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Ready to Quit Your Job? Read This First

A recent survey showed that nearly one in three U.S. workers (32 percent) is seriously considering leaving his or her current job. Another 21 percent said they view their current employer unfavorably and have hit rock bottom in terms of commitment to the job and motivation. That means half of the American workforce is miserable and a third is at the breaking point.

Ron Levine | Getty Images

But if it’s one thing the recession taught us, it’s that you can’t count on getting another job quickly. With the economy teetering on the brink of a double dip, companies are still too gun-shy to start hiring in earnest. So, if you’re going to quit, do it right. Here are a few tips to mastering the art of quitting.

Zip It. While it may be tempting to tell co-workers that you're looking for another job, don’t do it.

“Your manager may view your desire to depart as a betrayal, so it’s best to keep quiet,” said Marie McIntyre, a career coach and author of “Secrets to Winning at Office Politics.” “As soon as your boss knows you're looking, you will be viewed as a short-timer and may lose out on valuable opportunities, like promotions, raises, assignments, or training.”

Do Your Homework. Before you start preparing your take this job and shove it speech, or even breathe a word of your resignation to a co-worker, do your homework on potential next jobs. You might find out that to go to a competitor, you have to take a pay cut. You might want to figure out a way to stay or consider a career change to maintain your current pay – and lifestyle. Check sites like GetRaised.com or Salary.com so there’s no fuzzy math.

Interview on Your Own Time. Schedule interviews before or after work or during lunch. If that’s not possible, use vacation time, McIntyre suggests. You wouldn’t want the reference from your old employer to say, “Well, he kind of lost interest there at the end …” And, McIntyre points out, the interviewer will likely appreciate the respect you’re showing to your current employer. Ding! One point for you.

Finish Strong. In fact, the best way to quit is to rally at the end – doing even more at your current job and doing it even better than before. It will impress the interviewer and make for a solid reference from your current employer for years to come. Imagine them saying, “Yeah, we really took a hit when that guy left …” instead of, “Good riddance. He didn’t do much here anyway!”

Don’t Take Any Company Property With You. Sure, after several years of not getting a raise, you’ve earned the right to keep that laptop, but give it all back. You wouldn’t want a call to your old employer for a job reference to go something like, “Oh yeah, I remember that guy. He stole one of our laptops!” Worse: You could wind up in jail. You thought it was hard to explain a small gap in your resume? Try explaining prison!

Don’t Go Out in a Blaze of Profanity-Laced Glory. Whatever you do, don’t act like it’s 1988 and give ‘em a “Yippee kai yay motherf—“as you leap out of the burning building. You burn a bridge these days and that could be your bridge to nowhere.

Consider this: You tell off your bosses and land a job at a competitor. Next thing you know, the two companies merge and you’re now eye to eye with the guy you just told off. Hmmm, who’s name do you think will be at the top of the list for the next round of layoffs?

Don’t Talk Trash on an Interview or at Your New Job. Just like with dating, it’s tempting to talk trash about the guy you just left but don’t. So that “Yippee kai yay” rule goes double for when you start your new job. You don’t know these people yet and you never know when someone knows or is married to someone at your old company. Plus, you don’t want your first impression to be that of a trash-talker.

“It's been said that you can judge the true character of a person by the way they leave a job. Even if you are deliriously happy to get out of there, leave your work in good shape for the next person and bid everyone farewell in a pleasant, friendly manner,” McIntyre said.

So, quick recap: Zip it. Do your homework and no yippee kai yay-ing under any circumstances.

Good luck!

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Contact Pony Blog

  • Cindy Perman is a writer at CNBC.com, covering jobs, real estate, retirement and personal finance.

  • Based in Los Angeles, Jane Wells is a CNBC business news reporter and also writes the Funny Business blog for CNBC.com.

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