Breaking up is never easy – especially in the corporate world.

 You never know when your professional path may cross with a former co-worker or when you may need to call in a favor from an old supervisor. Gracefully exiting your current job without burning any bridges is key to protecting your professional reputation and credibility. And the first step to accomplishing this goal is learning how to write a two weeks notice letter.

 While it may be tempting to finally tell Jerry in Accounting what you really feel about his taste in ties (plaid on plaid is just awful) or call out Eileen in Sales for always eating your leftovers from the office fridge, now is not the time to point fingers. Even if you’re thrilled to be leaving behind a toxic work environment or a particularly unpleasant co-worker, it’s critical that you keep the letter professional.

 As a recruiter, I frequently work with candidates who need to write a great two weeks notice letter without burning any bridges. Here’s the advice I give them:

 #1: Keep it short and to the point.

A two weeks notice letter is not the place for the next great American novel. Get to the point immediately: “This letter is to inform XYZ that I have accepted a new position with ABC and am officially offering my two weeks notice.” Follow this up with a line or two stating what a pleasure it has been to work for your current company and that you look forward to growing your skills in your new position.

 #2: Be honest (within reason) about your decision to leave.

If the opportunity to telecommute, a family medical situation, or a different geographic location is part of the reason for leaving, it’s okay to state this in your letter. Be precise in your language: “While I have enjoyed working at XYZ, the opportunity to telecommute at ABC is a better fit for my family’s current needs, especially given the increased health care challenges facing my mother.” Or “As my wife has recently been transferred to her company’s Seattle office, this new position will also allow me to be based out of Seattle.” If you are leaving a toxic work environment, be careful in your language. It’s far better to write “I’m excited to further my skills in XYZ or growing my career in a new direction” than to say “I just can’t stand how passive aggressive my supervisor is.”

 #3: Thank your supervisor and team for a great working relationship.

You never know when you’ll need a recommendation from your former supervisor or when you’ll find yourself working side-by-side on a project with a former co-worker. You may not have loved your coworkers, but they’ve been a big part of your life – let them know how much you value a great working relationship and how they’ve helped you grow professionally on the job.

 #4: End by pledging a smooth transition.

If your boss or co-workers had no idea you were considering leaving the company, the news of your resignation could really through folks for a loop. They’ll be scrambling to pick up your lose ends while also trying to find a replacement. A line like “I will do everything I can over the next two weeks to make my departure as smooth as possible” will help smooth any ruffled feathers.

 Have you recently written (or received) a two weeks notice letter? I’d love to hear your thoughts on what makes a good letter and what to avoid. I invite you to post your comments below.