Things to Consider When Leaving Your Job

by Ryan Guina

Last Friday was my wife’s final day of work before becoming a stay at home mom. This was a big change for her, and we spent Friday evening going over her out-processing meeting with her Human Resources rep and going over her options – benefits, retirement accounts, etc. We are using my health insurance, so that won’t require any changes. But we have some decisions to make regarding retirement accounts and a few other things. I changed jobs a year ago, so most of this was relatively fresh for me. But if you haven’t left a job recently, these tips can help make for a smooth transition.

Things to consider when leaving your job

Leaving your job can have a dramatic impact – it is often a time of mixed emotions.  The feelings can be even more mixed when you are dealing with a layoff or other unforeseen event. Since not everyone can plan their exit, these tips may make your transition easier.

Update your resume. You should update your resume as soon as you know you will be leaving your job because your recent accomplishments and job duties are still fresh on your mind. Having an updated resume will be helpful in finding a new job in the near term, or if you are taking a long break, will make it easier to step back into your job search. Use these tips to create an excellent resume.

create a continuity binder

Make it easy for someone to take your place.

Create a Continuity binder. If someone will be taking over your old position you will want to make the transition as smooth for them and your old company as possible. A continuity binder that lists your duties, procedures, and resources will go a long way in helping your former company maintain consistent service and will give your former managers and coworkers a good impression – hopefully giving your better references in the long run.

Network and references. Even if you are leaving your current industry, or leaving the workforce, it never hurts to maintain a good network. You never know when you may may be able to offer assistance to someone in your network or vice versa. Keep in touch with your contacts via phone, e-mail, professional associations, or social websites such as LinkedIn or FaceBook.

401k or other retirement accounts. Most companies offer a 401k or similar retirement plan, and it is the last thing many people think about when leaving their company is their retirement plan. At least until their HR rep breezes through your options at lightning speed. Basically you have the following options:

  • Leave your 401k at your former company.
  • Transfer the 401k to your new company (if you have a new job lined up).
  • Rollover your 401k into and IRA or other eligible retirement account.
  • Withdraw the funds in your 401k. (may be subject to early withdrawal penalties).

In most cases, people will be better off rolling over their 401k into an IRA or a 401k at their new company. Here are more tips about what to do with your 401k when you leave your company.

Benefits. Many companies offer benefits such as health insurance, life insurance, disability insurance, or long term care insurance. Be sure you understand your coverage and options when you leave your company so your coverage doesn’t lapse. You may be eligible for COBRA insurance for your health care, and some companies may offer a short term extension on other benefits. If not, then you will want to look into purchasing life insurance, disability insurance, or long term care insurance.

Exit interview. The last thing you may have to do is an exit interview, but not all companies offer or require them. The best advice I can give is to keep your exit interview short and sweet – give only the information necessary, and most importantly, don’t burn any bridges! That is just bad form and you never know when you may run into someone again.

File for unemployment benefits. If you were laid off, the first thing you want to do is file for unemployment benefits. Most states require that new unemployment filers wait one week before receiving benefits, so the sooner you get the process started, the more quickly you can start receiving benefits. The recent stimulus package included extended unemployment benefits in certain instances. Check with your state employment bureau for more details.

Do you have any tips to add about leaving a job?

Photo credit: eltpics

Published or updated April 12, 2013.
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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Kristen

The only thing I would add is to make yourself a contact list of people who you dealt with who might be helpful to you after you leave the company. I realize some professions have “no compete” clauses or rules that forbid this. I’m not suggesting anything sneaky. The last job I left doesn’t compete at all with my current field, yet I’ve found quite a few contacts from my old job that have been helpful in my new career. I did take some names, addresses and phone numbers with me that have proven helpful over time.


2 Ryan

Networking can be a huge benefit to your new position. I meet with former coworkers for lunch every other month or so. It’s a great way to keep in touch and keep current in the industry. I should probably even do it more often. 😉


3 Miranda

I think a lot of people forget how important it is to make the transition smooth for your company. However, it is a good idea to show that you are leaving on a high note, and that you are still a team player. Plus, it makes it easier to go back to your old company for networking. Another thing to consider when leaving your job is to go over how your financial situation is going to change — and what you are going to do about it. I’ve been impressed as I read about your and your wife’s journey toward making it possible for her to stay home. Good luck to you both!



Th continuity binder is HUGE. It shows good faith and will set you apart from your co-workers as a great employee.

The job I currently have had no such thing and it was a nightmare taking over.

Since then I have been continuously building a binder by adding contacts/instructions to it when I feel I need to.


5 Rosa

Get *personal*, not just work, contact information for people you might use as references later – if they just stop answering their work phone or email, it may be hard to track people down.

Especially with a new baby, it can be hard to keep track of old acquaintances. I came out of an industry that is/was imploding and my old work friends are scattered – which means many of them are very helpful for job referrals, if I can find them. But when I was first looking for a job after a few years as a SAHM, I had to spend weeks tracking people down and seeing who they were still in contact with until I got to the really useful refs (old bosses & special project teammates).


6 Blogging Banks


I noticed you haven’t updated this site for 6 days. I hope everything is ok for you and your family!

Best Regards,



7 DDFD at DivorcedDadFrugalDad

Solid tips!

Remember–never burn bridges.


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