Whatever the reason behind your decision to hand in your notice and leave your current job, handing in your notice is always difficult.  Whether you are doing so with regret or you are skipping out the door and kicking up your heels with glee, there are rules to follow to ensure that you do so with professionalism and with your reputation intact. Here are our top tips on how to quit your job without burning bridges.  

How to Quit Your Job: Wait for your contract!

It may seem obvious, but before you hand in your notice wait for the contract.  Until you have signed on the dotted line, nothing is set in stone! Even a verbal agreement is subject to change.  Internal issues…budget cuts, a late entry candidate or even an internal switch around could affect your offer.  You won’t always know about these, so don’t jump the gun. 

Timing is Everything. 

Whilst there may never be a great time to hand in your resignation, there certainly are better times.  If at all possible, you should try not to leave in the middle of a major assignment or project.  Leaving your desk clear is respectful to your colleagues and will ensure that your replacement can enjoy a seamless induction; free of your half-finished legacy work.    

Tell your boss first.

To quit your job without burning bridges, it’s best to avoid being the subject of office gossip. Although you may be bursting to share your great news with Susan from accounts, resignation best practice suggests you should keep tight-lipped until you have had a chance to speak to your line manager.  Even if you have ticked every other box with regard to leaving professionally, failing to do this will leave a black cloud hanging over your head.   

Resign in writing.

You may have a great relationship with your boss, have had a productive exit chat and left their office with them fully supportive of your career move.  Whether this is the case or not, it is always advisable to follow formal protocol and guidelines.  A letter of resignation is necessary and in many ways the perfect way to talk over your decision with your boss.  Penning a well-written letter will allow you to create a narrative around your decision.  Although it may be tempting to go into huge detail, try not to.  Keep your explanation fairly brief and try to ensure your reasons for leaving are professional rather than personal. To mention money, a personality issue or even the work environment is considered to be bad practice and should be avoided.    

Give (and work) your notice.

Although this may seem obvious, it is easy to overlook in the excitement of starting your new job.  Your new position may need you right away, and tempting as it would be to dive straight in, the damage you could do if you fail to work your notice may be two-fold.  Firstly, you may be leaving your old company in the lurch, and secondly; your new employer may begin to question your loyalty and your desire to honour your contractual obligations.

Whilst a later start date may inconvenience your new employer slightly, you will be demonstrating a diligent attitude and a desire to “do the right thing”. After all, the day will come when you need to progress again. Can your new employer expect the same transient attitude? Remaining until the end is indicative of your character and professional integrity; something which can’t be underestimated and will be valued by any employer.   

Avoid the trash talk.

Keep your criticism to yourself.  Even if your employer, working conditions or team were awful, you should maintain a professional silence.  Don’t take to social media to trash your old boss or place of work.  Leave with your head held high and your working relationships intact.  Not only could your new role be “subject to references”, but the hiring manager will also doubtless have scoped out your socials. No one values unprofessional or unpleasant conduct, no matter how justified this may be. Keep your thoughts to yourself and celebrate in silence.  

Spreading the news.  

You’ve written your letter and told your boss. The next step is how to tell your co-workers.  It could be that your boss wants to control the conversation and make a general announcement, for example.  More often than not, this will depend upon how high you fall up the food chain.  Best practice would suggest you take your cue from your boss here.  Have the discussion and take it from there.  You may be given free rein to tell who you choose or there may be company protocol.  Talk to your boss to avoid doing the wrong thing.  It is respectful to let them take the lead.   

Place your replacement.

Making some time to help embed your replacement will be invaluable to your former employer.  Once you have tied up all your loose ends, good practice suggests you should create a handover document for your replacement outlining your role and its responsibilities.  This will prove helpful and if at all possible it’s best to work on this in conjunction with your line manager.  They will be able to use this when advertising for your replacement and will be a good tool for the person coming in behind you.  If you are able to overlap then this is ideal.  Nothing is better than a guided induction process, and who better to deliver that than you?    

Work Hard.

Once you’ve handed in your notice, it’s possible you will revert to holiday mode.  Don’t.  Make sure you work hard right until the end.  You are still being paid to do a job.  You want to leave behind a legacy you would be happy to be remembered by.  You need your former employer to be happy to have had you, not happy to see the back of you.    

Clear your desk. 

No matter how organised you are, the chances are that over time your desk and workspace has become a bit of “you”.  Old diaries, family photographs and that office Secret Santa you never got around to taking home are probably just a few of the things gathering dust in your drawers or desk ‘tidy’.  Take all of this with you when you leave.  Remember too, to clear off any office tech.  Your computer, phone and mobile should be cleared of all your personal files and if relevant be restored to factory settings ready for the next user.    

Last but not least…. 

To Quit Your Job Without Burning Bridges, Stay in touch. 

Both the length of time and the role you played at your former company will have determined how large your network is.  No matter how many contacts you have amassed, try to keep in touch.  Although you may not wish to maintain a personal connection, you never know when you may require a professional one.   Don’t forget to update your social media once you leave, particularly your LinkedIn profile.  This will help people in your wider network find you should they need to, and will also help the broader ecosystem aware of your professional movements.   

We hope that these tips on how to quit your job were useful. If you are reading this in preparation for your next big move, maybe we can help you find it.  We are specialists in tech, digital and data recruitment.  We partner some big house-hold names as well as some of the industry’s most exciting emergent disruptors who are looking to scale up their teams.  Maybe you could be their next hire.  Why not get in touch today to find out how we can help you!?


About the author: I aspire to help clients connect the dots by offering an extensive and honest experience. I am passionate about digital and in prior roles have assisted C level executives to overcome the challenges posed by a fast-moving, disruptive business environment – I believe that people and not solely technology is imperative in instilling forward-thinking, sustainable business development.

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