After the decision is made to leave a position, there are often many details and loose ends that need to be tied up before the last day on the job. It is important for employees to give these details attention before separating from an employer.

Before considering leaving a job, if the plan is to continue to work, it is a good idea to make every attempt to have another job already in place, or at least know available options and have a plan. The plan could be going back to school to pursue a college degree or with the intentions to get trained in another field. If you have been let go due to layoff or other reason your options may be limited, but it is a good idea to get your résumé updated, put feelers out for a new job, and find out how to file for unemployment. These are all important details that need taking care of to get ball rolling in the direction to finding new employment.

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Other details will need tending to as well. These include:

Giving a Notice of Resignation

If the decision to end employment was yours, it is always wise to provide your employer a formal notice of resignation. Talking to your boss or supervisor first is usually a good place to start; plus it offers a professional courtesy. After this conversation, follow up with a letter of resignation outlining your intentions to resign. Two weeks are a generally accepted amount of notice to give your employer before you plan your last day at work. After things are set in motion to leave, it is time to prepare and begin the exit process.

Clean Out Your Workspace

After notice has been given or received of your imminent departure, even if you have some time, you might want to begin to gather your personal possessions and pack them up. In addition to the tangible items lying around your work space, you want to also remove any personal computer files, emails or other non-work related digital items. Be sure to not take anything that belongs to the company whether it is tangible or in electronic form. Chances are there will be a lot going on that will pull at your attention. If you start cleaning out earlier, this helps ensure you don’t miss anything (especially if you’ve been a long-term employee).

Explore Health Insurance Options

Health insurance is one of the more difficult aspects to deal with after leaving a job and probably one of the primary reasons people stay in jobs they are not happy in. Knowing health insurance options is important for many reasons.

If you live in the United States and if leaving your job leaves you without health insurance, you'll want to see what your options are.  Given the relatively recent changes made by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (AKA "Obamacare") requiring every person to have health insurance, this is an important consideration and something you probably want resolve fairly quickly. Looking into COBRA (which is generally very expensive), purchasing directly from an insurer or buying a plan through the government's marketplace will be necessary if you want to avoid paying increasingly higher penalty fees for not being insured. [2] Additionally, this is something to consider if you have ongoing medical needs that are more costly than it would be to pay out-of-pocket and you and/or your family are not covered under another family member's insurance plan.  

Health insurance
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Exit Interview

Most employers will schedule an exit interview which typically takes place on the last day or two of employment. Be sure to attend this meeting. You'll get the opportunity to ask and answer questions, return any official ID tags, badges, keys or other company property. It is also a good chance to review your employee file to ensure things are in order.

In addition, there may be other paperwork that needs to be finalized. Exit interviews are routine practice and while it is definitely helpful to your employer, it is likely helpful to you as well.

Collect Last Paycheck

Before leaving for good, be sure to get your last paycheck. If the payroll period is not completed, talk to human resources or the person who runs payroll and make arrangement for how and when you get your final pay.  

Occasionally, it is difficult to get paid once you leave a company, but if you take initiative and discuss this with the proper personnel before you go, you'll likely have less difficulty getting the money, unused vacation or personal time and any other reimbursements that are due to you.

Offer to Help Train Replacement

An offer to train your replacement is not necessary, but if you do it, it's a nice demonstration of good will. Even if you don't train your replacement in person, you can always offer to leave behind notes or an outline which may offer some helpful tips. This kind of gesture helps you leave on a positive note and is bound to be appreciated.

Colleagues working together
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Whatever the reason for leaving employment, you never want to burn bridges. Leaving a job on a bad note if you were let go is unwise as is leaving your position without providing your employer with some notice. Either scenario is bound to not bode well with a soon-to-be former employer and this can make it difficult to get a reference somewhere down the road. Additionally, if other employment opportunities were to ever arise, you won't be considered if you left in a negative fashion.

Saying good-bye to a job or your colleagues can be hard. Leaving a job, especially one that has been a long-term investment, may be an emotional time. If you make a checklist and systemically go through all the details which need tending to, dealing with the emotions and other things associated with exiting a job, it might be easier to handle.