15 Things To Have On A Leaving Job Checklist

By Conor McMahon
Jan. 16, 2023

Find a Job You Really Want In

Summary. The first thing that should be on your leaving a job checklist is to have a plan or a new job lined up. After having a plan it’s important to follow the quitting policy at your job and inform your boss before any colleagues.

At some point in your career, you’re going to quit your job, and unfortunately, this isn’t as simple as turning in your two weeks’ notice and packing up your desk.

Leaving a job or company well is important not only to keeping your professional connections intact but also to setting yourself up for success financially.

In this article, we’ll tell you about some of the most important things you should make sure you do (or at least think through) before you leave your job.

Key Takeaways:

  • Make sure to make a new budget to account for the possibility of being unemployed for some time if you do not have a job lined up after you quit.

  • When quitting a job you usually won’t be eligible for unemployment benefits in most states.

  • Before leaving you should thank anyone who has had made a positive impact on you.

Leaving Job Checklist

15 Things You Should Do Before Leaving Your Job

If you are unhappy with your job or have a new opportunity at a new job, you need to quit your job. To help you get started, here are 15 things to do before leaving your current job:

  1. Make sure you have a plan. Before you leave your job, it’s vital that you either have something else lined up or have a strong action plan. While we understand that you can get caught up in the heat of the moment, If you have a desire to leave your job, we strongly suggest you plan it out before you act.

    If you’re leaving this job because you have another one lined up, be sure you’re clear on the start date as well as the starting salary and benefits. If you’re leaving the workforce for other reasons, consider your circumstances, and make a plan for financing your day-to-day expenses.

    If you haven’t yet been formally hired at a new position, but you’re hoping to land one, do some serious budgeting. At the very least, before leaving your job, figure out how long you’ll be able to get by without this major source of income.

  2. Make a new budget. With a change in your job position comes a change in your budgeting. If you’ve got a new position where you’ll be earning a different amount than usual, creating a plan for your budget helps take away some of the uncertainty.

    If you’re switching to a new job and getting a pay increase along with it, take some time to consider the best ways to utilize this extra money. Of course, you could spend a little more lavishly, but you could also consider saving more, paying off debt more quickly, or investing.

    If you’re going to be job-searching after you quit, or if your new job comes with a pay decrease, think about ways you can cut out extra or unnecessary spending. Make sure you can cover your necessities and account for unexpected expenses.

  3. Tell your boss before you tell colleagues. You may be eager to let everyone know about the new opportunities or changes in your life, but be sure you tell your direct supervisor first. The last thing you want is for your boss to hear that you’re leaving through one of your coworkers.

    Your boss should be the first person at your workplace to know about your plans for departure. Set up a meeting to discuss your boss’s situation as soon as you have made the decision, as a show of respect and professionalism. This also allows for you to give your boss an appropriate notice with your letter of resignation.

    This will help you maintain a good relationship with your boss as you transition to a new work situation. This is crucial if you want a recommendation from your boss or if you would like to stay on good terms with the company.

  4. Archive and save work samples. When you leave your place of employment, you’ll lose access to everything work-related, sometimes immediately and sometimes within your final two weeks. This includes your documents, email, professional development materials, and more.

    Anything you want to save should be downloaded and saved onto an external hard drive or personal dropbox. It’s a good idea to save any materials that might help demonstrate your work experience for job interviews and other occasions, such as important deliverables or performance reviews.

    Also, be sure that anything you’d like to keep from your work phone or computer has been saved elsewhere, as these items will be taken from you either immediately or at the end of your employment duties, then examined and wiped of personal information. This leads us to our next tip…

  5. Clean your work phone and computer. Before your employer hands over your work-issued electronics to someone else, they’re going to examine them thoroughly. So if you’ve spent hours playing online games on these devices, for instance, that activity is going to be visible.

    No matter what you’ve been doing on your work phone and computer (we won’t ask), it’s a good idea to wipe them of any personal or non-work-related information before giving them back. This not only helps protect your privacy, but it makes the job of redistributing these devices that much easier.

    Delete any software you downloaded on these devices that weren’t strictly meant for this job. Save any files or emails externally, and then clear them from the device. Delete your browsing history, cookies, and any saved autofill information.

