Are you getting ready to quit your job to go back to school or launch your own business?
Don’t make the leap without getting your house in order. The last thing you want is to realize you’ve made a critical error, and that it’s now too late to do anything about it.
If you can do these six things before quitting your current job and striking out on your own, you’ll significantly reduce the risk of such an error.
- Prepare to Notify Your Boss
First things first: preparing to notify your boss that you’re leaving. Read this primer on how to tell your boss you’re quitting, and remember to put your resignation letter in writing. You don’t want any subsequent disagreements to affect your severance package or post-position recommendations (which you’ll need if and when you return to the job market).
- Line Up Your Next Step
Whatever you plan to do next, make sure it’s set in stone before you leave. If you’re heading back to school, that’s as simple as finding a degree or certificate program (they’re in abundance at career-oriented institutions like this innovative arts school) and securing your spot in the next available cohort. If you’re starting a business, your “next steps” will be more complex; see #6 for more.
- Complete Any Outstanding Work
Don’t leave your current employer hanging; this is the easiest way to burn bridges on the way out. Stick around long enough to complete any outstanding projects and ensure that you walk out the door unencumbered.
- Do Everything Necessary to Ensure a Smooth Handoff
Most managed exits require outgoing employees to bring their replacements up to speed. If your employer plans to keep your position, you’ll probably need to spend some serious one-on-one time with your successor in your remaining weeks on the job. Don’t skimp on this responsibility unless you’re okay with no reference.
- Negotiate Reasonable Severance and Transfer Portable Benefits
Know what you’re worth, and act like it. Negotiate a severance package that includes at least two weeks of pay after your official end date and a continuation of non-portable benefits through the end of the calendar year. Be sure to take any portable benefits with you; you’ll want to roll over your 401(k), for instance.
- Lay Out a Near-, Medium-, and Long-Term Plan for Your Future
Finally, embrace the benefits of strategic planning. Lay out near-, medium-, and long-term strategic plans; your goal here is to clearly and thoroughly show where you’d like to be in one, three, and five to ten years. Time passes faster than you think.
Look Before You Leap, But Don’t Wait Too Long
It’s never a good idea to make a major life change before fully considering the consequences. Even if you leave your current job on good terms, you’re unlikely to be able to walk back in the door and sit down at your old desk like nothing happened.
At the same time, you don’t want to wait so long to make your move that you lose the initiative or miss out on a key opportunity. If you’re facing a time-sensitive decision, you’ll want to weigh the pros and cons of the switch and take these steps to get your house in order with all due haste. After all, you’re the one who stands to lose out from any unnecessary delays.