A reader writes:
What is the proper form for a good resignation letter?
I’ve written them before and it’s easy when it’s a simple reason for leaving – but it’s a little complicated this time. I used to love my job (and still love parts of it) but it’s morphed into something that’s not nearly as gratifying – and quite frankly I owe it to myself and my family to see if I can find a position which pays better.
I have nothing but respect for my bosses and the company so I want to be completely transparent about this – I have a sensitive position in a smallish industry and I wouldn’t put my resume out without letting them know. I don’t want to find another position and then blindside them, and am happy to stay for a couple of months for the transition of finding and training my replacement. They have a history of allowing this and I want this to go as smoothly for them as possible.
It’s a lot harder to resign when there’s no animosity – I tried to write the letter but it ended up being too long and too specific.
Basically what I want to say is that I need to start looking, use my time on the books for interviews…but I’m willing to stay until the end of March to help them transition if needed. I just don’t want to do this on the sly – and if it wasn’t well received I’m certainly ready to leave effective immediately – but I want to give them the option because I don’t want to cause more disruption or inconvenience than necessary for them.
My reasons for leaving have been addressed and I am not hopeful anything will change so getting back out on the market is the next step. I am on the edge of burnout and I want to do this now, while I am still effective and can do this professionally without negatively impacting my company.
I’m going to talk with them, but have the letter with me to present at the time to confirm my offer to stay for the transition if they so desire.
First, huge kudos to you for handling it this way. I wish everyone operated like this.
And I have an easy answer for you: Everything you’re trying to figure out how to put in writing is actually stuff you don’t need to put in the letter. That’s the stuff that you’ll say when you talk in person.
The letter itself is just a formality and should be very short. In fact, lots of people don’t even use them at all. They’re really just there to document that you did in fact resign your job. Your employer will keep it on file in case they ever need it for legal reasons — like if you later sue, or if you file for unemployment claiming you were laid off, or whatever.
So all the letter needs to include is the fact that you’re resigning and the date that resignation is effective — although most people add in a sentence of fluff to soften it as well.
I’m talking just two or three sentences — something like this: “After three years at XYZ Company, I’ve made the difficult decision to move on, and March 31 will be my last day. I’m grateful for the opportunities I’ve had here, wish the organization every success, and stand ready to help make the transition as smooth as possible.”
(In your case, because you’re flexible on the date, you could change that first sentence to: “After three years at XYZ Company, I’ve made the difficult decision to move on. I’d like to set my final day based on what works best for you; we can set it for any time between now and March 31.”)
And that’s it. The “meat” of the discussion is what you’ll say in person. The letter stays short and sweet. Good luck!