Most of the time, on the Advice blog, we concentrate on applying for part time jobs and the best ways to go about making sure you are successful in that application.

However, as many of you reading this will know, there also comes a time when it is time to move on to pastures new.

Whilst you know you are doing the right thing for yourself, actually quitting your current job can be a difficult process for you. How do you go about telling your boss – especially if it’s a boss who you really get along with and respect – that you are leaving?

Quitting your job is a significant decision and one that requires careful consideration and planning.

There are lots of reasons why you might be quitting your role. Perhaps you have been working full time and now you want to work on a part time basis so that you can retrain or study to take your career in a different direction.

You might want to apply for part time jobs that give you the opportunity for a better work life balance. Or you might be taking time out to travel.

Whatever your reason for leaving your current role, how you communicate your departure to your boss can have lasting effects on your professional reputation. 

Here’s a comprehensive guide on how to tell your boss you’re quitting your job so that both you – and they – are left with a positive feeling.

1. Self-Reflection and Decision Making

Before you even think about handing in your resignation, it is essential to reflect deeply on your reasons for leaving. Here are a few pointers. 

  • What are your career goals? Are you leaving your current job for a better opportunity that aligns more closely with your career goals?
  • How do you feel about your current work environment? Are there aspects of your current job that you find untenable? It might be the job itself or it could be the culture of the workplace. Perhaps you are just not happy with your current place of work and its atmosphere.
  • Will your new job contribute to your personal growth? Will this move contribute to your personal and professional growth? Perhaps you have achieved as much as you can at your current place of work and so now it is time to move on to stretch yourself even further. 
  • Are you prepared, financially, for a change of job? Are you financially prepared for the transition period between quitting your current job and starting your new job? This might require a bit of logistical preparation so that you can make sure you can pay bills and have cashflow between receiving your final pay packet from your old job and your first pay packet from your new role.

Being clear about your reasons for wanting to leave your job will stand you in good stead for being able to approach your boss in a more confident way, because you will be able to better articulate your reasons for leaving.

It also helps you to make sure that you are making the right decision for yourself – any doubts can be placed to one side if the positives outweigh the negatives. 

2. Timing is Everything

Is there ever a right time to tell your boss that you’re going to leave your position? If you have a new job to go to and a start date, then your hand may be forced.

But, in general, try to keep the following in mind when choosing the best moment to break the news.

  • Avoid busy periods: Try not to hand in your notice during peak times or when your team is under significant pressure. If you work in a place where there are seasonal peaks and you have the luxury of leaving your role at a time that suits you, try not to leave your fellow team members short handed and with extra work to do. 
  • Respect contract terms: Review your employment contract to ensure you adhere to the notice period required. Again, this depends on the type of role you are working in. Many notice periods are typically two weeks to a month, but if you are in a professional role, your notice period can be around 3 months. If you aren’t sure, do your homework first before you tell your boss. 
  • Personal timing: Ensure that the timing aligns well with your personal life and future plans. After all, you are leaving your job for your own benefit so make sure the timing is right for you.

3. Plan Your Exit Strategy

Before announcing your resignation, plan your exit strategy so that there is as smooth a transition as possible. This is especially the case if you like your boss and get along well with your colleagues. You want to leave on good terms so that you can keep in touch in the future.

  • Complete ongoing projects: Try to finish as many ongoing tasks and projects as possible before you leave. You don’t want your colleagues feeling unhappy with you that you have left them with extra workload.
  • Document processes: Depending on the nature of the job you are leaving, you could help your boss and your colleagues by leaving a document about your daily responsibilities and processes. This can help the next person who takes on your role settle into the workplace much quicker and ensure a smoother transition..
  • Offer training: Again, this depends on the nature of the job you are leaving. But if there is an opportunity to do so, you could offer to train up your successor so that the transition is even smoother and the new person is more familiar with processes and the culture of the workplace.

4. Schedule A Meeting With Your Boss

Once you have decided to leave your job, the next step is to schedule a private meeting with your boss. Here’s how to go about it:

  • Request a meeting with your boss: Send a polite email or message requesting a private meeting. You don’t need to divulge the reason in the message.
  • Choose the right setting: Ensure the setting is private and free from interruptions. It’s likely that your boss will have an office or at least a private space within the workplace. 

5. Prepare What To Say Beforehand

Obviously, you don’t need to learn any lines and rhyme these off when you go into the room. But, going into the meeting with your boss, it’s important to be prepared with what you’re going to say. 

