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You are very excited about the job offer you have accepted. You’re thinking, champagne? A big dinner? Who do I call first to share this great feeling? Call your spouse or significant other, Mom, Dad? Life feels good and this is a great career moment. You are in control and life should only get better.

As your excitement ebbs, you start to realize what you must do: give notice. Resigning is never easy and you may start to experience the resignation blues. Even if you can’t stand your boss and your job, it’s disconcerting to go face to face and quit, but you must. The most important thing to remember is that you value everyone and hold your company in high regard. If this is true, then why are you leaving? The answer and major reason for leaving is always for a better opportunity. Leaving on a positive note is your responsibility.

Resist the desire to get even or badmouth anyone. This is not the time to have a "take this job and shove it" attitude. Whether alone in your boss’s office or at the exit interview with human resources never say anything negative that could tarnish your performance history and reputation. This is not the time to "tell it like it is." Be selfish because you will need these references in the future. You are not obligated to help with constructive criticism.

The traditional length of the time your employer expects is a two-week notice. I’ve had candidates give 30 or 45 days notice. This is because a project deadline or product rollout may collapse if they don’t complete their work. Senior management will remember your extra commitment when they get a reference check call. Protect your references!

Giving notice is even more painful when you’re a rising star and your boss/mentor had no idea that you were interviewing. Going face to face with your immediate boss will take courage because she will be the most impacted when you leave. Your leaving is going to complicate her life immediately. She will need to replace a key employee quickly or have a vacancy that doubles her workload. Will senior management blame your boss for you leaving?

Never give notice by voicemail or e-mail, that’s a feeble attempt to do it properly and you will only lose the respect of your co-workers. After you have given your notice in person, you must furnish your company with a written letter of resignation. Your letter should be prepared in advance and delivered the same day you resign. The letter becomes an essential document, if there is a misunderstanding and may be necessary for your legal protection.

During your final days, do not forget that you still work there. Remain proactive. Make those last days as productive as possible. Work harder than usual, resist gossiping, be on time, do not take long lunches, or leave early. You are doing this extra effort to leave a big footprint, not because your boss deserves it.

[QUICK TIP] How to Hit the Ground Running
You have accepted a new job and given your notice. Don’t wait until you actually begin your new job to start basic training. Ask your new employer if there are any training materials to study before you start. Ask if there are any evening or weekend events you could attend to speed up your orientation. Go the extra mile and be a winner before you even start your new job.

PLEASE NOTE: emails received become the property of "Dear Headhunter" and may be published unless otherwise requested. Questions may be edited for content and length. All questions will be reviewed, some without a reply.

George Gurney has been a leader in the employment industry since 1976. He founded an executive search firm that conducts domestic and international assignments.  He has won numerous awards for recruiting excellence.  He has been a guest speaker at national conventions and seminars.