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Congratulations! You just got an offer for a wonderful new job. There's just one catch. You have to say good-by to your current employer.

Maybe you loved your job and you face an emotional farewell. Or maybe you detested every minute and you've been counting the days till you could walk out the door one last time.

Clients often admit they're nervous about making the departure announcement. They're afraid the boss will be angry. They feel guilty about the work they're leaving behind. Maybe someone else has to take up the slack for awhile.

But clients also wonder how to resign gracefully yet still protect their own longer-term career interests. They suspect their departure style will influence their careers for a long time.

They're right. Resigning the wrong way can create a career breakdown and derail your journey to success.

Career Killer #1: Giving too much notice.

Every so often my clients feel sorry for their former colleagues. So they stick around an extra week (or even an extra month). Inevitably, they begin to feel like a fifth wheel. Nearly everyone says, "Next time I'm leaving right away!"

Career Killer #2: Saying "yes" to requests from the company you just left.

Your boss required two weeks notice - but belatedly realized she needs four weeks for a smooth transition to your successor.

Your boss made a business decision to require two weeks notice. When she miscalculates, she needs to accept the cost, just as she'd accept the cost of late payments to a supplier.

If your company needs additional help, offer to work as a paid consultant with a contract. But get everything in writing and make sure your new job becomes your Number One priority.

Career Killer #3: Ignoring past and present 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 ask you not to work for your former employer, even on a part-time basis.

Career Killer #4: Telling colleagues you're leaving - before you tell the boss.

A tempting move but a deadly mistake! Your boss deserves to be the first person to know.

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

Career Killer #5: Expecting the boss to be upset.

Clients often tiptoe around, fearing a boss's anger or disappointment. But bosses typically behave professionally and expect you to do the same.

Good bosses are happy to see their employees move ahead. Thank her for the opportunity to learn. Emphasize how her help contributed to your ability to make this wonderful career move.

Career Killer #6: Allowing deep-rooted anger to get in the way of professionalism.

Thank your boss and your coworkers, even if you hate them all and can't wait to leave.

You may regard them more fondly through a haze of memories than a glare of office lighting. You may encounter them at conventions and networking groups. And most likely you will benefit from strong references and goodwill.

Career Killer #7: Accepting a counter-offer.

Recruiters consistently tell me, "Sixty percent of those who accept a counter-offer are gone in six months." If you 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.

Career Killer #8: Treating the exit interview as 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.

Career Killer #9: Sharing details of your new position with your "old" colleagues and coworkers.

Occasionally a colleague 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?

Details of your future employment should remain confidential, even from your close friends in the company.

Career Killer #10: Focusing on the company (and career) you just left.

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.

And, 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!

Cathy Goodwin, Ph.D., helps corporate executives, business-owners and professionals transform career breakdowns to career breakthroughs. Cathy has created the 21-Day Extreme Career Makeover Guide:

Free Download: Why most career change fails (and how you can write your own success story). or 206-819-0989.