Finally deciding that you are quitting your job can bring on a whole slew of different emotions. Part of you is exhilarated and excited – you are either leaving for a new opportunity, choosing a different path, or starting a new business.
Part of you is scared to death: will you be successful, will you like your new path? Or it could be a situation where you feel you are going to get fired, so don’t have much choice but look for something else – fast.
Yet another part is mourning: you may have made great friends at your current company, and will miss them immensely.
Whatever your reasoning for leaving your current opportunity, there are some definite steps you MUST complete before you sail off into the sunset.
Let’s take a look at some of the most important items that need to be on your “to-do” list:
Clean Out Your Office
Whether you are planning to give notice, or you feel that you may be terminated, slowly start cleaning out your office and removing personal items. You may give two weeks’ notice, and have two weeks to clean up and clear out, or your employer may want you to leave immediately. You don’t want to caught in a situation in which you are not able to retrieve personal items, so be proactive and start taking things home each day. Do this gradually, however. Walking out with a huge box of personal items will set off a red flag to anyone that witnesses it!
Remove Personal Information from Your Company Computer or Cell Phone
If you are getting close to submitting your resignation, now is the time to remove personal documents, contacts, pictures, or other private information from your company computer or cell phone. In this day and age, people often treat their company electronics as their own, so be sure to forward this information to a personal account (and delete the personal account from your company computer), and save personal contacts in another data file. DO leave work-related emails and pertinent information for your successor available on the computer. This way, if your computer or cell phone is seized when you resign, you aren’t scrambling to get anything embarrassing or personal off of it.
Note: This does not mean taking company information, so keep your hands off proprietary company files, etc.
Get Your Resume in Order
If you haven’t already landed another job, now is the time to get your resume updated. You still have access to performance data, and can input quantifiable results into your resume (at least for your current position). I cannot tell you how many times I speak with candidates that no longer have access to data, so can tell me their sales numbers were “good”, or that they saved the company “a ton of money”, but have no way of substantiating that claim. As a matter of fact, whether you are looking or not, GET THOSE NUMBERS AND PUT THEM ON YOUR RESUME NOW!
Make a Personal Commitment to Reject Any Counter Offers
Hopefully I don’t have to expand on this one too much. If you have made a conscious decision to leave your job, whether you have another job or not, it is likely due to a number of factors. Money shouldn’t be main one! A counter offer is usually a panicked attempt by an employer not to have to replace you, and is often a short-term solution on their part. Once you accept a counter offer, your credibility factor decreases substantially, and your level of satisfaction will only be temporary. Most people thrive on the status quo, so taking a counter offer would be a short-term solution on your part as well. Read more on this in: Why Your Candidate Accepted a Counter Offer and Why They Just Don’t Work.
Get Squared Away with Your Benefits
Do you need to go to your doctor for a checkup (or prescription refills)? Take care of that now. Do you need to visit your dentist? Do your homework and find out how long your healthcare benefits will last beyond your termination date. If you are starting a new job, when do their benefits start? Will you need to have COBRA coverage (and can your new employer cover those costs)? These are important items to have in place before you leave your job. How about your 401k plan or pension? How does the transition need to work, and how will you get your money? Where will you have to transfer it, and will there be any sort of penalty? Be prepared to take care of this information as soon as possible.
Tell Anyone You Feel Should Hear the News from You
If you have a close circle of work friends, colleagues, or mentors, be sure that you make them aware. No one likes to be caught off-guard, and withholding news on a resignation can often cause hard feelings among friends and colleagues. Even if you tell them a few minutes before the news is released, knowing that they were part of the “inner circle” makes them feel trusted and special. Once a formal resignation is given, a company often feels that it is their job to break the news to others, so if there is anyone else you wish to inform before the knowledge is public, do so before it hits the rumor mill.
Don’t Burn Bridges!
Our world is getting smaller and smaller every day! No matter how miserable you are in your current role, be civil and professional. Set goals for yourself before you leave, and close up as many loose ends as you can. Make sure your “house” is in order at work, and that your colleagues and supervisors are up to speed on projects, tasks, or any other responsibilities you have. You never know when you will need one of your current co-workers or supervisors to provide a reference in the future, or if you will end up working with one of them again in a future position. I have worked with many candidates that have a grand plan for how they are “going out”, but please think about future repercussions before you make a scene on your way out the door!
People generally decide to quit their job at a time when they are unhappy with some aspect of the position, the company, or their career progression. Make sure that this decision is one that is well thought out, and that you plan for, both personally and financially, before you make any rash decisions.
We have also included a FREE downloadable resignation letter template here. You’ll have your letter complete in 60 second or less!
For some additional resources on making a career change, please refer to the following books:
Dare to Change Your Job and Your Life, by Carole Kanchier
What Color is Your Parachute? 2017: A Practical Guide for Job Hunters and Career Changers, by Richard Bolles
Leap: Leaving a Job With No Plan B to Find the Career and Life You Really Want, by Tess Vigeland
by Natalie Lemons
Natalie Lemons is the Founder and President of Resilience Group, LLC, and The Resilient Recruiter and C0-Founder of Need a New Gig. She specializes in the area of Executive Search and services a diverse group of national and international companies, focusing on mid to upper-level management searches in a variety of industries. For more articles like this, follow her blog. Resilient Recruiter is an Amazon Associate.