Knowing how to quit a job with class is an important tool in your career toolkit.

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A welcome sign that we’re slowly crawling our way out of the Great Recession is that more people are feeling free to quit their jobs. According to recent reports, job resignations have risen by 17 percent over the past year.

Economists like this because it indicates confidence in the economy. Workers like it because employers may be forced to offer higher pay to hold on to their employees.

You in particular might be glad, too; that is, if it’s time you changed jobs. Or past time. Maybe it’s been so long that you have forgotten how. If you came of age during the recession, it’s even possible you’ve never changed jobs!

Whatever the case, there’s an art to the thing. Namely — no matter how you feel about a job — you need to leave it in a way that (a) reflects well on you and (b) doesn’t needlessly burn bridges.

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You can think of it as a simple three-part process. First, before you even hint that you’re moving on, get your work organized and up to date. Take all your personal stuff off your work computer. Review company guidelines for giving notice. And don’t forget to find out if you have any extra benefits coming in the form of unused vacation or comp time.

Next, approach your employer with the big news. Please do this in person. Try to display a modicum of regret that you’re leaving (even if you are, in fact, overjoyed). Offer to train your replacement. Show some recognition that your resignation is, probably, a source of inconvenience and expense for your employer. Follow up your in-person chat with a written letter (or email) of resignation. It needn’t be long — just a note stating that you will be terminating as of such-and-such date.

Finally, give a thought to your behavior after giving notice. Definitely do not brag to co-workers about how glad you are to be leaving (it’s tacky). Continue to do a decent job right up to the last hour (it’s classy). Don’t forget to ask for a letter of recommendation (it’s smart).

And remember that the folks at your former job will always remain a part of your life because they now belong to your career network.

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