How to Quit a Lousy Job

by Lisa McQuerrey

Sometimes, in spite of your best efforts to adapt and be a contributing team member, a job is just lousy enough that you decide it's time to walk away. Ideally, you'll have another job lined up before quitting the bad job. Regardless of how you feel about your boss, the company or your colleagues, leave on professional terms to ensure a good future recommendation and to avoid burning any bridges you might want to cross again in the future.

Schedule an appointment to talk to your direct supervisor. Don't let on to co-workers about your plans to leave before you talk to your boss in private.

Write a resignation letter to take to your appointment. For best results, don't include a laundry list of why you dislike your job and why you're quitting, but rather, be succinct. Give your notice, indicate a final work date, thank the employer for his time and your opportunities, and sign your name sincerely.

Start your conversation by telling your manager you’re leaving your position based on a variety of reasons. If pressed for an explanation, you may opt to share the factors that led to your decision, such as a pay scale that didn't allow you to support yourself or a hostile work environment created by bullying employees. Your employer can use this information to help improve working conditions for future employees.

Participate in an exit interview with your human resources office, if one is offered. This is especially important if you don't feel you can talk honestly with your supervisor about your reasons for leaving without fear of retaliation.

Be helpful in transitioning out of your position. Tie up loose ends and finish tasks that can be completed within a two-week. Provide an overview of outstanding projects for the next person who comes along.

Show up for work during the two weeks prior to your exit and perform your duties responsibly and efficiently. Resist the urge to talk poorly about your employer or discuss your reasons for leaving with colleagues. Be professional and say it's time to move on to something new.

Say goodbye to co-workers on your last day of work, collect contact information and plan to stay in touch with people you got along with. You never know when a colleague will turn out to be a business contact in the future.

Remove all of your personal belongings on your final day and check with human resources to ensure you complete final paperwork and receive your final paycheck.


  • If you were bullied or harassed during your tenure, consider discussing the circumstances with an employment law professional.
  • An employer might try to negotiate to get you to stay. Plan in advance how you will respond if your boss seems willing to make a sincere effort to improve your working conditions.

Photo Credits

  • Creatas Images/Creatas/Getty Images