How to Quit Your Job Without Getting Fired

Molly O’Brien | March 9, 2016

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I once witnessed a spectacular exit by a former colleague who essentially imitated Jack Berger’s bird-flip-expletive-yell to our boss before storming out of the office. He even abandoned his untouched, piping-hot Chipotle. ☹

The next day — minus the Chipotle, plus a slice of humble pie — he sent an apology email accepting the consequences of his actions while vying for his position. He wanted his job back. Unfortunately, it was no longer available as the company in question had recently implemented a zero “FUCK-YOU” policy. Bummer.

According to the statistics of life, however, we’re all likely to quit our job at some point. Handing in a letter of resignation to your boss is normal. It’s how you move on to the next big thing in your career. It just doesn’t have to be so dramatic.

Actually, it shouldn’t be dramatic at all.

My sister, a wise and experienced workplace lawyer, once told me that the most important thing you can do at your job is to leave with integrity. This sounds like good advice — but beyond the obvious tactic of avoiding expletives, how do you know you’re doing it right? If you’ve been nail-biting/eyebrow-pulling/knuckle-cracking/nipple-twisting in anguish over a decision along these lines, take heed in the below ways to not quit your job (and some how-to’s) so that you can have your Chipotle and eat it, too.

DON’T resign in public. Whether you work in an open-office workspace or not, this is one very important conversation to have in private. Schedule a time in advance for a one-on-one chat with your supervisor.

DO it in person.

DON’T be afraid that your boss will be “mad” at you for leaving. It’s important that you make positive, strategic moves for your career.

DO consider the counter-offer (if offered). Give it 24-hours if your main reason for leaving was about money.

DON’T take the counter-offer if you were miserable regardless of money or promotion or office-with-the-corner-view.

DO be as honest as possible with yourself when it comes to your reasons for leaving. Be honest with your employers, too, in your exit interview. It will be constructive for both of you.

DON’T use expletives or give The Finger. I know it seemed obvious a few paragraphs ago, but just in case…

DO give your minimum required notice. However, more notice will always be appreciated. Once it’s time to Curtis Mayfield and Move On Up, remember that you’ll still need to tie up loose ends and most likely train You 2.0. In fact, offer to train You 2.0 before you’re asked.

DON’T fake your own death to avoid the inevitably uncomfortable conversation and never have go back to work. It will be a costly venture and you won’t have a reference for your next employee.

DO return all work-related materials such as laptops, phones, keys, security passes and the like. It’s a legal obligation.

However! If a half-used pack of Post-its “finds” its way in to your bag, well…

DON’T trash-talk your old employer. Not when you’re about to quit, not when you have to quit, not in your interview, not when you’re at your next job, especially not over social media. Save it for a night in with your friends in a definitely-not-bugged environment.

DO bring brownies to work. You don’t even have to be leaving. Or looking for another job. Just bring them anyway. To my office works, too.

DON’T mentally check out. If you have another opportunity on the horizon, don’t fill your days with Candy Crush when you still have a job to do. Knock knock, who’s there? YOU ARE.

Mad Men images via amc; Devil Wears Prada images via Getty Images.

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  • Exactly!! A girl just left my company in the best possible way. With dignity and integrity and marked almost all the above boxes! Thank you for these wise words…

  • This is a great read! Leaving on good terms is so important for your professional future.

  • BK

    also! Don’t do any stupid leaving pranks/destructive activities on your last day because you won’t be there to deal with it tomorrow. Everybody else still has to come to work to deal with it the next day, don’t be a wanker to them

    • Molly

      “don’t be a wanker” is coincidentally great life advice!

      • Amelia Diamond

        americans: let’s use this word more.

        • BK

          WAIT you don’t?! C’monnnn USA get it together

    • My boyfriend laughed that his friend got fired from an internship by hiding a coffee (with milk) inside a computer tower. I guess you feel confident enough to sabotage an internship when you’re a white male
      -_-

  • This reminds me of my job interview for my current job. I was employed at another company at the time. The manager who interviewed and hired me asked when I would be available. I said two weeks because I had to give notice and his response was, “good, that tells me you’ll give me notice when you leave here”

    Getting hired seems so hard that we forget that quitting can be a necessary part of building our careers.

  • Love all of these tips. I’d also add LEAVE when it’s time to leave to this list. Don’t be lazy and stay in a situation that makes you unhappy or unhealthy.

  • crazyloverblue

    I’d recommend also making sure projects are finished and things aren’t left undone BEFORE you give notice.

  • Alex

    ugh. i was in the thought process of writing an I FUCKING QUIT email and i just happened to see this link. a sign not to loose my shit, and i sign that i gotta go.

  • Debbie

    This advice is incredibly thoughful

  • Nina Perlman

    I once gave 3 weeks notice instead of 2, because the holidays were coming up and I thought it would give them time to find a replacement, and they ended up “letting me go early” at the end of that week, two weeks before the end date I had given. I had seen another employee leave in a dramatic way and seen how the company responded, so I just said okay. But I had been budgeting my expenses with that last paycheck in mind, and I hadn’t realized they could fire me between the time that I “quit” and actually left.