Start preserving critical information as soon as you know you are going to leave your job.

Are you thinking about quitting your job? Have you weighed the pros and cons and decided that you need to move on to new opportunities? If so, there is one more thing that you need to consider before you even think about handing in your two weeks' notice: securing important information that you may lose access to if your boss responds to your resignation with an immediate termination. Whether you plan to quit your job tomorrow or a month from now, it is important to properly prepare before you hand in your notice. 

In this post, we will provide an overview of key information to preserve before you quit your job. By securing this data now, you can better ensure that you do not lose access to vital information that you may need for your future job search and career success. 

Why you should preserve data before turning in your resignation

In a perfect world, you would be able to hand in your notice secure in the knowledge that you will have time to clean out your desk and files. Unfortunately, many employers no longer operate that way, opting instead to terminate employment immediately after receiving a resignation notice. In some cases, this is done to avoid potential problems that may arise if the employee remains for the notice period. In other instances, companies may want to prevent the employee from taking client files or other information. Whatever the reason, companies can let  you go immediately, so plan accordingly.

What types of information should you avoid taking?

We should begin by noting that there are certain types of information that you should avoid taking with you. Obviously, any proprietary information that belongs to the company is not yours to take. That includes things like trade secrets, product designs, and other company information that your employer would almost certainly not want to see falling into its competitors' hands. Check your company's policies to see if there are clear guidelines outlining what you can and cannot take.

Types of information you should preserve before quitting

Now that you know what types of information you should avoid taking, it is time to examine the things that you should consider preserving. Obviously, this list should be checked against your company policies to ensure that you are not violating any rules that could get you in legal trouble, but in most instances you should preserve: 

1. Examples of your work

Email yourself examples of your best work, including presentations and other documents—assuming that they are not confidential, of course. These types of examples can often help potential employers to see the level of quality you bring to any job.

2. Your own intellectual property 

This does not include intellectual property that you developed for the company, but may include your own presentation, Word, or Excel templates, if you created them to aid you in your job duties. These templates could be useful in your next job.

3. Impactful accomplishments

Save files and emails about the impact you had in your role with the company. These include quantifiable results and achievements that you can include in your professional brag book. If you have digital copies of your annual performance reviews, these are great records to reference later. It's best to document and save your achievements as you accomplish them as you are likely to need them for your resume, before you give your notice.

4. Employment details

Save information about your hire date, salary details, advancement in the company, and titles held; you will need these details for any resume updates and applications.

5. Emails  

These can include personalized emails, industry newsletters, and other messages that you want to retain. You can either save them to a physical drive or simply email them to your home address.

6. Your browser bookmarks

You can forward the URL links of the bookmarks to your personal email address, then save as bookmarks on another computer. This way, you can easily find critical research websites and other resources in the future.

7. Client, vendor, and co-worker contact information 

Note that you should make sure that you are permitted to have these details before preserving this data.

8. Files from cloud services

These days, it is important to remember that you probably do not have all your important information saved on your computer. Chances are that there are key files located on cloud services as well. Make sure to download them to a physical drive too.

9. All personal information 

Like many employees, you probably have at least some personal details on your computer. Make sure that you save anything that needs to be saved. Once you have secured that information, delete it from your work computer so that it cannot be accessed by your eventual replacement. Take care that you only delete personal information, however. If you delete actual work-related material, it could be deemed destruction of company property and result in legal action.

Do not wait until the last minute

Timing is everything when it comes to preserving your critical information prior to leaving a job. The best option is to begin securing that data as soon as you know that you are going to turn in your notice, or even when you know that you want to find a new job. The important thing is to make sure that you have secured everything you need before anyone at the company knows that you are leaving. That way, you will not lose anything if the company lets you go when you hand in your resignation.


If you are planning to leave your job and think that you can easily access important files and information right up to your last day of work, think again. To avoid losing that data, you need to know which information you need to preserve so that you can begin that process even before you hand in your resignation.

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