So, you’ve decided to quit your job. Congratulations – you could probably do with a drink! After all, taking the leap to leave your current job and dive into your next adventure is not always an easy step to make.

But before you hand in your notice, there are a few important steps to take into consideration to make sure everything goes smoothly:

1) Make sure you’re ready to leave.

Imagine handing in your letter of resignation, counting down the final few days at work, saying goodbye to all your colleagues, and then, as you clear your desk and pack your things, you realise it was the all a huge mistake.

Before you hand in your notice, make sure you’re truly ready to leave, and for the right reasons. Have you outgrown your job, having learnt everything there is to learn? Is your job too stressful, and you’re on the verge of burning out? Or do you simply want to try something different?

Then ask yourself if there’s anything your current employer could do to convince you to stay. For instance, what if they offered you a promotion, or they let you take on something that’s more in-line with your interests, or if they allowed you to work flexible hours? Would that change your mind?

2) Ask for what you want.

It’s easy to think you’ve hit a dead end in your job before you’ve actually hit one. So, before you give up and move on, it’s worth asking yourself if you’ve done everything you can to make it work. For instance, have you told your manager point-blank what it is you really want from work?

While it’s part of your manager’s job to ensure you’re engaged and motivated, they don’t know what’s going on in your head. Unless you’ve asked them directly for something, don’t expect them to offer it to you.

And if they say no – oh well, you were going to quit anyway! At least this way, when you do hand in your notice, your manager will understand your decision for leaving.

3) Plan ahead.

If you quit without having another job lined up, there will be a big fat question mark surrounding the reason why. Did you have a falling out with your manager or colleagues? Did you struggle to do the job? Or are you the temperamental type that quits without warning?

While you may have a perfectly good reason for leaving, these are the questions that will be running through any employer’s head. Ultimately, you’ll know what’s best for you, but think carefully about where you want to take your next step before you hand in your letter resignation, and be prepared to explain your reasoning.

Here’s some advice on answering the dreaded “why do you want to leave your job?” question.

4) Prepare examples of your work.

Being able to demonstrate your skills, experience and value to future employers is a vital part of the interview process – so having recent examples of your work will be instrumental in landing your next gig.

Find examples of your work, or facts and stats that demonstrate your performance, before you hand in your notice. This will give you plenty of material to utilise in any upcoming interviews.

5) Get your referees in place.

While it’s more than okay to use referees from previous jobs, nothing beats having someone sing your praises from inside your current company. Is there anyone in your organisation that you could ask? If they’re already aware that you’re looking to leave, then asking a direct manager or anyone in a senior leadership position is a great idea.

But remember, reference checking should only be taking place during the final stages of the interview process – so be careful who and when you ask people to be a referee, otherwise word could get out that you’re leaving.

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