Accounting is on your case again, and your friend just sent you another job listing that looks promising. If you've been thinking of leaving your job, you’re not alone: The Labor Department just released data that shows U.S. job openings reached a record 6.9 million, and the number of people quitting their jobs is the highest it’s been since 2001. In other words, it's a pretty good time to look for a new role. 

Given that you’re in the driver’s seat, it might feel like a good idea to leave a pair of shoes on your boss’s desk with a note that says, “Good luck filling these.” But here’s a spoiler alert: It’s not a good idea.

Make sure you know how to quit your job the right way so that you leave on a positive note. Here are five things to take into consideration. 

  1. DECIDE IF YOU REALLY SHOULD QUIT

    Everyone has a bad day (or client interaction or colleague annoyance) now and then, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you should just quit your job. So before doing something you might regret, reflect on whether it has just been a bad week (or even month), which means the issue is temporary and not systemic.

  2. CONSIDER THE TIMING FOR FINANCIAL REASONS

    You may want to power through a few more weeks or months to make sure you don’t leave a big payday on the table. For example, wait until any bonus or commission you’re due has hit your bank account.

    Also check into your “vesting” status, which refers to certain benefits (usually retirement or stock). Typically, you can’t take the benefits with you until you have been with the company for a certain period of time. If you’re two months away from vesting in a retirement plan, don’t leave right away.

  3. CONSIDER THE TIMING FOR OTHER REASONS

    If you’re an accounting assistant and you make your grand exit on April 1, well … you’re probably going to get a lot more dirty looks from co-workers than if you did it on May 1. Or, if you’re right in the middle of a huge client project, it’s wise to stay until the end if at all possible. Remember, it’s a small world.

    Of course, sometimes you’re not in control of the timing if you have another job waiting for you, but often you have some leeway.

  4. LEAVE ON GOOD TERMS

    The shoes on the desk would be epic. Don’t be epic. Be professional. Talk to people, especially your boss, in person. Be as open as you can and genuinely try to help others as you leave.

    That may include helping train your replacement if that’s possible. And while you don’t want to be that person’s go-to resource every single time something comes up, do leave contact information in case they have a question. Remember, it’s not the new person’s fault you left. So if you can lend a helping hand, that’s great career karma.

    And, of course, have a positive exit meeting with your manager or human resources department. Again, even if you really want to unload as you tell them why you’re leaving, stick to surface reasons. That’s how to quit your job without burning any bridges.

  5. STAY IN TOUCH

    Careers are long, and you never know when you may cross paths with former coworkers — for all you know, your former assistant could one day be your new client. So, take a few moments to send a short goodbye email missive thanking everyone for their contribution to your career, and then connect with your former colleagues as appropriate.

Knowing how to quit your job the right way can be a big benefit to you in the long term. You never know when someone who you impress on your way out will impact your career in the future.

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