How to Quit Your Job—Without Burning Any Bridges


How much you should have saved up depends on the field you’re in and your personal financial needs, but Woodruff-Santos recommends having about three to six months’ worth of expenses saved, possibly up to 12 months’ if you’re starting a new business from scratch.

Do you have to quit in person?

So, you’ve decided you’re ready to quit. In a time when remote work is very normal, you might find yourself wondering if you can quit over the phone or Zoom, versus during an in-person meeting.

If virtual is your only option—maybe you work in a totally different state from your manager—then that’s just what has to happen, Woodruff-Santos says. Sometimes there’s no getting around it. But if you do have the option to quit in person (and it’s emotionally and physically safe to do so), she recommends definitely meeting with your manager and giving your notice in person. 

“If you do have to quit virtually, I say 100% Zoom with video on, so you’re face-to-face as much as possible,” she says. “I once had someone quit via Slack message—that’s definitely a don’t.” The more “in person” you can be, the easier it is to come off as caring and compassionate. We all know emotions and feelings don’t always translate well via text or Slack, and you don’t want your manager thinking you really don’t care at all about leaving the team (even if you don’t).

If your company doesn’t use Zoom or any other video conferencing system, a phone call is your next best option.

How do you quit a toxic job?

First, a quick note: Everything that follows here is meant to offer some general guidelines for quitting a toxic job, but the exact best way to go about this can vary hugely depending on factors like the type of toxicity you’re dealing with (leaving a workplace with untenable hours is different from leaving a place where your boss harasses you), the industry you’re in, your relationships with your coworkers and H.R., and more. Whenever possible, seek more specific advice for quitting a toxic job from someone who has a thorough understanding of both you and the industry, like a trusted mentor.

With all of that said, when quitting any job, it’s best to inform your boss you’d like time on their calendar to discuss something. During that meeting, tell them you are giving your notice. There’s nothing wrong with being short and succinct as long as it’s still professional.

“You can say something like, ‘Thank you for the opportunity to work here. I’ve learned so much. I’m giving my two weeks’ notice. My last day will be December 5. Should I send H.R. a resignation letter and copy you?’” Salemi says. “You don’t have to give a reason why you’re leaving, and you don’t have to indicate where you’re going to work. You don’t owe your boss [an explanation].”

Now, for some more nuances on how to quit a toxic job.

Talk to H.R. to come up with an exit plan.

For Oludara Adeeyo, a former journalist turned psychiatric social worker and therapist, and author of the forthcoming book Self-Care for Black Women, the decision to leave what she describes as a toxic work environment didn’t come easily. She was still in the early stages of a career path she was passionate and excited about. However, she says, factors like job burnout led her to question her future at the company (where she also says she was the only Black person on staff). After it got to be too much, Adeeyo began to strategically plan her exit.

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