Resignation Checklist for Leaving a Job

Resignation Checklist for Leaving a Job

So, you’ve decided to resign from your job. While it might feel like the hard part is over, quitting the right way is far from a simple process. And you do want to quit the right way​ because leaving on bad terms will do more than make your last days and weeks on the job uncomfortable—it could impact your ability to land other jobs in the future.

Beyond that, it’s important to understand your rights (and their limitations) when you quit your job. You need to know how you will receive your final paycheck and what happens with your health benefits, pension plan or retirement plan, and more.

Our 12-step checklist can help you quit the right way. Follow these steps so that you leave your job on the best note possible.

Submit Your Resignation

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Even if you hate your job, turning in your resignation isn't necessarily easy. You need to resign tactfully, with consideration for your soon-to-be former employer’s professional needs, and to conduct yourself in a way that will make your boss more likely to write you a recommendation or a reference in the future.

Tell Your Boss

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It’s almost always a good idea to tell your boss that you are resigning before you tell anyone else. It’s also important to be tactful when explaining why you’re resigning, whether you first do so in person or via a ​resignation letter. Finally, you should know what you can expect to hear from your supervisor when you resign.

Write a Resignation Letter

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Even if you’ve already told your boss that you are resigning, you should still write a resignation letter. When you write your letter, it's important to keep it as simple, brief, and focused as possible. It should also be positive and include all the information your boss will need to make the transition easier.  

Schedule Your Last Day Worked

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When you resign, you will need to discuss your ending date of employment with your supervisor. Providing two weeks’ notice is typical; however, your employer may ask you to terminate employment immediately or ask you to stay longer than two weeks. Here is a sample resignation letter that states the last day you will be working.

Find Out When You'll Get Your Last Paycheck

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Make sure that you know when you will receive your last paycheck when you resign from your job. Don’t assume that you will receive your check on the typical date of your regular direct deposit. Depending on company policy and state law, you may be paid right away or within a certain time period after you finish your job. 

Check on Eligibility for Employee Benefits

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You might be eligible for employee benefits when you resign from your job. For example, if your employer has more than 20 employees, you’re entitled by law to maintain your healthcare coverage through COBRA. (However, that means that you’ll have to pay to continue your coverage.) Your retirement plans may also carry over from job to job, depending on what type (pension, 401k, etc.). It’s a good idea to find out what your rights are before you hand in your resignation. 

Check on Unused Vacation and Sick Pay

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You may be entitled to accrued vacation, sick pay, or other forms of unused leave when you leave your job. Typically, unused time is paid out in a lump sum, but policies may vary. Be sure to talk to your human resources office to get information on what might be owed to you.

Learn About Eligibility for Health Insurance (COBRA)

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COBRA (Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act) gives employees and their families who lose their health benefits the option to continue group health benefits provided by their health plan for limited periods of time. Learn more about COBRA, and how you might be able to use it after you resign.

Transfer or Distributions of Pension Plans / 401K

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If you are participating in a defined benefit plan, your benefits will begin at retirement age. You might be able to transfer the value into another plan. On the other hand, if you are enrolled in a 401(k), profit sharing, or ​other types of defined contribution plan, your plan may provide for a lump sum distribution of your retirement money when you leave the company. Learn more information about the different types of plans you might have, and how you might be able to maintain those plans after resigning.

Get References

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Before you leave your job, be sure to get recommendation letters from your former employers. Also keep in mind that there might be some people you do not want to ask for a reference, especially if you are not leaving the job on good terms with your boss.

Determine Eligibility for Unemployment

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In most cases, workers who resign are not eligible for unemployment. However, if you left for good cause you may be able to collect unemployment benefits. It’s a good idea to determine your eligibility before you quit your job. 

Get Help With Labor Laws

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The U.S. Department of Labor and State Department of Labor offices can help you with information on employment-related laws, regulations, and compliance information. Learn more information on what the Department of Labor does, or contact the Department directly for assistance.