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10 Things To Do Before Handing in Your Resignation

Updated on April 22, 2016
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I'm a business communications coach who teaches writing, speaking, and leadership skills to adults in the midst of a career change.

If you're thinking about quitting your job, read this article before you hand in your resignation letter. Some careful planning can help make the process of leaving your job a little less stressful.

What should you do if you've had enough and you want to quit?

Quitting your job isn't a game. There are things you need to do before you resign if you want to leave your job on good terms with your employer.
Quitting your job isn't a game. There are things you need to do before you resign if you want to leave your job on good terms with your employer.

Many guides on how to quit your job suggest you focus on looking for a new job while hanging onto the one you still have.

But what if you don't have a dream job in mind that you want to move to? Maybe you need a career break to explore your options: go back to school, spend time with your family, or look after personal health issues. You may even be planning for an early retirement.

There are many reasons for wanting to quit your job. Whatever your reasons are for deciding to leave, you can take steps to make the transition to a new beginning easier on yourself, your family, your co-workers, and your employer.

This article will discuss how to:

  • ease the process of leaving your job;
  • look after your physical and emotional needs during the transition;
  • ensure your rights are protected while you're still working;
  • behave in a professional manner at all times, even when you are stressed out.

Before you hand in your resignation, be mindful of  what kind of impression you want to make on your colleagues before you leave. Every connection counts!
Before you hand in your resignation, be mindful of what kind of impression you want to make on your colleagues before you leave. Every connection counts!

This article may also be helpful for people who feel that they're at risk of losing their jobs. Perhaps a layoff is imminent or you're getting an uneasy vibe from management. Being let go suddenly can come as a shock, even if everyone knew it was inevitable. Sometimes there's little time to wind down; you're asked to hand in your keys and then shown the door at the end of the day.

If you are worried about your job security, a little planning can give you the confidence to know that if you are laid off, your pre-packed parachute will be ready to ease you back onto solid ground. A soft landing will make it easier to get back on your feet and find a new career path.

Start by taking some simple steps to ensure a smooth exit. Whether you're moving on to a new adventure in your life, or quitting your job due to unhappy circumstances, you deserve to have a sense of closure before you leave. For you, that might mean knowing that your clients and files will be handled properly when you're gone. It may mean having time to sit down with each of your co-workers so that you can sincerely thank them for the support they've given you. Perhaps you want to speak to your boss before you leave to find out what kind of reference he or she is planning to give you.

Here are some things you can do to leave an employment situation in a fair, ethical, and practical manner.

  1. Get your support network in place. Talk to your family, trusted friends, even your doctor, about your decision. Their support and encouragement will be a lifeline when self-doubt threatens to creep in.
  2. Organize your finances. Keep in mind that it will be harder to apply for loans once you leave your job. Even if you have some savings tucked away to support you over the next few months, emergencies do happen. Figure out what you would do if you needed a quick infusion of extra cash.
  3. Create your own countdown calendar. Include specific tasks that need to be completed so that when you give your notice, you already have a head start on what projects will need your attention during your last two weeks.
  4. Use your benefits. As long as you're working, you're entitled to your extended benefits. Are you due for a new eyeglass prescription soon? Get an eye exam done now. Are all of your family members' dental check-ups up to date? If not, make an appointment soon. Also, if your company offers a confidential employee assistance program, consider scheduling a meeting with a therapist or counselor to discuss your decision to leave your job. It's normal to experience feelings of loss, even when you're the one who has decided to quit. Talking it out with a qualified counselor may help ease the transition.
  5. Spend a little time at the end of each day organizing your files. Try to neutralize your filing system and remove any personal sorting styles that made sense to you for the last six years, but will be impossible for someone new to decipher. Whoever replaces you will appreciate having a clear, easy-to-understand filing system. Leaving your work tidy and well organized will reflect positively on you after you're gone. It will also reduce the need for your replacement or supervisor to contact you after you've left. (Talk about awkward!)
  6. Begin some light packing. As you get closer and closer to your resignation date, quietly begin packing up your mementos, dishes, and knick-knacks. Leave the big obvious items in place. Tackle the small tasks such as cleaning out the drawer where you keep your personal items.
  7. Prepare a list of people, such as colleagues, associates, and clients, that you want to contact before you leave. Once you hand in your resignation, you can contact them personally and let them know about your decision to move on.
  8. Keep your credentials up to date. Make sure that your professional credentials are up to date. If there are any training programs or employer-sponsored courses you're due to complete, make sure you finish them before you leave.
  9. Ask for a performance review. If your performance review is coming up, see if you can have it scheduled a little earlier. Leaving with a clear sense of what you have accomplished and what your employer thinks of you can boost your confidence and make it easier to ask for a good reference. Be sure to geta signed copy of your performance review at the end of your meeting.
  10. Build your portfolio. It's not unreasonable to keep samples of your published work for your portfolio; however, contracts, proposals, and internal planning documents are off limits, even if you were the chief lead on the project. Make sure that when you finally do leave, your supervisor knows exactly which work-related portfolio samples you intend to take with you.

Aim for the best ending possible. By getting some of the basics, such as organizing your files, out of the way first, and then taking time to mentally process your decision to leave, you’ll be able to spend the last two weeks at work bringing administrative and emotional closure to your work relationships. You can focus on things like asking for a reference letter, conducting a reflective and helpful exit interview, or having one-to-one time with colleagues to acknowledge them for all the support they've shown you.

When you are ready to say good-bye to your boss, make sure you leave with a firm handshake, a sincere smile, and your head held up high.
When you are ready to say good-bye to your boss, make sure you leave with a firm handshake, a sincere smile, and your head held up high. | Source

Things do not change; we change.

— Henry David Thoreau

Are You Sure You Want to Quit Your Job? Some Final Thoughts

© 2012 Sally Hayes

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