How you resign from a job impacts your reputation and reflects on your character, both extremely valuable to your career and personal life.

No matter why you’re leaving your current job, do so with a graceful exit. Although it is not always possible, an appropriate notice is the standard two weeks or a specific time frame outlined in your contract.

Attitude of Gratitude

Even if you don’t feel it, express appreciation and gratitude for the job you’re leaving. Thank those who may have mentored and helped you. Thank your employees for their hard work. You may want a reference in the future, and you could run into any one (or more) of these people down the road in some capacity.

Don’t Burn Bridges

No matter why you’re leaving, don’t say anything negative about the company, your manager or other employees. This isn’t the time to air grievances. If you need to negotiate money you may be owed (such as for vacation time, commissions, etc.), do so very professionally.

Resign in Person as a 1st Choice

This should go without saying, if possible resign in person to your immediate manager. A very short letter of resignation is recommended. In the letter, don’t be specific. Start with a “thank you,” let them know you’re moving onto a “new opportunity,” state your willingness to assure a smooth transition and provide notice of your last day.

Afterwords, do not talk much about your new job.  The less you say about your next job, the better. Let everyone know it is a “confidential opening” and that you can tell them more after you get started.

Check your Contract

Make sure you’re in the clear on your hiring contract with the required notice and any non-compete clauses.

Escorted out of the building. In some industries and with some professions (such as sales), once an employee resigns, the employer asks the person to leave on the spot. Be prepared for this scenario by clearing personal files and removing personal software from your computer, removing personal information and belongings, and getting your work space organized.

Guilt from co-workers or your boss. It’s only natural, especially if you are leaving an unpleasant work environment, that your co-workers may be a bit envious and try to make you feel a little guilty. And no matter how great your boss may be, s/he may also make you feel a little guilty for “deserting” the team. Try not to let these things bother you; instead, concentrate on making the final weeks/days pleasant and professional.

A counter-offer to entice you to stay. Be very wary of counteroffers. No matter how good it makes your ego feel to have your current employer respond with a counteroffer, most career experts advise against taking it because studies show that the vast majority of employees who accept counteroffers from current employers aren’t in those jobs for very long. Whether the employer admits it or not, your dedication will be questioned, and once that happens, your time on the job is limited. It’s better to tactfully decline the offer and focus on your new job with your new employer.

An exit interview. Some employers like to have all departing employees meet with someone from the human resources department for an exit interview. Be careful — but be professional. Some employers want to know the “real” reason you are leaving. Again, remember not to burn any bridges by saying anything negative or petty.