Deb Perelman at eWeek recently shared some advice on how to quit your job with your bridges intact. Too often smart employees let their guard down during their final days, and they do things that may actually damage their career. Perelman polled coaches, recruiters, and workplace experts to create a list of steps that can help you leave your job with class:

  • Be sure you’re making the right choice. Sometimes that dream job isn’t. Do what you can to give it a “test-drive” first. (Often this isn’t possible.) I know a man who quit his job last fall, but was back within a week.
  • Get your story straight. Don’t lie, but be sparing with the details. It’s fine to say why you’re leaving, but don’t let emotion lead you into revealing too much.
  • Write your resignation letter. Again, stick to the facts. Emurse has some sample resignation letters and some advice: “Resignation letters can be as much or as little as you would like. Keep them positive and remember that the end goal is to maintain a positive relationship with the employer.”
  • Tell your supervisor first. Follow chain of command. Telling your buddies first can cause repercussions. (Is this true?)
  • Be prepared for a counter-offer. You may be a valuable part of the company’s plan, and they may attempt to get you to stay. This is one reason it’s important not to lie about why you’re leaving.
  • Stay for your two-weeks notice. Don’t leave your current company in the lurch. It puts them in a tough spot and looks bad to your new boss. Give the company time to replace you.
  • Work out your transition plan. The more you can help our company train your replacement, the better it reflects on you. I’m spending months helping to ease the transition as I leave the box factory. This is good for everyone.
  • Leave in good standing. It’s easy to mentally check out of your job long before you’re actually physically gone. Resist that urge. Remain diligent to the end.

As tempting as it may be to blow off your current job once you have a new one, it’s important to remain professional. You never know when you’ll need a reference from a former boss, or when you’ll be working with former co-workers. Quit your job gracefully, and options will remain open to you.

[eWeek: How to quit your job with your bridges intact]