What You Need to Know Before You Quit

Have you thought through all the consequences of leaving your job? Consider these first, and then resign the right way.

What You Need to Know Before You Quit

Have you ever said the words "I quit" and wished you could take them back? Before blurting them out again, carefully think through your job situation and how these words might affect your future. Consider these factors and suggestions.

Financial risks and timing

Quitting at the wrong time can directly affect your wallet. For instance, if you resign from your position during the holiday season, think about the lost money, advises Delores Hamilton, director of human resources for the city of Newton, Massachusetts. "Most employers give as much paid time off over the holidays as possible, and therefore, there are usually ample opportunities for overtime."

Hamilton reminds employees that it's always easier to find a job when you have a job. "It's much more difficult to find a job when you are unemployed, because there will be many questions around the reasons for unemployment," she says.

Moreover, consider unemployment benefits: Your eligibility for unemployment insurance may be at risk if you voluntarily quit your job.

Job stability counts

You should also mind your track record. Scott Rothwell, general manager for Doubletree Guest Suites Hotel in Waltham, Massachusetts, believes it is important to look at your personal marketability before quitting your present job. "The first thing I look at on a resume or job application is job stability," says Rothwell. "Job-jumpers are rarely good candidates for consideration."

Negotiation power

Being employed is an advantage when it comes to salary negotiations. Prospective employers know that it's unlikely an employed person will leave one job to take another job that pays less. If you are unemployed, you lose your edge in hourly pay negotiations.

Can this relationship be saved?

If you're reconsidering your job termination after taking the above factors into account, think of ways to resolve the issues at hand. "Employees and supervisors have a tendency to hope that if they ignore a problem, it will go away," says Hamilton. "It is important to attempt to resolve problems as soon as you are aware there is a problem. Keeping communication open is key. Once the problem becomes personal, it becomes much more difficult to resolve and may require an objective third party [such as your HR rep] to work things out."

If you are unable to resolve your differences, discuss the problem with someone who is responsible for the overall organization and not just your division, recommends Lisa Peterson, commissioner of public works for the city of Cambridge, Massachusetts. If it's purely a matter of a personality conflict, you might be able to transfer to a different part of the organization.

It may be time to move on if you cannot work through an uncomfortable situation. Be sure to follow the proper protocol so you don't have to crouch behind a display the next time you see your ex-boss at the supermarket.

Give ample notice

You've probably spent many hours conjuring up ways to tell your boss you are leaving him high and dry. You've planned out the exact details. You'll put your notice in a fortune cookie and have it delivered to your boss while sunning yourself in Jamaica.

That's the fantasy. Now here's the reality. Leaving someone high and dry is not very proper or professional, notes Ed Beatrice, CEO of Stoneham, Massachusetts-based Executive Auto Glass. "Two weeks' notice is common professional courtesy -- it's an unwritten rule," he says. "Don't burn bridges. You might want to come back."

Beatrice remembers having a seven-year employee who gave one week's notice and left in the middle of the day with work incomplete. Beatrice says he would be hard-pressed to give this person a solid reference and warns people to remember that word gets around.

Write it

Make sure you submit a formal resignation letter. Briefly explain your reason for leaving and state the last day you will be working. Thank your boss for his support during your employment, even if he was lacking a bit in this area, and wish the company well.