Many people, at least in their imaginations, would prefer to leave their jobs with a flourish. It may be tempting to quit with a verbal jab like "Take this job and shove it!" or simply march out the door, never to return, but it's always best to depart in a calm, professional manner. You never know when a former employer might be needed for a future reference.
One of the sweetest and most satisfying aspects of leaving a job (assuming it's your choice, of course) is writing a succinct and professional resignation letter to your employer. Don't worry if you're not a skilled wordsmith; a resignation letter should follow a relatively straightforward format. Nor does it have to be long. In fact, the shorter, the better.
'When' Rather Than 'Why'
Be sure to include when you are leaving rather than why. This is the most important piece of information to include, but you'll also want to let your employer know that you have appreciated the opportunity to work with the company. Go ahead and grit your teeth if you need to; it's always a good idea to go out on a high note. Your professionalism is what people will remember about you.
Also, resist the temptation to put your employer or coworkers down. Remember, it is one thing to talk about your "Boss from Hell" with a trusted confidant, but unwise to air your disdain in a resignation letter. Once your words are in writing they might as well be set in stone.
It's fine to briefly explain why you're leaving, but only if it has nothing do with any negative experiences you've encountered on the job. For example, if you're leaving to pursue a completely different career path, that's acceptable to mention. If you're leaving because you weren't treated respectfully or never got invited to lunch, it's best to keep those sentiments to yourself. On the other hand, if you are particularly grateful for something that was offered you, such as corporate training, tuition reimbursement, volunteer opportunities, or other benefits, briefly articulate that in your letter.
Deliver Your Letter Formally
Make sure to print out your resignation letter and deliver it to your supervisor personally. Never e-mail your letter. This is not a piece of communication that you want forwarded. Plus, a letter of resignation should be set apart from e-mail, which tends to be more informal.
Here's a basic sample letter you can use to tender your resignation:
Director of Product Development
We Make Everything, Inc.
1213 Everything Lane
San Diego , CA
Effective January 12, I will be leaving my position with We Make Everything. I have enjoyed my time here and appreciate the opportunities I've been given over the past five years. I especially would like to thank the company for the partial tuition reimbursement offered me during the time I worked toward my MBA.
If I can help in any way during the transition, please let me know.
Your Typed Name
You might think it's obvious that certain sentiments should never be included in a resignation letter, but you might be surprised at what some people think is acceptable to say. Read Ten Things to Leave Out of Your Resignation Letter.
Leslie Levine is a writer, speaker, and author of three nonfiction books. She is also the president of Leslie Levine Communications, which offers workshops in employee development and communication as well as public relations and marketing. Based in Chicago, she blogs regularly for AllBusiness.com on the topic of employee development.