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Before making any moves, carefully review your employment agreement or contract. This document likely contains crucial details about your notice period, non-compete clauses, confidentiality, severance eligibility, and other binding terms. Fully understanding these provisions is essential to ensuring a smooth departure.
Many employment contracts require employees to provide notice weeks or even months in advance of leaving. The specific notice period is usually based on your position seniority. C-suite executives may have notice periods of 3 months or more, while entry-level roles may only need 2 weeks. Failure to provide adequate notice is considered a breach of contract and can result in forfeited pay or benefits.
Employment agreements often contain non-compete and non-solicitation clauses barring you from working for a competitor or soliciting clients/employees for a certain period after leaving. The exact duration and scope vary. Violating these terms opens you up to potential lawsuits, so tread carefully. Some states prohibit or limit the enforceability of non-competes.
You will also likely have ongoing confidentiality obligations even after departure. This usually covers things like trade secrets, intellectual property, client lists, and inside business information. Do not take any proprietary materials or share sensitive details.
Double check if you are entitled to severance pay or other post-employment benefits based on your agreement"s terms. Eligibility, calculation methods, and payout schedules differ. Make sure you meet all requirements to receive owed compensation.
Consult an employment lawyer if you have questions about interpreting your agreement"s fine print. They can provide guidance on notice periods, restrictive covenants, severance, reconciling conflicts with company policies or local laws, negotiating exit terms, and protecting yourself against potential legal issues. Relying on HR"s summary is not enough.
Giving proper notice shows professionalism, maintains your reputation, and keeps doors open for future opportunities. Avoid succumbing to the temptation of rage-quitting without warning or badmouthing your employer on the way out.
Resist venting pent-up frustrations in your resignation letter or announcing your departure via social media. That may provide some short-term catharsis but permanently burns bridges. You never know when you might cross paths or need to rely on connections again later in your career. Preserve those relationships.
Instead, cool off before providing formal notice via an in-person meeting or professionally-worded letter. Keep emotions out of it. Simply state you are resigning, thank them for the opportunities, and outline next steps like transition plans.
If you have serious grievances, schedule an exit interview to tactfully share constructive feedback removed from the heat of the moment. Frame concerns as suggestions for improvement rather than accusations or complaints. Avoid ultimatums.
Give notice aligned with your contractual requirements, even if tempted to cut it short. This shows you intend to fulfill your commitments with integrity. It also gives your employer adequate time to prepare for your departure.
Two weeks is the general minimum courtesy for most roles, though senior positions often warrant longer. Offer to help hire and train your replacement. Use the notice period to transfer knowledge, organize files, and tie up loose ends.
With a few exceptions, don"t announce your resignation to colleagues until the company has communicated it. Definitely don"t share the news externally until formally announced. Keep it confidential.
Before submitting your resignation, carefully review your employer's policies regarding notice periods, severance, accrued paid time off payouts, benefits continuation, and any other guidelines for departing employees. Conduct thorough research on applicable local, state, and federal laws as well. This due diligence protects your rights and prevents nasty legal surprises down the road.
While company policies often align with employment contracts, discrepancies can exist. Examine the employee handbook, HR portal, and any other resources to identify notice requirements, eligibility terms for severance or PTO payouts, insurance extension options, and final paycheck deadlines. Ensure you comply with all provisions.
For instance, the employee manual may indicate departing staff stay on the payroll during the notice period while the employment agreement states they can be removed immediately. Consulting both prevents misunderstandings about your status after giving notice. Clarify any ambiguities with HR in writing.
Thoroughly research labor regulations in your jurisdiction regarding final pay, benefits continuation, severance, unused PTO payouts, non-compete enforceability, workplace retaliation protections, and anything else related to resignations. Local laws sometimes conflict with or supersede corporate policies and contracts.
For example, your employer may claim forfeited PTO under their "use it or lose it" policy, but state law mandates payout of accrued time regardless. Know your rights and do not let violations go unchallenged. Consult an attorney if disputes arise over conflicting standards.
Carefully comb through all pre- and post-employment restrictions to determine precisely what types of work, clients, locations, and time frames are off limits so you can still earn a living. Seek qualified legal counsel rather than relying on your own interpretation.
Additionally, your employer cannot retaliate or discriminate against you for resigning. Look into local protections if you experience adverse actions like termination before your notice expires or blacklisting. Promptly document and address any concerning incidents using the appropriate channels.
