The Right Way To Quit Your Job

The thought of a person quitting their job on live television and in front of millions of people during the Super Bowl prompted mixed emotions. I was excited and wanted to cheer out loud for this person and her brave decision to chase her professional dreams, but also full of wonder and uneasiness about this being right approach and setting a bad example for real job seekers out there.


When Sunday evening finally arrived, I was glued to my TV to experience this woman do what many people only dream of (watch the ad here). While what turned out to be a lopsided and unentertaining football game came and went with the Seahawks celebrating victory and the Broncos a devastating defeat, there was another champion – a career champion named Gwen – that emerged. She came out a runaway winner by starting her own business and leaving her old work behind in the dust.

As it turns out, despite the radical delivery of the news to her previous company, she actually did give two weeks’ notice and her former boss applauded the move, supported her decision and wished her well, according to reports. I’m not here to say Gwen’s approach was right or wrong, but I can surely say she showed moxie, gaining the support of GoDaddy while making her career dreams come true. In my professional experience, I see that generally when people make great things like this happen, they do it with others in their corner, backing them up.

You, too, can make your career dreams come true if you plan ahead and have a strong support system in place. Do it right and you’ll be the next one submitting your resignation with class and dignity, in a way that has your previous employer proud and wishing you well for the future.

I remember Mary, who I worked with. Behind the scenes, Mary wasn’t happy with her current employer – not so much her job itself but the culture in which she worked. She simply hated going there every day, but it was a job. She kept her head down, worked hard and delivered great results for that company. Mary wanted to leave, but it wasn’t until she found a support system, developed a comprehensive career plan, and exercised job search best practices that she was able to find that ideal next step. When the time finally came, Mary was ready to march into that frustrating employer and scream from the mountaintops, “I QUIT!”, but she instead did it the right way. It turns out her new employer required a reference from her previous one, which is not uncommon in today’s employment world.

You can’t simply quit on emotion. You need to resign on good terms like Mary did, armed with an exit plan, career direction, and on good terms – Mary had all three. She learned that even when the ride was over, at quitting time, you must treat your former supervisor as a business partner who can help reinforce the great things you’ve done to help his or her company and validate your next career move as the right one.

Change on your mind? Here’s how to handle it.



1. Have A Career Plan. If you quit just because you can’t take it anymore and haven’t considered your future, you’re making an emotional decision that guarantees potential employers will question your value and long-term potential with their organization. Or, if you leave and take another job just to get back in the workforce, it may damage your career path in the long run.

2. Be Sure Your Next Move Makes Sense. Despite the resignation in your immediate career history, if you’re making a move to enhance your skillset or your career overall, no employer will stand in your way.

3. Exhaust Your Internal Options. Before you make your departure official, consider all internal possibilities for career growth. Tactfully communicate your career desires and challenges to those that matter to enhance the possibility of staying put in a way that allows you to enjoy and thrive in your current company and culture.

4. Handle Everything With Class. Have a resignation letter prepared and give at least the standard two weeks’ notice. If you know your departure will have an immediate negative impact on the business of the employer you’re leaving, offer to work evenings or weekends until they can find a replacement to finish work you started.

5. Be Prepared For Counters. The emotional counter from the employer is becoming more and more common – this is where the employer finally tells you all the great things they have in store for you and finally communicates their true appreciation for the work you’ve done, then provides you a counteroffer to stay on board. Research shows that if a person accepts a counter, they’re usually still looking to leave within six months or is let go by the same organization within a year.

6. Request References or Endorsements. While sometimes company policy may not allow employees to provide a formal reference for you, you can always ask a trusted manager or colleague to be a personal reference. Gather what you’ll need to make this happen, such as phone numbers and email addresses for those people.

Have you own “Gwen Story?” We’d love to hear about it! Please share it below in the Comments section.

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Job Search ToolkitIf you’re thinking about making a major career change, you’ll need to be prepared to job search effectively. Start to refresh and update your resume and cover letter and begin to map out a career plan with the help of our free Job Search Toolkit.

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