How to quit your job and how to write a letter of resignation

how to quit your job

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The guide on how to quit your job outlines everything from telling your boss, and writing the resignation letter to what to do afterwards.

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When motivation drops or the set goal is achieved in a company, many employees reorient themselves internally and look at other positions – be it in the previous company or elsewhere. According to a survey by the personnel service provider Manpower, 46 percent of employees would like to change their job. The top reasons for the survey: more money, more recognition or a better work-life balance.

Quitting a job is a bit like ending a relationship: You have not felt comfortable for a long time, you have also looked at alternative (job) offers and finally want to officially draw a line under the whole thing . We have the ultimate tips on how to quit your job and how to write a letter of resignation or a resignation email.

How to quit your job: how to know if it’s time to quit

You don’t decide to quit overnight. Whether you are disappointed with boring tasks, feel left out during promotions or simply cannot get in touch with the boss: Pulling the rip cord hastily is definitely the wrong decision. Instead, you should take the time to think through the reasons for the current dissatisfaction and – there has to be so much self-reflection – to weigh up whether they really justify a termination. Are you about to resign and have  already resigned internally?  

If you are unsure of whether it is time to change jobs, our self-test below will help you think it through.

Should I quit my job? A self-test

Ask yourself: If the following criteria are in the foreground in your considerations for or against a termination, termination is indicated.

– If your health is suffering : You should consider quitting, even without the prospect of a new job. Because: No job in the world is worth ruining your health for it.

– In the event of an impending bore-out : When boredom becomes a burden, it is time for new challenges. Otherwise, the eternal monotony may lead to a depression of exhaustion – with motives similar to those of the well-known burn-out .

– The career ladder is a hamster wheel : although you try harder and harder, you step on the job professionally. If you are consistently passed over in promotions or if the company hierarchy does not allow for advancement, it may be time to move.

– If the company is going down the drain : If you’re working on a sinking ship, jumping out early could save your day. A bankruptcy of the current employer can have a negative impact on your own career.

– In the case of frequent sick leave : the body knows best what is good for it. Often, mental exhaustion shows up in frequent sick leave – and should therefore be taken seriously. Find out what your entitlements are if you are given notice while you are sick .

– If you do not feel at all connected to your employer : Not every employer is the dream partner. But if the company’s values, activities or goals no longer fit your person, it’s time to rethink your job.

– If your current job is just a stopgap : Sometimes it just has to be a job, whether it fits or not. Instead of settling down comfortably in it for years, it is worth asking whether the job still makes you happy – or whether your current job is not just a “black sheep” on your résumé.

– If there is no appreciation : no matter how much you love your job – if nothing comes back, you should consider whether your own commitment is still worthwhile – or whether you would be better off with another company. Are you even bullied from the boardroom? 

– If you no longer want to : If you no longer feel like doing it, the job no longer makes you happy or you have the feeling that you have reached a dead end in your career, it is worth taking a step back – and, if necessary, saying goodbye.

How to quit your job: the strategic steps

But when is the best time to quit? And what are the strategies for how to quit your job? 

Talk first, then quit

Once the decision has been made to tackle a new challenge, the termination interview with the supervisor is due. The personal interview must precede the written termination in the order in which it is given.

As a matter of courtesy, it makes sense, and especially in the event of a separation initiated by the employee, there is a risk that the company representatives could react a little coldly. An appropriate conversation helps to alleviate this.

A casual email to the HR department or a phone call to the boss that you are handing in your resignation – these are not ways to end your current employment. A direct discussion with your superior is better. You can choose the point in time yourself – if you have already given notice of termination in writing, there is no longer any hurry. However, experts recommend a conversation earlier, the higher you are in the hierarchy – after all, in such cases there are often more details about handover and etc. to discuss.

The thought of talking to the boss is a burden for some and for others easier. Regardless of your emotional state, you should communicate your wish to resign professionally. This is especially difficult when honest criticism is asked.

In addition to the written notice of termination, in a face-to-face discussion with your boss or supervisor — or even the HR manager — you should also take a cheat sheet with you with the points that you want to address. Of course, at the beginning of a conversation or when entering the room, you can exchange a few irrelevant words. But you should get to the core of the conversation quickly. Starting sentences would be for example:

  • “I’ve struggled with myself for a long time, but ultimately decided to go new / different professional paths. I want to quit. “
  • “Mr / Ms … I have been working in your department / company for several years now. I’ve learned a tremendous amount in that time. But now it is time for me to gain more experience with another company. “
  • “Mr / Ms … it is not easy for me to have this conversation, precisely because I have always felt very comfortable in this company.”

By the way: There is no reason for employees to have to justify themselves as to why they are leaving.

Notice period: Pay attention to the timing

“Don’t stop travelers” is a popular saying. But it is not always that simple when it comes to how to quit your job, because first of all, every employee must comply with the notice period in their employment contract. If there is no information, the statutory deadlines for your state apply.

If you are under pressure because your new employer would like to hire you immediately, you can cautiously discuss this with your previous supervisor in the termination interview (see next point). For a “quick separation” by mutual agreement, there is then the possibility of concluding a termination agreement. However, notice periods and the statutory protection against dismissal no longer apply in this case.

