Sometimes, it happens by choice. Sometimes, you don't have an option. In either case, it's important to be prepared to change jobs - because you never know when it might happen to you. It's happened to me both ways. I've been laid-off and out-of-work at the end of a business day and had to turn in my company car the next morning. That was a tough one!
I've also resigned and managed to stay on excellent terms with my previous employers. In the latter cases, it's been because I've always given plenty of notice, offered to help find and train a replacement, and offered to be available for questions in the future.
Take Care of the Basics
Whether you're about to hand in your resignation or you've just received a pink slip, it's important to prepare to leave and to prepare to conduct a job search. Take care of the basics first and check on eligibility for continuation of health and life insurance benefits, accrued vacation pay, unused sick pay, and other payments terminated employees may be entitled to. Keep in mind, that there may be a lag between when your current health insurance coverage ends and a new policy starts. If you've been terminated, ask your employer about eligibility for continuing cover through COBRA and file for unemployment immediately. You may be able to file over the phone or online.
When your work situation is unstable and you're not sure if you'll still have a job tomorrow, get ready to start, or even get going, on a job search now. Remember, you don't have an obligation to accept a new position if you get an offer. Plus, it never hurts to see what's available and, you never know, you just might get an offer you can't refuse!
How to Prepare for a Job Search:
Resumes and Cover Letters
It's important to have a well-written resume and compelling cover letters. Simply, resumes help get us interviews. A cover letter is often your earliest written contact with a potential employer, creating a critical first impression. Use our Resume and Cover Letter Guide to ensure that your job search correspondence is top-notch.
Plan ahead and compile a list of references and some letters of recommendations, so you're prepared when a prospective employer requests them. Get contact information for your co-workers, vendors, customers, etc. so you'll have it for future networking purposes.
Use non-work contact information for all your job search communications. That way, if your access is cut-off at work, you'll still be reachable.
- Phone - have a home phone or a cell phone with voice mail so potential employers can reach you
- Email - use a personal email account, not your work account
Reason for Leaving
If you've quit, or are planning on quitting, be prepared with an answer for interviewers who are going to want to know why you resigned.
Worried About Getting Caught?
Apply confidentially for jobs online. There are job sites that let you apply anonymously, plus will protect your identity from certain employers and recruiters.
Don't Leave Anything Behind...
- Clean-up your computer - delete personal files and email
- Bring home your personal belongings
Finally, if you are resigning, always leave on the best terms you possibly can and don't burn any bridges. Let the company know in advance that you're leaving, let them know why (as diplomatically as possible) and thank them for having had the opportunity to work there.
Career Change Resources