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Before you decide to leave a job, think it through and make sure that this is absolutely the best decision for you. You don’t want to burn a bridge before it’s too late! Here are six steps to follow to make sure you follow professional protocol and don’t lose respect from your colleagues and bosses.

How To Leave A Job The Right Way

1) Notify your boss in person

It might seem scary, but you leave the best impression by telling your boss that you’re leaving in person. It shows confidence, respect, and maturity. As a formality, have a formal resignation letter ready that specifies what role you’ll be leaving and when you plan to do so.

 2) Give plenty of notice

The best time to tell your boss you’re leaving is a Friday afternoon. It gives him less time to ask questions or argue and gives everyone the weekend to process the news and figure out what the next steps are. If you signed an employment contract that stipulates how much notice you should give, abide by it. Otherwise, it’s customary to give two weeks. This gives you time to wrap up any projects you were in charge of and make sure other duties are properly handed over. No matter how you feel about the company, don’t leave your employer in a bind.

 3) Don’t feel obligated to explain

Unless you have a non-compete clause in your contract, you don’t have to tell your boss why you’re leaving or what you plan to do next. Avoid emotional outbursts and don’t say anything that would cause backlash or offend anyone. Emphasize the positive and mention how you’ve benefited from your time there.

 4) Don’t leave your employer in a bind

Even if you’re excited to start your new job, go through the motions of working your last two weeks, finish on-going projects, and hand over the reigns on specific activities if needed. Make sure everyone’s prepared for your last day and any transfer of responsibilities goes smoothly.

 5) Remember that everyone could be a reference

Whether it’s your co-workers or your bosses, say goodbye to everyone in a cordial, positive manner—you never know who you’ll meet again or who you’ll need a reference from. As you prepare to leave, keep your colleagues in the loop, so your departure doesn’t trigger rumors. Show gratitude, especially toward the one or two most influential people. Thank them for the experience and the working relationship you enjoyed with them. It doesn’t have to be 100% true, but just leave everything on a positive note and show that you’re appreciative.

 6) Don’t forget the details

Hand over any company property—keys, cellphone, laptop, documents—anything that doesn’t belong to you. And find out about anything you should take with you, including any unused vacation pay or how to roll over your 401(k).

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