter. Terms such as “leaving for better opportunities” suffice in the resignation letter, although proper etiquette demands the employee confides with the manager or supervisor on the actual reason for leaving and the name of the new employer, if any.

Make sure to hand over the resignation letter to the proper authority. If submission of the resignation letter is to the Human Resources Department, make sure to inform the immediate supervisor and head of the department of the decision. It creates bad blood when such people come to know about the resignation of their subordinates from the HR instead from the employees themselves.

Clear out personal items from your desk and computer, and be ready to leave in a moment’s notice after handing over the resignation letter, though most companies require resigning employees to serve out the notice period, it is possible that some employers may ask the employee to leave immediately.

Proper Notice

True professionals always demonstrate basic etiquette. Quitting a job requires serving the stipulated notice period. Most companies stipulate anywhere between two to four weeks of notice to allow them find and train a suitable replacement.

In cases where the new company might require the person to join immediately, making it not possible to serve the notice period in full, it is best to discuss the matter with the HR of both companies and come to an amicable settlement. While you should never leave the company in the lurch, if you do leave prior to the notice, you most likely won’t be paid for any time not worked as promised, unless you have a severance pay agreement in place. If you do have such an agreement in place, you may have to honor it and your new employer should accept the determined starting date.

Another dimension of proper notice is to not slack during the notice period, and still put in 100 percent to the job at hand. Make sure to complete all entrusted jobs and assignments so the new person can start fresh.

Effect a Smooth Transition

A major reason why companies insist on a notice period is to ensure that the leaving employee hands over duties and responsibilities, and prepares the incumbent to effect a smooth transition.

The best way to resign from a job is to cooperate fully with the transition by helping the company identify a suitable replacement, and help the replacement settle into the job. In the eventuality of the employee not able to serve the notice period, a good practice is to work some overtime to train the incumbent as much as possible, and to be available over phone or chat for the incumbent for a limited time.

Do Not Burn Bridges

The most important consideration when quitting a job is to leave on good terms. The reason for quitting may be disagreement, resentment and even hostility with colleagues, supervisors or boss, but the time of quitting is not the opportune time to get even or settle scores.

A good reference from a previous employer is essential for the vitality of future job prospects. Without such a good reference, the new job itself may become untenable.

Even if the new employer does not require a good reference from a previous employer, the world is small, and chances of having to work with or interact with an ex-boss, ex-supervisor or ex-colleague, either in a personal or in professional capacity always remains high.

Exit Interview

Many companies conduct exit interviews for departing employees. Such interviews allow the company to obtain valuable feedback and solve underlying issues. The departing employee needs to cooperate with the exit interview, making sure to present a realistic but objective picture without getting personal or exaggerating.

Some companies may offer counteroffers to entice the person to stay. Whether to take up such counteroffers or not depends on the circumstances of quitting. If rejecting the counteroffer, do so politely.

The hallmark of a true professional is displaying the proper etiquette. Quitting a job is one major occasion that demands following proper etiquette, and in the long run, offering up appropriate steps goes a long way. Conversely, not displaying proper etiquette when quitting a job can come back to haunt the person later.


Hansen, Randall, S. “Resigning with Class: How to Diplomatically Resign From Your Job.” Retrieved from https://www.quintcareers.com/resigning_job.html on April 08, 2011.

Image Credit: flickr.com/Adam Moss