It is not easy to quit a job you love. Even with a new dream job in-hand, cutting the cord that connects you to a place you have become part of can be one of the most difficult challenges you ever face in your career. While there is no surefire method, the steps below reflect lessons from the experience of those who have been successful in so doing.
To quit, follow the steps below in order and precisely. Make sure first, though, that you have really decided to quit and that it is not just a ploy to get your employer to talk you in to staying and giving you a bump in compensation.
NOTE: If what you really want is an offer to stay (even though when you then decide to stay management will, from then on, question your loyalty and motives which may be a fatal blow to a thriving upward trajectory) then this is not the method to follow.
- Be loyal first to yourself Your loyalty is to you, not to your employer or your colleagues, no matter how much they have done for you up to now. Almost everyone thinks their own departure will be more catastrophic for their organization, its employees, and its customers than it will turn out to be. Any one of us, in any role, leaves a hole upon departure about the size of the hole left in a pitcher of water when a clenched fist is pulled out from it.
- Three iron-clad reasons. Three reasons are all you need to explain why you have decided to quit. Any more than three leaves you open to having the weakest refuted, allowing your employer to claw their way back to convincing you to stay … and human instinct is such that they will try to talk you into doing exactly that. Memorize your three reasons and get glib with them.
- Practice. Say outloud that you are leaving and why, over and over, in front of a mirror so you will have heard and felt yourself speak the words in a safe and unemotional setting. The last thing you want at the moment of truth is for a tear to come to your eye or for your lip to quiver. Practice with a few close friends, family members, and advisers. Ask them to help you state your points more firmly, with more authority, with less emotion, and to tighten up the message.
- Do something to manifest your decision. A day or so ahead of announcing, for example, exercise and sell all of your vested stock options, take your favorite knickknacks out of the office, give up your parking space, or something along these lines to convince yourself and to show colleagues and management that you really have checked out.
- Set up a time to speak with your manager. It is best to meet in person but electronically works if it is the only option. Use the departure letter template to draft your resignation letter that says:
- You resign as of a specific date to pursue a specific other opportunity.
- You have strong positive feelings for your time at the organization.
- You are committed to do all you can to orchestrate a smooth transition.
- Turn in a signed departure letter. At the start of your meeting, allow time for your manager to read and absorb the contents of your letter. Offer to talk through the three reasons why you have decided to quit and explain what you have already done to mentally and physically checkout. When they attack your reasons for leaving it is important to say exactly this: “I appreciate you helping me to rethink my decision but it is my decision to leave”.
- Navigate to acceptance. What will follow is a gradual progression through a series of predictable stages: shock, denial, pain, anger, bargaining, depression, and finally acceptance. Stay calm and help orchestrate the progression through the stages until acceptance is reached.
Good luck departing!