Important: termination agreements to contracts must always be signed by both parties.

How to write a letter of resignation: Preparation is everything

Once you know that — and when — you want to change jobs, now is the hardest part: you have to get the news to your current boss, so you need to know how to write a resignation letter — and the steps below also apply for how to write resignation email versions. You should be well prepared in order to enter the termination interview with confidence. Please note the following points:

  • Better a reason than a list: In terms of content, it is sufficient to state briefly and objectively that you intend to quit your previous job. A long list of motives is not necessary and postcards are never advisable. “Diplomacy” is the name of the game now. The reason for the termination should be combined with thanks and praise, because you have learned a lot and it was a good and important station in your professional life. Bosses can often understand personal development as a motive and are usually positive about it.
  • Leave no work behind: Especially with important employees, the boss’s greatest fear is how to fill the gap that arises. Therefore, those who quit should ask themselves how things can go on in the company after the resignation. In the context of personal responsibility, which plays a central role in today’s working life, this approach is absolutely correct.
    Therefore, consider in advance to whom you can hand over projects that have already started. Usually you coordinate, because the staffing levels are usually so thin that the superiors don’t have anyone up their sleeves who could take over the tasks directly. Depending on how well you know the team, you can also bring in the name of one or more successors for your position in the interview.
  • We would be happy to clarify – but in a different meeting, please: The termination interview should only be about leaving the company. Therefore, it is best to leave unresolved conflicts from day-to-day business out of the conversation. Clarifying discussions should be postponed to a separate appointment.
  • Show gratitude: Even if you will soon be gone and inwardly have wanted to leave for a long time, that should not be a reason to suddenly lose your composure. Show that you are grateful for the opportunities your previous employer has given you and it is essential that you remain polite in the conversation. This increases the chances that your counterpart will also find a few warm words and at the end of the day give you a good job reference.

At the end of the personal interview, the employee usually also submits his written notice of termination. The written termination can also be given later. It is important to have your termination confirmed in writing and to adhere to the notice period.

Letter of resignation: It depends on the right form

Oral termination alone is not enough. In order for a resignation to be legally effective, the written form is required.

Important: An email is not included as the legal ‘written form’ in some states.

Some formalities must also be complied with in the letter of resignation. In general, the letter of resignation should be structured like a classic letter, which means:

  • As the sender, the full name and address of the employee must be in mind
  • The company with full address is in the recipient field.
  • Under no circumstances should the date be missing.
  • A subject is recommended, but not required. The word “resignation” should appear in it, something like this: resignation of my employment contract / personnel number W4536278
  • In any case, the handwritten signature is important

The decisive sentences follow below the address:

Dear Ms / Mr xxx (insert the name of the responsible HR manager or manager here),

I hereby terminate my employment contract on xx.xx.2018


I hereby terminate my employment contract as soon as possible

You do not have to state a reason in the letter of termination. But a short formulation that doesn’t make the company to be left look too bad and that still contains a thank you formula is diplomatic and therefore simply better.

You don’t know when you will meet again – and you should definitely avoid leaving scorched earth behind. But there are certainly exceptions, and there is no need for such politically tactical considerations in those exceptions.

In the case of extraordinary dismissals, for example, the “extraordinary” must be justified. There is no general formula for this. The reason for the termination (eg sexual / racist remarks / indecentities etc.) and then the wording: … “after considering my options, made me announce my extraordinary termination of our employment relationship …” would be an example sentence for such a letter of termination.

Key strategies for a termination interview:

– Thank you for the good cooperation. Even if you quit because of dissatisfaction, you probably didn’t have negative experiences together all the time. Emphasizing the positive lifts the general mood – and makes the finish easier.

– Explain the challenges you have overcome in your current position – and what you have learned from them. This prevents you from telling too many negative things about your job, even if you are dissatisfied.

 If it is important to you, suggest how they can improve the current position. This not only shows your current employer which development may be possible in the company, but also helps him to organize the job for your successor.

– Together, think about how you can handle projects that are still open. Should colleagues who have already been trained take over your tasks or do you hand over open construction sites straight away to your successor?

 Discuss possible handovers to your successor. When should this be discontinued? What things have to be handed over, what still has time? How much time do you have for training together?

– Don’t give too many details. If the boss asks you where you are going and you don’t want to answer, just say that when you’re settled in your new position, feel free to reach out.

 Do n’t say yes too quickly. If your supervisor surprisingly makes you an offer to stay, for example at better conditions or a higher salary, do not be convinced immediately. Take time to think about it – and think carefully about whether you want to accept the offer. After all, you have good reasons to leave – and often the relationship of trust remains damaged, even if you should stay.

 Ultimately, stick to the truth in the conversation and resist the temptation to justify yourself. After all, you have a right to dismiss – and it shouldn’t be the end of the world for your employer either.

Those who quit have not left yet

Those who quit usually have to do their job at the old company for a few more weeks, sometimes months. A confident exit leaves the best impression – and ensures a good evaluation in the diploma.

In addition, as always in life: You might always see each other again- be it as a customer, cooperation partner, boss or colleague. It is nice if in such situations the review of old times does not come to mind badly.