Deciding to leave a job isn't easy. It can be difficult to figure out if leaving is right for you, your family and your career. Quitting is often tied to general unhappiness or an inability to move up within a company, which can spur anger and spawn impulsiveness to quit on the spot. However, there are smarter and better ways to end a professional relationship.
Business News Daily spoke with experts for advice on properly (and professionally) leaving your job.
Do a quick audit
Make a short pros and cons list about what you like and don't like about the job.
"Make sure you learn something from the experience to make sure you make the right choices moving forward," said Susan Tynan, CEO and founder of Framebridge.
Be direct, but diplomatic
"Be direct and honest about your unhappiness, but stay away from criticism," Klimek said. "This change is ultimately about you, not them. Remain positive and move on."
The last thing employees want to do is quit their jobs, only to realize they aren't legally allowed to work for the employer to which they think they are headed, said business consultant and human resources expert Teri Aulph.
Review all the documents you signed when you took the job you are leaving," Aulph said. "Make sure you did not agree to noncompete or nonsolicitation clauses. You wouldn't want anything to jeopardize your future."
Telling your supervisor exactly why you're leaving can help him or her better understand what retention looks like for that role, said Shannon Plush, coordinator of strategic HR projects for Pittsburgh Public Schools.
"If you're leaving because you feel you've hit a professional-growth ceiling, a manager is in a better position to use that feedback to think critically about the learning and development opportunities they're providing for other staff, as well as for the individual who will fill your vacant role," Plush said.
Give plenty of notice
While two weeks' notice is standard and expected in most professions, the more time a departing employee can give, the better, said Jeff Gordon, founder of internet marketing firm Interactive99. Gordon said he once worked with an employee who provided his employer four weeks' notice, which gave the company plenty of time to prepare for a smooth transition.
"This reflected well upon his character and certainly reduced anxiety among the ranks," Gordon said. "The four weeks gave the company enough time to absorb his knowledge and bring on a consultant."
Never burn a bridge
Even if you are unhappy with your current work situation, it's best to frame the situation as, "It's not you, it's me," said Todd Dean, co-founder and CMO of Wirkn, a job-search app.
"You never know where and when you might end up working with the individuals in the future," Dean said.
Brian McClusky, InkHouse Public Relations HR director, added, "You never know when you may cross paths with someone again professionally, so you always want to leave a work relationship, even a negative one, on the best terms possible."
Don't slack off
Business and life coach DeNeen Attard said that after you give notice of an impending departure, it is important to keep working hard and avoid coasting for the remaining days.
"Continue to do your job until you exit the company," Attard said. "Step up your game, and perform like never before. Leave no doubt in their mind that you are an exceptional employee."
Tell direct boss first
Anthony C. Klotz, an assistant professor at Oregon State University's College of Business, said that employees who have developed close relationships with their supervisors should let them know first, before giving the company official notice.
"If an employee is close friends with his or her boss, the boss may feel slighted and blindsided by the sudden act of resigning," Klotz said. "In that case, it may make more sense for an employee to inform the boss of their intention to resign well before formal notice of the resignation is provided to the organization."
Business and career coach Sandra Lamb said she advises her clients to always start out a resignation meeting by paying the current employer a compliment.
"Always start with the positive that compliments your present employer," Lamb said. "There's always something positive that can be said, like 'X company provided a very valuable learning environment.'"
Leave the baggage at the door
"If it's been a rough road, try to allow time between transitions so you can start your new role with a fresh outlook and clean slate, ready to dive in," said Rebecca Schapiro, director of brand and product marketing at Funding Circle.
Additional reporting by Chad Brooks. Some source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.