Quitting your job can seem as painful and awkward as a romantic breakup.
Depending on your relationship with your boss, you might envision them breaking down in tears, or blowing up in a fiery rage when you finally tell them, “It’s over.”
Fortunately, you have a lot of control over the situation, meaning you can keep it classy and professional.
Lynn Taylor, a national workplace expert and author of “ Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant: How to Manage Childish Boss Behavior and Thrive in Your Job,” gave Business Insider some concrete guidelines for announcing your resignation.
First of all, you’ll definitely want to deliver the news in person, Taylor said. But you can email your boss in advance to set up a time to talk.
Taylor said you can be a little vague in that initial email, with something like: “Can we go over my projects? I have some critical questions I need to cover with you. When is a good time?”
If you make it crystal clear why you want to meet, your boss might get worried and try to talk to you immediately — even if it’s a bad time of day for them.
Once you’re in a quiet space with your boss, you can say, “So, John, do you have a few minutes? I wanted to talk to you about my position here and I’d love to have your undivided attention for a few minutes.”
Assuming your boss agrees, you can now deliver the news. Taylor recommends trying to avoid blurting out, “I’m quitting!” Here’s how to handle the conversation:
- Start out by thanking them for the training they’ve given you, the opportunity to work with great people, and anything else you’re grateful for.
- Then say you’ve found a perfect fit for where you are in your career, and as much as you’ve enjoyed working with them, you’re moving on.
- Again, tell your boss how much you’ve learned from their expertise. Give credit to specific members of your team you’ve enjoyed working with.
- You may also want to tell them that this job is a great opportunity for someone, and that you’ll keep your eyes peeled for potential candidates.
- If your boss asks whether they can reach out to you with questions in the future, Taylor said, it’s important to “know your boundaries.” You can certainly agree to be available for a few weeks after you leave, but you don’t want to be “on call forever.”
Be sure, Taylor added, to make the conversation about your needs in your career. Don’t make it personal (even if your boss is technically a reason why you’re leaving); don’t make it emotional.
The key thing to remember here is not to burn your bridges. Especially if your new position is in the same industry or city, there’s a good chance you’ll run into your former boss and coworkers again. Or, your former boss may talk to your new boss about you if they know each other.
Your boss may also try to keep you by offering a promotion or a salary bump. In that case, Taylor said it’s important to remember, “there was a reason you decided to leave.”
If you decide to stay and accept the new terms, it probably won’t help your reputation, Taylor added, since your boss may not trust you as much anymore.
Taylor said: “Make one decision and stick with it.”