When you announce your resignation, there is a possibility your employer will make a counteroffer to try and convince you to stay. They may offer you more money, a promotion, flexible work arrangements, or other incentives. While flattering, weigh counteroffers carefully before accepting. Studies show over 80% of employees who accept counteroffers end up leaving within six months anyway. Here's why to approach counteroffers cautiously:
Counteroffers are usually a knee-jerk reaction by companies wanting to temporarily fill the hole your departure leaves. They may not have long-term substance behind them. The salary bump or title upgrade can easily be rescinded later. You lose negotiating power once already staying.
Accepting a counteroffer breeds distrust on both sides. Your employer may perceive you as disloyal and only remaining for the money. Meanwhile you already had one foot out the door. Rebuilding mutually beneficial relationships is difficult.
Nothing major at the company is likely to change. The same problems that drove you to quit originally typically remain unresolved. All a counteroffer does is add more pay to a situation you already found intolerable. The core issues persist.
Your career momentum stalls. By accepting a counteroffer, you stay stuck in place instead of pushing your trajectory upward through a new challenge. You lose out on advancing your skills and experience.
Planning your financial affairs should be a top priority when preparing to leave a job. Your sources of income, healthcare coverage, retirement savings, and other benefits are all poised to change. Take steps to avoid disruptions that could impact your financial wellbeing or derail your transition plans.
Review Your Budget - Scrutinize your monthly budget and identify areas to reduce spending before your paychecks stop. Trimming discretionary costs like dining out, entertainment, travel, and shopping creates wiggle room. Also look for recurring subscriptions or services you can cancel. Even small savings add up. Build an emergency fund with at least 6 months of living expenses in case your job search takes longer than expected.
Discuss Insurance - Benefits like health insurance typically terminate the last day of the month you leave your job. Research COBRA or state continuation coverage options, which let you temporarily extend workplace plans but often have high premiums. Comparison shop individual plans as alternatives. If you have a spouse with coverage, see if you can join their policy.
Manage Retirement - Once you leave, you cannot continue contributing to your former employer's retirement plan. Avoid cashing out and paying penalties/taxes. Either roll over the funds into an IRA or keep the account if allowed. Make sure you understand fee structures, withdrawal rules, and your vesting status. Retain copies of all statements and plan documents.
Review Other Compensation - Check on equity compensation, bonuses, commissions, or other outstanding pay still owed. Understand payout deadlines, eligibility conditions, tax implications and similar details so you receive everything you are entitled to. Negotiate if needed.
Clean Up Company Expenses - Document any outstanding expenses you need reimbursed for prior travel, supplies, training, professional dues, or other costs incurred on behalf of your employer. Submit reports immediately and follow up to ensure payment before departing.
Consult Professionals - Meet with your financial advisor, accountant, attorney, and any other relevant professionals to discuss your situation and walk through recommended steps regarding budgets, taxes, investments, debts, assets, estate planning, and more. Their guidance can optimize your finances and prevent costly oversights.
Update Records - Provide notice of your job change to banks, lenders, credit card companies, the Social Security Administration, creditors, investment firms and others you have financial relationships with. This prevents disruptions in credit, payments, communications and other vital services.
Leaving a job inevitably involves a whirlwind of tasks and details that need proper handling in preparation for your departure. Taking the time to thoughtfully tie up loose ends and get your files in order makes the transition smoother for both you and your employer.
One of the most important actions is to document all of your ongoing and recently completed projects so others can easily pick up where you left off. Create a master spreadsheet or project tracker that outlines key info such as objectives, status, deadlines, stakeholders, processes, access credentials, budget details, and anything else relevant to continuity. Set up knowledge transfer meetings with successor staff to verbally walk through each project and answer their questions.
Carefully review your entire workload and reassign outstanding items so that no tasks inadvertently fall through cracks once you leave. Confirm that stakeholders are notified of changes in points of contact and responsibilities. Verify that hand-offs are completed for all current client accounts, technical matters, service contracts, administrative duties, team management, and any other obligations that will need assumption by others.
Take time to organize both paper and electronic files related to your work responsibilities. For paper documents, sort through materials and determine what should be retained by the company for business purposes. Properly shred or destroy anything containing confidential, proprietary, or sensitive information. For electronic files, delete any non-work related or otherwise inappropriate content first. Then categorize and label any files the company needs to keep within shared drives or team management platforms. Purge outdated, redundant, or unnecessary documentation.
