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3 Tips on How to Quit Your Job Without Burning Bridges

How to Quit Your Job Without Burning Bridges
Photo attribution: Skez at English Wikipedia [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], from Wikimedia Commons

The good news is you just got that dream job you have been wishing for! Finally you can quit your current job and move on in your career to a job with better benefits and perks.

The bad news is, you still need to quit your old job.

Quitting your job can be frightening and stressful. What if your old manager gets upset with you? How do you tactfully say, “I’m done with this job! Bye-bye!”

You need to be very smooth when you leave an old job because you never know when you might need to go back.

Sorry – yes, I said it.

In the current job market, you never know when you might need to return to an old job that you were happy to leave.

The other reason not to trash the breakroom on your way out, is that you NEED a good reference from your old boss. A good reference is worth its weight in gold (or bitcoin, or whatever is currently price-y on the stock market!)

So no matter how horrible your current job is, absolutely do not burn your bridge. You want to be a professional, and you must act professionally, even when on your way out the door.

Check out these 3 tips for quitting your job without ruining your chances of returning or getting a good reference.


Treating people with respect is highly underrated but completely necessary. It doesn’t matter if you are leaving your job because the working conditions are horrendous, your boss drives you crazy, or you can’t stand your co-workers.

Be the bigger person. Stay calm. Be kind. Be clear and stand up for yourself but don’t feel you need to tear someone else down.

Maybe you are leaving an already good job for a more awesome job or due to life circumstances (moving, having a baby, caring for a family member). You can leave with your reputation intact and a glowing recommendation for your next job.

Advance Notice

The 2 weeks after you give notice but still have to work are So Awkward. It is not only a nice gesture to give 2 weeks of advance notice, it may be a contract requirement. Finish well by giving your employer time to replace you and finish any projects you have started. Make sure you are clear with your employer on what your last day will be.

Say Thank You

Whether it was a good job or bad job, it will always serve you well to thank your employer for “the opportunity.” They took a risk on you and have paid you regularly (I hope!).

If it is true, mention how you have enjoyed working for them and give a specific example. Everybody loves a compliment. A thank you card to a great former boss/department once you leave is a lovely touch.

Offer to Train Your Replacement

Your skills and expertise are needed at your new job but offering to train your new replacement gives you a chance to leave your legacy behind.

If you are leaving a good job, your boss will love it if you can recommend somebody to replace you. At the very least, pass your knowledge on to your replacement.


We all feel some measure of guilt when we quit a job, and that’s normal. However, you do not need to give a long explanation for why you are leaving.

If you have a good relationship with your boss, feel free to share about the new job opportunity, move, or life decision you have made, but keep it short. It is kind of like you are breaking up with your boss, and nobody wants to hear too much about how great the new relationship is!

If your boss is a bit nasty, then just offer a simple “I am pursuing a new opportunity, and my last day here will be in two weeks.” You don’t need to give more explanation than that!

Put it in a letter

Although you will, most likely, be telling your boss that you quit in person, it is a good idea to write and give your boss a letter of resignation.

Keep it simple! Just one page that says:

  • Thanks for the opportunity to work here
  • I am pursuing a new opportunity
  • My last day of work will be in 2 weeks
  • My forwarding address is…..

That’s all! The more you say, the more you leave room for arguments or your boss trying to change your mind.


Most employees will change jobs up to 12 times in their career life. Knowing how to search for a job and how to gracefully quit a job are important career skills.

Ask for a Letter of Reference

When you are telling your boss that you are leaving, make sure you say how much you appreciated the opportunity. Then ask, “Would you be willing to provide me with a letter of reference for the future?”

You want to have that in your hand or inbox before you leave for good. As memorable and important as you are, in time your boss will start to forget you and not remember all the details of what a great worker you were.

Quitting your job with kindness and professionalism sets you up to start a new job on the right foot. You can walk out the door knowing that you did your best and that you are leaving a good last impression.

You never know when that brand new job might turn out to be twice as bad as your old one, so when you quit your job with respect, you are leaving the bridge open in case you need to return.

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About Crystal Jones RN

Crystal Jones is a Registered Nurse who moonlights as a professional freelance writer. She uses her expert knowledge, skills and personal experience in health, education, parenting, simple living and mental health to provide content that teaches, engages and inspires readers. When she isn’t writing, working or crying in the bathroom she can be found in the kitchen burning dinner for her husband and 3 young kids when she would rather be out in the garden. Check out her work and how to connect at