Ask Dr. Job’s chief contributor, Sandra Pesmen, is a member of the Chicago Journalism Hall of Fame and author of “DR. JOB’s Complete Career Guide.”

Winner of several journalism awards, Pesmen is a graduate of the University of Illinois Media College at Urbana, and is listed in several Who’s Who editions. She also has been Corporate Features Editor of Crain Communications Inc., founding Features Editor of Crain’s Chicago Business and a reporter/features writer for The Chicago Daily News.

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How to Quit Your Job in Hard Times

There are ways to quit a job-and ways NOT to quit a job. Too many people are upset, frustrated and angry when they walk out the door and they "burn the bridges" behind them. Not a smart move, according to Stacy Rapacon, Channel Editor of, where she recently wrote about quitting your job the smart way.

There's a great temptation to tell the Human Resources Representative-or your boss-to "take your job and shove it," as they do in the movies. But this is real life. And these are really difficult economic times. And job reports are anything but encouraging.
But you still can walk out with some dignity if you take the steps Rapacon suggests before you even consider tapping out your resignation on the company computer.
Here are a few of them:
1)     Beef up your emergency fund. You should always aim to have at least 3 to 6 months' worth of reserves on hand. But if you want to leave your job without something new in place, you'll want to save up much more than that. Stash your cash in a regular savings account, where you'll have easy access to your funds. At, you can search for the banks that are currently offering the best rates. 
2)     Shop for health insurance. Most employers' health plans allow you to maintain coverage through the end of the month in which you resign. So it's wise to plan your last day to fall early in the month. That essentially buys you a subsidized month of health insurance, which could be worth hundreds of dollars. If you were at a company with 20 or more employees, you'll be able to keep your insurance for up to 18 months after you stop working through the federal law COBRA -- except in cases of "gross misconduct" (another reason to behave better than Mr. Slater). 
3)     Drain your FSA. You may be able to extend your flexible spending account benefits under COBRA-or you may be facing a use-it-or-lose-it situation. So if you had been stashing, say, $100 a month in your FSA this year and had yet to make any withdrawals, quitting in August would mean saying goodbye to your $800. Start spending as much of it as you can. Consider loading up on contact lenses or new eyeglasses, or maybe even getting Lasik. You have to pay for the products or services before your last day on the job, but you can file for reimbursement later. 
4)     Make a plan for your 401(k). If you have $5,000 or more in your account, you can leave the funds right where they are long after you walk out the door. But you're probably better off taking them with you. You won't be able to make additional contributions to the account once you leave the company, and being young, you may not have already accumulated such a huge amount that it could grow substantially on its own.

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