7 Steps to Take Before You Quit Your Job

Face it. You will eventually quit your job. It may be this year. It may be next. It may be ten years from now. But it’s inevitable. It’s only a matter of time. The only real question is how to do it in a way that doesn’t burn your bridges. You never know. You may want to come back. At the very least, you may need a reference.

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/kledge, Image #5071987

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/kledge

Unfortunately, many people don’t always end their tenure at a company as well as they begin. The key, in my opinion, is to begin with the end in mind. As leaders, we should be intentional about everything we do—even quitting.

Let’s start with the outcome we want. Here’s how I would define it:

You want your employer and fellow employees to celebrate your contributions, grieve your departure, and eagerly welcome you back if ever given the chance.

Before you turn in your resignation—or even begin looking for another job—let me suggest that you consider the following seven actions:

  1. Determine to exit with dignity and honor. This is where it starts. It really is all about a decision. You really can leave on a good note. Take the moral high ground. Don’t speak ill of your supervisor, your co-workers, or the company. It will only make you look small and petty. It’s amazing how negative comments have a way of spreading—and moving up the org chart. It’s a small world. And the industry you are working in is smaller still. You never know when you may be working for someone you’re working with now. You never know when you may want to come back. Leave the door open.
  2. Count the cost of leaving your present job. Someone once said, “The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. But sometimes we forget: it still has to be mowed!” How true. Every job has it’s pluses and minuses. Even for me, there are days that I would give anything to go back to being an acquisitions editor. And then I remember what it was like. I had bad days there, too. The key is to be realistic. To me, it’s more important to be going toward something rather than moving away from something.
  3. Give your employer a chance to address your issues. You need to carefully identify what the real issues are. Is the problem your current job, your boss, a co-worker, the system, the whole company, what? If you don’t tell your supervisor, he or she can’t fix it. Of course, they might not be able to fix it even if they know what it is. But unless you give them a chance, you’ll never know. You might just be surprised at how different your experience can be once your key issues are addressed. If you can’t work it out, then make sure you give your employer ample time to find a replacement and plan for a smooth transition.
  4. Honor your commitments to your current employer. Whether you have an employment contract or not, you have a “duty of loyalty.” This means that you are expected to provide an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay. Don’t grow slack in your work or let things fall through the cracks. You want to turn your position over to your successor in tip-top shape. You don’t want your successor to say, “No wonder she left. It’s a miracle she wasn’t fired. She left us with a mess.” Like it or not, your successor will be the primary steward of your reputation at the company. You want her to say, “Wow! She left some big shoes to fill. If I can do the job half as well as she did, I will be a success!” or “She left everything in great shape. The files were well-organized and I knew the status of every project. The transition was seamless.”
  5. Don’t look for another job on company time or with company email. In essence, this is stealing. Your employer is paying you to work for him. Your time—at least during work hours—belongs to him. He provides you with an email account to use for company business. It doesn’t belong to you. Worse, everything you ever send or receive via company email is retained for years—even if you delete it locally. This includes complaints about your boss or co-workers, discussions with prospective employers (or competitors), fights with your spouse. Everything. And believe me, it can come back to bite you.
  6. Don’t share proprietary information with prospective employers. This is a simple matter of honesty. Company data, reports, contacts, etc. are assets of the company. Using them for your own benefit is no different than stealing physical property. Providing them to a prospective employer is worse than theft; it’s treason. As an employer myself, I would instantly break off discussions with any prospective employee if they volunteered to give me information from their present employer. They may think they are enticing me to hire them. What they are really doing is revealing that they have no moral compass whatsoever. These are not the kind of people I want infecting my corporate culture.
  7. Don’t conspire with others to leave the company. In 1986, Robert Wolgemuth and I left Thomas Nelson. We ended up starting a new publishing company called Wolgemuth & Hyatt, Publishers. We left the company within weeks of one another, but we did not discuss going into business prior to our departure. We wanted to be able to say with integrity that we had not left with plans to start something else together. But I have seen others take a different path and usually with disastrous consequences. You want your current employer rooting for you. You want to be able to use him or her as a reference. If you are any good at your job, your employer will hate losing you. If you attempt to take other employees with you—especially good employees—it will only add insult to injury. More than likely, it will burn a bridge that you may well need later.

Finally, if you are determined to quit, then don’t discuss your decision with other employees until you have discussed it with your supervisor. This is a simple matter of respect. The last thing you want is for him or her to “hear it through the grapevine.”

With a little planning, anyone can make a graceful exit. Life is short. The world is small—and cold. You don’t need to create any unnecessary enemies. You’ve already made an investment in your job. Now make one in your career. Think of the future and keep the end in mind.

Question: What results have you seen when others have followed these steps? when they haven’t? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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  • http://www.freemoneyfinance.com FMF

    Good post, and I agree with most of your points. A few thoughts:

    1. One other I would add is “If your income is needed, don’t quit until you have a new job.” No matter how bad your current job is, it’s not worse than not eating. Don’t think you can easily find another job — I’ve seen numerous people quit without a job (thinking it would be easy to find another one) and been months without work. It happens fairly frequently.

    2. I agree with #3 but want to add (just to be clear) that this should be done BEFORE you announce you’re leaving. Give them a chance to make it right. If they don’t, find another job and announce you’re leaving. If, at this point, they decide to make it right, don’t listen to them — go to the new job. Why? 1. You told the new people you accepted their offer — which you thought through in detail before you accepted it (I assume.) 2. Your current company is playing games with you. You can’t trust them. They had the chance to make it right and blew it.