  6. Get information about your benefits. Check-in with your human resources department to see what benefits you’re entitled to as an ex-employee. If you have unused sick leave or vacation time, see if you can be compensated for that with a lump sum payment or other means.

    If you get health and dental insurance through your employer, be sure to also check up on the continuation of your insurance plans. Figure out the exact date your coverage ends, whether it’s through your final pay period, through your final month, or immediately discontinued.

    If there will be a gap in your coverage, it would be a good idea to try and strategically schedule some appointments and refill prescriptions while you still can. If you have an FSA account, you may want to spend those funds on necessities like cold medicine, ibuprofen, or a new pair of glasses before you lose them as well.

  7. Get the timing right. Once you’ve officially decided to leave your job, you can start thinking about the best time to enact your plan. Your departure timing is key, and it can make the difference between your leaving being warmly received or being met with hostility.

    If you’ve just started a big project, you may want to wait it out to avoid stressing out your team. You may also want to wait it out if it happens to be the busiest season for your work. Try and have the conversation about your leaving at a time when your boss is happy and relaxed, not stressed or angry.

    Give as much notice as possible for when you plan on having your final day. At least two weeks is necessary and is the standard procedure, but ideally, give as much notice as you can to help your employer plan for your absence.

  8. Schedule an exit interview. Some organizations require an exit interview, but even if yours doesn’t, it can be a good idea to schedule one with your boss. During an exit interview, you’ll get the chance to exchange feedback with your boss and review your time at the organization.

    Though it can be tempting, it’s best not to use this time to tell your boss off or complain about everything you hated about the job. Keep it positive, polite, and constructive. If you have genuine concerns about your workplace, bring them up along with positive suggestions of how things could change.

    It would help if you also used this time to ask your boss about what your strengths and weaknesses are at your job. This information can be valuable in helping you figure out what tactics are working for you and which ones could use some improvement.

  9. Thank those who had a positive impact on you. It makes people feel great to know that they’ve positively affected someone. So if there’s anyone at the job which helped you out or made your life a little easier, be sure to thank them. A little gratitude can go a long way.

    It doesn’t have to be an extravagant event, but simple thank yous can help people know that they impacted your work experience. People who can help you at your old position may also help you in your new position, and it never hurts to have helped people in your network.

    If there’s anyone at work you’d like to continue to stay in touch with, get their contact information before leaving.

  10. Ask for (and offer) references and recommendations. Whether on Linkedin or through other means, recommendations mean a lot to both the people receiving them and their future employers. Take the time to write some recommendations for colleagues, clients, and others.

    Then you can start asking for some recommendations of your own. Try asking any supervisors, co-workers, clients, or subordinates who you think will be able to vouch for you and be a reliable reference. Ask for recommendations from people with whom you had a great working relationship and have good writing skills.

    It’s a good idea to ask for references before you leave; that way, you can be sure that your workplace strengths and accomplishments will be fresh in their minds.

  11. Write up a plan for a smooth transition. Putting together a transition plan is a great way to stay organized and ensure you have enough time to complete your remaining tasks before leaving your current job. It also leaves a great impression on your employer.

    Write down all of the specific tasks you will do before leaving your position, including administrative tasks and the amount of time it will take you to do them. Then, make a list of who will own your projects and tasks once you leave, and write down the dates that these transitions will take place.

    Your employer will appreciate the effort and let you know if there are any issues with this timeline. The extra planning will also help you set realistic goals for your last few weeks.

  12. Roll over your retirement account. When you cash out your 401(k), rather than rolling it over to an IRA, it can cost you thousands of dollars in the long run. You get a 10% penalty for early withdrawal each time you do this, and you lose any compound growth. You’ll also have to pay taxes based on your tax bracket.

    It’s possible to transition these savings into a different account with some simple paperwork at most places of employment. We highly recommend that you look into this before leaving your job, as it may not be something that’s overly discussed by your supervisors.

  13. Leave on good terms. Because we know at least one person will need to hear this, your final two weeks is not the time to go around your workplace and tell everyone what you really think of them. There’s bound to be at least one person you clashed with during your time at this job, but now’s the time to take the high road.

