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How to Write a Thank You Letter to Your Ex-Boss After Leaving Your Job

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As you develop in your career, your most valuable asset is your network. In fact, more than three-quarters of job seekers note that networking was a key part of landing a new job. With that in mind, it’s important not to burn bridges when you leave a job, but to leave on good terms and with a positive impression in your former boss’s mind. One of the best ways to do that is by writing a thank you letter to the boss upon your departure, acknowledging your gratitude for the opportunities she provided and the experience you gained.

Letter of Resignation

When you decide to leave a job, write a letter of resignation to formally tell your employer that you are leaving and your intended last day of work. It’s a best practice to also thank your employer for the opportunity to work for the company, and if appropriate, any specific skills that you learned on the job. For instance, you might write, “Thank you for the opportunities you have provided me with ABC Company. I appreciate your support during my tenure with the company, and how you have helped me grow both personally and professionally.” You may wish to provide a specific example of something particularly meaningful, such as the ability to attend education conferences or mentorship on a project. However, since the resignation letter is designed primarily for you to give notice of your intent to leave, keep it brief and concise.

Thank You Letter

A thank you letter is different from a resignation letter, because it’s specifically focused on expressing gratitude. Typically, it is given to your boss on your day of departure or mailed soon after. In the letter, reiterate your thanks for the opportunities that your boss provided; this is the time to get into specifics and how your boss helped you grow. A thank you letter can be more personal and heartfelt than a formal resignation letter. You might acknowledge your lack of experience when you first started and how your boss helped you gain confidence, or relate a funny or inspiring anecdote about your time working together, but keep the letter focused on the positive impact your boss had on you, your career and your life.

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When You Left on Bad Terms

If you leave a job on bad terms, you might want to say many things to your former boss – but "Thank you" isn’t one of them. Still, once you have had time to cool down and gain perspective, it’s worth sending a letter of thanks to help preserve your network. Begin the letter by acknowledging that your time with the company didn’t end the way you had hoped, but that you want to express your thanks for the opportunities you did have during your time there. Keep the letter professional and focused on gratitude, and avoid discussing problems or hinting that you want your job back.

Other Considerations

Like any business letter, carefully edit and proofread a thank you letter before you send it. You can send the letter via email, but a handwritten or mailed letter may have more of an impact. Again, keep the letter focused on saying thank you, and avoid asking for a reference or any other favors. Making such requests can make your letter seem insincere, and defeat the purpose of a polite and meaningful gesture.

About the Author

An adjunct instructor at Central Maine Community College, Kristen Hamlin is also a freelance writer and editor, specializing in careers, business, education, and lifestyle topics. The author of Graduate! Everything You Need to Succeed After College (Capital Books), which covers everything from career and financial advice to furnishing your first apartment, her work has also appeared in Young Money, Lewiston Auburn Magazine, USA Today, and a variety of online outlets. She's also been quoted as a career expert in many newspapers and magazines, including Cosmopolitan and Parade. She has a B.A. in Communication from Stonehill College, and a Master of Liberal Studies in Creative Writing from the University of Denver.

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