Thinking of leaving your job? This is exactly how you should quit, according to the experts

Written by Amy Beecham

 More and more of us are getting swept up in The Great Resignation. But what’s the best way to go about leaving our jobs? We asked the experts. 

Over the past two years, pretty much everything about our working lives has changed. We’ve navigated hybrid working, returning to the office and the rising cost of living putting more and more pressure on our already strained salaries. And a lot of people have quit their jobs.

The mass exodus was termed ‘The Great Resignation’ for good reason. According to research conducted by Glassdoor, 30% of women surveyed said they had changed jobs since the start of the pandemic. A study by software provider CIPHR also found that one in three people have retrained for a new career or changed the industry they work in in the last 18 months.

Leaving your job, regardless of the circumstances, can be a difficult situation to navigate. There are likely lots of complicated feelings on both sides

“Quitting a job is not too different from a break-up,” says Susie Ashfield, a public speaking coach at Speak2Impact.

“The best tip for a good break-up, if you truly respect and value the other party, is to have a very clear conversation face-to-face, where both sides can express their feelings,” she tells Stylist. “It’s about giving each person the space and respect they deserve.”

If you haven’t jumped ship yet but have long been dreaming about it, you may have pictured an epic office showdown where you finally get your ‘mic drop’ moment after years of being overworked and overlooked. Or, alternatively, you might be nervous about saying goodbye to a role you’ve held for a long time but is simply no longer serving you.

Whichever camp you find yourself in, Stylist spoke to the experts about how exactly you should resign from your job to ensure the best possible outcome.

How to quit your job in an amicable way

Think your decision through properly

“Don’t act hastily and think very carefully before handing in your resignation,” advises Victoria McLean, founder and CEO of City CV.

“If you feel like your employer or your job isn’t great, try to improve your situation first before quitting. Open up a dialogue through a meeting with your manager or HR to talk about what changes could be made.”

According to McLean, a lot of people resign unnecessarily before having a conversation about changing roles or teams. “You might find you’re much happier just by making that pivot,” she says.

“Your boss might not even know that you’re considering leaving and may offer to improve your position, change your role or even up your pay to encourage you to stay.”

Take time to cool down before quitting

“Even if you’ve come to blows at work, avoid a dramatic scene in the heat of the moment,” says Hannah Martin, founder of the Talented Ladies Club.

“When you’re angry, your higher cortex shuts down and you don’t have full access to all of your brain, which could lead you to making decisions you might come to regret”.

Instead, she recommends taking at least 24 hours to consider any queries you might like to raise. “Try to be objective and keep emotion out of it, even if you feel that you’ve been wronged or cheated,” she adds.

Lead with positivity

If you do decide to go through with the resignation, Ashfield suggests approaching your resignation as a whole in a calm and measured way.

“Be honest and keep it authentic,” she continues. “Keep it a relatively neutral conversation and don’t let your emotions get too involved.”

“You always want to think of yourself as a lawyer presenting your case. Here’s the evidence, here are the examples. And if you’re truly grateful, say it. Thank them for the time you’ve spent there, but be clear that you’re ready to move on.”

Always resign in person

While it may be tempting to avoid any awkward conversations and fire off an email expressing your resignation, Ashfield stresses the importance of having the conversation in person.

“If you are feeling nervous or apprehensive, a few deep breaths and practising what you are actually going to say first will work wonders. Think about what you really want to express and write it out as a resignation email first. Then use that as the basis for your conversation.”

Keep it short and sweet

While the conversation should give both parties ample time to ask any questions or share any thoughts, Ashfield says that it’s crucial to be conscious of time.

“You don’t want it to go on for too long,” she shares. “You want to give the other party an opportunity to ask questions and give them space to share their own opinions, but if it’s not concise you might end up going round in circles. And that’s not helpful for either side.”

Don’t be afraid to speak your mind

While you should aim to be as diplomatic as possible, Ashford encourages speaking your mind during your resignation meeting.

“You should feel able to say what you wanted and how the company may have missed your expectations,” she shares. “It always reminds me of that infamous haircut scene in Fleabag. Being honest and clear about how they may have fallen short is the sign of a good, confident and assertive communicator, even if the conversation isn’t totally positive.”

Avoid leaving your job without tying up loose ends

Even if you can’t wait to be rid of a toxic work environment, it’s important not to leave on a bad note, adds Martin.

“We talk a lot about first impressions, but there’s a lot to be said for last impressions too,” she shares. “No matter how you feel about why you’re leaving, make sure you leave in the most neutral way possible. Think about how you want to be remembered.

“You never know where you might encounter someone again, or if you might need them for a reference.”

Images: Getty

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