10 Essential Things to Do Before You Quit Your Job

Here are a few things to keep in mind before you hand in your resignation letter.
Updated April 3, 2023
Man quitting job

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If you’re thinking about leaving your job, you’re not alone. In 2021, job separations totaled 68.9 million, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The BLS also found that to be competitive in this changing jobs market, employers have increased incentives such as base wages or the ability to work from home, which may entice workers to switch jobs.

But before you hand in your resignation, here are some things you may want to do to ensure a smooth transition away from your current job.

Check on your final paycheck and PTO

Pormezz/Adobe Man getting paycheck

Employers may handle your last paycheck in a variety of ways. Some may pay you on your last day of employment and others may stick to your typical payment schedule.

Before you leave, check with your human resources department to get a clear idea of when your final payment should arrive. If payment does not arrive on time, you can file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Labor.

7 moves if you want to stop living paycheck to paycheck

You should also check on your company’s policy for any accrued vacation and sick days you may still have. Ask if they will be paying you for those days, how they will be paying, and what you can expect in payment.

Tip: You may be entitled to get paid for vacation and sick days, but be aware that laws may vary by state.

Ask for references

bnenin/Adobe coworkers talking

If you don’t have a new job lined up, now is a good chance to talk to your supervisors, co-workers, or others you may have been in contact with about being a reference. It may be good to ask them for their contact information such as personal phone number or email address so you can have it handy for future employers.

Tip: Check on your employer’s policy as some companies may have specific limitations on recommendations from current employees.

Review and update LinkedIn

pressmaster/Adobe Woman working on computer

LinkedIn can be a great resource. The first thing you may want to do is update your profile, including your current job description, accomplishments, and awards or certifications. You also may want to check in with your network to find out if they know of any job openings, have any advice on your job search, or could leave a recommendation on your profile for potential employers to see.

LinkedIn is also a good place to search job listings for opportunities and find out if someone in your network may have a connection to a particular employer.

Tip: You can ask your current coworkers if they could leave a recommendation on your LinkedIn profile. In exchange, consider offering to leave a recommendation for them on their profile. This could help both of you in the future.

Update your resume

goodluz/Adobe man working on computer

If you’re updating your LinkedIn profile, it’s also a good time to update your resume as well. Freshen up your job descriptions and responsibilities, adding specific accomplishments. Make sure your contact information is up to date. You may also want to look at reformatting your resume to make it look clean and crisp to potential employers.

Tip: Consider saving your resume as a PDF to maintain the look of your resume across platforms.

Figure out health insurance

nenetus/Adobe Doctor visit

Many employers in the United States have health insurance as part of their employment package. But when you’re no longer employed, that could cause disruption with your insurance. Research options on what you can do to cover any insurance gaps, such as enrolling in COBRA through your employer.

Leaving a job may also count as a qualifying life event, which could allow you to enroll in a new insurance plan through your state’s Health Insurance Marketplace.

Tip: If you’ve been putting off doctor visits, try to get them in now before your current insurance plan runs out. Also consider a new pair of glasses or stocking up on prescriptions before your insurance coverage ends.

Collect work samples

Syda Productions/Adobe Man working in office

This may be a good time to save your work externally for personal use so you have examples of what you’ve done during your employment. Perhaps you designed brochures or worked on presentations that could be tangible samples of your work experience. You also may want to save emails that have praised your work.

Tip: If there are documents with proprietary information or work copyrighted by the company, it may be best to leave it behind.

Build up savings

Nana_studio/Adobe Saving in piggy bank

Leaving a job could be a major hit to your budget, and it may be difficult to find how to make money immediately after a job separation. If you’re planning to leave a job in the future, consider saving some money now. You may need funds to move to another city or state. You also could have cash on hand if there’s a gap between your paychecks.

Tip: If you are leaving a job without having a new one lined up, plan to have a few months of living expenses saved up so you can focus on searching for that new job.

Check on unemployment benefits

goodluz/Adobe man working on computer

Sometimes quitting your job isn’t voluntary, such as if you get laid off. In these cases, check with your human resources department to make sure you have any paperwork you need to file for unemployment. This could include proof of employment or proof that you were laid off.

Tip: Check with the unemployment office before your final workday to find out what steps to take before your last day of work. For more information on the steps in your state, check out our guide to unemployment benefits in every state.

Look over your retirement accounts

WONG SZE FEI/Adobe Retirement savings

Many employers offer retirement accounts such as 401(k) plans to their employees. These plans are usually administered by a third-party financial company, so give them a call to find out more information about your plan.

You may be able to roll over your 401(k) to an IRA or your new employer’s retirement funds. You could also withdraw the money, but be aware you may have to pay taxes if you do.

Tip: If you withdraw funds from a retirement account before age 59 1/2, you may face a tax penalty.

Be respectful

LIGHTFIELD STUDIOS/Adobe Coworkers talking

Try your best to leave your company on good terms, or at least not burn any bridges on your way out the door. You may want references from coworkers and supervisors, or work in a field where everyone knows everyone else.

Your reputation as a current employee can be affected by what you’ve done as a past employee, so try to leave your company with your good reputation intact.

Tip: Consider writing kind thank you notes or a goodbye email to coworkers, and help ease the transition for the person taking your place by leaving any notes that could be helpful to get them up to speed after you leave.

Bottom line

BullRun/Adobe training a coworker

The best jobs are out there for you to find, but you’ll have to consider any loose ends that need to be tied up before you leave your current employer. It will make the transition from one position to another easier for you and build your reputation as a fair and honest employee as you move on to your next opportunity and your next paycheck.

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Author Details

Jenny Cohen Jenny Cohen is a freelance writer who has covered a bit of everything, from finance to sports to her favorite TV shows. Her work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and FoxSports.com.

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