    3. A lot of this post is about what the employee should do for the company, and, as I said, I agree with it. However, it’s a two-way street. How about a post on what companies should do to honor, respect and retain their employees on Monday?

  • bex

    You don’t directly address compensation related issues. I feel strongly that it is a duty of the employer to always compensate an employee to the maximum level they are willing too.

    As an employee I have adopted a rule of never approaching over compensation issues when they have risen to the level that I am going to resign. I don’t accept counter offers either.

    The only acceptable time for an employee to prompt an employer on compensation is when reviews are late or job duties have changed significantly in an ad-hoc manner. These situations can often be symptoms of larger problems however.

    I would appreciate your thoughts on this.

  • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt


    Great input. Rats. I meant to include your first point. It’s very important. I have seen numerous, otherwise smart people, “jump out of the plane without a parachute.” Usually with disasterous consequences.

    I also agree with your second point, too. I once had an employer who didn’t take me seriously when I met with him privately. I then announced that I was quitting. He called me in and tried everything in the toolbox: guilt, shame, bribery, flattery. I was gracious, but in my heart I resolved that I would not work for him no matter what.

    I also like your suggestion about blogging on what the company can do. I’ll have to give this some thought. The Executive Leadership Team has spent a good deal of time on this over the last two years. We are still a long way from where we want to be, but we are making progress. We have cut our avoidable turnover in half.

    Thanks for your input,


  • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt


    I agree with most of what you have said on compensation. I have never asked for a raise that I can remember. I have sometimes had to remind a busy boss to submit the paperwork for the raise they promised. (And, frankly, I have had to be reminded of this on occasion, too.)

    I’m not quite sure what you mean by “it is a duty of the employer to always compensate an employee to the maximum level they are willing too.” Personally, I think the free market is the best corrective to this. If a company doesn’t pay people competitively, they won’t retain their people. On the other hand, the employee is always free to try and find another employer who will pay him what he thinks he is worth. At Thomas Nelson, we try to do formal job pricing, so that we truly know what a job is worth. Our goal is to be at the mid-point of the range.

    Also, I have never seen a job satisfaction study in which compensation was the #1 factor. I don’t think I have ever seen where it is even in the top three! Obviously, the less I enjoy my job, the more you will have to pay me to do it. But, I think we have to consider the total package when looking at the benefits we receive from our work.

    Thanks for taking time to comment.


  • Bryan


    On your comment that you try to be at the midpoint of the compensation range for a position, do you find yourself losing your stronger performers because, by definition, they are making only average compensation for their jobs (and now, by virtue of this post, they know that’s how your organization values them)?


  • Bryan

    Oops..should’ve added that I did catch your point about total package being important. I agree! I’m still interested whether what a cynic might call an “average pay for what we hope is above average people” policy has created turnover issues? Thanks!

  • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt


    Great questions. Actually, aiming for the midpoint is a general rule. If someone is an outstanding performer, then they will likely be in the high-end of the range. In addition, variable compensation (e.g., bonuses) is another way to reward high performers.

    Turnover is something we watch very closely. However, we have cut it in half in the last few years.



  • http://spiritualoasis.wordpress.com Bill

    Excellent post! I followed a link from Mark Copeland’s blog. He observed, and I agree, that your advice translates well to ministers. Thanks for passing these thoughts along. -bill

  • http://joeandancy.com Joe Abraham

    Valuable lessons to learn… Thanks.

  • http://www.leahadams.org Leah Adams

    What incredibly awesome and wise insights. I’ve always tried to follow these suggestions. It is all about integrity and character…two things our world desperately needs to see.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thanks. This is one of the places where a person really demonstrates their character. How you finish matters.

  • http://www.frymonkeys.com Alan Kay

    Great points. People often want to leave becasue they feel they have no control over their present employment – they hope they will be able to control their future elsewhere. Managing your own behaviour before you depart is an importnat step in making sure you don’t move into another situation where you still have no control. I know that from personal experience. Your seven points make so much sense. 

    • Jmhardy97

      Having a good plan is always a great strategy. The last days need to be planned well and executed well.


  • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

    Great post, Michael. I really agree with your seven points. You never know when someone from the past might be a reference or a potential employer. Unfortunately, in government work, with guaranteed pensions/retirement, strong unions, and a sparse budget, you end up with people staying on a job when they should be elsewhere. The whole system starts to revolve around entitlement instead of job performance. It’s sad when this happens as your seven points go right out the window.

    • Jmhardy97

      Good point john,

      when things seem to good to be true, they most likely are.


    • http://brevis.me Robert Ewoldt

      I think it’s sad, John, when people are in a job more because of their job security than because of their competence.

  • http://www.flurrycreations.com/theblog John Bergquist

    Great advice.  I left my job of 9 years,  4 months ago and I hope I did much of this well.  Running a race and finishing well pays off so much in the end.  Thanks for writing this.  I’m storing this one away for sharing with many in the future.

  • http://jasonfountain.blogspot.com Jason Fountain

    It always amazes me when someone has had a successful tenure with an employer and then manage to destroy all of their work by the way they leave a job. Leaving a job in the right manner is a skill – not something that just happens. As you say, it’s all about intentionality. We CHOOSE to exit a job in the proper manner.

    My goal for any job is to leave things better than they were when I arrived. This doesn’t just happen through what I do during my job tenure. Much of your legacy will occur based on how you leave the job.

    People love a humble person who wants things RIGHT before they leave. It is the honorable thing to do and people appreciate it. I love the quote: “Make sure you’re good to the people on your rise to the top because you’ll probably pass them on your way back down.” Thanks for the reminders!

    • Jmhardy97


      I agree. Be humble and leave things better than when you got there and nothing but positive can come of the situation.


