While securing a new job is certainly exciting -- especially if higher pay and better benefits are involved -- it's advisable to maintain good relations with your previous employer when you leave a company. An effective way to leave your job without burning bridges is to write your former employer a letter of thanks. A thank you letter could also lead to a positive professional reference for you later down the road in your career.
Throughout your thank you letter, make a point to keep the tone upbeat and positive rather than cold and dismissive. It isn't enough to simply say "thank you" and sign your name at the bottom. Be courteous and respectful toward your former employer and make a point to express how grateful you are for the opportunity. Avoid talking about your new career endeavors in detail. Instead, focus on the job you are leaving.
Perhaps your former employer was understanding of a hard time you went through in your personal life, or went out of his way at some point to show you how much he valued your contributions to his company. If you can think of a positive experience or interaction you had with your employer, take a moment to thank him for it in your letter. This shows that this wasn't simply a job to you, and that you valued the time you spent working as a member of his team. Even though you might be moving on to a new phase in your career, acknowledging how your employer made an impact in your life will leave a lasting, positive impression in his mind.
Your thank you letter doesn't need to be a novel. The shorter it is, the better. Focus on keeping things simple. Express your thanks, address positive experiences you had or skills you were able to build, and sign the letter off in a professional manner.
As you continue to advance through your career, you can never have enough professional references to list on your resume. Your previous employer could eventually provide the recommendation you need to secure a promotion. Or, there's a chance you might need something to fall back on if the job you're leaving for doesn't pan out. Before you sign off your letter, it's perfectly acceptable to briefly mention that you would be grateful for a reference in the future.
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