The time has finally come, and you are ready to move on to greener pastures. You are ready to quit your job, but you don’t want to burn any bridges. And so, anxiety holds you back.

If you start the process, you might accidentally let loose, or say something wrong in a moment of emotion; it feels like with one slip, you could ruin your reputation forever.

Resigning can cause conflict and accompanying anxiety, but it doesn’t have to do so. Keep these dos and don’ts handy to help the conversation go more smoothly, regardless of the emotions flowing through you.

No matter who you are, resigning can be scary

Maybe you have your next gig lined up, maybe you don’t.

Maybe you despise your manager, maybe they’ve become your work-hubby/wife.

Maybe you’re a seasoned veteran when it comes to the job quitting game, or maybe you’ve never resigned in your life.

Whatever the case, facts are facts: figuring out how to quit a job can produce incredible anxiety. And, that anxiety is magnified by the risk of burning bridges. No matter how much you love and/or hate your manager and colleagues, your resignation could create conflict.

A million questions will pop into your head.

When and how do you tell your boss? What if they’re upset or angry? Do you have to write a resignation letter? How much notice do you really need to give? Should you be honest in your exit interview?

There are definite right and wrong answers to the above questions, but don’t fret; clear answers exist. Find answers on how to resign without burning bridges, below.

The quitting quandary: it’s overwhelming to step away

To answer your job-quitting questions, it helps to unscramble the uncertainties. Let’s do this by walking through the ‘resignation’ timeline. 

Step 1: Pre-resignation

Resignation prep, getting your ducks in a line.

Step 2: Resignation

Biting the bullet, putting on your big girl/boy pants and telling your manager.

Step 3: Post-resignation

Careful… you’ve weathered the storm but that new-job sunshine isn’t out quite yet.

A great infographic by maps out each of these stages and the definite do’s and don’ts to follow. We also dive in, below.

1. Find the right time and give the right amount of notice


  • Think about what your team has on their plate, what deadlines are approaching and who knows how to and has the capacity to pick up your responsibility.
  • Be as accommodating and flexible in scheduling your last day at your company (or first day at a new job). 
  • Check to see what the company policy is when it comes to the minimum amount of notice you are required to give.

And Don’t:

  • Promise a new employer a start date that doesn’t allow you to comply with your current company’s rules and requirements.
  • Be stubborn and refuse to stay on longer than the required amount of time (if it will help your team and you have the ability to do so).

2. Write a diplomatic resignation letter


  • Be concise, straight forward and to the point. Get time on your boss’ calendar for when you will quit
  • Say you are leaving. Say thank you. Offer to help train someone else for a smoother transition.

And Don’t:

  • Be lengthy or emotional.
  • Complain about the company, your department or boss (or any other teams or colleagues for that matter), says

3. Actually break the news that you’re resigning


  • Set up time with your boss so that you can tell tell them you’re resigning.
  • Tell your boss face-to-face if possible.
  • Email your official resignation letter to both your boss and HR following the meeting.

And Don’t: 

  • Tell anyone at work that you’re quitting or that you have another job offer before you tell your manager.
  • Wait to tell your boss when they’re traveling for work, or when one of you is working from home.

4. Get through the days between now and your last day


  • Develop a ‘handover’ plan and share it with your boss so that there is a plan in place for your departure.
  • Remember how much your team and boss has on their plates and realize that creating an outline of your remaining days will take a load off for them.

And Don’t:

  • Forget to think about the stress that your resignation will put on your manager and colleagues.
  • Forget the ripple effect of having someone you rely on and work with closely quit.

5. Create a job manual for your replacement


  • Outline the core responsibilities of your position, all that you do day-to-day.
  • Explain the reporting structure associated with this role, and how it fits into the architecture of the organization at large.

And Don’t: 

  • Waste time writing a novel that no one will likely ever read and that wastes the time you have left. That time is precious (mainly to your boss), after all.

6. Work as hard as always, if not harder


  • Be overly communicative, keeping your boss fully in the loop of everything on your plate and the status of those projects.
  • Schedule regular check ins with your boss to report on what was done since you last met, what will be done by the time you next do, and what, if any, obstacles you have hit or anticipate.
  • Share any ideas for future projects that you have but won’t be able to finish before you leave.

And Don’t: 

  • Work on less significant tasks or projects when larger, more impactful ones are at stake.
  • Start any new, big projects that you can’t finish before your last day.

7. Prepare for your exit interview


  • Be honest, giving constructive feedback to politically charged or awkward questions such as ‘Why are you leaving?’
  • Mention any solutions to some of the challenges you faced that may benefit future employees.

And Don’t: 

  • Trash-talk or rip apart any individuals.
  • Focus on emotion.
  • Be overly critical without offering any potential solutions.
  • Talk about how much (more) money the new role pays.

In parting…

Quitting your job doesn’t have to mean burning bridges, so anxiety shouldn’t stop you from moving on to bigger and brighter things. By laying out your steps, and keeping in mind some emotional do’s and dont’s for your resignation, it is completely possible to quit without conflict.