    • http://brevis.me Robert Ewoldt

      Leaving a job in the WRONG manner can negatively affect relationship that you had at your company, too.  If you leave without integrity, you destroy all those relationships.

  • http://twitter.com/RookieWriter David Barry DeLozier

    Well said.  Number one is certainly linked to your previous post on “Two Types of Thinkers.” I especially relate to “moving toward something rather than away from something.”  I resigned a great job at a company listed 3 times on Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work for in America while I was there.  It was like leaving my family, but I knew I was supposed to do something else. 

    Whatever happened to Wolgemuth & Hyatt?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I assume you mean the publishing company (as opposed to the literary agency). It was acquired by Word in 1992.

      • http://twitter.com/RookieWriter David Barry DeLozier

        Got it – so “aquisitions” has been a recurring theme throughout your career.  Smart.

    • Lolly

      I really loved the way this post was worded.  I agree, David, that number one, about “moving toward something rather than away from something,” really hit home with me.  So often we can get bogged down in things we don’t like about our job so that we can become negative while we’re still working there.  As Christians, we’re supposed to be filled with the fruits of the Spirit, including love, joy, and peace.  Therefore, we should strive to maintain good relationships with our co-workers, if at all possible, and to leave them with a good impression of us after we’ve departed.  Great words of wisdom, Michael!


    I have a question…I am thinking of quitting to move into a different position than what I am in now.  I am in sales/engineering now, but looking go move into the IT field.  I really do like the company I work for now and do not want to leave them stranded.  But my question is, do I tell my employer that I am looking for another job?  What if they do not take it well and decide to fire me, especially if they find someone new?  Or do I just be patient and wait to say anything until I find another job and just give them my 2 weeks notice?

    • http://twitter.com/RookieWriter David Barry DeLozier

      Any chance you can get an IT position within this company?  If so, points 2 and 3 above are critical.  If not, I would recommend waiting to tell your employer when your new position is secured.

      • FINZ2LFT

        Thanks David.  I am working for a small company that feels outsourcing their IT needs is better for them.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Honestly, I don’t think I can offer any advice long distance. I think you have identified the right questions. You will just need to consider all the angles and then make the best decision.

    • Lolly

      I would refrain from discussing this with your current employer.  Sad to say, but in this day and age, with so many people looking for work, your boss probably won’t find it too hard to replace you.  Therefore, it would be better not to give them an excuse.  My husband works in the IT industry, too.  Every time he ends  a contract job, he gets flooded with calls from agents asking him to consider another one.  He’s been with his current job for two months now, and he still gets calls from agents asking him if he’s interested.  So, like I said, don’t give your employer an excuse.

      Sadly, I also speak from personal experience.  A few years ago I was unhappy in my job, and quietly began looking for another one.   I told my boss that another company was possibly interested in me and BOOM! I was gone just a couple of days later.  To make it even worse, the other company didn’t call me back, after all, so I ended up with no job at all.  I had to go back to school before I could get another job.  A professor of mine told me the same thing had happened to her before she came to teach at that school, so that’s why now I never, ever, ever tell an employer if I’m thinking about leaving.

  • Jplynch04

    Simple Wisdom.  Refreshing to the soul.

  • Noemail

    I am not sure what to do. My job hates me and wants me to quit. How do I hear God for direction. I am so lost and need God. Please help me God – Lead Me I will go.

    • Joe Lalonde

      Noemail, that’s a tough situation to be in. My wife was in a similar job situation for quite some time. I would be praying about the situation(but do not use prayer as an excuse not to move), looking for new prospective employers, reading a couple of books regarding the job hunt and areas of interest.

  • http://www.suttonparks.com Sutton Parks

    Almost a decade ago I quit a job due to a major shift in my work hours (I was to work nights and every weekend). I hated that job but still wanted to quit with dignity. My conversation with my boss started off well but escalated to the point where I told them what to do and walked out. I regret how I left and would not repeat that. However, I’m glad I quit. As the sailors say, “Any port in a storm”. If I had to follow a 7 step plan I would have never quit. I’m sure they’re glad I left too and I have grown up some since then.

    • Jmhardy97


      great to here you have changed.


    • http://brevis.me Robert Ewoldt

      Sutton, I liked your website, especially the post about how you cut money from your monthly budget.

  • Casey Sollock

    As the founder of QuitToGrowRich.com, I love this post! :)  In my work with clients, I always say there are no irresponsible quitters allowed…you must quit with integrity…and that involves a plan. 
    Thanks for this post!  Excellent!
    ~Casey Sollock 

    • Joe Lalonde

      Casey, thanks for sharing your website. I’m checking it out and it looks like a great site. Keep up the good work.

    • http://LookingForPurpose.com Dylan Dodson

      I agree, we need to know how we are going to quit in order to do it well.

    • Jmhardy97

      Thank you for sharing your website.  I really liked it.


  • Joe Lalonde

    Michael, wow is this ever timely. My wife put her two weeks notice last Friday. I believe she did this was as much grace as the situation allowed. As much as this job was not a good fit for her, it’s sad to see this is what it took to change her boss’s attitude toward others.

    It’s also a bit scarey. There’s no new job lined up, no prospects, a loose business idea floating around, and not much else that I can tell. Thankfully, we’re in a much better position than we were when I lost my job but I think we still need some direction in what is going to happen.

  • Travis Wallace


    I think that number one is the most important on the list. I was downsized from a ministry job earlier this year, and was determined to handle the whole situation with dignity and honor. I told everyone, including a meeting of key people in the church, that it was the right decision and, if it were mine to make, I would make the same. I understood that it was strictly a business decision. Because of that, my relationship with everyone at the church is intact and strong. I am still involved, and they are a source of support as I navigate the waters of under-employment. Sure, I wish it hadn’t happened, but I “finished well.” I know that will pay dividends in the future, and it allows me to look at myself in the mirror in the mornings.

