How to Resign: Patrick Lee's Fine Farewell

Steven "The Jet Blue Guy" Slater aside, quitting your job doesn't usually make the news. In fact, it's become so commonplace that it barely rates a Facebook status update. Back in the olden days, quitting reflected poorly on you. And having had a string of jobs? You were seen as unreliable at best. But nowadays, especially within Generation T (texting, tweeting, time-wasting), it just means you're moving onward and upward.

Whatever the case, decorum never goes out of style. Recently I was impressed by a farewell e-mail from Patrick Lee, my long-time editor at SCI FI Wire. "This is a note I thought I'd never have to write, but the time has come for me to leave SCI FI Wire after 10 years," he said. "I am taking a new job as regional editor, Los Angeles, for AOL's new online news initative,, in charge of about a dozen hyperlocal news websites under the Patch umbrella. They are reinventing online journalism in a way that's new and exciting, and I'm thrilled to be on the ground floor of this bold venture."

I thought Lee did a great job of expressing why he left, without denigrating SCI FI Wire. What's more, he had everything in place before making the announcement.

Even when you have another job lined up, quitting the old one diplomatically can be tricky. Here's a quick list of things you should think about before bidding your own adieu:

  • Write a letter of resignation outlining any facts you believe are pertinent. Keep it short and businesslike.

  • Make sure you have all your things ready to go, and there's nothing personal on your work computer.

  • Collect your benefits, such as vacation time or personal days. Be ready to roll over or cash out your 401k. "If you have $5,000 or more in your account, you can leave the funds right where they are long after you walk out the door. But you're probably better off taking them with you," advises

  • Don't announce your exit to coworkers: your boss should be the first to know.

  • Soften the blow by finding your own replacement and offer to train them.

  • Try not to burn bridges -- and in fact, make sure you're welcome back.

  • Ask for a reference, even if you don't think you'll need it. If possible, do it through LinkedIn.
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