Resignation Letters: What You Should and Shouldn’t Say

There comes a point in just about everyone’s career when it’s time to move on. Maybe you’re in a bad situation and need to get out, or maybe a great opportunity has come along and you just can’t pass it up. It’s easy to leave on good terms when the parting is amicable and you’ve got nothing but good feelings toward your employer, but what if your departure is due to lousy management or a terrible work environment? Should you bow out gracefully, or go out in a blaze of glory by telling them what you really think? Here are a few guidelines for drafting a proper resignation letter:

Keep it concise

If you’ve reached the point where you’re about to walk out the door then there’s really no point in going on and on about why. As of the moment you hand over your resignation letter your company’s investment in you is over. Be respectful and clear, but avoid wasting everyone’s time with lengthy explanations. At this stage, what’s done is done. The letter should cover the following: 1) Notification of your last day with a standard two-week notice or whatever appropriate amount of time that would allow you to tie up loose ends; 2) A brief explanation about why you’re leaving, such as you’re making a career change, or you’ve been given an opportunity you can’t resist; 3) A polite “thank you” for the experience.

Keep it clean

If you’re leaving under tense circumstances it might be tempting to use your resignation letter to vent your grievances and let the profanities fly. While that might feel satisfying in the moment, keep in mind that it could come back to haunt you. Even if the people you’re leaving behind are awful, you never know when your paths may cross again, so think twice before permanently burning any bridges. Being vindictive and childish will undermine your integrity and possibly taint your reputation, ultimately hurting you more than anyone else. When in doubt, take the high road.

Keep it positive

If it’s been a good experience for you then it should be easy find good things to say, but if it’s been a rough road you may have to dig a little deeper. Most of us have worked for someone incompetent or had a job we hated, but as bad as those situations can be they still teach us something. Try to look back on your experience as a positive one. Chances are you learned something, even if it was negative learning such as how not to treat people.

There may be situations where these rules don’t apply and being brutally honest is the only way you can walk out the door with no regrets. Ultimately only you can decide how your exit will play out. Keep in mind that verbal comments and discussions are one thing, but when you put things in writing you’d better be sure about what you want to say. In the end, try to consider a resignation letter not as a recap of the past, but as a gateway to a brighter future!

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