Even if you've fantasized about quitting with flair, you know it's not a good idea. As much as you'd like to tell your boss to stick it you-know-where, you'd be better off leaving your job with a sense of decorum. Here's what you absolutely, positively shouldn't do when quitting your job.
1. Leave a mess. Although you'd love to leave that stack of reports unfinished and make them someone else's responsibility, realize how disrespectful it would be. And while it may be your boss that you hate, it might end up being your closest co-worker who gets saddled with your undone work.
Instead: When you put in your two weeks' notice, do your best to finish your remaining work, and leave instructions for your replacement on what needs to be tied up.
2. Burn bridges. Resist unleashing your fury on your boss and co-workers. As much as you would love to believe you'll never need any of them, you may cross paths again. And that person you let have it might be in a position to hire you at another company down the road.
Instead: Keep your frustrations to yourself, and leave on good terms. You should be able to get a reference when you leave, and your boss should be willing to refer you to another employer.
3. Walk out. It can be tempting to spew out "I quit!" then storm out the door, but it doesn't help anyone, least of all you. Walking out the minute you quit makes you look juvenile, and that won't help you get a recommendation for your next job.
Instead: It's common courtesy to give two weeks' notice to your employer, so that he has time to find your replacement. If you can't stomach staying that long, aim for a week.
4. Talk about the company. Once you leave, don't start talking negatively to others about the company. Remember that it was specific people you had an issue with, not the company as a whole. This is especially important in future job interviews. If you speak ill of your last company, this hiring manager will wonder if you'd do the same if you were unhappy in the position for which she's hiring.
Instead: Find a politically correct way to explain why you left, and keep the emotions out of it.
5. Use this as the opportunity to tell people how you really feel. If you've been harboring deep resentment about a co-worker that smells funny, or who constantly lets her food rot in the fridge, don't use your quitting as the ideal time to tell her how you really feel. You'll just hurt her feelings unnecessarily.
Instead: Go with the mantra: "If you can't say something nice, say nothing at all."
6. Take your vacation at the end of your two weeks. If you've got vacation time racked up, don't do that bit where you put in your two weeks, then put in a request for two weeks' worth of vacation. Some states have laws requiring employers to pay you for your unused vacation days.
Instead: If you know you're going to quit, take your vacation long before you put in your notice.
Before you quit, make sure it's the right decision. Many of us have to suffer through bad work situations or overbearing bosses, but most of these situations are tolerable, at least until you have a new job secured. Never quit out of anger. Make it a deliberate plan, and do it when you can calmly explain to your boss your reason for leaving. Before you put in your notice, make sure you've done everything you can to ensure that the situation can't be rectified in any other way. Sometimes simple changes can make your work environment much better, so it's best to start by trying to initiate change first rather than quitting.
Lindsay Olson is a founding partner and public relations recruiter with Paradigm Staffing and Hoojobs.com, a niche job board for public relations, communications, and social media jobs. She blogs at LindsayOlson.com, where she discusses recruiting and job search issues.