3 Key Steps To Take Before You Quit Your Job

Author: Matthew Harris

However much you like your job, however much you realize you're lucky to have it (especially in the recent economy), there will come a time when you want to leave it. Possibly you want and have gotten a better job. Or, increasingly likely these days, you want to start your own company and you're ready to go out on your own fulltime. According to the 2015 Kauffman Index, a newly-launched report from the Kauffman Foundation that tracks entrepreneurial activity year-to-year, startup activity has increased this year.

In any economy, there's a right way and a wrong way to do that. Here are some tips to help you to take the high road. And a website that can help you do just that.

Start with what you want for the end result, which probably includes being appreciated by both your fellow workers and your boss even after you've left. And your goal probably includes the hope that you would be welcomed back if you ever needed to return, and also that you would get a good reference in future, if you should need it.

Before You Fire That Employer

Leaving your current job is a task that you must start very early, allowing plenty of time to do things that need doing.

1. Give your employer a chance to address the issues that are making you leave. That is important if you're leaving because you think you've outgrown the job, are underpaid, or in some other way need your job to be reshaped. If upgrading your job description is not possible, at least he or she must have time to find a replacement and you must make time to train that person.

But if leaving is your best option, you should arrange to speak your boss in person, if at all possible. Don't just leave it to Human Res. Before you say anything, though, wait until you're absolutely sure you're ready to go (with a written agreement for a new job) or a firm commitment for financing your new business (one that you're ready to start the next week, or month at the latest).

If push comes to shove (and it may), you can leave a note (it can be short and succinct) thanking your boss on his or her desk when you leave. That way you can be sure you're not blind-siding him or her and leaving without expressing the gratitude you may or may not feel. No matter what, it's important to leave a job on friendly terms. You never know when you may need your former boss in the future, and it's a real mistake – that can come back to haunt you – to cut off relations in an abrupt or hostile manner.

2. If you're planning to go out on your own, you need to create a financial plan for the next six to 12 months. When you're starting a business or freelance career, some months may be slow, and if you haven't prepared for that, you'll be in real trouble. It's helps to be in good shape physically as well as financially. Beyond health insurance coverage, you also need to create a health plan – eating right and exercising is important when you are relying on your own health to be in business.

3. What if, heaven forfend, you just cannot stand working at your current (mind-numbing, soul-crushing) job another minute, and you're leaving without a sure Next One? Before you do the rash thing, though, there are certain crucial steps it's good to take, among them: knowing how to get your health insurance in order; reducing your living expenses and boosting your savings; deciding what to do about funds in your company retirement plan; replacing your regular income with some freelancing or temp work; serious networking, both in advance of making the big step and afterwards. (You may want to check out Freelancer or Employee: Identifying Your Next Career Move.)

You also need to have a longer term Plan, unless the only plan your numbed mind and crushed soul can come up with is a plane reservation to some sunny beach for R&R – repairs and recovery, in this case – while you figure how you will manage, financially, without a job, and how you will look for another one.

Putting down your pencil and walking out the door on a whim is really tempting fate. You just might be rushing things, and eager as you may be to go on to the next adventure, it's better to be both good and ready before you say anything to your boss.

The Bottom Line

Have all your ducks in a row before you make a move. This is a matter that does require serious planning.