How to Handle Leaving Your Job

Tips and Advice for Graciously Moving On From a Job

When you leave your job, regardless of whether it’s your choice or your employer’s decision, the details of your departure need to be finalized. You’ll need to give notice if you’re resigning and schedule your last day on the job.

You’ll also need to plan your transition and consider employee benefits options, like what to do with your 401k or pension, and leave on a graceful note if you can.

Here’s how to handle leaving your job, including tips for quitting a job, how to handle getting fired, when you’ll get your last paycheck, how to say goodbye to your co-workers, and how to manage your employee benefits transition.

How to Resign From a Job

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When it’s your choice to move on, it’s important to resign gracefully without burning any bridges. You will probably need a reference from your employer at some point in time, and it should be a good one. Take the time to plan your departure carefully, give as much notice as you can, and offer to help with the transition.

Review these tips for how to resign from a job, so you can leave on the best terms possible, and check out resignation letter samples you can use to draft your own letter.

Giving Two Weeks Notice

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Giving two weeks notice is standard unless you have a contract that stipulates that you must stay longer. Unless there are extenuating circumstances where it’s impossible to stay, be sure to let your boss know you’re leaving with plenty of advance warning.  Here are tips for giving notice, and advice for what to do if you absolutely can’t stay that long and need to quit without notice.

Give a Good Reason for Leaving

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Even if you didn't like your job, this isn't the time to mention it. It's important to leave your job on good terms, and it's important that the reason you give your boss matches what you say when you're interviewing. Here are some good, and not so good, reasons for leaving a job.

How to Handle Being Terminated

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Regardless of whether you were fired or laid-off, losing your job hurts. It’s painful, even more so when it’s unexpected.  Here’s what you need to know when your job has been terminated, including employee rights, unemployment, what to say in job interviews, and more advice on handling a termination.

Getting Your Last Paycheck

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Whether you have a new job lined up or you’re just starting a job search, it’s important to know about your final paycheck. When will you receive your last paycheck if you resign or are terminated from your job? When you get your final paycheck depends on state law and on company policy. Here’s the scoop.

Collecting Unemployment

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If you lose your job, you may be eligible for state unemployment benefits.  Under some circumstances, you may even be able to collect if you were fired. Here’s information on unemployment, including how and when to open a claim, how to file a weekly claim, and how to figure out how much unemployment compensation you will receive.

Employee Benefits When You Leave a Job

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Before you leave your job, you will need to know what employee benefits you are eligible for. You are entitled to receive some benefits by law. Your employer may opt to provide additional benefits other than those mandated by state or federal law. If you’re not sure what you’re entitled to, ask your manager or Human Resources department. They should be able to provide you with the details prior to your last day of work.

Health Insurance Options to Consider

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You will have health insurance decisions to make. Depending on the size of your company, you may be eligible to continue coverage under COBRA. However, under Obamacare, the government’s Health Insurance Marketplace, you will be able to shop for coverage on your own to see how individual and family plan prices compare to COBRA and decide which option is best for you and your family.

What to Do With Your 401k

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You will most likely have four options for what to do with your 401k plan when you leave your job: stay in the existing employer’s plan, move the money to a new employer’s plan, move the money to a self-directed retirement account (known as a rollover IRA), or cash out.  Here are things to consider with each option.

Your Pension When You Leave a Job

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If you are covered by a defined benefit pension plan, you will have a few options.  You can choose to take the money as a lump sum now or take the promise of regular payments in the future, also known as an annuity. You may even be able to get a combination of both. Here’s information on pension options for when you leave your job.

Getting References Lined Up

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It’s important to get good references lined up before you need them. Ask your manager, if you’re leaving on good terms, about providing you with a reference. Also check with your soon-to-be former colleagues, clients and others who can speak to your qualifications. Plan ahead and get your references in order, before you need them. It will save time scrambling to put together a reference list when an employer asks for one.

15 Things To Do Before Leaving Your Job

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There are the things you need to consider doing to ensure a graceful transition before you head out the office door for the last time. Double-check this list to make sure you have got everything covered.

How to Say Goodbye and Stay in Touch

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After you give your boss notice that you’re resigning, the next step is to let your co-workers know that you are moving on.  Share your personal contact information with those you want to stay in touch with, and connect on LinkedIn if you aren’t already. Even though it can be hard to keep in touch with those we used to work with, it’s a good idea to do so because former colleagues can give great references and provide referrals for jobs.