Don’t be Steven Slater: Quit Your Job Professionally

If you’ve been watching the news lately, then you know who Steven Slater is. He’s the Jet Blue flight attendant who quit his job in a very unorthodox manner and is now facing felony charges. CLICK HERE for a video with CNN reporters interviewing one of the passengers on the plane who witnessed the occurrence.

Even though he seems to be turning into a modern folk hero, the way he quit his job is far from recommended. If this is the WRONG way to quit a job, then what’s the right way? How do you quit a job without burning bridges? And, what’s so wrong with burning a few bridges if the company and/or supervisor were bad to you?

Quitting the Job Properly

Give at least 2 weeks notice, but a month would be preferred. This demonstrates professionalism and courtesy to the company and your boss.

They will eventually have to replace you and by giving them a heads up, they can initiate a search for your replacement with hopes for only a small gap between you and the new recruit.

Type a resignation letter. Use professional language and business letter format. Approach your boss with this letter and explain to him/her as to why you’re choosing to resign.

I once heard of a teacher that submitted her resignation letter on a piece of construction paper and written in crayon. You can be assured that she was not given a reference letter upon departure. Sample Resignation Letters.

Choose your words wisely. When you approach your boss about quitting the job, be sure to give solid reasons for your departure, but keep it positive. If it’s a touchy subject, then make sure to discuss it with a trusted friend/family member or a career counselor to adequately prepare. This will help you choose your words properly and leave on a good note.

Don’t Burn Bridges

  1. It’s a small world after all. It’s amazing who knows who and how much people network and talk within professional industries. If you quit your job unprofessionally, then it’s likely your previous boss will talk about it and it may end up affecting your job search.
  2. Get the good reference. Even if you didn’t like the job, you can still leave with a good reference from your supervisor or a colleague. Most employers require three references before hiring a new employee.
  3. Make it easy on yourself. If you leave in a professional manner, then it’s a lot easier to interview with a new employer. A common question used in interviews is, “Why did you leave your previous job?” It will reflect better on you if you can answer positively than figure out how to spin it, or risk lying. The company you’re interviewing with can call your previous employer and inquire whether or not they would consider hiring you back, and a positive response will increase your chances for hire.

There are some additional suggestions at, including offering to train your replacement, be productive until the last day and tie up any loose ends, and more specific information on writing the resignation letter.


Karen is a Career Counselor and Internship Coordinator at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne (IPFW). At IPFW she assists students in finding internships, coordinates and assists with campus-wide events, teaches a Career Planning course, and meets with students individually to assist them with all aspects of career development. Connect with Karen via LinkedIn or Twitter.

Related posts:

  1. Write a Killer ‘Thank You’ Letter
  2. Meaningful Experiences

One Response to “Don’t be Steven Slater: Quit Your Job Professionally”

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