Most of us have seen the YouTube videos or read about people who have quit their jobs in a very public way. While this approach may be momentarily attractive, it is never a good idea. You owe it to your future career to resign professionally and with grace.
Here are a number of things to help you leave your job the right way:
Make sure you have your new job locked down first. Before telling your supervisor; this includes a written offer with all details, including start date, agreed to.
Don’t quit in a fit. Be sure you are resigning for the right reasons — e.g. you have found a better opportunity — and not because you’re mad about something. The better opportunity could be a better commute, more money, growth opportunities, or whatever. The key thing is to know why you are leaving and make sure the reason is sound and the decision is well-considered.
Prepare to give at least two weeks’ notice. While rarely required, two weeks is considered the minimum notice as a professional courtesy. If you are leaving a private sector job, realize that once you give notice, you may be asked to leave immediately.
Put together a status report of all pending projects, meetings, deadlines and the like. Make sure that nothing is forgotten. You may want to offer suggestions on who could take over specific duties.
Draft a professional resignation letter. Your letter should be short and sweet. Thank your supervisor for the opportunities he or she provided and mention how much you learned working for the organization. Be sure to include future contact information and the effective date of your resignation. This is not the opportunity to provide snark or make nasty comments about your supervisor or your organization.
Give your resignation letter to your supervisor in a face-to-face meeting if possible. Regardless, your supervisor should be told before any of your colleagues. If you are in the private sector, you may want to prepare for a potential counter-offer. The government offers retention bonuses as well (if you present a bonafide offer from a nonfederal organization) but they are not common.
Once you have announced your resignation to your supervisor and colleagues, clean up your workspace and remove personal items. This is a courtesy not only to your employer but also the person who will occupy your space after your departure.
Be professional and work hard every day until your departure. It is important to leave your organization on a positive note. The best way to do that is to complete your pending work and leave clear instructions with your supervisor on anything left unfinished so that the transition can be as smooth as possible. You want to ensure a positive reference and leave to door open for a possible return.