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Special section 6 ways to get ahead in the office or get out

Regardless of why you're leaving your job, you need to make your exit gracefully.

Writing a resignation letter

In today's fluid work world, job changes are inevitable. But you must make sure your departure goes properly.

Whether you have accepted a better position at another company or you're just fed up with your current job, a smooth departure is a must. Just as there are no second chances at first impressions, the same goes for last impressions.

In most cases, you'll speak personally with your supervisor about your departure, but you still need to submit a formal resignation letter. Not only is the professional thing to do, but it also gives you a chance to elaborate on the positive aspects of the job you're leaving. Such an exit approach means you can head to your new job on a high note and leave the door open at your old company. You never know when you might work with -- or for -- former employers again.

Make sure you give adequate notice; two weeks is the standard notice period, but if you can give even more advance notice, your employer will appreciate it. If you must leave sooner, explain the unusual circumstances to your soon-to-be-former boss.

The form letter below will help you tell your employer you're moving on. Personalize the letter by entering your specifics in the areas in red. You can print out this Web page and make your changes by hand or copy the body of the letter and paste it into a document where you can make your changes on your PC.


Name of supervisor, job title
Company name
Company address
City, state, ZIP code

Dear name of supervisor:

Please accept this letter as my formal resignation from name of company. My last day here will be day and date.

If you feel comfortable stating where you will be accepting a new position, do so in this paragraph. Explain briefly why you are taking the job: a chance for new responsibilities, a move to be closer to family, etc.

It has been my pleasure working for name of company and with you personally. I'm sure the knowledge and skills I have gained here will continue to serve me well.

In this paragraph, mention a few of your accomplishments and your pride in how they helped the company. Don't go overboard, but elaborate within reason as much as you feel comfortable doing so. This lets your boss know that while you were with the company, you found the work valuable. By showing that you were a committed worker, you are more likely to get a good reference for any future job searches.

If you are not leaving on such a positive note, omit the second and third paragraphs. But you still need to include a constructive exit statement in your letter. Consider a simple, yet nonspecific statement such as, "The work experiences I've gained here will serve me well in my future endeavors." Remember, how you depart will be remembered by your boss and co-workers.

As I wrap up my tenure here at name of company, I will work to ensure a smooth transition of any projects. I look forward to what the future will bring for the both of us.

Your signature
Your typed name
Your address
City, state and ZIP code

-- Updated: Feb. 26, 2007
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