It may seem a bit counter-intuitive for a blog centered around career advice to write about quitting your job, but stick with me. We see a lot of students who tell us that they left a position without a proper exit strategy in place and are now essentially stuck. So keeping your continued success in mind, I’ve come up with four basic etiquettes to follow should you feel the need to leave.

Evaluate your reasoning

This one is huge and requires a lot of self-reflection – why are you really wanting to leave? Is your boss a jerk? Are your coworkers annoying? Or is it just not what you were expecting? I am not denying that these can be valid reasons for quitting and am certainly not asking you to stay in a situation that’s unsafe or uncomfortable, but I am asking you if those reasons are big enough to take such a gamble. I wrote last month about the idea of control, and I’ll apply that to this message as well – have you done everything you can to better the situation you’re in or is exiting simply preferable to having difficult conversations with those around you? My goal here is to minimize the impulse decisions, despite how romantic the concept is, and to empower you to make things better if you’re unhappy – but start at the source.

Have a backup plan

So you’re done evaluating and your decision is final, you want out – now what? You have something else lined up, that’s what. And to clarify, having something lined up means you have an offer letter and a start date. There’s a myth among younger employees that jobs will always be available, especially if you didn’t have to work hard in finding your first one. So why make finding the next job even harder by adding an awkward employment gap to your resume? I can imagine your responses now, “but I just had to get out of there.” Fair enough, what do your finances look like then? Do you have enough saved to cover three to six months in expenses while your searching? Maybe make that your goal before handing in your notice.

Interact with everyone as a potential reference

This is just a different way of saying “don’t burn your bridges,” but it’s a valuable lesson. If you quit abruptly or on bad terms, you will be canceling out any potential references that can vouch for your abilities. Another way you can approach an impending exit is making your goals clear from the start. That’s not saying be honest about your desire to be a full-time Instagram influencer, but if you have certain career goals in mind and communicate them honestly with your employer, your leaving to pursue them becomes a lot more understandable. Heck, they may even have connections to get you to where you want to be. In the meantime, you also have to dedicate yourself to the work you’re currently doing, regardless if it’s not the #dream.

Ease the transition

Similar to keeping those bridges intact, make sure you are doing right by your employer as you plan to leave them. Leaving them scrambling to fill the gap you left doesn’t serve anyone. Put in a proper amount of notice, which is a minimum of two weeks, and do it in person. Be considerate to your coworkers about the amount of work you leave behind, try to tie up as many loose ends as possible. If you interact with customers, make sure they have the contact information for who will be handling their needs once you’re gone. Even offer to help train your replacement if time allows. If you felt like you weren’t treated appropriately on the job, ask for an exit interview with the HR department. Perhaps others have reported similar things and your story could help lead to productive changes for the next person. In the end, quit in a way you’d want your future employees to do.