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Posted by on Feb 11, 2013

How to Quit Your Job with Grace and Class Like the Pope

How to Quit Your Job with Grace and Class Like the Pope

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Resigning and quitting your job can be a challenge especially if you have never done it before.  The transition between your old job and your new one can be an awkward and uncomfortable one. That’s okay as most things in life that involve some sort of change or transition are. I woke up today to learn about the Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation announcement to step away from a job and I was reminded how important it is for your transition out of your old job can be.

For myself, I was generally in love or out of love with a job, and I moved from these phases very swiftly mentally checking out of jobs or checking in.  I daydreamed of working for a new and better boss or at a job that offered greater workplace flexibility.  I’m not saying the Pope did this because his boss is the big guy upstairs, but the guy deals with so much bureaucracy and procedure, I’d consider stepping away from the madness when responsibilities got too much. One boss forgot I had requested to take vacation and made me return from my trip to Mexico a day early.  I cried all the way to the airport and actually interviewed from my hotel room for jobs while my husband and I were on vacation.  When the day actually arrived that I resigned from my job I dreamed of walking out and never looking back.  I avoided the urge, and he has been a mentor even still to this day.

Resigning From a Job

The world we live in is super connected and bosses often time have relationships, contacts, and friends in places that we know not.  Burning that bridge could have hurt my career in ways I would not understand, and instead I choose to resign with respect, class, and grace.

  • Give Two Weeks Notice. This is the minimum expected amount of notice you should give when voluntarily resigning from work.  Employers can make the decision to accept your resignation immediately so be prepared mentally and financially that you may be out of work. It’s the nature of the game. 
  • Write a Formal Job Resignation Letter. Even though we live in the age of text messages and mobile devices, quitting your job is still a formal work process.  This means crafting a letter making sure you include your last day worked and your current mailing address for tax documents and your last paycheck. A formal letter is often included in HR and your employee files.
  • Offer to Train Your Successor.  When an department looses a team member, it means that the team is in for some changes.  Your job responsibilities will be offloaded to others within your department.  Help make the transition easy by offering to train those you leave behind.
  • Create Checklists of tasks, responsibilities and passwords that you use on a regular basis.  Be sure to include important dates and deadlines so your boss or your team won’t be eating crow. Remember your boss or co-workers know people.  Don’t burn that bridge.  Present your boss with a packet of information making the transition as easy as possible.
  • Check Your Negativity at the Door.  I’ve never talked negatively about my employer during my two week transition, and it has always amazed me the parade of people that walked in my office door upon giving my own job notice having worked in HR.  Avoid the negative, the nasty and not so positive conversations that a resignation notice brings by remaining staff and co-workers at the office. On the upside, giving notice in HR can provide your soon to be previous employer something that exit interviews and surveys can’t, real employee honesty.

How to Quit Your Job

Unlike Pope Benedict XVI and your job resignation, you’re not under the media microscope so it’s likely to go off without a hitch.  How to quit your job involves thought, planning and most importantly respect.  Your career is your biggest investment in time and money and 2 minutes of satisfaction is likely not worth the risk. Keep calm, maintain your composure and quit your job knowing that in the long term, you are moving on to better and bigger things.

Download our free job search toolkit for free. Includes cover letter and resume templates to land a job you love. Click here

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About Jessica Miller-Merrell


Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR is workplace technology and social media strategist. She's the founder of Blogging4Jobs.com and mom to @ryleighmerrell. Follow her on Twitter, @blogging4jobs.

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  1. Does the Pope Get Severance Pay? HR, Recruiting, Social Media Policies, Human Resources, HR Technology Blogging4Jobs - [...] right, Pope Benedict has given his two week resignation notice.   And some guy is cursing in high [...]

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