Can My Employer Ask Me Why I Am Quitting?

Never tell off a boss or burn a bridge or you'll ruin that reference.
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If you're quitting a job under unfavorable or private circumstances, you may feel hesitant to reveal your reasons. While it might seem like you have the right to protect your reasons, you should know that workplace laws typically vary by state. In California, workers rights are much different than those in Alabama or New York. What will help, however, is understanding how to professionally leave a job whether your reasons are positive or negative.

Know Your Rights

    First, make sure you know your rights based on where you live. In some states, you have the right to leave a job under certain circumstances without giving notice. In others, you forfeit some benefits if you leave without proper notice. Educate yourself by looking up the laws in your particular state or by reading your employee handbook that should list your rights.

Be Professional

    When it comes to quitting a job, always be professional no matter the circumstances. Think of it this way: You never have to reveal your true emotional reasons for leaving. You can simply omit them, and deliver a bigger picture reason, such as "I'd like to explore other options" or "I'm ready for a different kind of challenge." You can also express that you would like to find a job with a better work/life balance, or that you're seeking something that will help you build new skills. These are neutral reasons that have more to do with personal goals than personal conflicts. Don't burn bridges, especially in the Internet age when your reputation follows you. You still may need this employer for reference checks, so give notice in a polite way.

Be Honest But Vague

    You can be honest about leaving, but you don't have to cite particular instances that caused you to decide to quit. If you're under contract, you may have to supply a concrete reason to break the contract. If you're simply putting in notice to leave the job, you can use general terms when parting. "I'm ready for change" is a vague yet neutral statement that encompasses a lot. You might need a change of pace, a change of co-workers, or a change of management, but you certainly don't have to define the change you need. Play it safe by delivering your reasons in neutral terms.

Use Your Right to Privacy

    Unless a state law or statute requires you to answer questions about your departure, you can simply state that your reasons for leaving are personal. If you do so, couple that statement with something positive such as, "My reasons for leaving are personal, but I value the time I've spent here and look forward to carrying the skills learned here into future roles." You'll temper the gossip mill and reduce potential conflicts if you stay positive and professional. If anything seems like it will rub a colleague or boss the wrong way, keep it to yourself. No law states that you have to be completely divulge all your emotions and thoughts. Keep it to yourself and issue a professional statement instead.

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