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Leaving a Job Gracefully

   Article Sylvia Ho

Question: I have always wondered what the correct procedure is for resigning from a company. Also, what should be in the body of your resignation notice, and is there a basic outline for this?

Answer: Not really. But there are a couple of basic rules about how to conduct yourself and what to say or not say at your exit interview.

1. Don't burn your bridges with the company. You might need them for references, or you might want to come back later on. Or the people that you leave here might end up at your next job or a job down the road.

2. If you're leaving because you are being treated unfairly and might want to sue, don't let on. Quietly gather your evidence and look for a lawyer. Keep smiling, or the element of surprise will be lost.

3. Study the employee handbook and your benefits literature to make sure that you know exactly what you are entitled to be paid after resigning -- unused vacation time, etc.

4. Calendar your deadlines so you can get back to the company on issues such as COBRA benefits. If you are resigning in the face of termination, go to the unemployment comp office.

5. Get yourself an agreement from someone in the company to be your reference later on. Most company HR offices will just give out your name and dates of employment.

6. Most Important: Keep in touch with your business contacts and mentors, not just your friends. Start a little black book of contacts who might be fond of you and will help you later on in your career. This is usually overlooked by most people, but it's something top executives always do. (And you wonder why they make the big bucks!)

As for the resignation letter, you might just want to send a two-liner stating, "It is with regret that I must resign my position at this time," and leave it at that.

Good luck at your new job.

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