How you quit matters.

By Maggie Seaver
Updated September 03, 2019

Should you quit your job? And if the answer is yes, how exactly should you handle it? Job search engine Joblist conducted a survey of nearly 2,000 fully employed professionals to find out not only what motivates people to leave their current positions to pursue new opportunities, but also how the way in which people handle quitting affects their bosses’ perception of them.

In its preliminary survey, Joblist polled 1,590 full-time professionals, asking them whether or not they were considering quitting their jobs. The results? Almost a fifty-fifty split: yes (47 percent) and no (53 percent). It then surveyed 995 people who recently quit their jobs what prompted the change. The top motivation was to seek higher pay, followed by wanting to leave a toxic work environment, and hoping to find more opportunities for growth. But the catalyst for leaving is different for people who quit prematurely, before securing another role, namely, a manager who didn't resolve reported issues (48 percent); a bad work-culture fit (46 percent); poor managers (44 percent); and a toxic work environment (40 percent).

As anyone who’s changed jobs knows, deciding to leave a current position is only one small part of the equation. Per this survey, the average timeline for quitting—from the initial idea, “I think I want to quit,” to job applications, to interviews, to handing in notice—is eight weeks.

Within that eight-week (or longer) timeframe, do people leak their decision to leave? The majority of respondents (62 percent) admit to discussing quitting with at least one coworker. But when asked if they specifically discussed the job or interview process with coworkers, 61 percent said no, while 38 percent said yes.

It’s hard not to need a sounding board or confidante during the job hunting process, and tons of people turn to coworkers for support, but the need to share news can backfire if it's not done right. The one thing that seems to leave the worst taste in a manager’s mouth is overhearing a report talk about wanting to quit (41 percent of managers said this behavior leaves a negative impact). Similarly troubling to managers is overhearing employees talk about where they’re applying and interviewing (less than half—42 percent—inform their boss of their intent to quit). Word to the wise, if you’re ever seeking new job opportunities while already employed, keep your plans under wraps until everything is official—and don’t let your manager be the last to know.

Before quitting, managers think the most highly of reports who do the following: consult them about quitting before handing their notice, give two weeks notice or more, and quit for admirable reasons (like searching for new growth opportunities). Not every job or boss will allow this kind of courtesy—sometimes it’s healthier to hand in your notice ASAP and get out of there. But when in doubt, keep gossip at bay and give your manager and coworkers time to make a coverage plan.