Back up important emails and electronic records to aid your successor. Make sure company devices are wiped of any personal content. Return items like laptops, mobile phones, access cards, keys, and identification badges as required.
Confirm you have returned or submitted expense reports for any outstanding costs incurred, and retain receipts. Request documentation from HR stating paid time off balances and confirm remaining vacation has been processed. Ensure any owed reimbursements, commissions, bonus payments, or other compensation due to you has been arranged.
Inform vendors, consultants, law firms, and any other external business contacts you regularly liaise with about your impending departure and designated replacement. Provide contact info for taking over any contracts or relationships.
Update documented procedures, templates, style guides, compliance policies, training manuals and other resources related to your role so they remain current after you leave. Remove yourself from any email distribution lists, organizational charts, HR systems, and other internal contacts lists or databases.
Once you've given formal notice to your employer, the next step is thoughtfully announcing your resignation to colleagues. Avoid broadcasting the news prematurely or handling it clumsily in ways that damage relationships.
When and how you inform your team requires tact. Surprising coworkers with an abrupt email or slack message risks catching them off guard. Similarly, loudly celebrating your new job over happy hour drinks demonstrates insensitivity. Handle notifications judiciously to maintain professionalism.
If you lead a team or oversee direct reports, schedule meetings to personally share the news before word spreads. Explain your thought process respectfully, emphasize it was not an easy decision, and reiterate your commitment to wrapping up strongly. Outline transition plans and offer to assist with hiring replacements. Convey confidence in your team"s abilities to carry on successfully without you.
For peers or higher ups not directly reporting to you, one-on-one or small group conversations are still preferable to a mass email if logistically feasible. Schedule these professionally and lead with empathy, cognizant these colleagues are also losing a trusted coworker. Share a few sincere remarks about how much you valued working with them. If an in-person discussion is impractical, customizing individual messages shows you care.
When informing administration like HR, IT or facilities who interface with the whole company, ask about proper procedures for wider communication. See if they recommend waiting until closer to your departure date or have standard announcement templates. Defer to their judgment on ideal timing and channels for broader distribution.
Regardless of position, think through notification plans carefully. Poor execution has lasting consequences. For example, one product manager enthusiastically emailed global colleagues about her new startup role the same afternoon she resigned without warning her direct reports first. Team members felt blindsided reading the news alongside strangers, damaging trust.
Alternatively, an assistant district attorney hosted a potluck lunch on her last day to say farewell to courthouse coworkers who had become like family over the years. Her gesture left positive memories despite the sadness of her departure.
The very last impression you leave with your soon-to-be former employer and colleagues matters. Handling your final days, farewells, and offboarding tasks with grace and care preserves relationships far into the future.
Rather than growing resentful or slacking off during your notice period, remain fully engaged and dedicated to finishing strong right up until the end. Avoid dropping key projects or responsibilities since you are "leaving anyway." You made a commitment to provide a certain timeframe, so honor it with consistent hard work.
Likewise, do not spend company time or resources on job search tasks like interviewing or personal errands. Keep your focus squarely on current responsibilities until the designated end date. You owe your employer full duty and presence.
Schedule thoughtful goodbye meetings or meals with mentors, teammates, leaders and other connections who impacted your experience. Share your appreciation for them and this chapter in your career. Promise to keep in touch. Listen to their well wishes and congratulations. These personal conversations help nurture bonds that encourage future collaboration wherever your paths cross again.
If possible, avoid scheduling your very last day right before a critical deadline, presentation, or other high-stakes event your team is counting on you to complete. Either push back your end date or take steps to adequately hand off or wrap up remaining essential projects.Exiting at an inopportune moment strains relationships and threatens your reputation.
Send a gracious announcement on your final day thanking the company for the opportunities. Express how much you learned and valued the experience. Wish your colleagues success in the future. Make it clear you depart on good terms and think highly of the organization.
After you leave, check in periodically with former coworkers, especially those you mentored or managed. Congratulate them on promotions, respond to personal updates, and show you still care about their success and growth even without a formal relationship.
Avoid oversharing negative impressions from your new workplace, as tempting as it may be to compare or complain. Take the high road focusing conversations on their news, not your gripes.
If non-compete or non-solicitation agreements allow, you can meet former colleagues for coffee, meals or social events as you would any friend. Just steer clear of discussing confidential information and be thoughtful about boundaries. You want to nurture connections, not make things awkward.