10 Things You Shouldn't Say When Quitting Your Job

I Quit
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Want to quit your job gracefully? What you say when you resign is just as important as what you do on your way out the door.

Say the wrong things when you quit, and no one will remember that you gave the appropriate amount of notice, helped train your replacement, and left instructions to help the team cover your departure. All they’ll remember is that you made them feel worse about working for the company you’re leaving behind. Not exactly helpful, the next time you’re looking for a LinkedIn recommendation or a job referral.  

It can be tempting to lash out at an employer after you have resigned, especially if you believe that you have been mistreated or underappreciated. However, be aware that your final words and actions can create a lasting impression that will work against you in the future. There isn’t any point in burning bridges.

How Saying the Wrong Thing Can Hurt You

Subsequent employers may formally or informally seek input from your past employers, whose comments about your performance may be negatively influenced by your parting shots.

Remember that reference checkers tend to side with management when there is a history of conflict with an employee. Contrary to what some people think, employers do more than verify job titles and dates of employment. Employers have wide latitude when it comes to asking questions during a background check.

The Top 10 Things You Shouldn't Say When You Quit Your Job

The best strategy is to keep all communication simple and as positive as possible. Any satisfaction derived from letting your employer know how you feel will likely be fleeting, and any negative effects can be long-lasting. Here are a few things you should avoid saying when you tender your resignation:

1. Your Boss Is a Jerk

Any commentary linking your departure to your boss's character or disposition isn’t going to help. They may have been an ogre, but if word gets back to them that you said so, they will be more likely to disparage your attitude or performance when talking to prospective employers.

2. Your Manager Is Bad at Their Job

Don’t say that you are leaving because your boss was incompetent even if it’s true. Your manager will be more likely to ascribe any failures to you and provide a negative appraisal of your work.

3. Your Team Members Are a Problem

Don’t mention the performance or bad attitude of team members as a reason for your departure. When employers check your background, they often seek input from staff as well as supervisors. If former subordinates or coworkers are insulted by your parting remarks, then they will be more likely to reference your shortcomings as a manager or teammate.

4. You Were Underpaid

There is no need to encourage management to perceive you as a disgruntled employee, since this characterization may be passed along to others who inquire about your tenure with the organization.

5. You Think That the Company Is a Mess

If you think the company is floundering or underachieving in some way, don’t say so. Your employer will be aware of any problems within their organization. You have nothing to gain by conveying to management that they are stuck in a bad organization while you are moving on to better things.

6. You Find the Products or Services Inferior

Disloyal employees are normally frowned upon. Former supervisors will more likely assert that any limitations to your success were due to your deficiencies and not flaws in their products or services. Prospective employers will wonder if you are going to badmouth them when you move on.

7. You Won’t Be Giving Much (or Any) Notice

An abrupt departure can be used to substantiate allegations that you weren't a dedicated or professional employee. There are some circumstances where it’s acceptable to quit without notice, but in most cases, two weeks' notice is the norm.

8. You’re Unwilling to Train Your Replacement

It’s a good idea to demonstrate that you are a committed employee right up until the end of your employment. Cooperation that eases the transition for your boss will be remembered and often rewarded with a positive recommendation.

9. Your New Job Is So Much Better

Don’t brag about your new job to fellow employees since this can generate resentment, particularly if you imply that you are better than them. Thank others for their support and mention how you will miss working with them.

10. You Have a Few Criticisms to Offer, and You’re Going to Do So in This Email

Don't put anything negative in writing. Keep your resignation letter positive, so all involved remember you as a positive person. Learn how to write a resignation letter that politely states that you are leaving.

Key Takeaways

Keep It Positive: Now is not the time to disparage your boss, teammates, or soon-to-be former employer.

Quit the Right Way: Provide at least two weeks' notice in writing and thank the company for the opportunity.

Take the Long View: Remember that most industries are smaller than they seem. Be professional when you leave, and you’ll be able to ask for a reference or recommendation later on.

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  1. CareerBuilder. "New CareerBuilder Study Debunks Major Myths Around Background Checks for Employers and Job Seekers." Accessed Jan. 17, 2020.

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