4 Things to Do (Or Not Do) Before Quitting Your Job

POST DATE: 12.23.19
Ccha  Labor Employment

The end of the year can be a time of reflection, including career changes. You’ve worked hard to get where you are in your career, so now’s not the time to sabotage your progress or throw a wrench into your next opportunity. If a job change is on your mind or in your future, consider the following rules of thumb to set yourself up for a clean break and a fresh start at your new opportunity.

Instinctually, you may feel inclined to grab a folder of sample documents, walk out the door, let your miserable colleagues have an earful, deliver your resignation via a sheet cake, and get the heck out of Dodge -- these are not good ideas. Employment law is a hot topic for good reason, and you need to follow certain best practices to protect yourself from repercussions and fallout after your final departure, as well as pave the way for a smoother transition to your next opportunity.

1. Review any agreements or non-competes you signed with your current employer

Did you sign a non-compete or a similar agreement around the start of your employment? If you did, does the agreement contain any language or provisions that in any way restrict your post-employment activities? This could very well be enforceable and prevent you from accepting new job opportunities within a certain time frame or even geographic location.

Depending upon your line of work and the language of a non-compete, consider too any language around “taking” or “sniping” or “soliciting” your former employer’s clients or even former colleagues.

2. Do not use your existing company’s resources or facilities to find new employment

While you may be ready for a change and have every right to explore opportunities, utilizing either your current employer’s time or resources is a bad idea. Even if you suspect the employer would never know the wiser or care much about your actions, you are indeed putting yourself at risk of potential firing (prior to your next opportunity) if you are caught in the act. Additionally, this can make you potentially liable for breaching an agreement or legal obligation. Wait until you are off-premises, on your own time, and with your own tech before seeking your next job opportunity.

3. Do not take what does not belong to you

Seems rather straightforward, but lines can become blurred if you’ve been a longtime employee. Sure, you can count out taking unused, fresh office supplies or the company laptop, but what about intangible forms of property? What about contact information for clients or prospects? Very often employment agreements have broad definitions of what constitutes employer “confidential information,” and even if you are not bound by such an agreement, other laws may apply.

4. Be prepared to be asked to leave, quickly

No matter your line of work or your level within the company, there’s a good chance that upon giving notice, you’ll be asked to leave, and quickly. In an effort to make a clean break, plan for your departure in the days leading up to “the talk” by bringing enough to gather your essential belongings. If you have rapport with a colleague, they can ensure the rest of your possessions are returned to you after your final exit.

Most employers understand the nature of the workforce and anticipate turnover. To best benefit your own career, follow these general tips so that you can enter your new position in good legal and personal standing. Of course, burning bridges is never advisable, and maintaining decorum and professionalism is in everyone’s best interest. Provide value at your current employer until you have completely removed yourself from the position and have made a clean break to your next opportunity.

CCHA can help you navigate labor + employment law challenges. We represent private sector and government employers, as well as individual employees, in a wide range of labor and employment issues, including employment contract negotiations, employee discipline, employer policy drafting, employment litigation and more.