I’ve never truly left a company before by my own initiation. My previous job ended when the company was downsized, while the job before that had an expected end date as part of an internship program. I don’t believe I will remain with my current company for the rest of my life, so I anticipate a situation where I will initiate a leave of my own accord.

Playing thoughts through my head, I’m worried that saying “I quit” will have the wrong (negative) connotation to my employer. I may be leaving for a number of reasons – personal, financial, etc. – which I may not want to discuss in depth with my employer. However, I do not want them to get the idea that I am leaving out of spite, or that I otherwise did not value and appreciate my time with the company.

Essentially, I am trying to figure out the proper way to phrase my termination of employment in the following two scenarios:

  1. Termination with a typical two weeks heads-up
  2. Sudden termination where I leave that very day

The second scenario is possible where I live due to at-will employment, where I am legally allowed to quit essentially for any reason or even no reason at all. If another company gives me a job offer with an immediate nonnegotiable start date, then I may be forced to leave my current job with no heads-up. Alternatively, I may simply win the lottery and want to retire immediately; I have charitable projects to perform in the world, of moral importance to myself, to which I would rather devote my time than my current job.

In all of these scenarios I’ve described, I am not unhappy with my current job. There just seems to be something about the phrase “I quit” that does not convey the neutrality of my decision to leave. How can I phrase my employment termination more aptly?

  • 4
    You can't answer this until you're in the situation. If you win the lottery, want to stay home with a baby, decide to go to grad school, etc, you'll tell them "I have decided to X and so I will be leaving you" and work out a date. If someone makes you an offer you can't refuse, you'll say "I have accepted an irresistible offer. Today is my last day working here." I can't imagine any scenario in which you would literally say "I quit" but more importantly, preparing that speech now, against all the possible reasons you might leave a job, is not something we can answer here. May 26 '16 at 14:23
  • @JoeStrazzere Since this is hypothetical, I'm assuming both scenarios. It's the negative connotation of the words I am trying to avoid; perhaps I hope to return to the company some day, or perhaps I just want to be overly polite and avoid hurt feelings. May 26 '16 at 14:23
  • @KateGregory I see, so the scope may be too general for an adequate solution. May 26 '16 at 14:24
  • 3
    I think the word you are looking for is "resign". e.g. "I am resigning. My last day will be <day>." This is neutral and communicates the most important facts.
    – Brandin
    May 26 '16 at 14:31
  • While this question is not a duplicate: workplace.stackexchange.com/questions/19427/…, it does contain a good answer at the top. May 26 '16 at 14:55

It's typically better to quit with a notice but the same phrasing essentially works for both situations. You could just write an email like this to your manager:

To whom it may concern,

This is to let you know that I will be resigning my <POSITION> 2 (two)
weeks from today - my last day shall be <DATE>. Please let me know what
kind of tasks you’d like me to complete in this time period.

Vilhelm Gray

Optionally you can add a sentence or two mentioning how you enjoyed working there and thanking for the opportunity to learn / contribute.

The reason I say it's better to quit with notice is because it lets the company adjust to you leaving - if you quit effective immediately (which is likely legal in an at-will state), you'll still burn bridges with your manager. This may or may not be important to you but it's worth to consider.

While it may look like it's impersonal because of the email, you definitely need something in writing with a time stamp so there's no way to argue when you submitted your resignation. If you're on good terms with your manager, you should mention this in person first (so the email doesn't come out of the blue) but do not forget to send the email right away.

PS: IANAL - this is not legal advice.

  • 7
    I would suggest to say "My last day of employment will be <day>." so it is clearer. For example, if you say "I resign two weeks starting today", does today count or not? It's a little uncertain what the reader/listener will believe your last day to be.
    – Brandin
    May 26 '16 at 14:33
  • @Brandin Thank you, you're right. I'll update my answer.
    – xxbbcc
    May 26 '16 at 15:05
  • 6
    I would strongly advice doing this in person and not through an e-mail. You can (and should) bring the written letter of resignation to the meeting but it should be done face to face.
    – Hilmar
    May 26 '16 at 15:07
  • 1
    @Hilmar You can talk to the manager in person if you're on good terms but you definitely need it writing.
    – xxbbcc
    May 26 '16 at 15:08
  • @Hilmar I added an extra sentence about mentioning it in person.
    – xxbbcc
    May 26 '16 at 15:09

Schedule a meeting with your manager.

Hi Mr/s. XXX. I really appreciate the opportunities that I had here and all the growing and learning that I was able to experience. However, I feel that it's time for me to move on and so I have decided to resign. My last day will be on YYY. I want to personal thank you for your support and collaboration while I was here.

Adjust to the specific situation as needed or appropriate. You can go into the actual reasons or not. Prepare for some follow up questions:

  • Why do you want to leave ?
  • What can we do to keep you here?
  • Can you stay a little longer?
  • What transition plan do you have in mind ?
  • Pack your stuff and get out of here.

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