    • http://joeandancy.com Joe Abraham

      Travis, I like your honesty and sincerity. God has seen your actions and He will surely open supernatural doors of favor for you! 

  • Patricia W Hunter

    I chose not to read this initially. I freelance and my 62 year old husband is waiting to hear in the next two weeks if he will be one of the four in his department who will be let go. I didn’t think this post would apply, but in many ways it does. Should Louis be one of the four, it is still important for him to leave with dignity and honor. I wonder if you would consider writing another article that would address that particularly situation, if you haven’t already. In today’s economic downturn, there are likely many others who could benefit from your wisdom for that situation, as well.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thanks. I will add it to my list of possible topics. Thanks.

  • http://www.anditsonlytuesday.com Helen Antholis

    Excellent suggestions. They speak of maintaining integrity in the process. I would add, if you know you are leaving at a future date, to take care of your people. Write reviews for inclusion by the next supervisor, assist with learning and promotional opportunities, write references for them (to be given to them after, as you say, you’ve informed your supervisor), and carefully construct your resignation letter outlining your accomplishments and achievements. This letter will go in your file and inform those who don’t know you now but who may check your file in the future.

  • http://twitter.com/gloriabethrose Gloria Rose

    As an executive recruiter who helps companies hire–and employees leave every day–I say thank you for the wise input. HOW you leave follows you.

  • Pastorjd

    I worked for a Boat Factory several years ago. When I was leaving to go into ministry I gave my bosses 6 months notice. I told them it would take a new hire that long to learn my job. When I took over that position the man before me had taken all the measurements that were in a notebook with him to another boat factory. It took me months to rewrite that book. When I left my replacement had a book that he understood and was able to do the job. The plant manager told me that there were days he wanted to kill me, but if I ever needed a job look him up.

  • Anonymous

    One thing that can work well in a transition period is to focus on sharpening skills that enhance performance in your current role as well as any future role. I hope this is true, because it is something I’m doing these days. ;)

  • turner_bethany

    This post is so timely for me. I am actually in my last day and 1/2 at my current job. I love the organization and the people I work with, but my husband and I are moving. This post gave me the encouragement I needed to finish these next 2 days strong!

  • http://twitter.com/andreayorkmuse Andrea York

    This is timely and pertinent to quitting my church too.

    • Joe Lalonde

      Andrea, I think like a lot of things in life, this list is transferable to other areas.

  • http://LookingForPurpose.com Dylan Dodson

    Like many things in life, a good way to leave well is to be intentional about it. Plan how you can leave well, if not, we may become controlled by our emotions or other desires and lose focus on leaving in a good manner.

  • http://twitter.com/financialsamura Financial Samurai

    Your point #7 still conspired with others to quit and form your own company.  Did I misread this?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Yes, we did not talk about it prior to our departure. We just had the same values.

  • http://actjustlylovekindness.wordpress.com/ Doug

    i learned the first lesson 5 years ago. I was passed up for a promotion that I was expecting to receive later that year. I found out about this when my manager introduced the person who got the job on her first day. Even while the manager was giving the new hire first day orientation in the office I shared with him, I did keep it together. I wanted to leave with dignity, so I took my time formulating a response to gave 2 weeks notice. As it turned out 6 months later, I found a job with another manager in the chain. I know I would not have had that opportunity had I simply unceremoniously left the first job. 5 years later I am in a new company, with self-development opportunities. and the lady who got the job I was expecting has gone on to be a manager in the company I left. I am happy for her!!!

  • JW

    Serious question. What if you have an extremely abusive employer (both sexually and verbally) and you can’t quit because you are single and have bills to pay? Everyone else is quitting around you but they have the financial support at home to at least get by for awhile.

    • Joe Lalonde

      JW, I would setup an exit plan.

      Here’s a simplified one –

      1. Define what you want to do
      2. Make a list of companies that fit with what you would like to do
      3. Make contact with the companies that fit
      4. Get job offer
      5. Put in your two week notice

      • Jmhardy97

        Great list Joe.


    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I’m sorry, but I don’t think I know enough (or could know enough) from a blog comment to give responsible advise. I would talk to someone in HR (if the company is big enough) or an attorney.

  • Brad Nease

    How you leave is important.  However, there is no assurance on how your employer will react to your departure.  As I read the comments below, there are some very healthy employers that understand how important it is for an employee to leave well and, because of the employer’s ‘healthy’ mindset, the stage is set for a healthy departure.  (Sorry for being redundant.)  Just because you leave well, understand who your employer is and set your expectations accordingly. 

    • Joe Lalonde

      Brad, that is true. My wife had a surprising response to her recent two week notice. You just never know what is going to happen.

  • http://www.alise-write.com Alise Wright

    My husband recently left his job of 10 years and despite the NUMEROUS ways that he was screwed over by that company, he chose instead to focus on the places where they had been helpful to him. As a result, he got great referrals and I’m sure that if he ever needed to go back, they would take him. Also, when he interviewed, he only looked for jobs that he really wanted so he could honestly say that he was excited about the new job, not just looking to “get out.”

    Another of his co-workers there was also leaving, but was very bitter about his time there. Despite being very qualified, he was turned down for job after job. My husband definitely thinks that his bitterness showed and made him a less desirable candidate, despite his qualifications.

