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Want to quit your job for a better gig? Here’s your to-do list

By Kathryn Vasel and Jeanne Sahadi, CNN

So much is working in favor of job seekers who want to wrangle a better position with better pay and better benefits these days.

Even still, it’s rarely a seamless or stress-free process. Quitting your job is always a big deal and requires good planning and smart thinking when trading up to a new one.

Here are several considerations to keep in mind along the way.

The hunt

Figuring out where you want to work and doing your due diligence on what it’s really like to work there are key in your quest to finding a job that suits you holistically.

Essential to both those tasks is figuring out who you know who knows someone who can give you the skinny on opportunities available and what it’s really like to work somewhere. In other words, it helps to network — and to do so in a way that doesn’t annoy people.

And you need to ask the right questions about the place when you do land an interview, including “How do you measure success?”

It also means being smart about how you follow up with people at every stage in your job search, from submitting the application to waiting to hear back after an interview.

Also critical to finding a great job and career path? Don’t assume you couldn’t possibly get a job somewhere if you don’t have a college degree. Increasingly, employers are not automatically requiring all applicants have a Bachelor’s degree. Instead they are starting to look for people, regardless of college background, who demonstrate an aptitude to master the needed skills through apprenticeships.

And don’t avoid pursuing a good job just because a company isn’t based where you live. The pandemic has opened employers’ eyes to the opportunities remote work presents to hire the best talent no matter where they live.

The offer

Your goal is get an employer to make you an offer. When that happens, be prepared to evaluate that offer to make sure it meets your needs.

To do that, you should know what your total compensation is worth at your current job — including salary, bonuses and the financial value of the benefits you use. It’s probably more than you think.

Having that information will help you successfully negotiate a better compensation package, which is about much more than just the top-line salary offer.

Of course, as flattering as it is to be offered a position, that doesn’t mean you have to take it. Here’s what to do if you have an offer but really hope another one comes through — and how to turn down a job offer when you realize it’s not right for you.

The to-do list before you leave your current job

When you finally do nail down a new job that you’re excited about, make sure you leave your current post without regrets.

For starters, don’t leave money on the table. For instance, you may need to give more than two weeks’ notice if you want to secure that bonus that is scheduled to pay out next month. And figure out, too, if you’re obligated to pay the company back for any signing bonus you may have gotten if you haven’t been at the place very long.

Second, think about what you plan to do with the 401(k) savings you accrued at your current job and know the pros, cons and rules of leaving the money where it is or transferring it to an IRA or to your new employer’s plan.

Likewise, figure out your options to ensure you won’t be without health insurance at any point between when you leave your current post and start a new one, especially if you plan to quit before securing another job.

Lastly, if your plan isn’t to find another job but to strike out on your own — perhaps to start a new business or freelance — be ready for a year or two of unpredictable income as you establish yourself. That is all the more reason to make sure you have your financial ducks in a row before giving up your steady paycheck.

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