Recently, CareerBuilder.com described 5 tips for quitting with class. It's all great advice, and especially important to remember if you hope to get a referral later or may encounter some of the same folks again -- such as if you're staying in the same career field.
1. Work right to the end. The military has an expression -- "ROAD." Folks who are Retired on Active Duty know they're short and stop putting in 100% because they know they don't have to. But that's not the last impression you want to leave behind when you go.
2. Be gracious. No matter what you think of your boss or the company you're leaving, don't make enemies. Be gracious, act respectful, and thank everyone for your time there.
3. Shoulder the responsibility for leaving. When you talk to your manager, be sure you make it clear that you're leaving because it's the right thing for you -- don't make the conversation about what you don't like about the company, why you're unhappy, or what's wrong with your role.
4. Give appropriate notice. What's the right amount of notice to give at your company? Two weeks? More? Less? Whatever it is, do that. After that, the ball is in the company's court to decide if you actually get to finish out your time and have an effective transition. There might be legal or security reasons why they'll cut your time short. But make it the company's option, not yours.
5. Tie up loose ends. This one goes back to #1 -- build a reasonable transition plan, complete your work, and be sure everyone knows how to pick up where you left off after you've gone. Be sure to write stuff down -- contact information, the location of key files, and other details people need to know.
Remember, it's not just the Golden Rule at work. You might very well encounter some of these people again later in your career, and you want their memories of you to be pleasant ones.