Pachter's Pointers:
Business Etiquette Tips & Career Suggestions


Moving on? The etiquette for leaving a job

An article in the Wall Street Journal a few weeks ago talked about a possible developing trend in the workplace – more workers are leaving their jobs without giving the traditional two weeks’ notice.

The reasons given for “quitting without notice” included frustration with their jobs (both younger and older employees) and not knowing the appropriate way to quit. One young woman mentioned that she had seen characters on the television drama “Suits” who quit and immediately walked out of the office, and assumed that was the way it was done.

Moving to a new position is not unusual in today’s workplace. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the “quit rate” in May of this year was 2%, or 2.9 million workers. (“Quits” are generally voluntary separations initiated by the employee.) This number was up over the previous year’s May rate of 1.9%, or 2.7 million people.

Quitting without giving notice can be difficult for an employer who has to replace you, and may negatively affect your reputation. A prospective employer might question whether to hire you if it is known that you were willing to leave your previous employer in the lurch.

If you quit in a professional manner, however, you could enhance your reputation and your options for the future. One woman I coach told me that the last thing her former boss said to her was, “You are welcome to come back any time!”

Here are five key actions to take so the rude practice of “quitting without notice” doesn’t become a trend: 

1. Let your boss know. Have a conversation in person, or, if that is not possible, let the boss know via a phone call. Do not quit in text! Plan a quiet time for your meeting, and practice what you want to say. Get right to the point (“I am handing in my resignation...”) and explain why, such as “I received a fantastic offer,” or “The new position is the next step in my career development.”

2. Don’t burn your bridges. Be positive, though this may be a stretch if you disliked your boss. Find some reason to express appreciation – “This was a difficult decision for me, and I want to thank you for the opportunity to be part of your team.”  No matter how long you have fantasized about telling your boss off – don’t do it. It might make you feel wonderful for ten seconds, but later you probably would feel bad about it. And the only thing you would accomplish would be to lose a reference. Also, do not post any nasty or gloating comments on Facebook or other social media.

3. Let other people know. You also need to tell or email your subordinates, colleagues and clients/customers. A woman I mentored used the email below to tell a group of her clients at the same company that she was leaving. It could be adapted to fit a variety of situations.

I wanted to reach out to everyone to share some news. This Friday will be my last day.

Over the past year, you have provided me with the opportunity to grow, have challenged and supported me, and have helped me to become a better account supervisor. I am grateful, and couldn't leave without expressing my appreciation for your many kindnesses.

I have enjoyed working with all of you. Although I am sad to leave, I will be moving on to a new opportunity to continue my growth and career development.

I hope to have a chance to see everyone to say goodbye in person.

All the best,

4. Thank people. Make a special effort to thank the people who have gone out of their way for you. One departing employee took his office manager to lunch as a special thank-you.

5. Make the transition easy for your replacement. Be as up-to-date as you can. Leave detailed notes. If possible, introduce the person replacing you to the key people with whom he or she will be working.

Additional information on career development can be found in my book The Essentials of Business Etiquette: How to Greet, Eat, and Tweet Your Way to Success. 

Pachter & Associates provides seminars and coaching on communication, business writing, presentation skills, professional presence, and etiquette. For additional information, please contact Joyce Hoff at or 856.751.6141. 

Image courtesy of photostock at 


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