How to Tell Your Boss You Want to Quit

Dr. Ryan Giffen

Sometimes things don’t work out, regardless of how much you like your job or fit the workplace culture. However, your job might not align with what you initially envisioned, or you feel uncomfortable in your work environment. Whatever the reason, leaving is the only solution in some situations. If that moment has come for you, you’re probably wondering how to tell your boss you want to quit your job and stay on good terms with them.

The best way to go about it is to be professional and avoid burning bridges. When giving notice, you should be respectful, do it timely and gracefully. Even if you’re leaving due to challenging workplace circumstances, choose your words and how you approach the issue. Although that may be hard in some situations, avoid leaving without saying anything or arguing with your boss.

What if You’re Quitting Your Job Due to a Toxic Work Environment?

Sadly, not everyone leaves because they found a better opportunity or decided to relocate. Sixty-five percent of employees voluntarily left their jobs to avoid bullying. Thus, 92 percent said they would be more likely to stay if their bosses would show more empathy. Some employees quit due to burnout and not feeling valued at work. If harassment, unbearable workload, or lack of support preceded your decision to quit, you might find it hard to leave calmly and not cause a scene. Although you should report any violent behavior or mistreatment before quitting, hold back your anger to avoid someone using it against you in the future.

Prospective employers tend to side with managers and supervisors instead of job applicants when running background checks and contacting references. It’s also better to have your former boss vouch for you if necessary than to alienate yourself and lose recommendations. Because of that, it’s wiser to have a civilized conversation and not be negative or admit that you hated working there. You shouldn’t forget what you experienced in your previous workplace, nor give up on getting justice but leave in a good light and rise above the circumstances.

What if You’re Quitting a Job That You Love?

Various circumstances can force you to leave a job you love, such as moving abroad, finding better conditions elsewhere, or a higher salary. That doesn’t make it any easier to quit. But despite how hard it is to say to your boss and coworkers you’re quitting, that’s the only way to move forward. If you give timely notice and explain the reasoning behind your decision, others will have to understand and respect your choice.

Tips on How to Tell Your Boss You’re Quitting

Follow these 7 steps to maintain a positive relationship with your former boss and coworkers after leaving your position.

1. Schedule an In-Person Meeting

Demonstrate your professionalism by asking your employer when they’re available for an in-person meeting and schedule a conversation to discuss your resignation. Face-to-face communication indicates that you’re confident about your decision, respect your boss, and don’t want to drop the news over email. Moreover, this is an opportunity to have a constructive dialogue, allowing you to talk about why you’re quitting and ensure there’s no animosity in the future. You can also discuss your resignation timeline and whether you can help with the transition period.

A timely conversation also gives your boss enough time to prepare and identify how to operate afterward. Ultimately, an in-person meeting shows your integrity and that you care about your employer’s time.

2. Explain Why You Decided to Quit

Employees quit their jobs for various reasons, including continuing their education or not fitting into the company culture. Before going to the meeting with your boss, you should be sure why you’re leaving. That way, you can assuredly approach your employer and provide thoughtful clarification. If you want to pursue other professional opportunities, explain that your current position gave you invaluable knowledge and experience for your new job.

Let your boss know that although you’re grateful for the time you spend in their company, the other position aligns more closely with your future goals and ambitions. If the reason why you’re leaving is that you’re unhappy in your current workplace, explain that you wish things could have been different but that you have found a work environment that meets all your needs.

3. Give a Timely Notice

A two weeks’ notice resignation letter is the norm in most workplaces. This practice gives employers enough time to decide how they’ll go about the employee’s absence and makes the departure more amiable. Prepare your notice letter and inform your boss about your final day as that allows them to find your replacement and organize training. However, if you can stay longer or your position requires complex skills, you might consider an extended transition phase.

Some situations require you to leave in a short period (e.g., your new boss needs you to start working as soon as possible). In this case, you should read your contract and talk with HR to find out if there are repercussions if you quit before two weeks’ notice. However, extreme circumstances (e.g., workplace harassment, bullying, personal crisis) could justify leaving on short notice or no notice at all.

4. Propose to Assist with Transition

If you can do so and want to maintain a great professional relationship with your employer, you can offer to provide brief training to your replacement or answer their questions once you leave. Moreover, you can suggest assisting them in identifying the most compatible candidate for your position.

