It was 8:30 AM. I’d only been in the office for 15 minutes, but I was already dreading the work ahead of me. Another day to grind through of answering 80 to 100 calls about life insurance.
Frequent day dreams about the weekend and partying with my colleagues kept me sane. But no matter how fun the previous weekend was, I always felt drained and unenthusiastic to go back to work on Monday.
Maybe you don’t have experience in customer service, but perhaps you can relate to the stress I felt at work. There are a lot of jobs that can feel demoralizing or draining.
How to Properly Quit a Job and Avoid Reckless Decisions
Like me, I think you’ve previously felt tempted to tell your boss that you’re quitting. Maybe you even considered just not showing up the next day.
There’s nothing wrong with feeling apathetic and unengaged at work, as long as you don’t let these feelings affect your career and finances. After all, what will resigning accomplish, if you’re so desperate for cash that you end up in a worse job?
If you hate your job right now, this article is for you. I’ll show you how to properly quit your job—without burning bridges and racking up loads of credit card debt.
1. Mulling it Over
Don’t Quit Your Job Without Trying to Make it Work
Wondering what to do when you want to quit your job? You have to think things over first.
Like a relationship, you shouldn’t quit a job before doing your best to make it work.
A little introspection goes a long way here. Ask yourself:
- Can transferring to a different team or department make you happier?
- Would you be more comfortable with a different schedule?
- Do you think your salary isn’t commensurate to your workload or contributions to the company?
- Do you have any grievances with your boss or coworkers?
Once you find out what makes you unhappy, schedule a meeting with your boss to discuss the issues. Try not to be accusatory when you bring these up, even if the problem lies with your boss. And if you can, come up with two possible solutions so your boss won’t feel that you’re just complaining.
Your manager’s willingness to make things work is a good indication that you’re a valued employee, and there’s hope for your situation within the company.
Pro Tip: Don’t tell your boss about your plans to resign. Doing this is like hanging the resignation over their head, and will likely result in burned bridges and an unexpected termination.
Write a Pros and Cons List of Your Job
But what if the root of the problem is something beyond you or your boss’s control?
Now is the time to consider other employment options.
The first thing to do when you hate your job, and there’s no way to fix it, is find out exactly what you dislike about it. Be specific because every bit of info serves as a clue to finding a career you’ll love—or at least won’t hate as much.
Create a pros and cons list detailing every aspect of your work, such as:
- Management support
- Your boss’s leadership style: micro manager or hands-off leadership style
- Career advancement and learning opportunities
- Employee benefits: 401K, healthcare, daycare, gym, etc.
- People that annoy you or make your work harder
- Tasks you love
- Tasks you find boring
- Tasks you’re underpaid for or beyond your job description
- Company red tape you don’t like
- Comments about your coworkers
Nothing is too petty to be included in this list, because this depends on your individual situation at work. One person may find admin tasks a welcome break from excess brain draining work, while another employee might not have enough analytical work and complain of the ‘too easy’ and repetitive tasks on their plate.
Let the items on your pro list serve as a guidepost in finding an ideal job that fits you best, while you avoid jobs with items on the negative list.
Know Your Losses and Plan for It
Your budget and savings will take a hit the moment you resign.
How soon you can get a new job depends on your industry, market demand for your skills, and desired salary. Keep in mind:
If you have no savings and are forced to use your credit card, you’ll soon feel anxious and start missing the paycheck that came with your previous job. On the other hand, having a sizable savings account buys you time to look for a job you’ll like, without worrying about your rent, groceries, and gas money.
In both cases, having a monthly budget will show you how long your money will last. Worried your funds won’t last until you find another job? Limit unnecessary expenses, such as eating out and shopping, or find a part time job or side gig.
Healthcare and 401k
Ask your employer’s HR how long your healthcare and dental coverage will work after your effective resignation date. You may be eligible to get a continued healthcare coverage through Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA), but if that’s too expensive you can get private or individual coverage.
Inquire about your 401K or company retirement plans as well. You may have the option to cash in part of it, if you think your funds won’t last until you get another job.
2. Preparing to Jump Ship
Don’t Slack Off
Working hard when you hate your job is hard. It’s even harder if you have to do that while searching for your next employer, but just bear with it. Don’t take unnecessary absences and don’t slack off on your current projects. You might get reprimanded or fired before you’re ready to go.
It's better to handle this situation professionally. Even if you can get away with sloppy work and tardiness, you’ll regret it once a potential employer conducts a background search on you.
Send job applications and schedule interviews after office hours. Tell the recruiters you’ll need to work with them to keep things under wraps. They will understand. If you have no choice, use available leave credits for interviews when your schedule isn’t compatible with interviewer’s availability.
It’s also good to pace yourself. Don’t schedule too many interviews in the same week, or when you’re rushing to deliver a project on time at your current job.
Vent Your Frustrations in a Trusted Crowd
Want to know how to cope with hating your job? Share your problems to people close to you. Be selective though.
Don’t tell your cubicle buddies about your grievances with your job and boss. They may be trustworthy, but you never know who else is listening in on your conversation.
It’s also unwise to rant on social media networks. Twitter posts are searchable online and almost anyone can view your Twitter feed. You can edit your post’s publicity settings on Facebook. But this can’t guarantee mutual friends you have with your boss and coworkers won’t see your rants, and tell on you.
This doesn’t mean you can’t vent, just choose your audience carefully. Share your feelings with non-office friends over a cup of coffee, or talk to coworkers who already left the company because of the same problems you’re having. While complaining won’t fix anything, it’s a good outlet for pent up frustrations. You’ll feel better afterwards.
