You just accepted a new job. You’re so excited, you feel as if you could fly! Then it hits you: Now you have to quit your current job. Don’t worry; just follow these steps to exit your job professionally and leave your reputation intact.

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You just accepted a new job. You’re so excited, you feel as if you could fly! Then it hits you: Now you have to quit your current job. Ugh.

Don’t worry; just follow these steps to exit your job professionally and leave your reputation intact.

Finalize the details with your new employer. Don’t quit your current job until everything with your new job is negotiated and ready to go. Signed offer letter? Check. Benefits package? Check. Start date? Check. You get the idea.

Plan how to transfer your responsibilities. Don’t leave your boss overwhelmed with unfinished work. Create a list with recommendations on how your work can be shifted to others in the department until your position is filled.

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Write your resignation letter. Think of it as a thank-you note. It should explain your gratitude for having had the opportunity to work for the company and with your boss, and should include the date of your last day on the job.

Determine your “story.” Think through how you will explain your departure to your manager and co-workers. Whatever reasons you provide, keep your story consistent and your reasons positive.

Tell your manager before anyone else. Your boss deserves to be notified first, so refrain from saying anything until you’ve met with your manager. Also, consider how you’ll handle the situation if your boss makes you a counteroffer to stay.

Give adequate notice. A two-week notice is standard. However, if your job is complex and will be difficult to fill or if you are in a higher-level management position, be prepared; you may be asked to provide additional transition time.

Meet individually with your mentors. Schedule time to let mentors and sponsors know you’re leaving, and why.

Be prepared for an exit interview. Exit interviews are usually conducted by HR personnel to uncover areas in which the company can improve or to identify issues with a specific manager.

Work as hard as you can, all the way up until the final minute on your last day. The best way to ensure that you leave on a positive note is to work hard at your job and ensure a smooth transition, right up to the time you walk out the door.

Keep in touch. Stay in touch with key people at your previous employer. You never know when you might want to be rehired by a former employer, or when you’ll need a reference or recommendation from a former boss, colleague or direct report.

Lisa Quast is the founder of Career Woman, Inc., and the author of the book Secrets of a Hiring Manager Turned Career Coach. Email her at lquast@careerwomaninc.com.