The flip-side to this post is my insanely popular How to write a resume series. People send me ‘Thank You’ email every day — you may too!
I’ve quit a few $hit jobs in my life. You probably have too. But when you resign from your position (yeah, the one that put food on your table) in an unprofessional manner, you’re a jerk.
Don’t get me wrong, I totally understand the desire to ‘go out in style’ by flipping your boss the bird. But believe me, taking the low road by issuing a written highway salute gets you nowhere in your future career path fast. Former colleagues, bosses, and especially HR peops have a funny way of popping back into your life since many industries draw from a finite employment pool.
The trick to quitting any job, whether you love it or can’t wait to leave it, is to write a concise and classy resignation letter that keeps you connected and the door open for references, networking, and even future jobs.
Since no one wants to hire (or work with) an angry bridge burner, here’s how to ‘peace out’ from your position with more peace on the way out.
Five rules for writing a classy resignation letter:
1. Keep it short.
The point of a resignation letter is to resign. Period. So don’t list the million reasons why you’re leaving the job. Don’t write a thesis on why ‘The Company’ stinks. And never negotiate for better pay.
- Let me list the 101 reasons why I hate working for you. But if you increase my pay by 15% I’ll stay another year.
- Write a three-line resignation letter. Seriously.
My Resignation Letter Example gets the job done in three sentences. Go on, count ’em. Quitters never had it so concise and on point. Go me.
2. Be positive, even friendly.
Did I mention that the point of a resignation letter is to resign? So airing grievances, defending your maybe vilified work, or ranting about that someone who did that mean thing won’t help you win friends and influence people, ever.
Resignation letters tend to become part of your permanent employee record, so being ‘That Angry Resigning Guy’ can make it impossible to ever land a job in that company again. People do work for previous employers, but only if they’re wanted back.
- I quit. This job has sucked the life out of me for three long years. You don’t appreciate my work and I hate sitting next to the office printer.
- Please accept this letter as my formal notice of resignation from [Employer Company Name] as a [Your Position].
Be professional, be friendly, and keep your letter positive. You’re leaving for greener pastures, after all. So leave, don’t grieve.
3. State your last day.
The most important part of resigning is stating when you plan to leave. Giving two weeks notice is standard, but some employers prefer a month.
- I’m leaving this company effective immediately.
- My last day of employment will be September 15, 2013.
Regardless of how much notice you give, be sure to state your last day in your resignation letter.
4. Don’t be funny.
Humor is a funny thing. When the jokes work, people smile. When the funny fails, people feel bad for you. There’s a time and place for flexing the funny, but your resignation letter is not an open stage on amateur night.
- So long, and thanks for all the fish!
- Check out my Resignation Letter Example — it’s not funny. Promise.
BTW: A former colleague really did cite The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy in his resignation letter emailed to the entire freaking company. It was bad. Like, really uncomfortable. So unless you’re planning on leaving Earth with the entire dolphin population, please leave Douglas Adams out of your farewell letter.
5. Say, “Thank You!”
Being a nice person to other people has its perks. Nice people get awesome customer service, and nice people are more often considered for amazing opportunities in any economy. Saying “Thank You” to your past employer for employing you makes you a nice person.
- I can’t believe anyone wants to work for this company.
- Thank you for the opportunity to work for such an outstanding organization.
Don’t be a jerk when writing your letter of resignation. Be nice and someone may hire you when you most need to be hired.