  • http://daddybydefault.com Craig Grella

    I think being honest and open about why you want to leave always trumps hiding it or lying. I left two corporate gigs that way and both places let me stick around for two months while I winded down working with clients. I’ve kept good relationships with employees at both places, and often catch up with them via phone.  They’ve both asked me back over the years, too.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Good for you. This is why it is worth doing right.

    • http://brevis.me Robert Ewoldt

      Preserving the relationships that you have at the company is key to leaving.

      • http://daddybydefault.com Craig Grella

        Couldn’t agree more Robert. I think even when you don’t love the work, there’s little reason to take that out on the other people with whom you share an office.

  • http://jeremysconfessions.com Jeremy Statton

    I recently went through the process of finding a new job and telling those at my old job I was leaving. It is a very delicate process and this is great advice. I was concerned about how my decision would affect those at the old job. I found i helpful to early on inform them of my concerns. As the process went on, I kept them updated. In the end, when I had to make a final decision and inform them my early honesty really paid off. They understood that I had to make this decision and they felt I had treated them fairly. It was very hard and I hope I don’t have to go throughout that process often.

  • http://www.sundijo.com Sundi Jo Graham

    Those are all important steps, but #3 stuck out to me. A lot of people are to passive, or passive aggressive to confront the issues. They then leave and lace the blame on the company. Then the new company they work for becomes the problem and they being to spit their venom out there. It boils down to a heart issue that needs to be addressed first. I wish more people would realize that. I went through this and it was my heart that needed fixed first before other things would fall into place. Thanking God for change and His patience!

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  • http://stevencribbs.com Steven Cribbs

    “It’s more important to be going toward something rather than moving away from something.”

    This is a huge statement that can impact every area of life.  I have seen many people run away from something; only to end up with the same problems they had before, just in a different place.  Running away doesn’t solve the root issues, it is only a temporary escape.

  • http://about.me/JoshuaSandefur Joshua Sandefur

    Thank you for sharing this post!  This is timeless wisdom and timely for me.  It couldn’t have come at a better time and reminds me of something my pastor has said, “How you finish one season is how you start another.”  This inspires me to finish my race well.

  • Kay

    I have found that most people in my business get excited and before their income has grown to at least double of their current salary, they quit and then become desparate to make enough money.  Hmmm, maybe that is good because they really work harder!

  • Helen Mclean123

    I recently left a job because I felt I had too – various issues with the culture etc.  I said my piece to my supervisor’s boss (as the issues were with her!) and they ended up asking me to stay for a further period of time.  I still have friends there, and keep in touch with what is happening.  I would return if the right role was there, but it won’t be. 
    These are good tips. 
    I know I will leave my current role at some time in the future – and these are good things to remember.

  • http://blog.cyberquill.com Cyberquill

    I don’t understand: 

    You and Robert Wolgemuth left Nelson in 1986 within weeks of one another but didn’t discuss going into business prior to your departure because you wanted to be able to say “with integrity” that you hadn’t left with plans to start something new? 

    So did those plans exist prior to your depature? 

    Because if they did, rather than having left with integrity, this sounds more like you hadn’t been completely honest in stating the reasons for your exit at the time because you wanted a good reference. 

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      No, we didn’t discuss it prior to leaving. In fact, after I left, I put together a business plan on my own for a new publishing company. I pitched it to a major investor. He was the one who first suggested, “If you and Robert will partner together on this, I will take a major stake in the company.” And, he did.

      • http://blog.cyberquill.com Cyberquill

        I see. I got confused by your use of the word “wanted.” (“We wanted to be able to say with integrity that we had not left with plans to start something else together.”)

        If at the time there were no plans to start something else together anyway, you couldn’t possibly have corrupted your integrity by sharing them prior to quitting, whether you wanted or not.

  • Dlouyoung

    I wanted to quit my job so that I could lead others to Christ… God had other plans. See what I mean here: http://dlouyoung.blogspot.com/p/unemployed-mother-turns-down-needed-to.html

  • http://www.mosaicmiami.org Shari

    Great practical insight as always! Take your time, wait… make the transition sure! 

  • http://JobCoachHQ.com JobCoachHQ

    Michael, I absolutely couldn’t agree with you more.  There are so many times the bridges are burned and former employees who may have done a decent job while employed, left the wrong way.  The grass isn’t always greener with a new job.   Leaving with CLASS is very rare.  I am going to pass this along!  Thanks!

  • http://financialplanningapprentice.com Robinson Mertilus

    Anyone who follows this advice will certainly leave a company with dignity. Thanks for the post, Michael.

  • http://www.marcmillan.com Marc Millan

    This is total integrity 101 for leaving a job, absolute GOLD Michael, thank you again.

  • http://twitter.com/JRandorff James Randorff

    I am a professional musician.  Many years ago, I was playing with a local band when I got an offer to join a far more successful band that was just about to leave on a European tour.  I accepted the job, and then I had a gig that night with the local band.  Before I bothered to put in my notice with the bandleader, I pulled aside a couple of my bandmates and shared my exciting news with them.  That night, after the show, I was planning to give my notice.  I went up to talk with the bandleader and he said, “So, I hear you’re leaving to go play for someone else!”


    Sadly, what I learned from that was distrust of friends, rather than integrity with coworkers and superiors.  It wasn’t until years later that I learned the fault was mine and that the betrayal was nothing more than a symptom of my own lack of wisdom.

    Michael, thank you for putting into words what has been in the back of my mind all these years!


    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Great story, James. Thanks for sharing it.

  • http://www.walkwiththewise.wordpress.com Gail

    Having observed many people leave in a variety of organisations my recommendations are:

    * Don’t use threats of resignation as a weapon – this will backfire sooner or later.

