HANDING in a resignation is a delicate process that involves people's emotions and should be dealt with professionalism and sensitivity. Taken lightly, it can burn bridges and damage relationships.

So if you are thinking of quitting, be sure you leave the company with a final impression of the professional and respectful employee you are.

Here is some advice on how to make a gracious exit:

1. Get a good start

Avoid resigning when key people - such as your direct boss - are not in the office.

Even if you have huge differences with your boss, he should be given the chance to speak or respond directly to you about your decision.

The most unprofessional thing to do is to call your boss while he is on leave or out of the office and inform him of your decision.

2. Resign formally

Prepare a proper resignation letter. Never send an e-mail message to your boss informing him of your decision to leave because it is informal, cold and craven. If you want to resign, hand your letter in person to your manager.

Do not leave the letter on your manager's desk either. Approach your manager and ask for a time to sit down to talk when you can state your intention. The letter should stay with you until your intention is communicated clearly.

While you should be firm about your decision, you should not be dismissive about such a conversation, as your manager needs to find out your reasons for leaving.

There is a perception in Singapore that you need to get the resignation letter acknowledged and the final day of work confirmed immediately.

Understand that once your letter is handed over, your intention and the date of submission are already noted and the notice period will be worked out accordingly.

If you are asked to reconsider your decision, or if your manager asks for more time to digest your decision, this does not extend nor change the notice period that you have given.

3. How much to reveal

Many people choose not to reveal too much about the job they are moving to. While there is no need to keep your next role shrouded in secrecy - unless you are going to a direct competitor - do give a broad overview of the type of organisation you will be joining and your new role.

There is no need for specifics if you are not comfortable disclosing them. Ultimately, the discussion should focus on thanking your managers for the time you worked for them and to share your future plans to give the matter proper closure.

4. Serving notice

Check your company's policies regarding the notice period as outlined in your employment contract.

As far as possible, serve out your notice so that you can hand over your assignments properly and allow time for your company to find your replacement.

In a situation where this is not possible, consult your manager and try and work out a mutually comfortable timeline.

It is common for sales staff to be asked to move on within 24 hours and to serve notice from home.

During this time, you are still under the employment of the company, and it is important that you do not engage in any activity that would result in a conflict of interest or compromises your contractual obligations.

It is also important to note any post-employment obligations and follow them through.

Any company information is intellectual property, whether it exists in material form or has been communicated verbally to you. Your own work ethics and integrity come into play in ensuring that you do not breach these requirements.

Another post-employment no-no is to badmouth your former company or co-workers, no matter how justified you think it is. It puts you in a bad light when you do that.

5. Communicate clearly

Most companies have a well-structured communication plan regarding resignations. Discuss with your manager on how this will be handled. It is important to agree on a plan and follow it accordingly.

If you are leaving a key position, it is likely to have a major impact on the company.

Thus, it is important that the news be communicated via the proper channels to minimise any disruptions caused by your departure.

6. Difficult but not ugly

Resignations are difficult but they do not have to be ugly. Your company or manager may not accept or agree with the reasons you are moving on, but they understand that it is everyone's right to make a career move.

If your resignation process is handled well, you can still maintain a good relationship with your manager.

After leaving the company, the next time you see your manager on the streets, you can look him in the eye and smile, knowing that you have handled things well.

The world is too small. Burning bridges may just cost you a path in the future.

As Donald Trump says: "It's not personal, it's business!"