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​​7 Things to Do Before You Quit Your Job (and Don't Make the Mistakes I Made)

Giselle Galper

Thinking about quitting your job? You’re not alone. Nearly half of the workforce is in the same boat, contemplating a change. It's not surprising given the reasons—many people leave due to insufficient pay, lack of advancement opportunities, or lack of respect. However, quitting can be one of life’s top stressors, and it’s essential to be well-prepared.

Before you make the leap, let’s make sure you’re ready to take this step wisely and confidently. While new opportunities are exciting, it’s crucial to avoid making a hasty decision. Over 50% of recent college grads are underemployed, working in jobs that don’t require their degrees. And remember the Great Resignation? About 8 out of 10 people who quit during that time regretted their decision, especially Gen Zers who missed the office environment.

If your job is affecting your mental or physical health, seek support through your company’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP) or your medical provider. Let’s dive into the steps you should take before handing in that resignation letter, ensuring you're not only making the right move but doing it in the best way possible.

1. Be Prepared to Leave Immediately

When I decided to leave my law firm job to become a general counsel, I gathered all my training materials but neglected to transfer all my contacts. I regretted this after the fact. Writing to all my clients was helpful, but not having a complete contact list was a big mistake. Keep a list of the shoutouts and recognition you’ve received, and take it with you. Don’t let it get stuck in Slack, Teams, or other work tools. This is a mistake I've made at every job I've had.

2. Get Your References in Order

I’m always happy to give references, and it's a great reason to reach out to someone. When doing so, be sure to have a short description ready of what you’d love them to say. Don’t give them extra work. This step can tip off your company that you are leaving, but it's essential for your next move.

3. Get Your Finances in Order

Coming out of college and law school, I did not have extra funds, and I found it very stressful, as was the couch surfing. Had I thought through the need to save more carefully, it would have opened up more options for me. One smart thing I did do was to line up consulting projects for my return from travel and even for after I quit. I could have and should have been more proactive and lined up work during law school. Ultimately, I found work on campus, but it would have eased that transition significantly.

4. Join an Industry Organization

As a general counsel, I didn’t join a formal group, but I relied on a small group of outside lawyers and in-house counsel. After I left, I realized it would have benefited me to be active in a group. This is my number one mistake: always join a work-related group while you are working. It helps you gain knowledge about your job and grow your shallow network—people who know you just well enough to help you.

5. Identify What Energizes You

This is not a mistake I made. I kept a journal for six months, and it changed my life. I did this twice—once while at the law firm and again as a general counsel. Both times, it drove big changes. The first time, I left my job. The second time, I worked with my boss to change my job structure, staying seven more years. I realized my best opportunity was where I was; I just needed a small amount of change.

6. Mend Any Broken Bridges

In my case, I didn't reconnect with everyone when I left. It wasn't that I felt I had many broken bridges, but I should have expressed my appreciation more deeply to my colleagues. Now, when I come across someone on LinkedIn, I try to reach out and let them know how much I enjoyed working with them. No regrets!

7. Plan Your Next Move

I didn't have a detailed career plan, and I think if I had, I might have invested more in training both at the law firm and as a general counsel. Training on the job and networking are more obvious when you have a plan. Now, helping others with their plans and building a tool to create career plans has taught me that career planning should be dynamic and done regularly, just like budget reviews, vacation planning, and healthcare.

Get Help for This Before-You-Quit Checklist

Pick the easiest step to do first and then add steps along the way. If you need help in career planning or networking, consider your college career office. Although 8 in 10 grads don't find them "very helpful," they often become valuable resources once you know what you need. This is also true for industry groups, which offer benefits beyond networking, and sometimes your employer might even cover the cost.

Before you decide to leave, consider whether discussing your career goals with your employer might lead to new opportunities. They’ve already invested in you and you might be surprised at how much more they will invest to retain you.

Whether you’re thinking about a career change, need advice on tackling challenges in your current role, or are aiming to ace your next job or self-assessment, chea seed can help you every step of the way.


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