    * Give as little notice as possible. People will treat you differently once they know you are leaving – intentionally or unintentionally – and this makes work awkward for everyone.

    * Pray for a graceful exit. Sometimes God rocks the boat to bring us to the place where we’re ready to leave a job, but when things are bad, sometimes it’s wiser to wait until the storm calms before leaving the boat, and sometimes you just have to jump.

    * Always remember that your colleague or subordinate may one day be your boss.

  • http://twitter.com/elipagel Eli Pagel

    Your exit from your company can leave just as big a mark on the people you worked with as your time spent with the company. 
    When leaving my “job” to follow my “calling”, I unknowingly took the steps you mention. One thing I did was write a brief letter to each person in the company (it was a small company 28 employees) to thank them for their contribution to my time there. It allowed me to say things I didn’t have the opportunity to say in person, and left a lasting mark in the mind of my former employer. They still refer work my way to this day! :)

  • Jmhardy97

    Very good lessons. I hope I don’t have to use most of them


  • Nathan Chitty

    Number ” 7. Don’t conspire with others to leave the company” is a tough one. The company was bought out by an international company from us owners and it is just not the right long term fit for a client and his team of 4 professionals. It my not be practical for a single person to leave. Any advice in this circumstance?

    • Nathan Chitty

      Further information that is 1. USA owners  2. There are thousands of USA employees and the folks considering leaving were not owners just employees.

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  • http://brevis.me Robert Ewoldt

    I think it’s interesting to watch when people DON’T follow these steps.  When people burn bridges, or don’t leave with dignity, it’s kind of sad.

    All of these points stem from being a person of honesty and integrity.  At the company I work for, there are quite a few people who have left to work for another company, and then have come back to work at my company in a different capacity.  If they hadn’t left with honesty and integrity, that would not have been possible.

  • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

    That was simple yet powerful advice. Many times, we forget to use the common sense in us. As you suggested, life is too short to make enemies.

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  • Anonymous

    Point #1 is critical. You determine the after taste you leave people.

    Even if you don’t leave by choice, it is your choice on how you exit. I was let go from a position after we lost a contract. While I was in my boss’s office with HR talking on speakerphone, my boss sent my team home.  Despite the unexpected end to my day, I intended to say good bye to the team before I left the building. Since they had left before the official business wrapped up, I couldn’t, and they deserved a good-bye. They were an exceptional group and faced a tough road ahead as they wound up the client engagement on their own. Driving home without a cell phone,  there was plenty of time to think. I determined  that the company and my former boss would not write my ending.

    When I got to the house I sat down in from of my computer and emailed my team. I told them how proud I was to work with them, and how instrumental they’d been in the progress we’d made over the time I’d been with the company and the confidence I had in their ability to carry on without me. After that I emailed all the other exec in the company who I wanted to leave a final impression with, thanking for all their efforts with the client team I’d led and how much I’d learned in working with them. It was a good way to end my day, despite the blow of losing my job. (this was 2008 and my husband’s job was in danger as a result of the financial crisis, he lost his job 2 weeks later.) The unexpected bonus was that everyone had my home email address, and nearly every person emailed me back with words of support. Those words were tremendously helpful in the months ahead.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Great example! Thanks for sharing that.

  • http://www.rickwomack.com Rick Womack

    One of the things that Bobby Clinton says (paraphrase) is that leaders must Start Well, Continue Well & Finish Well.

    Unfortunately in our society today this continuum of leadership is dysfunctional and people are encouraged to abort the process at any point. We must change the tide of leadership by demonstrating what it means to be a leader even when leaving.

  • http://davidlarteyblog.wordpress.com David Lartey

    Thanks a lot for this message. I am planning to quit my current job to take time and work on a personal project. There have been issues in the organization that I think people might feel I am quitting because of that but that’s a lie. What do you think I should do in a time like these Sir?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I would just tell the truth and let the chips fall where they may.

  • http://bit.ly/brandonrobbins Brandon Robbins

    Mike, this an incredible article. There is such great insight here that I think we all need to take heed to. I agree with you 100%. In addition, there was a conversation on your Google+ post about this & I wanted to bring it into the comments here on the blog. Not sure if this has been mentioned here on the blog yet.  Anyhow, here it is:

    A woman commented on your post with the following:  
    “These are also good tips for when you leave a church.”

    Here is my response:

    “Great thought! I very much agree with you. Too many times I have seen people take off in a big fuss, burning bridges & leaving hurt behind (regardless of whether they were treated with dignity). Just as it is important to preserve these relationships and connections in a professional environment, I would say that it is arguable even more important in a spiritual environment. I say this because, although our professional happenings here and now are important, the decisions we make in spiritual environments are especially sensitive. They can and do impact the views & decisions of others, and in some cases, have an effect on others’ walk with the Lord.”

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thanks for posting this, Brandon. I agree: it applies equally, if not more so, to church jobs.

      • Guest

        I wish I had come across this post before resigning in a huff from my church staff position.  Not only was I staff at the parish but I’m a longtime member.  My immediate family is intricately intertwined in every aspect of our church and this resignation has really rocked the boat.  I agree that you should never sabotage the position for your successor.  I’m satisfied with the achievements I have made there.  I managed the office that was in dissaray for 10 years and brought it up to date after many hours (on and off the books).  A new pastor was appointed to us and was right out of seminary with no work experience.  The pastor was 1/2 my age and it was apparent that she felt threatened of my knowledge of my denomination and the culture of my church.  Our working relationship deteriorated to a point where ohe was afraid to speak to the other.  We did go before the governing committee of staff/parish and they really had no recommendation.  Sadly, jobs are few and far between.  I, like most, stayed in this dead-end job for economical reasons rather than spiritual.  I ended up quitting on the spot because “I” could not control my reaction to someone at the other end of the generation gap.  Although I still worship there, I’m constantly reminded of how badly all parties handled the break.  Big lesson learned here, but in this economy…will there ever be another chance for me to handle things differently.