Update Your LinkedIn
Update your LinkedIn account, while you’re still employed and the details of your accomplishments, skills, and current projects are fresh in your memory. Being active on LinkedIn is a sign of a tech savvy employee, so not everyone will assume you’re job hunting if they see your profile updates.
If you want to avoid questioning, LinkedIn has a feature that allows you to update your profile without alerting your network afterwards. Only people who actually visited your profile before and after the update will know that you made changes.
Once your profile is complete, join groups related to your current and future job and start connecting with recruiters working in your industry.
Pro Tip: Write recommendations for your coworkers, clients, subordinates, and anyone else you’ve worked with as a result of your job. People love getting good recommendations, and they’re more likely to give you one in return even if you don’t ask for it. This is one way to boost your profile without revealing your intention to resign.
Save Everything You’ll Need for the Job Search
Send non-proprietary information about work to your personal email. This includes documents that can be included in your portfolio, certificates of training sessions, awards won, and information about previous projects that can be included in your resume. The same goes for business cards, email addresses, personal email and contact information of coworkers and your boss, in case you need information about a project you worked on.
Some companies are stringent about allowing resigned employees back in the office, so collect everything you'll need, along with your personal effects on your last day. Consider everything you leave behind inaccessible the moment you leave the office.
Prepare Your Resume and Cover Letter
Use the information you gathered in the previous step to update your resume. If yours is already two pages, remove old employment details and unnecessary skills (i.e. MS Word) to make room for your latest career achievements.
Not sure what else to remove on your resume? Check out my guide on How to Make Your Resume the Perfect Length.
A quick update won’t be enough if you’re aiming for a bigger salary, a promotion, or a career transition. That calls for better care in writing your resume. Why?
For a recruiter or HR manager to give you what you want, you must first prove that you're worth it, and the first step to accomplish that is to write a resume that depicts you as a high-value and in demand candidate.
These resume guides will help you:
- How to Make Your Resume Stand Out as the BestCharley Mendoza04 Sep 2020
- How to Effectively List Professional Skills on Your ResumeCharley Mendoza11 Sep 2020
- How to Write a Professional Resume Summary Statement (+ Video)Charley Mendoza22 Mar 2021
Also, use a professional resume design. Browse through our best resume templates to find a great design:
- 40 Professional MS Word Resume Templates, Simple CV Design Formats 2022 (+ Video)Marc Schenker04 Aug 2022
Start Your Job Search
Start your job search discreetly, and don’t broadcast that you’re looking for a job on LinkedIn. Instead, check general and niche job boards, and send private messages to recruiters you’ve worked with in the past via LinkedIn. You can also reach out to your alma mater’s career office to see what kind of opportunities they have available.
To avoid burnout and keep you on track, follow the 30-day job search plan described here:
Aim for quality, not quantity in your job applications. You’ll have a better chance of getting an interview with a tailored resume and personalized cover letter.
Interview Like a Pro
Off the cuff answers feel more natural but free styling makes you prone to mistakes, embarrassing moments, or worse—awkward silence.
You don’t want the recruiter to think you’re not comfortable explaining your work, right? Because that’s the impression you create when you ramble and forget what to say.
Avoid all this with research and practice. Look up typical interview questions for your target job then write your answers to them.
You don’t have to recite the answers on the actual interview. Just read them a few times one day before and an hour before the interview, so you can easily recall vital points in case you get stuck.
An interview is a two way street, so interviewers expect good applicants to have a few questions of their own. Below is a guide on asking insightful questions during and after the interview:
3. After Securing a New Job
Keep it Professional
Whatever your reasons for resigning, keep it professional. Don’t humiliate your boss, or make it embarrassing for your coworkers. Going out in a blaze of glory isn’t the best way to quit a job, no matter how badass it feels.
How to Properly Quit a Job in 4 Steps:
- Write a professional resignation letter thanking your boss for everything you’ve learned while working together. Keep complaints and grievances to yourself.
- Hand over your resignation to your boss or to their assistant. You can also send it via email, but giving it in person is best.
- Your boss will likely talk to you after reading the letter. Depending on your skills and the difficulty to fill your position, you will either be asked to reconsider your decision or be permitted to move on after rendering the notice required in your contract.
- Ask for a recommendation letter.
Whatever you do, don’t tell your boss about your new job. While I assume most supervisors want the best for their employees, this isn’t always the case. So leave nothing to chance.
Some companies conduct exit interviews to uncover trends in employee attrition. This is normally conducted by HR or a third-party company, so you can divulge your reasons for leaving. But don’t be too critical, as parts of this interview might be shared to your boss as part of the company’s improvement efforts.
Give the Required Two Weeks (Or More) Notice
Render the required notice time indicated in your job contract. It’s normally two weeks, but I’ve heard of companies that require up to one month of notice.
Use this time to help your supervisor find and train your replacement. Wrap up pending projects and if possible, create a manual or hand off document to make the life of your replacement easier.
Pro Tip: Don’t feel pressured to stay if your supervisor asks you to work longer than the required time. You are not obliged to stay after you’ve rendered the required notice, and you shouldn’t jeopardize your next job to help your former boss.
Resist the Counter Offer
I’ve seen this multiple times: an employee resigns but is dissuaded from leaving because of a counter offer.
It never ends well.
Management will think of you as flight risk who’s not loyal to the company. They will also doubt your career goals, because an increased salary was enough to lure you back. On top of all that, management has higher expectations because you’re now paid more than your peers. Unless your performance breaks your previous record, management will think the added salary they offered you isn’t giving the returns they expect.
Editorial Note: This content was originally published in 2017. We're sharing it again because our editors have determined that this information is still accurate and relevant.