Eventually, the time will come to leave your job. When you’re ready to move on, make sure you do so with grace. While it may be tempting to walk out with a string of expletives trailing behind you, it’s always better to avoid burning bridges. You may need a reference one day, or you may want to return to the same company in the future.
As an HR professional, I’ve seen it all – one-liners listing nothing but a last day of work, and three-page diatribes detailing dates and times and names of those involved in “critical incidents” causing this person to want to resign. Neither of these approaches are going to make your manager think they’re losing a good employee. Take the middle ground – keep it brief and be polite.
Here’s what you should include in your resignation letter:
- Your last day of employment. Be sure to check with your manager and your HR department if you want to take time off after giving your notice. Some companies may not allow you to do so.
- An offer to transition your responsibilities. Let your manager know that you will take ownership of transitioning your work to other team members.
- A “thank you” to your manager. Even if you’re dissatisfied with your job, you probably learned something at some point. Thank your manager for the opportunities he or she provided to you.
- Your personal contact information. Offer to answer any questions your manager or team may have, even after you leave. Most won’t take you up on it, but will remember the gesture.
There are several things I recommend you leave out of your resignation letter:
- The specific reasons you’re leaving. Your resignation letter is not the place for this conversation. Save it for your exit interview, and if you do choose to mention these reasons, do so tactfully and focus on your ideas for solutions rather than harping on the problem itself.
- Complaints about your manager or colleagues. If you have an issue with your manager or a coworker, you should go to HR long before you resign. When you’re on your way out the door, just leave it behind you.
- Everything you hate about the company. Chances are good that upper management disagrees with you. We’re trying not to burn bridges with this single piece of paper. Unless you have concrete ideas for proactive solutions, keep these to yourself too (and go to your manager or HR directly – this doesn’t belong in your resignation letter either).
Here’s a sample resignation letter so you can see how all these elements work together. Please don’t copy and paste this! You are smart and fully capable of using the information I’ve provided to write a tactful resignation letter on your own.
I have made the difficult decision to leave XYZ Widget Co. to pursue another opportunity which will advance my career and allow me to gain experience as a project manager. I want to thank you for giving me the opportunity to learn and grow as a part of the HR Operations team. My last day with XYZ Widget Co. will be Tuesday, September 10, 2013.
This was not an easy decision to make, and I would like to reiterate my gratitude for the learning opportunities that have been provided to me during my time with XYZ Widget Co. Within the next few days, I will prepare a transition plan for your review. Please let me know if there is anything specific you would like me to do as I transition my responsibilities to other members of the team.
I wish you and the team much success in the future and I hope that we will keep in touch. If I can be of any assistance after my departure, I can be reached by phone at [phone number] or by email at [email address].
Have you ever resigned from a job? How did you do it in a tactful manner? Share your experience in the comments below.