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What To Say When Quitting A Job: The Art of Graceful Leave | 2024 Reveals

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Thorin Tran 26 December, 2023 9 min read

Gone are the days of a lifelong career at a single company. In today’s fast-paced, ever-changing job market, job changes or even career transitions are expected. But before the start of a new position comes the end of the previous one, and how you exit it can leave a lasting impression on your professional reputation and future opportunities.

So, how do you embrace this shift in career dynamics? What to say when quitting a job that demonstrates professionalism, maintains positive relationships, and sets the stage for later success? Let’s find out!

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What to Say When Quitting a Job?

There’s no one-size-fits-all script for things you should say before leaving a position. It depends on your relationship with the company, reasons for resigning, and beyond. However, no matter the circumstances, thoughtful planning and clear communication are key. Remember to show respect and professionalism. 

Here are a few points to cover when proposing a resignation.

Knowing what to say when quitting a job ensures a professional and positive exit. Image: Freepik

Express Gratitude - What to Say When Quitting a Job?

A key part of leaving on a positive note is showing respect to the organization that gave you a chance in the first place. Show that you’re thankful for the opportunities and appreciate your time in the position. 

Here are some ways to articulate your appreciation: 

  • To Acknowledge Opportunities and Growth: "I am truly grateful for the opportunities for professional and personal development that you have provided me during my time here."
  • To Thank Leadership and Management: "My gratitude extends to the entire leadership team for fostering an environment where I felt valued and motivated."
  • To Recognize Team and Colleagues: "Working with such a talented and dedicated team has been a highlight of my experience here. I am thankful for the collaboration and camaraderie we shared."

Give Legitimate Reasons - What to Say When Quitting a Job?

Honesty is the best policy. That said, be mindful of how you phrase your answer to the question of why you’re leaving the organization. Try to be professional and focus on the positive side. 

Here are a few examples of how you can respond:

  • When Seeking New Environment: "I'm looking for new challenges and opportunities to grow professionally. While I've learned a lot here, I feel it's time for a change to continue my career development."
  • When Planning a Change in Career Path: "I've decided to move in a different direction career-wise, pursuing a role that is more aligned with my long-term interests and skills."
  • When Having Personal Reasons: "Due to family commitments/relocation/health issues, I'm unable to continue in this role. It was a difficult decision but one necessary for my circumstances."
what to say when quitting a job handshake
It's important to stay professional, even when you plan to leave.

Handing Negotiation - What to Say When Quitting a Job?

In most cases, employers will propose a “counter-offer”, negotiating terms for you to stay. Things like a higher salary, improved benefits, or a different role are often put on the table. In this situation, you must tread carefully and handle it the way that’s best for you and the organization. 

Acknowledge the offer, think it through, and then give your answer. 

  • Accept the Offer: "After careful consideration, I've decided to accept the offer. I would like to discuss how we can formalize these changes and set clear expectations moving forward."
  • Decline the Offer: "I have given this a lot of thought, and although I'm thankful for the offer, I've decided that I should move on to new opportunities at this stage in my career." 

Give Leave Notice/Desired Time of Leave - What to Say When Quitting a Job?

You leaving the position means there’s a missing piece in the organization’s structure. It’s standard practice to give employers a two-week or one-month notice beforehand. Sometimes, you’re even required to do so per the terms of your contract. 

Here are ways you can phrase your notice: 

  • "As per the terms of my employment contract, I am providing [two weeks’/one month’s] notice. This means my last working day will be [specific date]."
  • After careful consideration, I've concluded that it's time for me to move on to new challenges. Therefore, I am putting in my two-week notice, effective from today. My last day will be [specific date].
What to say when quitting a job? Image: Freepik

Offer Assistance with the Transition - What to Say When Quitting a Job?

Breaking the news about your resignation is not easy both for you and your employer. Offering to help, either with finding new talent or the paperwork, cushions the blow. Ensuring minimal disruption due to your departure demonstrates your commitment to the company and respect for your team. 

