By Thomas P. Farley

I just got an offer for my dream job from another company. I've been at my current job for eight months. Can I take the new job without burning bridges at the old one?

The fact that you're even asking this question tells me your current employer is losing a very thoughtful team member. I've been on both sides of this equation, and the reality is, if you've truly found your dream job, you'd be a fool not to accept it. Fortunately, since you've been with your present company for less than a year, you probably haven't achieved indispensable status yet. Your departure may actually cause less disruption than you imagine.

Before you give notice, be sure you've got a solid offer and start date in writing. The last thing you want to do is quit before the new position is firmly in hand. Once you've established that the dream job is a lock, tender your resignation with as much professionalism as possible. Were you recruited? Don't be afraid to say so, letting your boss know you weren't actively looking. Be polite and professional, thanking him or her for the opportunities you've had during the past eight months. Don't be afraid to share your belief that the job you're accepting is the sort of opportunity that comes around just once.

Provide at least two weeks' notice if possible, and when you depart, leave all of your files in order so the person who assumes your job will know what's what.

With any luck, you'll leave on good terms. (You never know when you might need a reference from your old boss down the line.) If, on the other hand, el jefe tells you to pack your desk and evacuate the building, don't take it personally. Business is business, and chances are he's simply following company policy. Not to mention that, deep down, the boss man would have done the exact same thing if he were in your shoes.

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