Be absolutely sure that your new job is a sure thing before even whispering about resigning from your current position.

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You’ve probably always heard that the professional thing is to give two weeks’ notice when resigning from a job.

And that is still a pretty good rule of thumb. But sometimes you should think about giving more.

If you are on very good terms with your employer, for example, and — most important — this employer has a good track record on how it handles employee resignations, then go ahead and feel free to give three weeks or even a month’s notice. You’ll have adequate time to train a replacement and your soon-to-be former employer may be grateful. Which is good because, as we all know (or should know), the second a boss stops being a boss he or she becomes a valued part of your network. And we should always be cultivating and caring for our networks.

If, on the other hand, you’ve observed other employees being shown the door mere minutes after giving notice, then you might want to stick with the minimum two weeks. You will have done your part, at least.

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Whichever choice you make, do be absolutely sure that your new job is a sure thing before even whispering about resigning from your current position. This includes talking with human resources! Sure, you may need information from HR about, say, being reimbursed for unused vacation days but these are policies you can and should find out about without tipping your hand. Why? Because the fact is that HR’s chief responsibility lies with the company, not you. Very often the first thing HR does upon learning an employee is considering resignation is to inform the relevant manager.

Even employees who were assured that talks with HR are “confidential” have been tripped up this way. Maybe this is not true at your company. Maybe your HR people are 100 percent on your side. But it would behoove you to consider who is signing whose paychecks and where the balance of power lies, and then proceed accordingly.

One last tip: In addition to getting that new job offer in writing, be sure to accept it in writing, too, clarifying salary and all other terms of employment. Miscommunications do happen. Try to make sure they don’t happen to you.

Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl: Real-Life Career Advice You Can Actually Use. Email her at