    For the sake of your recommendations, try and keep it light and positive in your last days at work. If you landed a great new position, be humble about it. Move on to better things quietly and politely.

  14. Think hard about accepting a counteroffer. When you inform your boss of your decision to leave the company, he or she may make a counteroffer in an attempt to keep you around. You may be offered a raise in salary, a promotion, or other incentives.

    While it may be tempting to accept this counteroffer, remember the reasons why you’ve chosen to leave. And remember that this counteroffer means that they know you are worth at least what they’re offering but are only now extending the opportunity.

    We suggest sticking with your gut decision and not accepting this offer.

  15. Plan a celebration. Once everything is officially over with, make sure you plan out some time for a celebration or just some good, relaxing time off. This could be a week off for a lavish vacation or just a nice dinner. Anything that helps you commemorate the time spent and prepare to move on to new opportunities.

    A lot of the time, we jump from thing to thing without any space in between. But taking some time to reflect when something has come to an end can help to prepare us for big changes and help us deal with any lingering feelings or thoughts that we don’t need anymore.

    Plan out something fun for yourself after your last day, and celebrate all the things you have learned since you first started.

Should You File for Unemployment?

Generally, no, you shouldn’t file for unemployment if you resigned from your job. Since you weren’t fired or laid off, you usually won’t be eligible for these benefits, so there’s no need to apply.

However, some states make exceptions for people who resign in order to take care of a sick family member or other similar reasons. If you resigned for a good reason besides a career change, job change, or simply not wanting to work anymore, look into what benefits may be available to you.

Leaving a Job Checklist FAQs

  1. What should be done before leaving your workplace?

    Before leaving your workplace, you should notify your boss that you’re leaving and get your finances in order. You should also:

    • Save samples of your work.

    • Clear off your work devices.

    • Get information about your last paycheck and any remaining benefits.

    • Help set up your replacement for success.

    • Schedule an exit interview.

    • Ask for and offer references and recommendations.

    • Thank your coworkers and say goodbye on good terms.

  2. What should I ask HR before resigning?

    Before resigning, you should ask HR when your last paycheck will be, what will happen to your remaining vacation days, and when your health benefits will end.

    From there, you can create a budget based on the gap between your last paycheck at this position and your first paycheck at your next one, make a plan for using your vacation days if you can’t cash them out, and sign up for COBRA health coverage, if need be.

  3. What should I prepare before resigning?

    Before resigning, you should prepare your budget for life without a paycheck, clean off your devices, and work to make the transition easy for your team and successor. Ask HR when your last paycheck will be and whether or not you’ll be able to cash out your remaining vacation days so you can create an accurate budget.

    You should also make doctor’s appointments and refill prescriptions before your coverage ends so you can last as long as possible without it, if necessary. You’ll need to return any company-issued computers and phones, so be sure to clear those off as well.

    Before you leave, talk to your boss about how you can train someone in your role before you leave to make the transition easier on everyone. Even if there isn’t much you can do there, at a minimum you should finish up all of your outstanding tasks.

  4. What is quiet quitting?

    Quiet quitting means when someone is at a job for the paycheck and not emotionally engaged with the work that they are doing. The meaning “quiet quitting” could be different for everyone, but generally it is the concept of workers who are doing the bare minimum and not going above and beyond. This could mean not accepting any extra work that is not in your job description or not coming in early or staying late at work and only working during business hours.

    Quiet quitting can be the result of low wages and pay, lack of opportunities for advancement, or feeling disrespected at work. Some workers are no longer wanting companies to exploit their labor without rewards so they are quit quitting in result.


  1. USA.gov – Jobs, Labor Laws, and Unemployment

  2. NOLO – Unemployment Benefits: What If You Quit?

How useful was this post?

Click on a star to rate it!

Average rating / 5. Vote count:

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.

Never miss an opportunity that’s right for you.


Conor McMahon

Conor McMahon is a writer for Zippia, with previous experience in the nonprofit, customer service and technical support industries. He has a degree in Music Industry from Northeastern University and in his free time he plays guitar with his friends. Conor enjoys creative writing between his work doing professional content creation and technical documentation.

Related posts