  • Jaykay767

    Sorry, have to disagree with you all. yes, it makes sense to not burn the bridges becos you never know when you need them – why only at work, anywhere else for that matter. if you take this approach, then we will all be a goody goody world.

    If a employer treats you badly, give it back to him with interest when you leave. only when you teach people a lesson, they will learn & not repeat them against other employees.  Sorry thats the way the world works & it is for a good reason, only by such tug of war, will the world becomes a better place. every injustice has to be fought, & opposed.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I have to disagree with you. The biggest changes happened when men and women of strength chose not to respond in kind. Think of Jesus, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, etc. Thanks for commenting.

      • Jaykay767

        Hi Michael,

        Appreciate your view. However, my question is how do you handle when a employer/Boss is deliberately putting down his employees, plays politics, sidelines the best & promotes the psycopant etc..  if the affected employee does not protest, then this unfortunate situation will continue with other employees as well. thanks !


        • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

          I would talk to the employer. I had a boss like that once. I had to set boundaries. The key is to make yourself indispensable, so that they need you worse than you need them.

          • Jaykay767

            Thanks & appreciate your inputs.

      • http://news.mensactivism.org/ Jhon Deo

         Yeah look how well things turned out personally for Jesus and MLK.  The first was tortured to death, and the second was assassinated.  Not my idea of a good time. 

        Also your invocation of Gandhi is incorrect.  Sure Gandhi himself didn’t fight.  But there were plenty of insurgent groups in India who were active at the time and busy killing British troops.  To say that the rising British body count played no role in India’s liberation is incorrect.

  • Jimmy

    This sounds like the BS my boss talks about.

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

       Why do you feel this way Jimmy? I’ll tell you having quit in a less than honorable way did not serve me well in future endeavors. Thankfully I was able to overcome previous actions and have decided not to repeat the mistakes of the past.

      Regardless of how an employer treats you, it is wise to leave with your head held high. No reason to stoop to their level.

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  • Dorothy

    I’ve always done these things and because of these practices I have a LOT of job options even in this tough economy.  However, my current supervisor is quite crazy and rather abusive.  She sees little good in ANYONE who has ever worked for her, and even if I exhaust myself meeting her demands before I leave, she would still have an negative impression of me.  This time, I will leave doing the minimum necessary to meet my professional obligations.  No matter what I do I will never get a good recommendation from her.  I’ not going to kid myself about that…

    • http://news.mensactivism.org/ Jhon Deo

       I’m in exactly the same boat!  They basically changed my duties and job requirements, while at the same time cutting the amount of manpower from two people to one person and one part time employee. 

      ***News Flash***  Two people can do more work faster then one and a half.  Then when I worked my butt off to meet their ridiculous time standards that they set, contrary to company policy I might add; they still complained!

      I’ve come to the conclusion that they’ve decided to fire me, and give the job to the new part time hire.  She just passed one of her CPA exams and is on the way to passing the rest.  She’s more qualified then me and she’ll take the job because she needs to find a job after she graduates or she’ll be sent back to Haiti. 

      There’s no way she’ll stay in that job long term.  The idea that someone with a CPA will accept a $28,000 a year salary is ridiculous!  That won’t help me any though.

  • Cunt


  • Raykim2624

    Sure, but what about the company’s loyalty to its employees when they lay you off. They walk you out with security, you don’t get two week. This article is one sided toward corporate interests.

  • Neryflan

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  • Juilt

    My Grandmother on my father’s side suffered for many years with alzheimer’s disease. I was close to her, and loved her when I was a child, but did not stay in touch with her over the years.later she dead and i messed her so much.i search on the internet to no weather people can talk to their dead ones when they are gone,and i was told that it is possible.I saw people testifying on how a spiritualist called Doctor Kelvin has help them to talk to theier dead ones,i had confidence and i contacted him,after the preparation iwas able to communicate with my grandmother.And my brothers also did with the rest of my family members.I guess you will like to know him,His email address is kelvinspiritualhome@gmail.com

  • Guest

    I actually did something very similar to this approach when I left a job in the federal government several years back. My supervisors had not addressed issues I brought to their attention for over a year, and I was very disciplined in communicating clearly first with them when I was leaving, and trying to avoid as best possible the gossip chain that I was leaving and why. I would add to #4 and #3 that you can possibly use your departure as a chance to focus on what you want to do, or what you want to have on your resume, after you leave your present employer. I gave three months of notice and indicated what I would be working on, and what not, during those last three months. And based on what I would work on, the timeline of my deliverables. The last months on that job were stress free and productive, I walked out with my head high, and since then half a dozen of my work colleagues have approached me about how to quit there jobs.

  • Carey

    I have just stumbled upon this article while looking for wisdom in my current situation…I must say, all of these points are great, and I wish I would have seen this article before I gave my work two weeks – or better yet, before I started the job.

