No matter how old we are or how long we've been working, we all have questions when it comes to careers—from how to respond to a rejection letter to learning to say no when a role isn't a good fit. That's where Career Counselor comes in. In this weekly series, we connect with experts to answer all of your work-related questions. Because while we don't all have the luxury of a career coach, we still deserve to grow in our careers.
Are you thinking of changing jobs? Well, you're not alone. According to Microsoft's recent Work Trend Index, over 40 percent of the global workforce may be considering a job change within the next year. With the continuing presence of a remote workforce, that means at least some of those people are likely going to have to give their notice to their employer virtually. And if you're one of the four, let us be the first to say congrats and to tell you exactly how to navigate the tricky process of remaining professional while giving your notice virtually, according to career experts.
How to quit your job when you work remote:
Schedule a meeting with your boss at least two weeks out.
When you're ready to let your employer know you'll be moving on, Gaylyn Sher-Jan, chief people officer at Bright.md, says you should schedule a time to share the news with them, whether it's via video, in-person, or on a call. "You always want to leave a company being grateful for your time with them, so give your manager that courtesy conversation," she says.
You need to communicate your intention to leave your job and let your employer know when your final day will be (two weeks is customary). "Then, make sure to follow up in writing with your formal notice with gracious thanks, final date, and any key deliverables you'll give before you leave."
How to write a resignation email:
If your company's remote working model doesn't involve a whole lot of real-time communication, sending an email is a perfectly acceptable way to let your employer know that you're leaving your job. You should be sure you're sending the email to your direct supervisor, and include a carbon copy to human resources or any other members of management you report directly to.
Tip #1: Give them all the details they need to know (and nothing they don't).
"Since this is your formal notice, include details such as your last day, any projects you intend to wrap up before leaving, and also express your thanks for your time working at the company," explains Sher-Jan. But, you should also keep things short. Unlike getting on a phone call or video chat, giving your boss notice over email allows you additional time to craft exactly what you want your parting words to be, and the space to consider responses to any questions they send back.
Tip #2: Avoid accidentally creating viral content.
Just remember, your email will likely be read by people other than your direct supervisor (like their manager, human resources, and maybe even other members of management depending on your job title), so you're going to want to make sure it not only reflects well on you, but also doesn't come off as an attack on others. We get it, sending your boss a perfectly crafted email breaking down everything you've always wanted to say but never had the courage to is tempting, but emails, much like the internet, are forever. And your parting shot can easily become viral content that immortalizes you on Reddit (and gets you blacklisted by HR).
How to quit a job over the phone:
Before you get on the phone with your boss, it's very important to have an idea of what you're going to say, which is why Sher-Jan suggests preparing and practicing before making the call. Your prep work should include answers to questions like, "Is there anything we can do to get you to stay?" and "Why are you leaving?" "Make a list of bullet points to talk through or an outline to keep yourself on track," she says. "That list will help you stay focused, soothe any nervousness, and not let your manager take you down any bunny trails!"
Tip: Eliminate distractions and keep focused.
You'll want to make sure you're in a quiet area where you can concentrate, as well (so, try to avoid calling while you're driving or doing something distracting like making dinner). And, as with any virtual engagement, Anne Kelso, senior recruiter at Microsoft, says the key is to focus on what's in front of you. "During any virtual engagement, allow a few extra seconds to pause before responding to account for any lags in tech so you can avoid interrupting others." Unlike with video calls, you can't rely on visual clues, so you'll need a small buffer to prevent too many false starts.
How to quit your job over Zoom or video calls:
Similar to doing it over the phone, when giving notice via Zoom or during video calls, it's best to treat it as if you were in-person, according to Sher-Jan. "Address that you are giving your notice at the start of the conversation, mentioning your last day, and be sure to dress professionally," she says. If you're worried about feeling distracted or anxious during the video call, try using a digital note application or word document to keep your thoughts straight.
Tip #1: Avoid virtual wardrobe malfunctions and other distracting mistakes.
And speaking of dressing to impress, Kelso suggests making sure your business casual extends beyond your waist. Make sure you're fully dressed and use a clean backdrop (like a neutral wall or a blurred background) to keep any distracting or inappropriate items from pulling your manager's attention away from what you're saying.
Tip #2: Give yourself some grace.
"We are all living through unprecedented times, and a good manager will understand if a child bursts into the room or someone starts up a lawnmower outside your window," says Kelso. "Do your best to set yourself up for a smooth conversation, but also give yourself grace and don't let it throw you off your game if something unexpected does happen."
What to do after putting in your two-week notice:
It may be hard to stay focused after you give your notice, especially as you run out the clock on your final days with the company, but Sher-Jan says you need to continue to act as professional as you would in an office environment. "Even though you're quitting virtually, try to treat it as if you were in person," she says. Also, it's important to remember to stick to any commitments you make for your last two weeks. "It's how you'll be remembered, and it's a very small world!"
Remember: it's okay to be sad
Sometimes it's really emotional to give your notice—you might be sad or angry or frustrated (or all three; things are really complicated right now). "You always hope your employer is totally focused on you and your next career step, but that's pretty rare," says Kelso. "Just remember to have compassion for the person on the other end and know they are probably panicking that you're leaving!" After all, it will be hard to replace you. "Being thoughtful about this will help you stay in control and focused on departing."
No matter what happens, just remember that the closing of this chapter in your life is the start of the next. Good luck!