How to Quit a Job Over the Phone: 6 Easy Steps

Any time you quit a job, it can be difficult to navigate the “how’s.”

Sometimes, it’s necessary for physical reasons or your mental health to quit a job over the phone, and this guide to how to quit a job over the phone will walk you through the things to consider in the conversation and setting it up.

woman's hands using smartphone

It’s important to actually try and determine when you should quit a job over the phone, though, as it can have lasting implications for your contacts and future jobs if you leave on a bad note.

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When Should You Quit Your Job Over the Phone?

You should quit your job over the phone if…

  • you physically are unable to come in, or the person you need to speak to is unable to come in, due to illness or otherwise
  • for your mental health, you cannot return to the office or to a toxic workplace
  • you need to tell your boss you are quitting in a time sensitive way, ie they need to make the schedule for next week and you are not in the office

If you can help, try to set up a meeting in person to put forward your resignation, but that isn’t always possible and sometimes you just really can’t bring yourself to do it, so keep these tips for how to quit a job over the phone in mind.

hands using smartphones

1. Arrange a Phone Meeting if Possible

If you’re calling up to quit a job, arranging a phone meeting in advance is preferable, even if it’s something like, “Hi XYZ, I need to speak to you about my time with Company, would it be possible to arrange a phone meeting for tomorrow?” or “Are you free on May 6th in the afternoon for me to give you a call about work?”

This means that your boss won’t be caught off guard, even if they don’t know exactly what the call is about.

You don’t necessarily want to call them while they’re in the middle of something else or not in the work-related mindset.

It also shows you respect them and their time.

orange telephone

2. Call at an Appropriate Hour if a Meeting Isn’t Possible

If your boss isn’t the type to schedule phone meetings or it’s more urgent than that, call at an appropriate hour.

Anywhere from around 10am to 4pm is preferable and is safe to assume that somebody would be able to accept a work call.

Of course, if you are trying to call before the beginning of your shift because you have made a decision there is no way you could possibly go back to the job or perhaps something significant in your life has happened which means you need to immediately move away or be with someone in a hospital, then you can have a bit more leniancy on when you call as your boss will need to work out what happens for that shift.

It may be best to send a text in this instance, though, and then later have a phone call.

hands typing on smartphone

3. Write Down What You’re Going to Say

Speaking over the phone can be more difficult for some people than talking in person, and you can forget what you’re going to say.

If possible, write down what you want to say and keep it in front of you.

You can even read it off like a speech if you want and really don’t want to trip over your words.

Another option is to write down bullet points of what you want to say so there’s no danger of sounding “rehearsed” but you still make sure you hit all of the points you want to.

woman using smartphone

4. Allow Small Talk, but Not for Too Long

When figuring out how to quit a job over the phone, it can be awkward because you don’t want to get into too much small talk before you drop the “I’m quitting” line.

However, you don’t want to immediately go into the “I’m quitting” conversation without the pleasantries of “hello, how are you? Good, how are you?”.

Don’t let the small talk go on for too long though, as you really should get to the point as soon as you can so that the conversation can be direct in the appropriate ways.

5. Remember You Can’t See Facial Expression so Use Words Instead

Over the phone, you’re not able to see your boss’s reaction and they can’t see yours, so do your best to emphasize how you feel with language instead.

For instance, if you want to quit but on good terms, throw in lots of “thank yous” and “reluctantly” and “unfortunately” so it’s clear what your tone is.

It can even help to smile in person if you want to “sound” smiling over the phone when you thank them for their time or the opportunity.

6. Prepare the Next Steps to End the Conversation

It can be awkward to end the conversation over the phone after you quit your job, especially so if you are never coming back to work again.

Instead of letting it be awkward, think of some type of action that will need to be done after your conversation that you can say at the end.

For example, instead of finishing with “okay, well, have a nice life…”, you could say something like “thank you for your understanding and I will make sure to e-mail Susie to give her all of the details of the project I’ll be working on” or “I will return my uniform to the main office next Wednesday.”

If there’s truly nothing to be done, you could ask whether your boss wants you or them to e-mail the team to let them know of your resignation.

Just some sort of actionable discussion that switches the conversation from “I’m quitting” to “what else needs to be tied up before this is final?”

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