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During the height of the 'large corporation' era in American manufacturing, many employees expected to have steady work for the rest of their working lives. It was common for a new hire to begin work in one department and steadily improve their skill levels and responsibility until they retired 30 years later. But today's job market now consists mostly of more specialized factories, and job-hopping has become much more commonplace. Employers today anticipate a much greater level of employee turnover, due to the competition generated by a tight job pool. Fewer and fewer employees retire from their original jobs, causing not only a nightmare for human resources managers, but an atmosphere of uncertainty and distrust between employer and employee. Whether you are the victim of a company downsizing, a 'heat of the moment' walkout or a voluntary quit situation, there are five common mistakes made by employees exiting their jobs. By recognizing these common pitfalls, you can save yourself much time and grief if a similar situation arises in your new employment situation.

1. "You can't fire me, I QUIT!" It is a sad reality that conflicts between a worker and supervisor may escalate past the point of repair. Some companies offer counseling services for employees who have issues with anger management, or offer an arbitration program which may smooth out the differences of opinion that lead to this conflict. If you as an employee do not have access to these programs, you have to keep your emotions in check if you want to keep your present job. In addition to the sudden and unexpected blow to your economic situation, you may have created an even bigger problem with your outburst.

As emotionally satisfying as it may have been to 'quit' your job in protest, your permanent job record will reflect your 'voluntarily quit' status. Being fired by a company supervisor may seem like a harsh way to go, but your unemployment benefits and separation package may hinge on the conditions of your dismissal. Quitting before you are officially fired is never a good option for most employees, despite the temporary empowerment they may feel at the time.

2. "Does anybody else know the combination to the safe?" syndrome. When you leave a job, voluntarily or otherwise, your employer has the unenviable task of recruiting and training a replacement. If your leaving is a mutual agreement, you may be in a position to assist with the training process. If you suddenly decide to abandon your position for greener pastures, you may be taking more from the company than you think. You have accumulated valuable information along the way, and this information may not be public knowledge or easily retrieved. You have an obligation to the company to provide job-related information that would be critical for the replacement worker's success. Important phone numbers, combinations to locks and safes, names of contacts at various companies- all this information is essential, and should not leave the company with you.

3. "Let me tell you what I really think about you!" Once the decision has been made to leave, take care of your personal obligations and leave. Don't use that last moment in the office as a soapbox for your frustrations. Your 'former' employer may indeed be everything you say he or she is, but that is water under the bridge once the termination decision has been made. Employers have long memories, and many acquaintances you haven't had the pleasure of meeting yet. You don't want to run the risk that your potential future employer just had lunch with your current supervisor, who shared the most horrifying story about what a disgruntled employee told him to his face yesterday.

4. "Workers of the world, UNITE!" Your personal decisions for leaving a job or the circumstances surrounding your termination should remain between you and your employer. Co-workers may indulge in office gossip or vent their own frustrations at times, but there is one significant difference between them and you on 'moving day'. They still work there. Don't waste your time or energy on encouraging a mutiny amongst your co-workers. Besides being horribly unprofessional, it is unfair of you to make a difficult situation even worse through your actions. Today's co-worker may become tomorrow's supervisor, so maintain a professional attitude right through the last day. Save any diatribes against your boss for a private occasion, not on company time.

5. "Nobody ever works out a notice, so why should I be the first?" If the job you're leaving behind has a high degree of responsibility and complexity, you should always work out the entire length of your notice. No matter how much natural aptitude your replacement may display, there are always going to be difficulties with certain procedures or duties. Would you want to be left completely on your own after three days of training? Imagine how unfair it would be for your replacement. Once the job separation process has begun, you may not feel as loyal to the company as you once did, but you should still feel loyal to a position that kept you out of the unemployment line. Working out a smooth transition goes a long way when a former employer is contacted for a reference. Supervisors tend to remember the last things you accomplished or didn't accomplish for the company, not the first. Always try to leave a job with the knowledge that you did everything that was expected of you, including serving out your entire notice.