If you are thinking about leaving your federal job, you’re not alone. Thousands of federal employees choose to leave every month for a variety of reasons, but whether you’ve made up your mind and are just waiting for a buyout or demoralized and ready go now, try to make your exist as gracefully (smartly) as possible.

Here are some tips for leaving appropriately:

  • Tell your supervisor that you are leaving in writing before you tell your colleagues and friends. This is just common courtesy.
  • Give notice. Again, this is just common courtesy. While there is no requirement to give notice, a minimum of two weeks is considered appropriate; more if you are at a senior level. In the private sector, if you announce your resignation, you may need to leave immediately (depending upon corporate policy) but this is not typical in the federal sector).
  • Don’t trash your supervisor or employer with your colleagues. Your negativity is sure to get back and you want to leave on a positive note, regardless of how you feel.
  • Ask for a written reference. Always good to have. And, if you’re a LinkedIn user (which you should be), you may want to ask for a LI recommendation too.
  • Go through your organization’s separation procedures. This means settling any “debts” (advance leave as an example), turning in your badge, computer, etc.
  • Provide forwarding information including a phone number, address, and email. There are always details to be addressed after the fact; your former employer should be able to reach you—if nothing else, then to send your W-2.
  • Organize everything for a smooth transition. Review your work relevant documents, contacts for various projects, etc., and put a transition plan together so that your supervisor and the person who replaces you has everything at their fingertips.

No matter how angry or unhappy you are, your separation is not the place to show it. The temporary satisfaction you might achieve by “flaming out” might haunt you forever. You never know when you might need your employer again in the future!

Nancy Segal is a federal human resources training and job search expert. Following her own 30-year federal HR career (much of it at the senior level), she founded Solutions for the Workplace LLC in 2003 to provide an HR management perspective to both federal managers and astute applicants to U.S. government positions. Nancy has unmatched federal career management insight, high standards, and respect for people’s time, and her clients use this to their advantage.