Getting ready to quit your job can be exciting, nerve-wracking and in some cases even terrifying. Even when you’re sure that you’re ready to move on, it can be tough to leave a place you’ve grown accustomed to and trade it for a company and co-workers who you don’t know nearly as well.
Here are seven things you should do before you resign to ensure that you’re prepared for this very important conversation.
Make sure you’ve thought the decision through. Quitting isn’t generally something you should do impulsively or in the heat of the moment when you’re frustrated. If you haven’t given yourself time to sit with the decision to make sure it’s the right one, do that first; you can’t usually take it back once you quit. It’s also worth thinking about whether the reasons you want to quit are things that you might be able to resolve by talking somewhat candidly with your boss (whether it’s more money, a promotion or a more reasonable workload). By thinking through your options, you’ll be able to proceed with confidence in your decision.
Find out how your employer has handled other people’s resignations in the past. Most companies handle resignations pretty well, but some companies will push you out the door the day you give notice and some managers take resignations as personal betrayal. Talk discreetly to a few colleagues whom you trust and find out how resigning employees are generally treated at your company so that you’re not blindsided by a reaction you weren’t expecting.
Remove any personal files from your work computer. You might assume that you’ll have time to do this during your notice period, but if there’s any chance that your company will ask you to leave immediately once you resign, you don’t want to lose personal items that you’ve been storing on your work computer and you may not want to risk other people finding them, so transfer them over to a personal account and then delete them from your computer. The same goes for any personal emails that are still in your work email account.
Take home any samples of work or contact information that you might want in the future. If you want work samples for a portfolio to show future interviewers or copies of past performance reviews or if you want to be sure you have contact info for colleagues or vendors, take that home now. Of course, you want to ensure that you’re not violating any workplace rules by doing this, so check your employee manual and any confidentiality agreements you’ve signed.
If you’re leaving for another job, make sure that you have a formal, confirmed offer. It can be tempting to jump the gun when you’re excited to move to a new job, but make sure that you have an official job offer before you give your notice at your current job – not a promise of an offer or the strong hope of an offer, but an actual, formal offer. Otherwise, you risk having the offer fall through after you’ve already resigned from your job, leaving you unemployed.
Think through your messaging. The way you handle your resignation can have a significant impact on how your manager thinks of you after you’re gone (and when giving references in the future). So your messaging here matters, and you shouldn’t wing it. Figure out ahead of time how much you want to explain about the reasons that led you to decide to move on, or whether you’d rather just say that an opportunity came along that you couldn’t pass up.
Additionally, try to anticipate any questions your manager might ask so that you’re not caught off guard by them. For example, it can be smart to decide ahead of time how you’ll respond if your boss asks you to give a longer notice period than you were planning on. If you don’t prepare ahead of time, you can end up agreeing to things that you don’t really want to agree to, just because you weren’t prepared to field the question.
Know how you’ll handle a counteroffer. Figure out ahead of time how you’ll respond if your boss offers you more money to persuade you to stay. In most cases, it doesn’t make sense to accept a counteroffer, since generally there was a reason you wanted to move on and it’s usually about more than money. Often people who accept counteroffers end up leaving within a year anyway because once the thrill of the raise wears off, they’re looking at the same conditions that made them want to leave the first time. But whatever you decide, the point here is to think it through ahead of time, so that you’re not thrown off if your manager suggests it.