What Happens After You Resign From a Job?

Businessman resigning, carrying box of belongings in office
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Are you about to quit your job? Are you aware of what may happen when you submit your resignation? What should you do after you quit? Depending on your employer, your job may be terminated immediately and you'll be straight out the door.

In other cases, you'll stay on board to help with the transition until your departure date. There are many factors that impact the company's decision-making around termination of employment, even if you're the one who quits. These include company policies, employment agreements, and legal issues.

What Can Happen After You Turn in Your Resignation

Things can happen fast once you turn in your resignation, so try to anticipate how your employer may respond.

Don't resign out of anger or frustration without thinking through your next steps.

Even if you aren't leaving on good terms, try to handle your departure professionally and gracefully. Here's what to say to your boss when you quit your job.

Your employer's reaction will be determined by a number of factors, including company policy, your perceived value as an employee, and how difficult it will be to find and train your replacement.

Be Prepared for a Quick Forced Exit

Make sure you have everything you need from your workspace and work computer. If you have a company phone or tablet, make sure you have all the information you need from it. Some employers will immediately cut off access and escort employees from the premises, particularly if they sense they are disgruntled in any way.

Most employees, unless they are covered by a labor agreement, are employed at will. This means that you can resign - and your employer can terminate your employment - without notice. Even if you want to stay for the full amount of your notice period (typically two weeks), your employer doesn't have an obligation to keep you on.

A state law exception to this rule is Montana, where companies must have a valid reason to terminate employment, except for during a probationary period.

The safest approach is to retrieve any important documents from your work computer that are of a personal nature prior to handing in your resignation. Also, set aside any samples of your work that might be useful as part of your professional portfolio or as you carry out your role in future jobs.

What If They Ask You to Stay?

What should you do if your boss asks you to stay? Be prepared to propose any realistic changes that would make your current job palatable or preferable to your new job option. Employers have been known to make all kinds of changes to retain strong performers, including promotions, reassignment to other bosses, and changes in job duties.

However, do know that it might not be all positive if you change your mind and stay on. Even though you decided to undo your resignation, there could be hard feelings over the fact that you considered resigning in the first place.

Know Your Bottom Line If Your Employer Asks You to Reconsider

After receiving a resignation notice, many employers will attempt to persuade strong contributors to remain with the organization. If you are resigning to take on another job, your employer may ask what salary it would take to keep you in the fold.

When Money Matters

If you are leaving primarily for financial reasons and would prefer to remain with your current employer, have a figure in mind that would induce you to stay.

How hard you negotiate at this point will depend on the relative attractiveness of your prospective new job as compared to your current position.

Be mindful that your employer might decide to let you go anyway if your expectations are out of line with their salary structure.

When It's Not About the Money

If you are leaving for other reasons such as job satisfaction, working conditions, reporting relationships, or advancement opportunities, you might still have the opportunity to explore some accommodations with your current employer.

Bringing Your Tenure to a Positive Conclusion

Your employer may ask you to document the status of your projects, create an operations or handover manual, or help train a colleague to carry out your responsibilities until a replacement is hired. They might even ask you to serve a longer notice period to ease the transition.

Cooperate as much as you can and work diligently until your last day so that you are remembered as a dedicated employee. You never know when in the future you might need your past employer to vouch for your productivity and attitude.

Finalizing Benefits Issues Upon Separation

Meet with human resources and discuss how any unused vacation will be handled. Find out how long you will be covered by health and life insurance policies through your employer.

Make sure you have all the information needed to make decisions about pension, profit-sharing, and 401(k) plans. Here's information on employee benefits when you leave your job and when you will get your final paycheck.

How to Handle an Exit Interview

Most organizations will conduct some type of exit interview with departing employees to assess factors contributing to your resignation. Carefully consider your personal perspective regarding whether to critique your boss or employer.

In most cases, there is little to gain from any criticism, and you are better off focusing on positive aspects of your employment and the attractiveness of any new opportunities. Negative feedback about supervisors or co-workers can filter back to them and influence their responses to future reference checks. Review these tips for handling an exit interview, so you're prepared in advance.

Finalize Relationships & Saying Goodbye

Be gracious, and express your gratitude to colleagues left behind. Excessive celebration can be alienating. Let stakeholders and customers know how their concerns will be handled after your departure, and thank them for their support.

Maintain a positive tone all around as you depart, and it will be more likely that you will be remembered as a positive colleague.

Article Sources

  1. National Conference of State Legislatures. "At-Will Employment - Overview," Accessed Dec. 8, 2019.

  2. Montana Department of Labor and Industry, "Frequently Asked Questions," Accessed Dec. 8, 2019.