How to Quit Your Job with Grace

A big welcome to Melody Kiella!  This is Melody’s first guest post on!

Recently I made a job change that required me to reevaluate my career goals, step out of my comfort zone, and resign from my first professional position. I had been working as an in-house attorney for a small Atlanta-based company for a little over a year when I started to feel antsy, and in mid-September my eyes began to wander.

My wandering eyes had nothing to do with the people I was working with or my working environment.  It simply had to do with the fact that I wasn’t being challenged enough and I wasn’t growing at the rate that I wanted to be growing at. During my down time I started looking into potential job openings. Since I work in the legal field I wasn’t too positive that anything would happen, but in mid-November I got an email from a young lady indicating that her law firm wanted to interview me.

I went on the interview with no expectations and no plans. Part of me didn’t want to get my hopes up, and the other part of me knew that I had nothing to lose. I had a job and an incoming paycheck so there was no added pressure on me to nail the interview and please everyone I talked with. For the first time in my career I was able to actually enjoy the interview process and not stress out about what I said or didn’t say.

When the lunch interview was done I knew that everything had gone well. I had no doubt that I would be called back for another interview, and I was. The second interview was a little more intense because I met with about seven attorneys at the firm for a three hour period, but three days later I got the call that I was being offered the job. The second I got off the phone with the law firm I called my husband and we both cheered together. It was a great opportunity for me professionally and for us financially.

It wasn’t until the following morning that it hit me that I would have to tell my boss, whom I greatly admired and enjoyed working for, that I was leaving to go work somewhere else. I knew that he was going to be completely caught off guard and shocked, and I wasn’t looking forward to answering his why questions. Why are you leaving? Why didn’t you tell me you were unhappy?

The week leading up to “the talk” I asked a lot of people for their advice. Many of them told me that quitting was not a big deal; quitting was simply part of business. One of my friends told me that employers know when they hire young professionals that the chances are high that they will leave when a new opportunity arises. While I knew that all of this was true, it didn’t make going into my boss’s office any easier. I ultimately decided that breaking the bad news was best to do on a Friday. My husband convinced me that Friday would be the best day because it would allow my boss time to collect his thoughts over the weekend.

The week leading up to the Friday of “the talk” I wasn’t really that nervous, but when Friday morning arrived I could feel the nerves expanding in my stomach the closer I got to the office. When I arrived at the office I typed out an official resignation letter emphasizing how much I enjoyed working at the company and even typed out exactly what I wanted to say when I walked down to his office. I found that going over what I was going to say a few times in my head made my nervousness dwindle ever so slightly.

When my boss came in around 9 I walked down to his office with my shoulders pushed back and my head held high. I quietly knocked on the door and asked if he had a minute to speak. I sat down and tried to gather myself, but the moment I saw his happy, smiling face sitting across from me all of my preparedness went out the window. I took a deep breath and got right down to the facts. I was resigning. I was putting in my two weeks. I had a great opportunity that I couldn’t turn down. I was not leaving because I didn’t enjoy working for the company. Please don’t take this personally.

I am not going to go into details about what happened exactly (because that is between my boss and I), but it was not easy to tell someone that you enjoyed working for that you were resigning. In fact, I got teary eyed when I broke the news to him. Something about the shocked look that slowly crept onto his face and the close, personal bond that we had established throughout my tenure with the company made it impossible for me to keep my emotions inside. Looking back I wish I had refrained from letting those few tears come to the surface, but what could I do? I am human after all.

After the meeting was over I felt as if a weight had been lifted off of my shoulders. While I was sad about leaving my position and the people with whom I had grown close with, I was excited to have my first resignation under my belt (and hopefully my last) and have a new opportunity to learn and grow from.

As I know from personal experience, putting in your two week notice can be extremely nerve racking and difficult. While you are bound to be nervous before you walk into your boss’s office, remember that at the end of the day business is business no matter how much you like working for a particular employer. Your boss knows that resigning and moving on is a part of life. I am sure they have resigned from positions before and understand that sometimes an opportunity is too good to turn down. The most important part about giving your two weeks notice is to be respectful and to allow your boss enough time to find someone to replace you.

I am a firm believer that when it comes to your career and your life you need to take all of the opportunities that come your way. You never want to look back and wish you had done something different. So, if you are blessed with a new career opportunity but are scared of letting your boss or current company down, just make the decision that is best for you and never look back.

Have you ever had to leave a job you enjoyed?  How did you deliver the news?  What was your boss’s reaction?  

What tips do you have for others who want to resign with grace?