How to (professionally) resign from your job

You’ve received an exciting offer from a great company. You can’t wait to take this positive step in your career and take on your next challenge. The only thing standing in your way? Resigning at your current employer.

As tempting as it might be to leave your notice on your manager’s desk without a word, or not giving a full two weeks professional notice; how you exit your current position is very important.  Being professional doesn’t just apply to a job you love, it also applies to how you resign and transition to a new role.

So even if you’re anxious to quit a job – and manager– you may no longer like, be assured that not only will your current employer judge how you behave at this critical parting juncture, but your new employer will also respect you for doing this the right way.  After all, they may be in the same position in the future and want to make sure they are hiring a true professional.

As many studies have found, employees tend to leave their managers, not a company. There’s a reason we hear of all kinds of stories around quitting when an employee wins the lottery – but getting a new job isn’t equivalent to winning a lottery. There’s a lot that can happen in-between getting an offer and starting your new job. Burning bridges can come back to haunt you in the near or far future – so being a professional even when quitting is vital.

Know if you’ll need COBRA

Chances are there may be some lag time between your current insurance and when your next company’s insurance kicks in. COBRA is your legal right, so if you will need it to cover any gaps, make sure you discuss this with HR to avoid losing coverage. Ask your new company when they extend an offer the exact date of your insurance start date so you can coordinate your COBRA coverage.

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Be wary of counteroffers

Ah, the joy of the counteroffer. Although there are mixed feelings over counteroffers, it’s important to note that most people usually leave a company anyways within 6 months of accepting a counteroffer. Whether due to leaving on their own or being later let go, accepting a counteroffer is a risky business. After all, if you were just looking for a raise, wouldn’t you have asked your boss prior to going through actively interviewing with other companies? Although getting a counteroffer may be flattering and tempting, think about all the reasons you had for considering a move to begin with.

Always give professional notice

It happens all the time: you get a spectacular offer but they need you to start right away, forcing you to leave your current job without any notice. I get it, your current job is terrible and you certainly don’t want to stick around for 2 weeks’ once you’ve given notice, and it’s uncomfortable to say the least.

What happens if you jump ship? It can backfire big time for you. One candidate told me they accepted a great offer that required them to start ASAP and they jumped at it, only to show up on their first day to find out the starting salary was less than half of what they had been offered. Ouch. Because they had left their last job without notice, they certainly couldn’t go back, and were stuck in a bad job.

Remember: A company that doesn’t respect your need to give notice likely won’t respect you as an employee. What to do instead? Once you take the offer, let your employer know ideally by requesting a meeting and providing written notice.  Also, if appropriate, state that you’re willing to help identify, interview, or train your replacement.  You can share that your future employer is willing to allow you to start right away but you want to make sure you leave your employer in good standing.  This puts the ball in their court, and they may decide it’s best if you leave right away, especially if your job involves access to sensitive data or a project you are on is ending, so timing is good for the transition.

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Be sure you are cleared for hire

It is important that you make sure that any contingent steps needed to make your offer official are completed.  These can include background checks; drug tests and previous employer references checks.

Get the new offer in writing

If a company you’re interviewing for doesn’t want to give you a written offer outlining salary and benefits, it’s a big red flag. Although you may not think it will happen to you, shady employers are always trying to get as much as they can for the lowest cost. If you’re working with a reputable recruiting firm, they’ll always ensure you get the offer – and benefits – in writing or at least in a written email which is legally binding.

Be wary – employers sometimes offer poor benefits (like no vacation time until after your first year!) and like to hide that fact by making you come in on day one in the dark. Always assume that if an employer doesn’t want to put something in writing, that there might be something lurking in their benefits package they don’t want you to know about until it’s too late.

What are your tips on quitting your job in the most professional way possible?


How to (professionally) resign from your job
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Elizabeth Becker

Elizabeth is Marketing Manager at PROTECH. Comments and feedback can be directed to her at