At some point you’re going to quit. No matter how good your current job is, no matter how happy you are, eventually you’ll find something else and be ready to move on. There is no shame in leaving for a better opportunity, and no shame in bailing when things aren’t working out. Ideally, everyone at your old job will be happy you’re growing in your career.

The question is, how to go about it properly? Here are six steps to quit your job the right way.

The Right Way to Quit Your Job

Ensure your next job is secure.

You want more than just a verbal or email offer and acceptance. You should make sure every contract is signed and every reference checked. (This means talking to your references before the new company does.)

It also means checking out the new company and the people you’ll be working with. It helps to ask if you can talk to someone on the team you’re joining. The whole process is tense and long, and your new company may want you to start right away. Hold your ground! It is tempting to rush into what seems like a good situation, but you’ll both be better off if you make sure you look before you leap.

It is especially important to make sure you give your old company a full two weeks notice—longer if it’s in your contract. Don’t be afraid to ask to push back your starting date if getting your new hire paperwork is taking longer than anticipated. Not only does this help your current employer, but it signals to your next one you’ll do the same for them.

Prepare a letter of resignation.

You should let your current employer down easy. Let them know you feel lucky to have had the opportunities they offered and the guidance they provided you. Make sure to recognize any special circumstances they helped you with while you were there, even if it was slight. Tell them when your last day of work will be, and emphasize that you will help with the transition in any way you can. You’ll want at least three copies of this letter: one for your supervisor, one for HR, and one for your own records. Sign and date all three.

Be ready to be let go immediately.

Different companies have different policies, but it is not unheard of for your last day of work to be the day you put in notice. This can be dependent on your supervisor, your position, the company you are moving to, or the information you’re privy to. Regardless, you want to prepare for the worst, just in case. Clear your personal items out of your computer and take important stuff home (but don’t be obvious). Also, make sure you’ve written down everything you think your co-workers or your replacement might need to know. You don’t want to leave them in a bind, and your main responsibilities when leaving your old job is to ease the transition. Hopefully you’ll have two weeks to finish cleaning up, but you never know.

Your direct manager should be the first to know you’re leaving.

Be open and honest about why you are resigning, and go into the meeting with your letter in hand. Make sure HR also gets a dated copy of your resignation letter, as they will ultimately be the custodians of your records, including the date of resignation and your last day of work. Don’t promise to do anything other than help the company with your transition  Any big projects you are working on will be a lot harder to finish than you think. You will have the best intentions in mind if you promise to finish them before you leave, but your last weeks of work will go by faster than you think, and these projects may not be finished during this time. Hopefully they’ll understand, even if they’re not thrilled. Whatever happens, be humble and don’t offend, and definitely don’t gloat about your new job.

Know what to say during an exit interview.

Exit interviews are common, and a good opportunity to be honest. You now have the luxury of talking freely about situations at work that others may be scared to bring up. Exit interviews are often said to be confidential, but your supervisor and their bosses will probably know what went on during it. Keep yourself composed and professional. Do not burn any bridges or talk ill of the people you’re leaving. Every word you say will be noted, and may be shared and discussed. Be prepared to stand by your statements. You never know who you’ll work with again or who they’ll talk to.

Prepare a goodbye email with your personal contact info.

Send it publicly if you wish; otherwise, make sure the right people get a copy. Remember to get the contact information of everyone you want to stay in touch with, and make sure to actually stay in touch! You never know when those contacts will come in handy.

Finally, after your last day, enjoy being momentarily unemployed! Good luck with your next job!

Have you ever had a resignation go wrong? How did you handle it?

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