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Tips for quitting your job

By Kate Lorenz

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( -- In December 2006, British worker Steve Moseley bought a lottery scratchcard and discovered he'd won £1 million. He immediately told his boss to "stick it" and threw all the money he had on him at his colleagues. "Twenty minutes later he realized he hadn't won and then asked for his job back," his boss told the BBC. "I was a bit reluctant, but I gave it to him after making him ask a few times." A few days later, he reportedly resigned after unending teasing by his co-workers.

The lesson: You never know what's going to happen next, so don't be so quick to burn your bridges. Whether you win the lottery, find your dream job or are just plain fed up, consider these tips before telling your boss to stick it:

1. Get it in writing first "You have nothing until you have a written offer. Job offers can and do get rescinded," says Martin Yate, career-management expert and author of the "Knock 'em Dead" series. "The only sensible way to approach resignation is when you have a firm (written) job offer in hand, and not before."

2. Always be professional Lynn Hazan, owner of Lynn Hazan & Associates, Inc., an executive recruitment and consulting firm in Chicago, advises candidates to, "Leave with dignity and grace by making your resignation professional and brief. Regardless of how you feel about your current position or boss, this is not the time to lob a verbal hand grenade to 'get back' for all those years of suffering on the job."

3. Consider how long you want to stay Many experts agree that it is still customary and a professional courtesy to give at least two weeks notice whenever you resign from a job. "Normally when you resign, it is bad news for your boss. You are essentially firing your company and leaving your boss short of manpower. You'll want to do everything you can to allow for a smooth transition," Yate says. "A career is a long time and you never know when you will be running into these people again. You don't want to burn any bridges."

4. Start packing Take home your personal belongings, books and any resources you've purchased before you give your notice. Remove any personal files or documents you've created that you wish to take with you when you leave. Be mindful, however, to adhere to your company's policy regarding intellectual property and confidentiality. You don't want to wind up in court for taking items that are not legally yours.

5. Phone home If you have contact lists on your computer, a company-owned cell phone or PDA that you'll need in your job after-life, download, transfer or print these out. Your company may cut off your access to your e-mail and ask that you turn over all your electronics immediately after giving your notice.

6. Confirm what is due to you Investigate with HR what, if any, unused and accrued vacation time is due to you. This will help you with timing your departure. But don't expect to give a two-week notice and take most of it as vacation. Many companies will choose to just give you a payout of accrued time.

7. Banking on a bonus? Timing is often everything when it comes to bonuses. Make sure you understand the required terms of the payout. Some bonus plans not only require that you be employed throughout the bonus period (for instance you must work the full quarter or year to be eligible), they may also require that you are a current employee at the time of the actual payout, which could be weeks or months after you have "earned" your bonus.

8. Put it in black and white Though you should plan to resign face-to-face with your supervisor, Yate says you should always write a resignation letter. "Carry it in with you and ask your boss to read it. Make it short, sweet; then shut up. Such a letter can be concise, professional and positive, in ways you probably can't, given the circumstances."

9. Plan for an immediate departure If you are taking a job with a competitor, don't plan to stay on much past an hour or two after giving your notice. "Companies fear that you'll take sensitive information, like customer lists, pricing sheets and sales data. Even if you expect to leave on the most amicable terms, when you go to work for a competitor it always feels like you're a turncoat," says Mike Mulcahy, who spent 20 years in sales in the automotive aftermarket.

10. Don't be a lame duck Even if your current employer wants you to stay the customary 2 weeks or longer, sometimes its better to 'get out of Dodge' sooner rather than later. "Once you have given your notice, you become a lame duck," Hazan says. "You are not the go-to person any more; your projects and responsibilities get cut. In some cases, the sooner you transition out the better it is for you and your employer," she concludes.

© Copyright 2007. All rights reserved. The information contained in this article may not be published, broadcast or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority

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