Updated on 03.11.15

The Graceful Way to Quit a Job You Hate

No burned bridges, no theme music, just ways to make yourself look good as you exit.

Overworked businessman

Do you hate your job? Go on, you can tell us. If so, you’re not alone.

In fact, I find that the vast majority of people don’t like their work and wish they could be doing something different. They dream of being able to work for themselves or work from wherever they want. Sometimes, they just snap and quit their 9-to-5’s, but in my opinion it’s always best to quit a job gracefully, even if you totally, completely hate it.

Here’s how:

1. Keep Social Media Clean

One way to end on a bad note is to air your grievances on social media. If you’re friends with co-workers or have an active Twitter profile, it’s best not to complain about your job. For example, don’t quit and then post something like, “I’m so glad to be done with that cubicle!”

Most of your close co-workers and friends will know you’re happy to leave a job you hated, but keep it classy. You never know if your next employer will be checking your Facebook profile and if your comments will irk them or make them distrust you. It’s best just to keep these thoughts to yourself. For the record, passive-aggressive song lyrics count, too. “I’ve got a blank space baby, and that’s my empty cubicle…”

2. Give Ample Notice

As exciting as it would be to scream, “I quit!” and throw all your papers in the air while you storm out of the building to some amazing theme song, it’s probably not the best route to go. Since this is a job you hate, I wouldn’t give much more notice than three weeks. You don’t want to be sitting there for a month knowing you’re about to leave. There’s no way to be productive like that.

Instead, ask to have a meeting with your boss. Draft a nice two- to three-week-notice letter and have a positive discussion of what you can do to tie up all loose ends before you leave. Then, make every effort to complete all of those tasks, organize your files, and clean up your desk for your replacement. Knowing you only have a few weeks left will only encourage you to find more meaningful work for the next time around.

3. Make the Transition Seamless

When I left my last job, I created a Word document that said, “How to Do My Job.” It might have seemed like going overboard at the time, but because I worked at a university, there were so many people I had to know and work with regularly in order to do my job well. So, someone brand new coming in wouldn’t know to contact one specific secretary to book one specific room.

These were all things I had to figure out by trial and error, and it would have been amazing to have a document telling me all of that when I first started. So, when I knew I was going to leave my job (in pursuit of self-employment and work-at-home motherhood), I made that document for my replacement, and as far as I know, it helped her to transition seamlessly into my position.

4. Follow Up With a Thank You

Unless your boss knows you completely hated your job, you can follow up with a note after you leave to thank them for the opportunity. If you are looking for new work, you will likely need your boss’ recommendation, and because of that, you definitely want to end on good terms.

So, once you secure your next job or decide what you’re doing with your life, send them a note, an e-mail, or a simple thank-you text to let them know where you’ll be working and to thank them for helping you leave on a good note.

I know all of this might seem challenging when all you want to do is just not show up for work tomorrow because you hate it so much. But trust me, the best thing you can do is develop a strategic exit plan. As long as you are pleasant at work, don’t complain too much online, and are helpful in finding your replacement and making the transition as painless as possible, you’ll be remembered fondly by your previous employer — even if you won’t remember them the same way.

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