GoMost of you are probably aware that there is a talent war going on that employers are struggling to find the right talent; it also seems like plenty of you are looking to take advantage of this candidate’s market to bag a higher salary or boost your career, as shown by an illuminating study from the Hay Group , which expects exceptionally high levels of voluntary resignations — that is, folks quitting — in 2014.

But beware: even though there seems to be a scarcity of talent, you can’t just roll out of your current job or leave under dubious circumstances, as doing so will harm your future attractiveness to employers. Many employers are still as discriminating as ever and are prepared to sit with empty desks rather than lower their standards. This means that, to appeal to prospective employers, you’ll still need to sport the colors of an A-player. Among other things, this means exiting your role in a way that supports your career.

To help you exit your job in a positive way, I have outlined five worst ways to leave your position, which you should obviously avoid:

1. Being Fired for Performance or Disciplinary Reasons 

This will severely dent your job chances, naturally. You can, of course, avoid this situation by being a good employee with a strong work ethic, but if you have already been bad and are going to be fired, don’t wait to be dismissed, as it’s hard to come back from that. Do your best to land another job quickly so that you can resign with a clean record before you are fired.

If this is proving difficult, tell your boss that you are “planning to move on, so they don’t need to go through the rigmarole of dismissing you.” See if they’ll give you a time extension so you can find a job. If this doesn’t work, you might want to try and mutually agree on an exit that is best for everyone.

2. Resigning Without a Job in Hand

There is widespread discrimination against the unemployed, and you’ll find it much harder to get a job without already having a job. Unless you are about to be fired or the workplace is toxic enough to cause you mental/physical trauma, stick it out until you find a job.

3. Being Laid Off

Admittedly, this doesn’t carry the stigma it used to, because it has become the norm in so many industries. Still, there is some truth to the fact that lower performers are laid off first. So, if you have been laid off, it will send the message to the market that you are perhaps a B-player, rather than an A-player, making it harder to get a job.

If there is nothing substantial to gain financially from being laid off, don’t wait around for the chop, no matter how sentimental you feel about the job. Make sure you apply for jobs while you still have a job and secure one before you are laid off. If there is no option but to be laid off, network carefully and work to develop excellent references that show that you are a great performer. This can help to offset the stigma of being laid off.

4. Exiting Without Properly Organizing Your Referees

Before you leave, make sure you have a bank of referees who can supply positive recommendations. Don’t leave this to chance, as it’s much harder to organize these after you have left.

5. Leaving Without Building Bridges for the Future and/or Repairing Any Broken Ones

The colleagues in your company will be your network for the future. They can help you get jobs and clients going forward, so spend plenty of time wining, dining, connecting, and cementing relationships with your colleagues. Leaving in the dead of night without cultivating connections will surely limit your career in some way.

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