ask a boss

10 Things You Need to Do Before You Resign

Photo-Illustration: by The Cut; Photos: Getty Images

If you’re preparing to quit your job, you’re probably most focused on the resignation conversation itself — telling your boss and your team that you’re leaving. But before you take that step, here are ten things you should do first to ensure an easy transition.


Make sure you know how your company typically handles notice periods.

Some employers in certain fields will have employees leave the same day they resign rather than having them work through their notice period. You’re most likely to see this as a security measure, especially if you’re leaving for a competitor (something that has never made a lot of sense, since if you’re planning to steal trade secrets, presumably you could do it before you resigned). Less commonly, you might also see it if your manager is petty and takes resignations as a personal betrayal. (“Just leave today then!”) Either way, you don’t want to be blindsided if this happens, so it’s best to gather intel ahead of time, whether it’s from your employee handbook or by discreetly checking with trusted colleagues. One thing to find out: If your office does have resigning employees leave immediately, do they still pay you for a two-week notice period, even though you’re not coming in? Decent companies do that; less decent ones might not. Time your resignation accordingly (particularly if you can’t afford to go without pay for two weeks in between jobs).


Take home copies of your performance reviews and work samples.

When you’re interviewing for jobs in the future, it could help to show samples of your work or even quote a particularly superlative performance evaluation. (And keep in mind that even if you already have your next job lined up, you might need these items the next time you’re searching.) Of course, make sure you’re not violating any workplace policies by doing this; check your employee manual and any confidentiality agreements you’ve signed.

While you’re at it, include copies of any emails from your manager (or any coworker, really) that recognize an accomplishment of yours or give kudos on your work. These can be helpful when you’re prepping for interviews in the future … you’ll be able to answer the interview question, “What would a former manager say about you?” truthfully.


Take home contact information for anyone you want to make sure you stay in touch with.

Including vendors, business partners, and colleagues. Not everyone is on LinkedIn, and having contact info might pay off down the line. (Again, first, make sure no company policy prohibits that.)


Clean out your email.

You might figure that your email account will just disappear after you leave, but a lot of companies will archive it so it’s searchable in case someone needs it in the future. And some companies, especially smaller ones, will just transfer all your email files to your manager or the coworker who’s inheriting your projects. If you don’t want them to find your emails complaining about your boss or the 3,000 missives about Real Housewives that you’ve exchanged with a friend, delete them before you go. (Remember to check your sent folder and your trash too!)


Remove any personal files from your work computer.

People often assume they’ll have time to do this during their notice period, but if there’s any chance that your company will ask you to leave immediately, it’s crucial to do it ahead of time. Otherwise, you could lose access to personal items you’ve been storing on work systems, and you risk your coworkers coming across them.

And for the record, it’s generally a bad idea to store personal materials on your work computer! You risk other people seeing them, and they could even end up legally discoverable if your company is ever involved in a lawsuit. That said, people do it anyway — I’ve found everything from bank statements to divorce paperwork after employees have left — so at least make sure to clear them out before you go.


Check your employer’s policies on benefits termination.

You’ll want to know how long your health insurance will be covered (at some places it will end on your last day, and at others, it might run through the end of that month) so you can plan accordingly if you need any bridge insurance for a period when you’ll be uncovered. You should also check whether your employer pays out accrued vacation time. People often assume employers are legally obligated to do that, but it varies by state. For example, in New York, employers must pay out any remaining vacation time you’ve accrued but not used unless they have a written policy to the contrary.


Download your pay stubs.

If your pay stubs are in an electronic system that you’ll lose access to once you no longer work there, make sure you download whatever you might need in the future for your taxes or providing proof of income. If you have an HSA or FSA, download any info you’ll need from those, too.


Submit any outstanding reimbursements that need to be paid before your last day.

In fact, submit those before you resign, if possible; some places get very slow about processing expense reports when they no longer have the pressure of you being a current employee. You don’t want to be chasing down reimbursements after you no longer work there.


Check if you have any memberships, subscriptions, or professional certifications that will send renewal emails to your work email address.

If so, switch them to your personal email address so you don’t stop receiving them.


Plan what you’ll say in your resignation.

Once you’ve done everything above, you’re ready to resign. Figure out your messaging ahead of time: how much you want to explain about the reasons behind your decision, if at all, how much notice you plan to give, and how you’ll respond to a counteroffer if your boss makes one. We’ve got advice here on exactly how to do it:


How to Quit Your Job


How to Write a Perfect Resignation Letter

Good luck!

Find even more career advice from Alison Green on her website, Ask a Manager. Got a question for her? Email

10 Things You Need to Do Before You Resign