Everything You Need to Know About Having The “I Quit” Conversation With Your Boss

Maybe you’ve accepted an offer for a new position elsewhere or perhaps you’ve finally gathered your courage and are going to explore life as a freelancer or solopreneur. Either way, you know there’s still one key thing you need to handle: quitting your current job.

Whether you love what you do or absolutely can’t stand it, leaving a job is never easy. And there’s no denying that needing to have that dreaded conversation with your boss is the most anxiety-inducing part of the process.

So how can you have that discussion with poise and professionalism (without needing to breathe into a paper bag)? Here’s everything you need to know to have that oh-so-important “I quit!” conversation.

Finding the Right Time

When I was trying to find the perfect opportunity to quit my last job, a friend told me: “If you wait for the right time to quit your job, you’ll never quit your job.” And she was right. There’s really no convenient time to abandon your position.

If you wait for the right time to quit your job, you’ll never quit your job.

As difficult as it might seem, try not to be too concerned with the current happenings at your company, your boss’s moods, and whatever other totally uncontrollable circumstances that you think might impact the “perfect timing” for this conversation. That’s a surefire way to just continue delaying the inevitable.

However—while there’s no ideal time for this discussion—it’s still not something you’re going to want to spring on your manager when you cross paths at the coffee pot.

When you know you’re going to put in your notice, send your boss an email asking if you can get on his or her calendar for a fifteen-minute discussion about your future with the company. That way, you can rest assured that your supervisor will have some time blocked out for you and you can have a private conversation without any distractions or interruptions.

Breaking the News

You have a sit-down scheduled with your boss, and now your stomach does flips every time you think about that fast-approaching meeting.

There’s no doubt about it—actually having the conversation is the toughest part of this entire process. And, since you’re going to be nervous (it happens to the best of us!), don’t feel the need to make your spiel anything overly complicated.

Instead, be firm—let him or her know that you’ve accepted a new position and when your last day will be—and professional. But remember to also be gracious and thank your boss for all of the opportunities you’ve had during your employment. Whether you loved or hated your job, it was still a key piece of your professional experience—one that deserves some appreciation.

Running through the conversation alone or with a friend beforehand can help to calm some of your nerves. However, resist the temptation to over-rehearse! Feeling like you need to stick with a formal script may only make you more anxious.

Dealing With the Reaction

In most cases, your boss will be professional, respectful, and likely even encouraging during your conversation. However, as suspected, your manager’s reaction will likely vary depending on his or her temperament, your existing relationship, and a number of other factors.

In the unlikely chance that your boss gets heated or becomes rude or aggressive, don’t hesitate to walk away and remove yourself from the situation. Quitting your job isn’t a crime, and—while you can understand some emotions about your departure—that does not warrant inappropriate behavior.

Remember, you aren’t doing anything wrong by choosing to advance your own career.

Similarly, regardless of how your manager reacts, don’t feel the need to apologize for leaving. Remember, business is business, and you aren’t doing anything wrong by choosing to advance your own career.

Handing in Your Resignation

While you might assume that drafting a formal resignation letter is an archaic tradition of the past, it’s important that you still put your resignation in writing. Simply hand it to your boss after you’ve concluded your discussion.

Don’t stress out by thinking that this needs to be anything lengthy. Instead, something brief and simple like this should work just fine:

[Date]

Dear [Boss’s Name],

Please consider this letter as my formal resignation from my position as [Current Role] with [Company Name]. My last day of employment with [Company Name] will be [Date].

Thank you so much for this opportunity. I’ve sincerely enjoyed my time here, and it’s been an absolute pleasure working with you and the entire [Department] team. I’m wishing you all the best, and I certainly hope our paths cross again in the future.

Best,
[Signature] [Your Name]

Helping With the Transition

If you’re eager to maintain a solid relationship with your current employer and are willing to go above and beyond, it’s wise to offer any help to your employer in this period of transition.

Whether that means documenting many of your processes and responsibilities or offering to help train your replacement, lending a hand will definitely be appreciated and go a long way in keeping your professional relationship intact.

After all, quitting your job is stressful for you—but it’s important to remember that it complicates things for your employer as well.

Not Burning Bridges

While on the topic of professional relationships, don’t automatically assume that quitting your job means you and your boss need to forget all about one another or pretend the other one doesn’t exist when you run into each other down the road.

Leaving your position doesn’t need to mean the end of that connection. If your employment concludes on a decent note, you can absolutely keep in touch.

Whether you want to occasionally pass along an article you found interesting or keep him or her on your holiday card list, keeping that relationship warm is ultimately sure to benefit you (not to mention your network and your professional reputation).

There’s a certain part of your quitting your job that’s exciting—after all, it often means you’re moving on to bigger and better things. But, nobody can blame you if there’s a larger part of you that’s dreading having that inevitable conversation with your boss.

When that moment comes, remember these tips and you’ll be able to leave your position without panicking—and with professional bridges intact.