So, you’ve just accepted a new job offer. Congrats! The first thing you should do is call up your best friends and make plans to celebrate (obviously).
But after you’ve toasted to your latest success, you may find yourself in unfamiliar territory. What exactly is the proper protocol for leaving your job? And is there anything you should be doing to prepare for your new one?
As someone who just made job change #4, I can tell you that although circumstances are always different, there are certain things that can help make any transition go more smoothly. Here are five things you’ll need to know.
1. Relax, Then Go Talk to Your Boss
You may be feeling a little nervous about telling your boss you’re leaving—and that’s understandable. But chances are, this is not the first resignation he or she has ever heard. If your boss is good, he or she will want the best for your professional growth and will be happy for your new opportunity—even if that means you’re changing companies. (And if he or she is on the frosty side, then that only confirms that you made the right decision!)
Whatever the case, though, you’ll still want to give your boss the professional courtesy of telling him or her first. As much as you want to tell your best office buddies the news, save your excitement until you find out how your boss wants to handle the announcement. Depending on your situation, he or she may want to tell your team in order to stop the rumor mill or to explain how transitional activities will work. Make sure that you understand how your departure will be announced before you go spilling the beans—then figure out a departure strategy that will work best for everyone.
Related: Moving on: How to Quit Your Job With Grace
2. Don’t Forget the Paperwork
Get ready—once you give your notice, there may be a lot of paperwork coming your way, even before you fill out your new W-4 forms. If your current company needs an official letter of resignation , prepare that right away. If you’re going to be staying on your employer’s health insurance plan through COBRA, make sure you understand the laws surrounding your policy, and read over those notices you’ll get in the mail. Lastly, you may want to check out the transition steps needed to roll over your 401(k) or other retirement fund to your new employer. The last thing you’ll want to do is miss out on the company match at your new gig!
3. Be Specific with Your Job Transition Plans
Your boss has enough on his or her plate without having to worry about how your duties will be taken care of once you’re gone. So, the best thing you can do to leave on great terms is to be proactive and give him or her more specifics on how exactly you will transition your day-to-day responsibilities. Set up a meeting and discuss your ideas on who would best be suited to take over in the interim, and then give a specific schedule on what and who you will train. This lets him or her know that you have a plan, and that everything from the most important tasks to the most mundane (but necessary) ones are covered.
Related: How to Make it Easier on Your Team When You Leave a Job
4. Keep in Touch With Your New Employer
Even after you’ve signed the acceptance letter and decided on a start date, you should still expect to stay in contact with your new employer during the transition time. There may be things that require your immediate attention—for example, my latest employer required a drug screening and background check, so I had to make sure that I promptly made my appointment at the clinic and submitted all the necessary paperwork. I also received lots of paperwork from Human Resources, and I promptly confirmed with them that I had received it. No matter what your new employer needs, get it handled as soon as possible—going incommunicado for long periods of time doesn’t exactly send a great message.
On a more fun note, I got a few congratulatory emails from people I had interviewed with. If your co-workers reach out to you, be sure to email them back, thank them, and tell them how excited you are to be part of the team. All of this extra contact will help relieve some new-kid awkwardness on the first day.
5. Make the Most of Your Time Off
If you managed to work in a little break time before starting your new job—even if it’s just a day or two—use that time to your advantage. Most importantly, try to organize your life a bit. You’re going to be busy learning a lot of new things, so the last thing you’ll want to worry about is a dirty apartment or empty refrigerator waiting for you at home. Use the time off to clean, organize, go grocery shopping, get a car wash, and run pesky errands that you never had time for before. Who knows when your next vacation will roll around, so here’s your chance!
If you managed to negotiate a longer break time between jobs (which I recently did), I would suggest doing those things you can’t normally do during the weekday. In my case, I relished golfing in the middle of the day and working out at 9 AM—instead of 5:15 AM!
And finally, relax and pamper yourself a bit. You may be in for some long hours (not to mention information overload!), so treat yourself to that massage or beach day while you can. You’ll be relaxed, rejuvenated, and organized—and ready to start that new adventure.