While some employees fear lay-offs, often my clients find themselves in the happy position of accepting a new job and saying good-by to a current employer. Surprisingly, many admit they’re nervous about telling a current boss they’re leaving.

And if you've held the same job for a long time, you may be wondering how to resign gracefully yet still protect your own longer-term career interests.

1. Give the exact amount of notice required by your company policy – and no more.

Every so often someone feels sorry for the company, so they stick around an extra week (or even an extra month). Inevitably, they begin to feel like a fifth wheel.

2. Do not accept any job-related calls after you leave unless you have a written consulting contract.

The amount of notice required should have been determined as a business decision: the cost of paying an employee who will be departing versus the benefits of keeping the employee’s knowledge.

If your manager miscalculated, then he needs to bear the cost. If your company needs additional help and you do not experience a conflict with your new job, I suggest you offer to work as a paid consultant with a contract.

3. Study your current and future company policies regarding disclosures and no-compete agreements.

Some companies are extremely proprietary about their process and their people. Once you resign, you may have to leave the workplace immediately. Or your new company may prefer a complete break from your former employer.

4. Resign to your boss in person, if at all possible.

Phone is second best. And tell the boss before you tell anyone else – even your best friend or golfing buddy.

5. Expect your boss to be professional.

Clients often fear the boss’s reaction. However, bosses rarely are caught by surprise. Good bosses are happy to see their employees move ahead. Thank her for the opportunity to learn, which has led to your newest and most wonderful career move.

6. Thank your boss and your coworkers, even if you hate everybody and can’t wait to leave.

You may regard them more fondly through a haze of memories than a glare of office lighting. And you know you’ll need references and goodwill.

7. Decline a counter-offer.

Recruiters consistently tell me, “Sixty percent of those who accept a counter-offer are gone in six months.” If you do decide to stay, get a written job contract.

Exception: A few companies and industries actually demand proof of an outside offer before offering you any kind of internal raise or reward. College professors often work in this environment.

8. Treat the exit interview as a business formality, not a therapy session.

When a Human Resource professional asks why you are leaving, be upbeat and positive: “for a better opportunity.” Talk about how much you loved the company and your job. You never know where your comments will turn up, mangled and misinterpreted.

9. Resist entreaties to share the details of your future position with anyone.

Occasionally someone will try to assess your salary or other information “so we can stay competitive in recruiting.” Helping your company recruit is not part of your job and anyway, do you really believe this?

10. Focus on your new opportunity – not your past company.

Once you’re gone, you’re history. The very same folks who loved meeting you for lunch will barely remember your name a week later.

Finally, if you haven’t changed jobs for awhile you may be in for a shock. Your first day in a new position can be a real eye-opener!

Author's Bio: 

Cathy Goodwin, Ph.D., is a published author, speaker,and career/business consultant. She coachesmidlife professinals who want to win the First Inningof their Second Career. Download a Fr*e Report: Why most career change fails(and how you can write your own success story).http://www.midlifecareerstrategy.com/subscribe.html