You may say: 

  • Help with Training New Team Members: “I am more than willing to help train my replacement or other team members for the role. I will do my best to make sure they are up to speed with all the current projects and tasks I handle.”
  • Help with Documenting Work Processes: “I can create detailed documentation of my current projects, including status updates, next steps, and key contacts to assist whoever takes over these duties.”

What Not to Say When Quitting a Job

We’ve gone over what to say when quitting a job, but what should you avoid? It’s important to keep the conversation professional and positive. Leaving on a negative note may hurt your reputation and future opportunities. 

Here are some of “mines” you should sidestep: 

  • Criticizing the Company: Do not indicate criticism towards the company’s direction, culture, or values. It’s best to keep such opinions to yourself to maintain a professional relationship.
  • Giving Unconstructive Feedback:  Unconstructive feedback typically reflects personal grievances and can leave a lasting negative impression. 
  • Making It About Money Only: While financial compensation is undoubtedly a significant factor, making your resignation solely about money may come across as shallow and ungrateful. 
  • Saying Impulsive and Too Emotional Thoughts: It’s natural to feel strong emotions when leaving, especially when you experience dissatisfaction. Keep your composure and take time to think about what you say. 

5 Tips to Resign with Grace and Professionalism

Quitting is a delicate art. It requires careful consideration and a tactful approach. While we cannot individually coach you for each situation, we can provide tips that help in ensuring a smooth transition. 

Let’s check them out!

Give It Some Times

Quitting a job is a big decision. Make sure you allow yourself enough time to think it through. Clarify your reasons for leaving and evaluate alternatives. The goal is to decide whether quitting is the best choice. In case you can’t make up your mind, seek advice from mentors, peers, or career advisors.

Keep Things to Yourself

Until you've formalized your resignation, it's wise to keep your plans private. Prematurely sharing your decision to leave can create unnecessary speculation in the workplace. 

notepad i quit on keyboard
Keep your resignation plan to yourself until it's finalized

Be Professional Until the End

You never know when you might cross paths with former colleagues or need a reference. Leaving your job with grace ensures that you part ways on the best terms possible. Continue to perform your duties and uphold your personal image.

Break the News in Person

Handing in your resignation in person shows a level of respect and integrity that reflects well on your professional character. Schedule a meeting with your direct supervisor or manager to discuss your resignation. Pick a time when they are least likely to be rushed or distracted.

Always Come Prepared

You’ll never know for sure what happens when you propose a resignation. The employer may approve immediate departure, ask you to reconsider, or offer negotiations. If you’re not comfortable with thinking on your feet, it’s advised to plan for various outcomes. 

Give every situation a good thinking through so that nothing can put you off guard. 

Still not sure about what to say when quitting a job? Here are some pieces of advice from Ronan Kenedy for you.

What You Say and Do in a Position Transcend in the Next

Your professional journey is interconnected. Maintaining a professional attitude creates a lasting impression that facilitates future opportunities. Breaking the news of your resignation doesn’t mean abandoning your duties and responsibilities. Do your best to go out with a bang!

Remember, knowing what to say when quitting a job is only half the solution. Be mindful of how you handle your leaving to ensure a smooth transition for both you and the organization. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

How do you say I quit my job nicely?

Here’s an example: "Dear [Manager's Name], I want to express my deepest gratitude for the time I've had here at [Company Name]. After careful consideration, I've decided to move on to a new challenge. I will be resigning from my position, effective [your last working day]. I am committed to ensuring a smooth transition and thank you for your understanding towards this change."

How do you gracefully quit a job?

To politely and respectfully resign, it’s best to break the news in person. Offer your gratitude and a clear explanation of the reason why you chose to leave. Give a heads-up notice and help with the transition. 

How do you politely quit a job immediately?

An abrupt departure only happens when you’re not bound by contracts and approved by your employers. To request or propose an immediate leave, submit a letter of resignation to your manager and ask for their approval. Failing to do so may adversely affect your professional life. 

How do I tell a job I quit?

When communicating a resignation, it’s important to be direct and professional. The goal is to leave on good terms, preserving professional relationships and your reputation.