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What do I need to know before quitting my job?

The most important thing to know before quitting your job is where your next paycheck will come from, or how you will get by without the income from that job. If you already have a start date for another job, this may be less of a concern.

Understanding your healthcare options and what happens to any employer-provided benefits can also be rather important. If certain compensation, like bonuses, stipends, or advances were paid, you may need to pay your employer back depending on the conditions tied to that compensation.

If you need to take some time off from work altogether, there may be other considerations before quitting, such as healthcare or disability benefits, family medical leave, or unemployment.

What reason should I give for quitting?

No law requires you to provide a reason for leaving your job. As with ending any relationship, however, it is usually a good idea to do so politely. Still, you need not disclose anything you do not want to, such as if there are personal or health reasons for quitting. If you are moving on to a better position at another company or to a competitor, you want to talk to your manager about what to tell others. It is often best to keep it simple and polite.

Whatever you decide to say, be consistent in what you tell your boss and coworkers.

How do I leave my employer on good terms?

Leaving a company on good terms is usually within your control, even under difficult circumstances. Follow these tips to ease the transition.

Tell your manager first. If you want to quit your job, tell your direct manager as soon as you make up your mind. You might also consider not telling coworkers, clients, or vendors, even if you consider them to be friends, until after you have informed your manager.

Tell your manager in person. Even with constant digital communication, notice is best delivered in person. It signals respect for your manager and the company. Face-to-face communication allows your employer to observe body language, vocal inflection, and facial expressions, which can facilitate a smooth break. If you cannot meet in person, or you work remotely, schedule a video call.

Be professional. During the conversation with your manager, be firm, direct, and concise. Explicitly state your departure and your last day. This is not the time to burn bridges because you may need your manager's cooperation before leaving.

Follow up via email. Soon after your in-person conversation with your manager, send a Resignation Letter to make a written record. The email should indicate your decision to depart, the conversation with your manager, and your last day with the company. You may also indicate any remaining tasks, such as returning company equipment or finishing assignments you may need to complete.

How can I get a good reference after quitting?

No matter how frustrated you may be with your current job, there are good reasons not to burn bridges as you leave. You may want your manager or employer to respond favorably to an Employee Reference Request for future employment. While it may be awkward, it is not uncommon to directly ask your boss, or others who you worked closely with, whether they would be a good reference for you. The following tips can help make sure they say yes, and you get a good reference after you leave.

Perform your job well until the end. Your imminent resignation is not a reason to coast. Your employer is paying you the same after you give notice, so the quality of work should be the same.

Finish up projects. Advance all your projects to a good stopping point and leave clear instructions to coworkers about what to do next. Try to meet with the person who will be taking over for you.

Train your replacement. If the company has hired your replacement, or a coworker will be picking up your assignments, spend time training them so they hit the ground running.

Leave your workspace clean. Return equipment, clear out personal decorations and property, and shred or store files.

Can I resign and leave immediately?

Generally, yes. The vast majority of employment relationships in the United States are at-will. This means that there is no law requiring a notice period before leaving. While some employment contracts dictate otherwise, courts typically will not force someone to work at a company against their will. However, depending on the employment agreement, there may be financial consequences or penalties, such as having to pay back certain types of compensation.

That being said, quitting your job without providing a Two Weeks Notice Letter may damage your relationship with your former employer and lead to a negative reference. You might consider only doing so when it is absolutely necessary, such as when your workplace is unsafe or you have some sort of emergency.

Can I get unemployment benefits if I quit my job?

It depends. Employees who quit their jobs without good cause cannot collect unemployment benefits. What is considered a good cause varies by state. Generally, you may collect unemployment benefits if you quit due to harassment, dangerous working conditions, or medical reasons. Some states also allow you to collect unemployment benefits if you quit due to domestic violence or to care for a family member. Finally, most states will allow you to collect unemployment if another job you were nearly certain to obtain falls through.

Unfortunately, after quitting a job, you may be denied unemployment benefits. This can happen if your employer disagrees with the reason that you provided when applying for the benefits. In these situations, you may need to appeal to your state's unemployment office to get the benefits approved.

If you have legal questions about quitting your job or unemployment benefits, or you need help reviewing your employment contract before turning in your Two Weeks Notice Letter, reach out to a Rocket Lawyer On Call® attorney for affordable legal advice.

This article contains general legal information and does not contain legal advice. Rocket Lawyer is not a law firm or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. The law is complex and changes often. For legal advice, please ask a lawyer.

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