How to Politely Quit a Miserable Job

by Ellie Williams

    If you are trapped in a job you hate, you may want nothing more than to call out your employer on everything that makes the job miserable. Even when you leave on bad terms, it is in your best interest to take the high road. If you don’t, you could make a bad name for yourself within the industry.

    Don’t lash out at your employer when you quit. You will burn your bridges and possibly damage your relationships with your co-workers, especially if you openly criticize the workplace environment or the quality of the products or services offered by the company. In many cases it is best to keep your reasons for leaving vague. For example, tell your employer you are seeking a more challenging position or a greater work-life balance. Since you are leaving, there is often little point in bringing up specific criticisms. Wait at least 24 hours after you write your resignation letter and then read it again before submitting to ensure you don’t regret anything said.

    Use diplomacy when explaining the reasons for your exit, especially if you are leaving because of personality conflicts or because of your boss. Avoid singling out anyone or attacking anyone’s character. For example, if you are leaving because your boss bullies you, don’t call him names or get angry. Instead, note specific actions such as yelling at you in front of other employees or demeaning your job performance. Explain that his behavior hinders your productivity or damages your reputation at the office.

    Put aside your personal feelings and consider your clients, co-workers and the company’s best interests when you plan your exit. Continue to contribute your best efforts and give your employer two weeks notice so he can find a replacement. Finish up projects before you leave or ask a colleague to take over to ensure a smooth transition. If your boss hires your replacement before you leave, take time to show the new guy the ropes and train him so he is prepared to take over your duties. If you work directly with clients, inform them as soon as possible that you are leaving and tell them who will take over their account.

    You may want to announce to the world that you are getting out of that miserable workplace and going where your efforts will be appreciated. If you publicly badmouth your employer, especially on social media sites, your comments could hurt the company’s reputation and the reputation of your colleagues. It also could get back to your new boss, who may think twice about hiring someone who takes to the Internet to air their grievances instead of handling the situation privately.

    About the Author

    Ellie Williams has been a journalist since 2001, working both as a newspaper reporter and freelance writer. Her work has been recognized by her state's press association and by her local chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Williams graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in mass communications and humanities, with minors in French and theater.

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