You don’t want to get stuck buying candy for the job you haven’t gotten around to ditching.
It’s February, and all your friends have finally stopped posting Instagram photos of themselves at the gym. But have you followed through on your resolution to get a better job yet? You already know that diving back into the singles pool isn’t as scary as it seems. So, what’s keeping you attached to your clingy, demanding, toxic old job? Is it because you don’t know how to say goodbye?
Here’s how to bow out gracefully without ending up with your clothes all over the lawn.
1. Remember That, Unlike a Real Breakup, It’s Not Personal, It’s Business.
Don’t worry, you’re not the only one who doesn’t know how to quit a job. It’s not a bad thing if you feel a sense loyalty to your old job. Even if the job itself makes you miserable, it’s not uncommon to feel guilty about walking away.
Maybe you hate the work but love the people you work with and don’t want to leave them behind in the trenches. Well, it’s like mom told you when you were eight–you’ll make friends at your new job, too. And wouldn’t it be nice to bond with your coworkers over something other than your mutual hatred of your boss? Maybe you feel like you don’t want to put your company in a bad position by quitting during a busy time. But then again, maybe being constantly-in-crisis is just another sign that it’s time to get off a sinking ship.
You just have to remember that where you choose to work, just like who your boss chooses to hire and fire, is a business decision, not a personal one. If you give your two weeks’ notice today, your bosses’ reaction will most likely be to add “finding a replacement” to their mental to-do list, and then move on with the rest of their day. (And if they do try to harass or guilt trip you about it, then thank goodness you got out when you did.)
2. Keep It Professional and To The Point
You don’t need to write your boss a Dear John letter. You aren’t required to tell them why you’re leaving, you don’t have to tell them whether you’ve received any other offers, and you don’t have to tell them what they could have done to make you stay. In fact, you should not share any of those things. You’ve chosen to leave, so it’s water under the bridge. The only exception is if you happen to have a very friendly relationship with your boss, and they ask you explicitly for feedback to help them out in the future. Barring that, never offer any explanations that aren’t asked for. It’s simply unprofessional, and unproductive.
(Also–and this should go without saying–keep your emotional outbursts in your fantasies. No one is impressed by the guy giving the finger as he walks out the door. He just looks crazy and desperate.)
3. Finally, Just Say This.
Request some face time with your boss and say these words: “Thanks for meeting with me. I want to thank you for the opportunities I’ve had while working here with you and the team, but I must inform you of my intention to leave. My last day working will be [date at least two weeks from today]. If there’s anything I can do to help you with the transition in that time, just let me know.”
That’s it. No more, no less. It’s a simple three-part script, but basically you’re going to want to 1.) Open by thanking them (even if you have to lie through your teeth and suppress your gag reflex), 2.) Announce plainly that you’re leaving, and 3.) Move the conversation to the transition. This is a great way to avoid any awkwardness or follow-up questions that you don’t want to answer.
4. Bonus Pro Tip, If Your Soon-To-Be Ex REALLY Sucks
Remember, the worse your relationship with your boss, the more formal and professional you should act when leaving. That parting shot (or that punch) you’ve fantasized about giving your boss will feel good for about five seconds, but will make waiting for the elevator a whole lot weirder.
That being said, none of the above advice applies if your job makes you feel unsafe or your boss is outright abusive. Keep in mind that two weeks notice is a common courtesy, not law, unless you have a contract that specifically mentions how much notice you are required to give. If you’re leaving because you’ve been sexually harassed, you’re working in illegal or unsafe conditions, or you’re being persecuted (or suspect that you will be once you give notice,) they can’t punish you in any way for simply leaving.
The biggest reason to quite gracefully is if you plan to use your boss as a reference. If you already know that there’s no way they’ll give you a fair reference, YOU DON’T HAVE to provide their contact information. You choose your own references.
Breaking up is hard to do, but it doesn’t have to be messy. Just stick to the script and keep it classy, and you and your old boss can both move on to find someone worth buying candy for.