• Wed, Aug 29 2012

How To Write The Perfect Resignation Later

i quitBreaking up is hard to do. I know because I sang that wonderful song in my 4th grade choice. I even had a solo. I loved it. But I learned right away that goodbyes are not easy. Leaving a company that you’ve loved and dedicated your time to for years is no simple matter.

When you think about it, quitting your job is a lot like ending a relationship. You’ll try to concentrate on the good times and ignore the reasons why you’ve chosen to go your separate ways. You’ll make empty platitudes about keeping in touch and staying friends. You’ll both have that overwhelming urge to let the other person know all of their faults and why they need to fix them. And you might be tempted to post about it to social media, even though you know it’s a really bad idea.

Leaving your job is difficult, especially if you want to leave on good terms. If you want references and business contacts after your pack up your office, there’s a lot of politicking that needs to go into your resignation. It all starts with the letter. Here are some things you need to know about writing the perfect goodbye to your company.

  • Know who to give it to. This seems silly, but you don’t give a resignation letter to your immediate boss that you work with on a day-to-day basis. The letter goes to the highest person at the company that you interact with. So for my relatively small company, my resignation letter went to the owner. Immediately after giving it to her, in person, and thanking her for the opportunity to work with her, I went to my boss to have a sit down talk about my decision.
  • Leave the criticism, snark, or mention of your future job out. This is not like a suggestion box comment where you unload your thoughts about what the company can do better. And there’s no need at all to mention what company you’re moving on to, or what your position or salary will be. That’s tacky. Really, this isn’t the place to talk about why you’re leaving at all. Resignation letters are formalities, but they’re also a sign that you respect your soon-to-be former employer. Keep the tone positive.
  • Be thankful. You  worked hard for this company, but they paid you for that work. They might have invested in your education. You surely learned something about your industry. This is the place to say thank you for all of that. A good resignation letter is appreciative and kind. Gratitude goes a long way.
  • Express a hope that you’ll work together again. Even if it just seems like a formality. Even if you don’t mean it. A good professional keeps every business contact they can. Set the stage to maintain at least a cordial acquaintanceship by expressing the hope that you’ll get to work together in the future.
  • Share a lesson you’ve learned. Give a warm and fuzzy anecdote. They can go a long way to personalizing a very robotic process. Remind your boss of the reasons that they’re going to miss you. The best way to do that is to stroke their ego just a tad and let them know what you’ve learned.
  • Keep it brief. Because a resignation feels like a big deal, you might want to write a lot about it. Hold that urge back. This is the closing of your time with your company. You don’t want it to ramble on. Who likes long goodbyes? Stick to the basics, wish them the best and be on your way.
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  • Lastango

    I’ll buy that (except for the part about not giving the resignation letter to the immediate boss). Three points:
    == Give copies to: the hiring manager, and to HR. In a small company, give one to the big boss too.
    == Give adequate notice, and don’t quit in the middle of a heavy period unless there’s absolutely no alternative. (For instance, if you’re in accounting, it is unprofessional to quit while the company is closing yearend. Your new employer will understand why you can’t leave right away, and respect you for your commitment.)
    == If you are relatively inexperienced at all this, have someone more experienced (from outside the company) read your resignation letter. Also, discuss your resignation “gameplan” with this advisor. You are likely to have some conversations with management along the way, and it’s important to know in advance what you will say, and what you will NOT say.
    ==========
    I totally agree with “keep it brief”. Whether talking or writing, shorter is better. And when in doubt, leave it out.

  • Lastango

    I’ll buy that (except for the part about not giving the resignation letter to the immediate boss). Three points:
    == Give copies to: the hiring manager, and to HR. In a small company, give one to the big boss too.
    == Give adequate notice, and don’t quit in the middle of a heavy period unless there’s absolutely no alternative. (For instance, if you’re in accounting, it is unprofessional to quit while the company is closing yearend. Your new employer will understand why you can’t leave right away, and respect you for your commitment.)
    == If you are relatively inexperienced at all this, have someone more experienced (from outside the company) read your resignation letter. Also, discuss your resignation “gameplan” with this advisor. You are likely to have some conversations with management along the way, and it’s important to know in advance what you will say, and what you will NOT say.
    ==========
    I totally agree with “keep it brief”. Whether talking or writing, shorter is better. And when in doubt, leave it out.