How Not to Quit a Job

The culture around changing jobs has shifted. Millennials between the ages of 18-30 have already held 7.8 jobs on average, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is staggering considering the average Baby Boomer has had about 12 jobs over the course of their career.

LinkedIn Founder, Reid Hoffman, nailed it with the comparison that modern employment is more akin to “tours of duty” – which is a concept that allows both the employee and employer to set realistic goals and time horizons.  

But just because it is understood that the average employee will be moving on to his or her next role within 2-5 years, doesn’t mean there are not considerations that need to be made when informing your current employer about your decision to move on.

Here are some things NOT to do when getting ready to jump ship.

Method 1:  “Ghost” the company.

The labor market is hot right now, so it is increasingly common for interviewees, new hires and even employees who have been around for a significant amount to completely vanish on employers with no word. This blows my mind. The idea of giving an Irish Goodbye to a place that has offered to provide me a means of living seems crazy, even in the worst of circumstances.

Whether you have been with a company for three years or three days, you need to take the proper steps to break ties. Even if you accept a job, but then receive a better offer before your start date – you still need to professionally rescind your first offer.

There may also be consequences to simply going dark on an employer. The biggest is that it can put your reputation at risk. If you fail to show up to your first day, or even for the interview – you better believe the recruiter and hiring manager will remember it. Chances are slim they will be willing to give you another chance down the road for another role. In the case that you have been with the company a while, and just stop showing up – you also run the risk of this news getting out to future employers during reference checks.

And look, I get that there may be extreme circumstances where you feel your safety or well-being is jeopardized – to that I would say it is important to break whatever cycle has been created and report it to someone who can protect the people working at the company.

Method 2: Fail to Give Adequate Notice

This can look different depending on how long you have been with a company, your industry, and how senior your role is. Giving notice looks a lot different for a new-hire vs. a senior manager. It all comes down to the impact your departure will have on the company. The idea of a “two-week notice” is custom by today’s corporate standards. This gives you and the company time to hand off your responsibilities.

In the case of a new hire that has only recently started, the timeline may be shorter. As a guideline, the new hire should offer two weeks’ notice, but it’s possible the company will let them leave sooner.

There are also professions that require a lot more notice – senior managers and partners in law firms and medical practices will sometimes give six months’ notice to adequately wrap up their clients and hand off caseloads effectively.

At the end of the day, proper notice is all about respect to your current employer. It also helps protect your legacy and the work you have done in this role.

Method 3: Make a Scene

No matter how much you want to jump on the tables and scream that you are quitting, it doesn’t do anything to your credibility to make a big show of your departure. 

Even if you aren’t going to the extreme of throwing a full-blown temper tantrum, casually spreading the news around the office to your peers can also be damaging. It doesn’t do you any favors, and it may be perceived as a conflict of interest to not be completely honest with management about moving on.

The first person that should know about your decision is your direct manager. The two of you can then work together on how to present the news to your team, and effectively manage the transition.

Method 4: Drag Everyone Down with You

Spending substantial time with co-workers can encourage familiarity and comfort to a degree where it can be easy to get sucked into negative talk and vent sessions about a difficult work situation, especially because they can relate to it more than your non-work circles.

Once you have made the decision to move on, you no longer get to participate in these venting sessions. You have reached the light at the end of the tunnel and complaining further is not going to help anyone. The moment you hand in your notice, any complaining can go from being commiserating to just being petty.

Overall – aim to leave your current job on as positive note as possible. What you do in your final days on the job will be remembered down the road and could affect your chances of getting that dream job.


Liz Helton of Holian Associates is a Personal Branding Expert and Resume Writer based in Northern California. She understands that college students and recent college grads have very specific career needs and may need help launching their career – and nowhere to turn. Previously, Liz spent nearly 10 years in Public Relations, giving her the unique ability to craft concise messaging points and develop story-based resumes that spark action. Liz has a B.A. in Journalism (Public Relations) from California State University, Chico, and is an active member of the National Resume Writers’ Association. Learn more about Liz on our website and at

Recent Post

Signup Newsletter

Skip to content