Even if you are good friends with your boss, here are some tips for handling the meeting:

  • Be direct but polite: Get straight to the point but maintain a respectful tone. For example, “I have decided to resign from my position.”
  • Express gratitude: Thank your boss for the opportunities and experiences you’ve had in your role. This can help leave a positive impression and also lighten the atmosphere of the meeting.
  • Provide a reason (if comfortable): While you’re not obliged to give a reason, providing a concise and honest explanation can help. For example, “I’ve been offered a new role that aligns more closely with my career aspirations,” or whatever your situation might be. Especially if you are friends with your boss, honesty is key here.
  • Offer to assist with transition: Show your willingness to help with the transition. This can include helping train a replacement or wrapping up key projects, as mentioned in the above section.

If you made your list initially, being clear about your reasons for wanting to move on from your current role, this will make the meeting much easier.

6. Handling Reactions

You can plan what you want to say in your resignation meeting but you can’t guarantee how your boss is going to react to your statements.

You can, however, be roughly prepared. Here are a few scenarios that you can prepare for and give your answer:

  • Acceptance: If your boss accepts your resignation gracefully, express your thanks and discuss the next steps – this could be the transition period, for example. 
  • Surprise or Shock: If your boss is surprised or shocked, remain calm and reiterate your decision. You know why you want to move on and you know it is for your own benefit so you can stand firm in a calm way. 
  • Counteroffer: If your boss makes a counteroffer, consider it carefully. Reflect on your original reasons for leaving and whether the counteroffer addresses them. If you were moving on because of lack of promotional opportunities or because the salary wasn’t high enough, for example, and this is suddenly reversed, you might reconsider whether you actually do want to leave or not.

7. Writing A Formal Resignation Letter

A formal resignation letter is a necessary step in the resignation process. Here’s a simple format:

  • Header: Include your name, address, date and the employer’s name and address.
  • Salutation: Address your boss directly, e.g., “Dear [Boss’s Name],”
  • First Paragraph: Clearly state your intention to resign and include your last working day.
  • Second Paragraph: Express gratitude for the opportunity.
  • Third Paragraph: Offer to assist in the transition process.
  • Closing: End with a professional closing such as “Sincerely” and your signature.

8. Telling Your Colleagues

After informing your boss, it’s important to let your colleagues know. Depending on your job and the nature of your company, there could be different protocols for doing this. 

Coordinate with your boss about the timing of your announcement to the team. Depending on the size of the team, this could be done in a meeting or via email. 

And, if your workmates are also your friends, this can be the time when you arrange a farewell get together, depending on the formalities in your workplace.

9. Handling Exit Interviews

Many larger companies conduct exit interviews to understand the reasons behind an employee’s departure. If you are called to an exit interview, here’s how to handle it

Be honest but tactful. Provide constructive feedback without being overly critical. This might be difficult if you have had a negative experience at the workplace, so plan what you will say beforehand.

Focus on the positives, if possible. Highlight what you appreciated about the company and your role and the opportunities you have been given to grow professionally.

If appropriate, offer suggestions for improvements.

10. Leaving on a Positive Note

Leaving a job can be emotional but it’s important to maintain professionalism:

Keep communication professional: Continue to communicate professionally with your boss and colleagues until your last day. The ease or difficulty with this will depend on your relationship with your colleagues beforehand.

Stay productive: Maintain your work ethic and complete your tasks diligently. Anything else will leave a bad feeling amongst some of your colleagues or boss. 

Farewell Message: When the day comes, send a farewell message to your team, thanking them for their support and providing your contact information if you wish to stay in touch. Obviously, if you have had good relations with your boss and colleagues, you might already have these details.

11. Post-Resignation Considerations

Once you’ve resigned, there are a few more things you could take into consideration.

Ties with colleagues: Maintain professional relationships with former colleagues. Networking can be valuable for your career and they could be valuable contacts in the future.

New Job Preparation: If you are moving to a new job, start preparing for the transition to your new role.

Applying For New Jobs

Telling your boss that you are quitting your job is a process that requires careful planning and consideration. If you followed the steps above then, hopefully, everything went well.
Some of you might have left full time work to go part time for a better work life balance or for other reasons. If you are now ready to apply for part time jobs, take a look to see if there is anything to suit you and take that next step.