So, you’ve decided to quit your job.

You’ve done all the research, carefully weighed your options, and have accepted a new job offer (nearly 32% of Americans are actively looking for a new job at one time).

Fingers crossed,  you’re hoping it’s the job of your dreams. Congratulations!

But before you break out the champagne, it’s worth planning on how to leave your present job with a bit of class.

After all, you don’t want to burn any bridges with your current employers or colleagues. That could come back to bite you in the future.

To ensure a smooth transition, here are a few things to do before departing.

Make It Official When You Quit Your Job

Very often when leaving a job there is a lot of paperwork to be completed. Or official forms to be filled out. It would help your boss or HR department if you did as much as you could to complete the required documents promptly and correctly.

Every company is different, so I won’t attempt to go through any specifics here. But the more you assist in this effort, the better off you’ll be.

Saying that, there is one area in which I will give you some more specific guidance; handing in your notice.

As with everything else, handing in your notice varies from company to company. Some companies will be very laidback about it and may even accept a verbal agreement (it is wise to submit a written confirmation just in case). But most will insist on written confirmation of your resignation.

Whatever your company policy is, ensure you know it and abide by it. That means going back over your contract to find out how long your notice period is. If you know that your current company is going to have trouble finding someone to replace you in that time perhaps offer to extend the period by a week or two as an act of goodwill, provided that time frame doesn’t affect your new employer negatively.

Many people I know have found it difficult to strike the right tone in their letter of resignation. It probably isn’t wise to lay out the reasons for your departure – especially if it is down to personal issues with colleagues. Generally it is recommended that you keep the letter short and formal like this one.

One last point: don’t be a coward. You don’t want to find yourself waiting for your boss to leave their office for a meeting, before sneaking in to leave your notice in a sealed envelope on their desk. Not only can that potentially be embarrassing, it also leaves a sour taste in your employer’s mouth. And, again, your aim is not to burn any bridges. Gather up your courage and approach them in person.

Prepare for the Counteroffer

If you’ve been good at your job, don’t be surprised if your employer attempts to persuade you to stay by offering you an improved salary or a promotion.

So before your final meeting with management, consider whether or not you’d be willing to accept a counteroffer – what would it take to make you stay?  Be warned, though, that if the sole reason you’ve handed in your notice is to try and get an improved salary at your current position, beware of getting burned.

If your heart is set on leaving, and you’re faced with a counteroffer,  be sure to thank your boss but politely decline. Back to the not burning bridges thing – don’t allow yourself to be lead into dialogue about what you dislike about your current job. And certainly don’t insult the employer by scoffing at the counteroffer. Either of those could end up with you doing more harm than good, no matter how constructive you think your comments are.

Try to Leave All Bridges Intact

Even if you weren’t exactly employee-of-the-year, you still have a chance to leave your boss and co-workers behind with a positive impression overall. You definitely don’t want to leave by stabbing everyone in back on your way out the door.

No matter how much you hate your job, or colleagues, (31% of people in the USA leave their job because they dislike their boss) it really isn’t worth lowering yourself to cheap shots, gossip and/or gloating.

At the end of the day it helps no one if you spend your notice period saying, “I can’t wait to leave because my new job pays more, has more talented staff…” etc.  Or to just sit around twiddling your thumbs until your last day. You’ll only annoy your current co-workers, and ruin your chance of a good reference later on.

If you are leaving because you have serious concerns about how the company conducts itself, it’s best to resist the urge to criticize openly. If you’re that concerned, ask for a private meeting with your boss to talk through your issues and to bring them to his attention.

If you really like your colleagues, and are genuinely sad about leaving make sure you provide your contact info. Or add them on Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. You’ll may lose touch eventually, but it’s the thought that counts, right?

Inform Any Clients You Manage

Clients are probably the most important aspect of your company, after all, they basically pay your salary! When leaving a client-facing role, it is courteous to inform them that you are changing jobs. If possible, you may be required to act as a go between while your replacement learns their new role.

Ask your manager how to handle the transition; you may be instructed to utilize a company template letter, or you may need to construct your own personalized email. Whether or not you’ve worked with a client for some time, a sudden change in their contact person may cause anxiety. Assure them that they will continue to receive the same degree of attention and quality as before.

No matter what, do not ignore any company contract clauses that prohibit you taking client lists or proprietary information with you. This could land you in serious hot water, it could potentially end up in court, making it difficult for you to get hired in the same field.

Collect Important Documents

The following is a list of items you will want to consider collecting before your departure. You’d be surprised how difficult these can be to obtain once you leave your company.

  • Performance appraisals and feedback
  • Non-proprietary reference materials
  • Emails & phone numbers of people you want to continue networking with
  • Internal directories and organizational charts
  • Your current job description and tasks
  • Non-proprietary samples of your work
  • Any processes that you’ve created for particular tasks

Once again, I can’t emphasise this enough. You’d be surprised how many people forget this step! And make sure anything you take is within the bounds of company policy (and/or the law).

Ask for References

Yes, it seems downright awkward to ask a manager for a reference just as you are about to leave. But imagine how much harder it will be down the road after not seeing them for years!

Ask your current supervisor if they would be willing to serve as a future reference for you, or perhaps even write a letter for you now while you are still fresh in their minds. The hallmark of an excellent supervisor or co-worker is one who is supportive of your career aspirations. So keep that in mind as you work up the courage to approach them.

Tie Up Any Loose Ends

Get as much of your “to-do” list done as possible before leaving so your replacement doesn’t have to pick up the pieces.

If that isn’t feasible, leave clear and detailed written instructions and status information. Make sure your work space both digitally and physically is organized so there won’t be any issue finding information once you’ve left. Nobody enjoys cleaning up someone else’s mess!

One last act of goodwill is to let your manager know that you are willing to be contacted, over a reasonable period of time, if there are urgent questions that you can answer. Also offer to coach your successor if your tenure overlaps to ensure they can slot into the ‘you’ sized gap once you’ve left.


If you really do hate your job and you can’t be doing with following these eight tips, you could just do what this disaffected journalist did when she decided to quit her job:

About the Author: Josh Hansen writes on a wide range of career and employment topics for a variety of online publications. He also has a special interest in all things digital, which you’ll notice if you read a few of his other pieces.

Image courtesy of alexskopje.