Illustration by Lauren Jones for TIME
Career

How to Leave Your Job Without Burning Any Bridges

Feb. 8, 2016

There’s a chance that you might want to come back some day

Congrats! You just landed a new job that you’re thrilled about. The bad news is that now you have to have the confidence to tell your boss that you’re leaving your current one behind. There’s definitely a wrong way to leave a job and a way to do it gracefully. Here’s how you can ensure your exit falls into the latter category.

Request a one-on-one meeting with your manager
Catch her in the hallway, and say, “I’d love to get 15 minutes on your calendar today”—as opposed to sending an email or a surprise meeting invitation that could raise red flags. Come prepared: Think through why this is the right move for you, and be open and honest about everything. It won’t be an easy conversation, but it’s going to be a lot more uncomfortable if you aren’t direct, so come right out and say it.

Read more: 10 Books Everyone Should Read, According to the World’s Most Successful People

Say where you’re going, even if it’s to a competitor
Sure, you may disappoint some people, but being upfront early means you won’t burn bridges when everyone sees your social media updates later. Beyond that, you can offer as little or as much detail as you want. I always appreciate when someone tells me they weren’t looking but someone recruited them since it reinforces that I wasn’t too off in thinking they were happy and thriving in their current role. Of course, you should make sure to only say this if it’s true. If you were looking and unhappy, hopefully your manager already knew there were some issues so they aren’t blindsided by the resignation.

Subscribe to the Motto newsletter for advice worth sharing.

Be prepared for your company to fight for you
It helps to have an idea going in if there’s a certain title or amount of money that would make you stay. Especially if you’ve been there for more than three years, chances are, the company will be sad to lose you. So it’s better to not accept another offer until you’ve had a conversation with your managers, just in case they’re about to give you a raise, a promotion or a new project to head up.

Watch some of the world’s most successful women share the best advice they’ve ever gotten:

Give sufficient notice
Two weeks is standard, whether you’ve been there a few months or years. If you’re leaving around a holiday, be considerate and don’t count those days as part of the two weeks. If you’ve been in your current role for more than four years and/or have a lot direct reports, you should consider giving three to four weeks’ notice if possible and creating a roadmap to ease your transition; this will make your manager less freaked out when she gets the news and will leave a good impression, should you ever want to come back.

Read more: ‘My Secret Weapon for Career Success: Exercise’

Remain grateful and humble
Even if you’re doing happy dances and calling everyone you know, don’t gloat in front of your team or on social media. Posting a Facebook status that says, “Peace out, I’ve finally got my dream job” isn’t going to leave doors open. Your colleagues will most likely be happy for you, but you shouldn’t do anything to make them feel bad about their current workplace. Conversely, don’t spread bitterness.; badmouthing the company you’re leaving is likely to get back to your manager and reflect poorly on you. Even if you hate your job, your manager and everything about the place, still be polite and don’t leave things a mess.

Leave gracefully
On your last few days, thank people, and tell them how much you enjoyed working with them. It leaves a positive impression and an open door. Save the goodbye emails for your team, never an all-company listserv, and send a written thank-you note to your manager, direct reports or anyone else who might appreciate it. I’ve received so many lovely thank-you notes over the years and stayed in touch with star employees who have gone on to do wonderful things. I love watching people grow elsewhere and in some cases have even rehired people who learned after leaving that they felt more at home with us than they had realized. And it all starts with a graceful goodbye.

Lisa Sugar is the founder and president of POPSUGAR, INC, a global media and technology company that is parent to lifestyle media publisher POPSUGAR, digital shopping platform ShopStyle and monthly subscription box POPSUGAR Must Have.