In case of an extended resignation notice period, you can conclude as many current assignments as possible and provide guidelines for the projects you don’t have the time to complete. Helping your boss with these activities shows that although you’re starting a new career chapter, you’ll always care about the company’s success and want to stay in touch. Thus, assisting with transition can also help you reinforce connections with your coworkers and ensure they don’t have to compensate for your absence. However, you’re not required to assist or train your replacement.

5. Thank Them for the Opportunity

During the in-person meeting with your boss, express how much you appreciate the chance they gave you and the knowledge you gained. You likely expanded your network or adopted some skills you wouldn’t otherwise. One of the best ways to leave on good terms is to acknowledge accomplishments and chances work in your current position provided. Plus, that experience probably led to landing your new job.

If you prefer, you can send a thank you note or express how thankful you are in your resignation letter. You could do the same with your team or coworkers if you worked together on demanding projects.

Thank them for sharing their knowledge and supporting you over the years, as that deepens your professional relationships. On the other hand, if you don’t feel your current company has been treating you fairly, disregard this section and skip adding a gratitude note to your notice letter.

6. Provide Helpful Feedback

Most employers would like to know what they could have done differently or whether it was something on their part that made you decide to quit your job. These insights can help them improve and enhance their workplaces, creating better policies and atmosphere for future employees. Because of that, you can provide constructive feedback during the conversation with your boss and let them know what made your employee experience great and what could have been better. However, many companies conduct exit interviews before workers leave.

In this case, the HR department will likely ask you to rate your experience, job responsibilities, benefits, learning and training, company culture, and relationships with managers and colleagues. Your feedback should be genuine and specific to ensure the employer can address potential issues and boost employee retention.

7. Prepare a Formal Letter of Resignation

Make it official, prepare a formal resignation letter, and send it to your boss via email. Clarify your last day of work and whether you’re available for transition period assistance. You can also add your gratitude message or any other information you find relevant to your resignation. When you go to the meeting with your employer, have a printed copy of your letter, and give it to your employer before leaving.

3 Things to Keep in Mind

Prepare for the unexpected because no matter how well you know your employer, their response could surprise you.

1. Take Care of Your Documents and Belongings

Before making your resignation official, back up your projects, contacts, and documents. Ensure that you’re not leaving any personal information, belongings, or files in the office or work laptop. Your boss may ask you to turn in any company property you’ve used during your tenure. Hence, you should be ready to give back your work car, phone, or other equipment.

2. Consider Whether You Would Agree to Stay Longer

Perhaps you didn’t even consider the transition period, but your boss might ask you to stay longer and help train your replacement. Think about whether you’d have the time and will to do so. However, if you agree to stay, you could ask your employer if they could write a recommendation letter.

3. Your Manager Might Try to Convince You to Stay

Think thoroughly before deciding and ensure you’re confident you want to leave because your manager might try to persuade you not to quit. If you’re not sure about your decision, you could ask for a few days to think it through. But if you have no doubts about your resignation, thank them for their offer and explain you have no doubts about quitting.


Starting the resignation conversation is one of the most challenging moments one must face. Yet, if you’re sure you want to quit, don’t let the fear stop you. Approach your boss respectfully, let them know the reasoning behind your decision, and thank them for the opportunity they have given you. If possible, leave on good terms and maintain positive professional relationships. That also makes it easier to start your new job smoothly and without past regrets.

About Dr. Ryan Giffen

With over 20 years of experience, Dr. Ryan Giffen is an expert in human relations and business culture. His career began in hospitality, leading operations and human resource departments for Fortune 500 companies and the like. Not long after, Ryan found his passion for teaching and consulting. He earned a Ph.D. in Hospitality Management with a Human Resources focus from Iowa State University and now works as an assistant professor at California State University, Long Beach. For over a decade, he continues to research and speak on organizational culture, relationship intelligence, and leadership effectiveness. Ryan is also the founder of Inospire, a company helping bosses and employees build stronger relationships with one another. Lastly, Dr. Giffen is producer and host of the Corporate Shadow Podcast, a show helping everyday employees build stronger relationships with their bosses and organizations.