Whether you've found a better job or just can't take your current employer anymore, you need to give your boss proper notice. If you fail to give notice, you might lose your current employer as a work reference and damage your professional reputation. Notifying your boss that you are quitting is never fun, but you can pull it off without a hitch if you prepare a bit beforehand and approach the situation honestly and directly.
Prepare Your Approach
Prepare a short speech for your boss that covers your departure, the timetable and your reasons for leaving if you're willing to share them. Briefly state that you've enjoyed your time at your work but feel it is time to move on. While you know exactly why you're leaving, it might not be in your best interests to share the reasons directly with your boss if it reflects negatively on the workplace. For example, don't tell your boss you're quitting because you can't stand working with him anymore. If you prepare beforehand, you're less likely to say something you don't want your boss to hear.
Arrange a Meeting
While quitting via email or voice mail is tempting -- especially in a hostile work environment -- you should give notice in person. This is the professional way to handle it. Contact your boss and schedule a meeting at a time that is convenient for him. Meanwhile, don't tell coworkers you're leaving before you tell your boss. Your boss should be the first person you tell so he doesn't hear about it from someone else first.
Reasons for Leaving
If you are quitting your job to take another position elsewhere, be discerning about the information you share with your boss. You don't have to tell him where you're going, but you can briefly explain that the new position fits with your long-term career plan. If your boss thinks you're open to counteroffers, he might start trying to negotiate with you. If you're not interested, you can avoid this if you're clear on your commitment to the new job. If you are quitting because you no longer feel challenged or happy at your current job, just say you want to pursue opportunities elsewhere.
Offer a Plan
Give your boss options as far as your replacement and the transition goes. For example, you can recommend a coworker for your position or volunteer to spend your remaining time at the job training your replacement. By working with your boss, you can help create a plan that makes your departure as painless as possible for everyone involved. This also reflects well on you as a professional.
Give Formal Notice
After you've spoken to your boss, follow company policy for giving notice. You'll probably have to put it in writing, but your company might have forms or other special rules you should follow. Keep copies of your resignation notice and other communications regarding it so you have proof that you followed the proper procedures and provided ample notice.