    I am the kind of person who wants desperately to be her own boss (which is the main reason I am leaving my job) so working for my current employer has been especially difficult. She is everything I would like to not be. She mistreats customers and employees alike, has questionable moral standards, and is generally unpleasant to be around. Things between us before I quit were never quite confrontational – but as soon as I gave her my notice and told her I was ready to move on to something else, things spiraled downwards. I hesitated to tell her that I was leaving to start my own small business from my home, and when I did reveal it, she told me I would not be able to. She criticized my skills, told me that I should’ve given her earlier notice (I revealed to her that I had been thinking about leaving for a while, but my husband and I were waiting to make the final decision), asked me personal questions that were not her business, and even insulted me over issues totally non-work related. I did my best to keep my cool, responding mostly with ‘I understand’ – but after the insults I told her she was out of line. Today I will see her again for the first time after that discussion, and I am dreading it. I’m not sure if I can keep myself from walking out if she treats me that way again. I would much rather leave on a good note with her and the other employees (we are short staffed so my leaving early would be difficult for everyone), but I feel as though putting up with berating and personal insults is beyond my endurance. I am praying the Lord keeps any more confrontation at bay so I may exit peacefully, but I know He may not.

    In your opinion, is there ever a time when walking out on an employer is acceptable?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      In answer to your question, yes. If your employer asked you to compromise your integrity or was abusive, I believe it is best to walk out.

  • Fizal

    This is timely for me, I am thinking about living and I already made the mistakes that you listed. Now it is time for me to rectify that before I go. 

  • Mahesh kumar G

    Thank you So much for sharing very essential and need to be aware points.

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  • Top sales

    I have a situation in which I left my job to go to school. Weeks after I left, another girl decided to do the same. After reading this, I am sure I have burnt a bridge with my old employer, as he doesn’t seem so enthusiastic to take me back. I was top sales rep at my job, and bridges were burned out of my control.

  • sandy

    What if I feel this present working company has no professional growth for my career ????

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      I think you have two choices: talk to your supervisor or someone in HR or find another job. Things will probably not change unless you take the initiative.

  • http://www.buzzcus.com/ Biswabhusan Panda

    Thanks for Sharing. It help me a lot with my Current Job Change. Keep
    writing such good articles. I bookmarked your link to my favorites. Will
    keep in touch with your regular updates.

  • Aldeen Daley

    This makes a lot of sense

  • viggen

    I am a retired IT professional, who has worked through his way from night shift computer operator to IT director. After retirement, I decided to keep working, and picked custom picture framing in retail. Mainly, because, it was my hobby, I used it to frame my own photographs and paintings, and I found it relaxing. It gave me an opportunity to come in direct contact with customers, who loved my designs, and my customer service. The store management loved my work, because, it raised their sale 25% plus, from previous year. My per order average was the highest. I was well organised, managed my time productively, and treated everybody with respect. HOWEVER ! I had picked up this strange habbit of too much smiling (grinning rather…), and someone in the store picked up on it…and lo and behold… suddenly, every employee in the store was mocking me, making faces, and the Asst. Manager, who loved my work, and fought for me with her boss, and supported me, called me “chief” one too many times. Needless to say, I am disappointed, upset, and felt insulted. Do you think I have a reason to start looking elsewhere? On top of all that, they hired another person as framer, who claimed to have graphics background, has no sense of colors, compositions, or anything framing, has interacted with others with disrespect, and any consideration to how others felt. He makes mess, leaves mess behind when leaves, has no idea how to deal with a customer. Customers have complained about him, his work. Yet, he is still around. Do you think I have a reason to believe, it is his white skin !! I am seriously considering looking elsewhere. Any suggestions??

  • Elizabeth

    I have worked for 5+ years and have wanted to quit since the first month due to a harassing environment. Unfortunately the economy and my lack of experience at the time made it nearly impossible to leave. It became worse when a new boss started who bullied me. A few months ago I approached HR and they provided valuable advice and support. The rep even offered to help me work through the job hunting process if I ever decided to leave. But I always had this nagging doubt that she was more interested in hearing about the inner workings of our department more than anything. Sure enough, once my manager resigned a couple months ago, the HR rep stopped returning my emails. In the meantime, another teammate resigned. I interviewed for a position yesterday and feel confident I’ll get an offer. I’m worried about the backlash from my team when I tell them I’m resigning. I’m going to be confident and thank them, but not tell them where I’m going. I feel good that I’ve already buttoned up most of my assignments and written plenty of procedures. I think they’ll be relieved at that. But I don’t expect many kudos. I just want to make sure I get good references and don’t burn any bridges if possible.

  • emily

    At last my happiness has been restored by a Man named Dr ABUBAKAR ,, my name’s are miss JOY i want every one on this site or forum to join me thank this DR ABUBAKAR for what he just did for me and my kids . my story goes like this i was married to my husband for 5 years we were living happily together for this years and not until he traveled to Italy for a business trip where he met this prostitute who be witched he to hate me and the kids and love her only so when my husband came back from the trip he said he does not want to see me and my kids again so he drove us out of the house and he was now going to Italy for to see that other woman. so i and my kids were now so frustrated and i was just staying with my mum and i was not be treating good because my mama got married to another man when after my daddy death so the man she got married to was not treating i and my kids well so i was so confuse and i was searching for a way to get my husband back to me and my kids so one day as i was browsing on my computer i saw a testimony about this MAN DR ABUBAKAR of drabubakarlovespell@gmail.com shared on the internet by a lady and it impress me too so i also think of give it a try at first a was scared by when i think of what me and my kids are passing through so i contact him and he told me to stay calm for just two days that my husband shall be restored to me and to my best surprise i received a call from my husband on the second day asking after the kids and i called Dr ABUBAKAR and he said your problems are solved my child so this was how i get my family back after a long stress of brake up by an evil lady so with all this help from DR ABUBAKAR of drabubakarlovespell@gmail.com i want you all on this forum to join me to say a huge thanks to DR ABUBAKAR and i will also advice for any one in such or similar problems or any kind of problems should also contact him for help