How To: Resign Before Beginning a New Job

Arguably the worst part of taking a new job is telling your boss you’re moving on. You may be feeling a knot of dread in your stomach even vaguely thinking about it. Change is always tricky, but with this advice, you’ll be able to rip the “I quit” Band-Aid off with minimal pain for everyone involved.  

First, you should always review your employee handbook and employment agreement for requirements about resigning and follow the steps outlined there. Otherwise, the following is our general advice:

  • Always exit on good terms. While this isn’t possible in some rare circumstances, you should do your best not to burn any bridges behind you. You never know when you’ll need to use a former employer as a reference or work with them again someday.  
  • Be prepared for the possibility that the company will decide to walk you out the door the day you hand your notice in. Collect any materials or files from your workstation or computer that you want to take with you ahead of time.  
  • Tell your direct manager in person or as close as your work arrangement allows if you usually speak over the phone or on video calls.  
  • Be direct and to the point, and briefly tell them your intention. Don’t be afraid to embrace any silences that follow while your manager processes the news – it’s best not to ramble. Remember that you are not obligated to provide details if you don’t want to.  
  • If company policy is two weeks of notice, you do not need to stay longer than this. For many roles, such as sales, companies may accept your two weeks’ notice and still ask you to leave the same day.  
  • Many people get counteroffers to entice them to stay on in the form of a higher title or salary during this process. You can Google “counter offer current employer” for the pros and cons, but it’s usually not in your best interest. Remember why you were looking for new opportunities in the first place. Thank your boss and say that you’re flattered but “I have made an irreversible decision. I appreciate the effort!”  
  • Provide HR and your manager with a resignation letter (or whatever your company policy requires)  
  • Be as helpful as you can in aiding the company with this transition. Ask your supervisor how they would like you to help – they may want you to take a direct role in handing off your tasks or notifying those you worked closely with of your departure.  
  • Make sure you know how your final payments will be made, including any remaining PTO, stocks, and bonuses. You should also confirm your end-of-benefit details, such as deciding whether to COBRA.  

Finally, it’s important to relax, knowing that no matter how awkward these transitions can be, it’s only temporary stress for everyone involved. Keep your eyes on your bright new future elsewhere, and good luck!