Discussing her concerns with a senior executive, however, elicited little hope things would change quickly, if at all. Her options seemed to come down to two unpalatable choices: Suck it up or quit.

That may sound bizarre to people who live in fear of getting a pink slip. But, for those who feel trapped at work, a planned and self-initiated termination can be a smart career move, experts say.

Until fairly recently, this was a choice usually afforded only top-floor executives or those in the sports and entertainment fields. But, more and more, it's becoming an option at all levels and across all industries, says human resources management consultant Gerlinde Herrmann, president of Toronto-based Herrmann Group Ltd.

Part of the change in attitude, she says, has come from the frequency of and speed at which companies downsize and lay off good employees for strategic or financial reasons. And partly it's because those mass terminations have removed much of the stigma associated with getting fired.

The key, experts say, is to make the move a win-win for both you and your boss -- carefully figuring out what you need for your happy departure while, at the same time, making it work for your employer.

Ms. Mann, for instance, knew that if she just up and quit, she'd be walking away with nothing: She wouldn't be entitled to any financial cushion nor could she claim employment insurance.

At the meeting, she remained calm, collected and deliberate, careful not to say anything alienating or polarize the situation by allotting blame.

And, to make her decision more palatable to her employer, she offered up valuable contributions on her way to the exit door, suggesting she'd wrap up projects she had under way and stay on as long as it took for her manager to find a satisfactory replacement.

Whatever it's based on, a strategy of getting out on good terms calls for some preparation, research about options and taking an honest approach with an employer that also factors in its needs, says Toronto labour lawyer Howard Markowitz of Du Markowitz LLP.

When you are ready, ask your boss formally for a meeting to discuss "personal development" issues, Mr. Markowitz suggests -- which is a softer entrée into the discussion than a harsh announcement that you want out.

This is cache, read story here