If you’re like me, the idea of quitting your job makes you nervous. When I left my first employer, I was terrified — but quickly learned that it was OK to make the move because I was working to make my life better. In the end, that’s the most important thing.
Adopting the “put yourself first” mentality can be challenging, though, so here are six things to remember when you decide it’s time to leave.
1. Plan your next move.
Do you have a good reason for leaving? Do you have another job lined up — or are you planning to take charge of your life with a fresh start? Whatever your reason may be, make sure you know it. While it really isn’t anyone’s business, it will be a helpful bit of information to have when giving your boss your notice. Having your story straight will make the conversation easier. Even if your boss is completely blindsided and shocked by your departure, once he/she adjusts to the news it could make it easier to transition out of the company while leaving the door open for other opportunities down the road. Remember, you don’t owe anyone anything — but being honest with your boss and finding a good balance could work in your favor in the future.
Important tip: When giving notice to your manager, a face-to-face conversation is ideal. Look them in the eye and let them know why you’re leaving and when.
2. Give appropriate notice.
Professionally, giving two weeks is the standard but there may be circumstances where you are able to stay a bit longer or need to leave sooner — and that’s okay. Nine times out of ten, employees are looking to leave a position on good terms. If you can give a month to ease the transition, consider it but don’t feel like it’s a necessity. Depending on where you work and who you report to, the outcome will be different. Sometimes employers, though sad to see you go, are gracious and happy that you are embarking on a new journey. Other times, they’re annoyed that they will have to fill your spot. No matter what the situation, as long as you’ve given the most amount of time you are able, you can leave your position with a clear conscious.
Important tip: Remember that there’s never a right time to resign. There will always be another project or another event coming down the pike — don’t let that scare you into staying longer than you see fit.
3. Reach out and solidify your references.
If you’re like me, you probably had certain coworkers that fostered your growth during your time with the company. When I started my first job, I was 20 and still going to school. I worked with many people along the way, but only a close few made a lasting impact enough to shape my career. These are the people you want to touch base with and ask for a reference. Who knows where you’ll be in five years — and having that recommendation on the backburner could come in handy.
Important tip: Ask them to endorse you on LinkedIn or simply take down their contact information if you don’t have it already. Maybe you don’t need a letter of recommendation but knowing you have the support of a former coworker could be helpful down the road.
4. Update your résumé and online profiles.
At this point, people probably know you’re leaving. Now’s the time to turn your focus toward what is coming. Update your LinkedIn profile to show that you’re moving on, and add information about your next position. If you’re quitting without another immediate position lined up, make changes how you see fit. It might not seem it, but it is important to close the chapter on your old job. Make necessary changes to your résumé so things are up-to-date. Update your status to reflect that there is a new opportunity coming — and just to let people know that you’re making a change.
Important tip: Don’t overdo it. Try to be discreet and respectful of your current employer and coworkers. Getting your profiles in line right away isn’t crucial to your success, but it will make you feel validated in your decision to uproot your career and go another direction.
5. Take care of all paperwork sooner rather than later.
If you need to make an appointment with your boss or HR rep, make sure to ask for that as soon as possible. Leaving a job often comes with paperwork that needs your attention and could even include a payout of unused vacation days or sick time. You won’t know until you ask, and you should make it a priority to have that taken care of right away. Obviously, leaving a job is overwhelming and sometimes the anxiety of quitting might make you forget things as simple as when to expect your last paycheck or how long your benefits last. Once you have these things squared away, you will be able to focus on physically leaving the job and saying goodbye to a familiar environment.
Important tip: As you go through the quitting process, make sure to take note of any and all questions that come up. Don’t forget about your 401K or retirement plan— and how to roll it over into your new job, if applicable. Also, make sure that your employer has your current address on file so you don’t miss anything important that might come in the mail.
6. Remember why you’re leaving in the first place.
There was obviously a reason why you applied for a new position or are simply leaving the company. Leaving your job and coworkers you love will be daunting and maybe even sad. It was for me. During my last week of work, my mom told me that I shouldn’t be surprised if my last few days were amazing — and they were. What was normally a stressful and exhausting workplace wasn’t so bad, and I found myself wondering what was ever so bad that I wanted to leave. This might happen to you but don’t let it dissuade you. Though we sometimes forget it, change is good. When you start in your new role, you might find exactly what you’ve been looking for this whole time — and you’ll remember why you made the change.
Important tip: Don’t lose sight of your goal and remember that, in the long run, it’s about the journey. Choosing a new career path is a great way to further your journey, don’t you think?
Looking to make a career change but need your degree to get started? Click here to view all of the degree programs available through the Johnson & Wales University College of Online Education or fill out the “Request Info” form on this page.