Ask Ellie & Jill: Leaving a Job

Posted on September 24, 2019

Ellie and Jill

This is a periodic series where members can anonymously ask our two anonymous experts (code names: Ellie & Jill…) about tricky #localgov topics. Want to ask them your own question? Email

Dear Ellie & Jill–What are some overlooked tips that people have for leaving your job for a new one? Everything online is stuff like “have a budget in place” and that all makes sense if you’re just quitting with nothing lined up, but I’m thinking things like switching email addresses for logins, updating LinkedIn, that kind of thing.

We’re so glad that you asked this question—it’s the thing that folks don’t talk about often, but these details can make a BIG difference at a time when you’ve got a lot of other things on your mind. From our own experiences with leaving jobs, there are a lot of little details are often overlooked. Here are a few topics to explore that might be helpful for you. 

  1. Research your exit-strategy. What kind of departing-culture does your organization have? Take some time (if you have it) to learn more about how your organization handles resignations. Do they typically let resigning employees work out a notice period to close up and transition out of projects, or do they have more of a “you’re outta here” practice where they prefer for departing employees to immediately exit? Being surprised by the latter can be a shock to your system-if you think it’s possible that’s how they’ll react, work to prepare for the possibility.
  2. It’s time to declutter. Think about the physical belongings that you have in your office/cube/communal co-working space. Dramatically cleaning out and de-personalizing your space before you put in your notice will probably be interpreted for exactly what it is. If you’re starting to think about moving on, and you’d rather stay under the radar for a bit, you can begin to slowly take your personal items back home. Trust us, there’s nothing more awkward than having to arrange to pick up your personal items outside of normal hours because you personally invested in a sweet office couch back before you ever contemplated your exit… or so we’ve heard. A useful guideline, regardless of whether you’re thinking about leaving or just a little neurotic, is to look the personal belongings you’ve amassed in your office through the lens of an outsider—if someone from HR had to pack up your belongings, would you be embarrassed by what they had to sift through?
  3. Own your info. Just like the pile of “commuting shoes” that have taken up residence under your desk, you’ve probably amassed a sizeable digital footprint that is tied to your work computers and accounts. This is a good time to move all your personal files off your work computer and into the cloud. Also, do an audit of the accounts you log into frequently—like your ELGL account! Do you use your work email address, or a personal one? It’s time to transition your personal accounts over to your personal email address. 
  4. Keep in contact(s)! Your contacts and your network belong to you—make sure you still have access after you leave. Learn more about how your IT department configures the organization’s Outlook settings and make sure that the contacts you have stored on your phone are really on your phone—not stored in your work email account. A few years ago, when one of us left a job, she lost a decades worth of personal and professional contacts that she thought were stored locally on her iphone, but actually “lived” in her work outlook account. 
  5. Understand the impacts to your retirement plan. In addition to all the common sense financial advice that is out there about leaving a job, you should also take a little time to think about your retirement account. Are you working somewhere with a municipal pension? Enrolled in a 457B? Make sure that you have all the applicable account and plan contact information before your exit so that you can maintain control of your money.
  6. Lawyer up. There are many circumstances when an organization will request that a departing employee sign a severance agreement of some sort. Sometimes these agreements include clauses limit the organizations potential future liability as a condition of payment. If your organization wants you to sign a legal document as a condition of your exit, make sure that you take your time and review it thoroughly—preferably with an attorney who specializes in employment law. 
  7. Maintain perspective. Especially for those of us who are driven to our careers by a desire to do good in the world, it’s easy to lose perspective about the importance of our work. No matter how phenomenal you are, you are not the last amazing employee that your organization will ever have. They will (eventually) move on and do just fine without you. And you will move on and do amazing without them. Make an effort now to maintain healthy personal relationships, hobbies, and interests outside of work, so that when work isn’t in the picture anymore, you’re still fulfilled and enjoying life. 

We know that the decision to leave a job can be gut-wrenching, friend, and we hope that wherever you end up is phenomenal.

Your friends,

Ellie & Jill

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