The Right Way to Quit Your Job – for Your Wallet and Career

Published on: Oct 12, 2021fb-roundtwitter-roundemail-round
How to Quit Your Job Gracefully Design: ML Howell, Credit: 20th Century Studios

The Story

There’s a right way to say “see ya” to your boss when you're ready to call it quits.

How'd you know?

You’re not the only one singing "I might quit my job, start a new life" lately. A lot of Americans continue to struggle with unemployment. But many others (who've been lucky enough to stay employed) are ready for new opportunities after more than a year of reflecting on what’s (not) working at work. In August, the number of Americans who quit their jobs hit a new record at 4.3 million. (Reminder: the last record of nearly 4 million was just set in April.) And in one survey, as many as 40% of workers around the world said they've considered quitting. Some people are calling the trend the "Great Resignation."

How do I tell if I’m ready?

Before you talk to your boss, get your money in order. Make sure your savings can cover an income gap, especially if you don’t have a new job lined up yet. (Psst...this is why you need an emergency and/or F-off fund.)

Also, check your benefits. If you have a 401(k) or other retirement account at work, review the vesting schedule to understand whether all that money is truly yours when it's time to go. (It might not be if your employer ever contributed some money to your account.)

If you have health insurance through your employer, make a plan for your coverage once you leave. One option: COBRA. That's the law that says if your company has more than 19 employees, you can stay on its health plan for up to 18 months after leaving the job. The costly catch: you have to pay the full monthly premiums yourself. But it’s not your only choice. We Skimm'd how to get health insurance if you're unemployed here.

Related: When (and How) to Roll Over Your Retirement Accounts

I think I’m good. Quitting time?

Maybe. Check your original employment contract or offer letter for specific rules about leaving, like giving notice or non-compete agreements (hint: they might limit when and where you can work next). Pro tip: two weeks' notice is standard, but your boss may appreciate extra time to find your replacement, especially if you're in a more senior role.

Once you get all the deets straight, it’s time to have The Talk.

  • Set up a 1:1 with your direct manager. A face-to-face meeting or video call would be best. And make sure they’re the first to know. Finding out from your colleagues may not go over well. Also consider who else deserves to hear the news straight from you and when.

  • Practice your goodbye speech. Because words matter. Start with a sincere thank you. Then briefly explain why you’ve made this decision and, if you want to, what you're doing next. Also share your exit strategy – maybe outlining your regular tasks and creating a list of tips for your replacement.

  • Put it in writing. Your breakup resignation letter should be brief and professional. Thank them again. State that you’re leaving the company. And specify your last day.

I’m worried about what my boss will say.

Be prepared for any reaction. They might wish you well or dismiss you then and there. Or they could say, "please stay." In case that happens (you irreplaceable star), consider what would convince you to stick around. Think: a raise (and how much), extra benefits, new title, the corner office.

Anything else I should know?

Keep in touch. While it might feel like staying friends with an ex, keeping good professional relationships alive (aka networking) is good for your career. Before you log off forever, make sure you have their personal contact info and vice versa. And don’t wait until you need something to make contact. Reach out periodically and keep the connection real.


A dramatic exit might play well in movies, but not so much IRL. Before you quit your job, make sure you're financially ready. Read: you have a plan for your income, retirement accounts, and health coverage. Then choose your words carefully. You don't want to burn bridges with an employer who could be a valuable connection.

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Skimm'd by Ivana Pino, Casey Bond, and Stacy Rapacon