How To Leave A Good, Lasting Impression
It's natural to be focused on the new job you've just signed the papers for. But it's key to leave a good lasting impression at the job you're leaving. It's never a good idea to burn bridges; if you're staying in the same industry, you'll likely cross paths with this employer again. And you may want a reference in the future. So don't overlook devoting time and energy to this side of the process as well.
Resign to your direct supervisor with tact
If possible, meet with your boss to inform him or her in person, and have your resignation letter prepared and in hand at this meeting. It should detail your title and your last day on the job. Give at least two weeks notice -- this is the standard practice. If you are in the midst of a big project, and if you are able to give more time, more notice will likely be appreciated by your boss. Your boss may ask why you are leaving, so be prepared with a tactful reply (rehearse in advance if you're nervous). This is not the time to rant about everything you hate about your current job; instead, focus on the positive aspects of the new job you've accepted (the salary, the opportunity for growth, the actual job responsibilities, etc.)
Talk to your co-workers
Once your resignation has been announced, your circle of close co-workers will want to talk. Refrain from gushing about the opportunity you are taking, and definitely don't put down the company you're leaving. Remember, these people are staying, so if you've been unhappy at this job and need to vent, seek out the trustworthy colleague you've developed a close friendship with.
Leaving things in good order
Besides leaving your desk tidy (be sure to take any personal belongings home with you), make sure your responsibilities are covered by other employees. Or your replacement -- if the company has hired her or him before your last day, take the time to walk the new hire through the ins and outs of your job. If it's fine with your supervisor, send out a professional email to the company or your department with your goodbyes and your personal contact information, if you wish. Be sure to collect the contact information for colleagues you've befriended, and for your supervisor. Consider asking for a letter of referral before leaving the job so that you have it ready for future job searches. This way, if you lose touch, you'll have what you need on file -- although with sites such as LinkedIn, staying in contact with industry contacts is pretty easy.