Job Exit Strategy: The Must-Do Checklist Before Bidding Farewell

Listen up, job seekers! If you’re currently employed and on the hunt for a new gig, you’re in a fantastic position. You can take your sweet time finding the perfect role without feeling desperate enough to snatch up just any job that comes your way. But hey, before you make that grand transition, there are a few things you should do as part of your job exit strategy to ensure it is smooth and stress-free—for both yourself and your soon-to-be-former employer.

The first rule of quitting your job club?


Seriously, resist the urge to spill the beans to your work buddies about your grand plans. The risk of your manager finding out and giving you the boot is alarmingly high. So zip it and keep your excitement to yourself.

Now, let’s talk about money matters.

#2 Check your finances.

If you can afford it, go ahead and prepay your rent and utilities. Trust me, paying an extra month in advance will relieve the stress of wondering when your next paycheck will come and help you avoid any late bill payments.

Next up…

#3 Prepare your bank account.

As part of your job exit strategy, you need to keep your wallet plump and snug. Don’t take any extended time off before you leave (with the exception of number four below). Save those precious vacation days for your new job. Remember, there might be a delay of up to four weeks before your first paycheck rolls in at the new gig.

In my case, I had been planning my departure since January. I carried over two weeks from 2021 and accumulated an additional two and a half weeks before bidding farewell at the end of June. At my job, any unused vacation time was paid out upon an employee’s departure. So, by the time I walked away from my desk, I had amassed a safety net of over 160 hours (that’s 4.5 weeks, folks).

#4 Use Your PTO or Get Paid for it.

If you don’t get paid out for your PTO, make sure to use up every last hour you’ve earned before leaving. Take those blissful Fridays off. Slip out of the office a little early a couple of days each week. Whatever you do, don’t leave a pile of unused PTO behind because, hey, you’ve worked hard for every single penny.

Now, let’s take care of some account housekeeping.

#5 Roll over your 401(k) to an IRA.

Your old job might allow you to keep your 401(k) with them, but I strongly recommend taking it with you when you go. You don’t want to rely on them for anything down the line.

#6 Use Your Flexible Spending Account (FSA)!

Include in your job exit strategy to schedule all your dental, vision, and doctor appointments before leaving. Remember, your benefits at the new job won’t kick in until 60-90 days after you start (at most places).

If available, sign up for COBRA—it’s like your current healthcare plan on steroids, with MUCH higher rates. Alternatively, if your spouse has access to healthcare, hop on their plan. And if neither of those options works for you, check out the plans on the Affordable Care Act Marketplace.

#7 Give proper notice.

Some argue that employers don’t give notice when they fire staff, so why bother giving any when you quit? Well, I say do it. It shows professionalism, even on your way out the door. Not giving notice can burn bridges you might need to cross again in the future. You may require references that an employer may not be inclined to provide if you just vanish into thin air. Plus, if the companies you’re applying to find out you left without notice, they may think twice about offering you a job.

And guess what? If your job fires you after you give notice (which happens more often than you’d think), you might be eligible for unemployment benefits until your new job kicks off.

I have a post about why giving 2 weeks’ notice is still necessary here.

Now, here’s a thoughtful gesture..

#8 Share the knowledge.

When you give your notice, mention how you plan to ensure a smooth transition. If there are tasks that only you know how to handle, make sure someone else is designated to take over those responsibilities. Save essential documents in a shared folder accessible to everyone. Write down instructions on how to complete certain tasks. Share the wealth of knowledge!

#9 Ask for references.

Don’t forget to ask for references when you give your notice. Don’t worry about receiving bad references as retaliation for quitting—such behavior is illegal in many states. So, go ahead and request those golden letters of recommendation.

Last but not least…

#10 Take a break!

When I left my job, I scheduled a week off between my last day there and the start of my new job. Despite all the planning, my new company hit a snag, and my start date got delayed by a week. But hey, that meant I had two glorious weeks of pure relaxation. It was absolutely delightful. I began my new job with a peaceful mind because I made this part of my job exit strategy.

And there you have it—my tips for gracefully quitting your job while protecting your precious wallet. It may seem like a lot to tackle, but just imagine what life would be like if you skipped out on these steps. Trust me, it’s worth the effort.

I made a video on this not too long ago. You can check that out here.

Did you find this post helpful? Let me know in the comments.


Leave a Reply