What to Do Before Resigning From a Job

Resigning from your job? Follow these 10 steps to support yourself professionally, financially, and mentally.

portrait of Nikki Carter
by Nikki Carter

Published May 2, 2022

Edited by Giselle M. Cancio
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What to Do Before Resigning From a Job
Feature Image: Pekic / E+ / Getty Images


The Great Resignation isn't slowing down anytime soon, with an average of 4 million Americans quitting their jobs every month. If you're considering leaving your job to seek new opportunities, you're not alone.

With record-breaking resignations also come record-breaking job openings. Seizing this opportunity within the job market may be ideal for you — or perhaps you're looking to branch out on your own and start your own business.

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Ready to start your journey?

Before taking the plunge and quitting your job, here are some tips to help you plan how to resign.

Know Your Why

Determining why a job is no longer a good fit will help you map out the next steps. Make a list of the pros and cons of your current role and identify the elements that are most important to you. Use this list to map out what you'd like to find in your next role.

Check Your Benefits

Timing is everything. Look into your benefits package to understand what happens when you leave. Checking the status of your PTO, health benefits, and retirement accounts will help you decide the right time to resign from your job.

Understanding these benefits and making sure you're leaving with what you've earned is important and can cushion you as you transition between jobs. Review your policy and procedure guides and reach out to an HR representative for confirmation.

Calculate the Risk

Resigning before accepting a new offer can feel risky. Getting your resume ready and applying to jobs while still employed is often the safest option.

However, it's also possible to plan and leave your job without another one lined up. Many people like taking time off to recharge and gain clarity before making another commitment. If this sounds like you, decide how much you'll need in savings between job opportunities to feel secure.

Document Your Achievements

This goes in line with getting your resume together: You want to stand out from people with similar backgrounds. Create a list of awards, goals achieved, and information about your company's growth to include in your resume. These are also great to reference during an interview! Consider hiring a resume writer if you need support showcasing your abilities.

Leverage Your Network

Seek out colleagues and contacts in the industry you're targeting and have conversations with them. Ask them questions about their career path, challenges, and what they love about their work to get a clearer picture.

These connections open doors for you and help you gain clarity about what steps you need to take to get to where you want to be.

Narrow In on What You Want

What's your dream job? Craft your perfect job description to better understand what you're looking for. Consider what job functions you enjoy doing the most, as well as your strengths, goals, and what could make you feel more fulfilled.

It's equally important to identify what will make you feel valued at work. Look into benefits packages, company culture, values, and work-site flexibility to boost job satisfaction.

Call In an Expert

Figuring out what you want and how to get there is a challenge. Big life choices can feel overwhelming for a multitude of reasons, and seeking out resources can help.

Career coaches can help you find clarity about what you're looking for, guide you as you resign from your job, and create an action-oriented plan to move forward. Additionally, seek out a therapist or financial advisor to help you overcome obstacles. Ask for the help you need to feel confident moving forward.

Resign Respectfully

No matter how you feel about the job you're leaving behind, prepare for the final conversation. Writing out your two-week notice letter will guide you through the points you want to share with your supervisor.

Prepare for potential counteroffers. Think about if there's a number (or offer) that will make it worth it to you to stay. And be gracious: As tempting as it may be to go out in a blaze of glory once you've resigned from a job, bowing out gracefully is the way to go.

Set Up Your Successor

Consider those you're leaving behind and set up those who come next for success. Do your best to tie up any loose ends and organize your work so someone new can easily dive in. Think of it as good karma!

Frequently Asked Questions About Resigning

Does resign mean quit?

Resigning and quitting your job are technically the same thing -- the difference is in how you do it.

Resigning is a professional way to say you're leaving your job and implies a formal process for the exit. Ideally, you are providing at least a two-week notice and plan to leave on good terms.

Quitting your job is often more in the moment with the intention of exiting immediately, without a formal process.

Either option is for you to choose. Resigning from a job often has more positive implications for your ability to be re-hired and the information HR shares with other companies you apply to.

How much should I have saved before I quit my job?

Financial experts advise having up to 12 months of expenses saved up before quitting your job. Knowing your true monthly expenses is a critical place to start. Total up your bills, cost of living, and extra expenses you don't want to cut to calculate your budget.

Before you quit your job, try to find ways to cut costs. Stretch out your money while building up a savings account you can draw from as you work toward landing a new job.

Is it OK to quit a job without having another one?

The most common advice when considering resignation is to have another job lined up beforehand. However, when you're thinking of leaving your job, there are many things to consider.

While being prepared financially is obviously ideal, circumstances may not always allow this. Leaving a toxic work environment is an absolutely valid reason to quit a job. No matter which route you choose to take, build your support systems up so that you'll have help as you move forward.

When should I tell my employer I'm leaving?

The standard notice when resigning from your job is two weeks. However, keep in mind that your resignation can play out in many different ways. Some employers may not allow you to work your notice and will accept your resignation immediately. Others may want to negotiate a different exit strategy with more time to help ease the transition.

If you've already accepted another position, a good tactic is to push your start date out so you can take personal time before starting your next role.

There is no obligation to your employer to inform them you are looking for other opportunities, interviewing, or considering an offer until you are ready to make your move.

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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