How can you leave your job gracefully? Howard Seidel, a career and executive coach with Essex Partners, a career advisory firm based in the Boston area, offers this advice:
Give notice to your direct manager. Then seek permission to let some others know directly.
Consider a counteroffer. If you might be serious about staying, give it some thought — however, don't bother if you know you are leaving. That can cause or aggravate hard feelings.
Be graceful in your exit interview. Be constructive without making the complaints personal about any colleague or supervisor.
Give adequate notice. Two weeks is the minimum standard notice, but sometimes more is expected. Be prepared if you do give notice that a company may terminate you early anyway.
Research your health benefits. In general you don't want to let your group insurance lapse until you know you are covered by something else. You generally have 60 days after leaving to decide whether to exercise COBRA benefits. If you have a specific question about your coverage, talk to a benefits professional.
Offer to train your replacement. It's a sign of goodwill.
In addition, understand why walking out isn't a smart move.
Even under the worst of circumstances it looks bad to people if you don't leave the right way and give proper notice. Short of a sense of real physical or mental danger, walking out can be a tough thing to live down. And there are few companies that won't want to talk to your references before making a hire.
The best reference is someone who will say good things about you, preferably after having supervised your work. Weak references can kill you. If you have left a company and still no one will talk on your behalf that can be a problem. Have a reason to explain that and offer other references outside the company that are strong.
And as always, do what others fail to do!