of us, there comes a time to resign one position and move on to the next.
The standard advice in these situations
is to emphasize the positive and avoid the negative – regardless of the
circumstances under which we are leaving. Don’t make enemies, we are told.
A letter of resignation is no time to take revenge or get even.
The reasons are obvious. Your letter
will become part of your permanent file with the company you are leaving.
And as Brusaw, Alred, and Oliu point out in The Business Writer’s
Handbook, "It could haunt you in the future." Some day you might need
the goodwill and support of your former employer.
To write a standard, safe letter of
resignation, you should
Open your letter on a positive note.
Depending on how you are feeling, this might take some imagination, but
find something positive to say about the company, how well it is run, what
you learned, or how well you were treated.
Explain why you are leaving. Even
if you are angry, avoid accusations and recriminations. Make your
explanation brief, objective, and factual.
Offer adequate notice. It is
common practice to give a minimum of notice of two weeks. If timing
permits, offer to stay longer to train your replacement or to help with
any special needs during the transition.
Close your letter on a positive note.
Express your appreciation for whatever you have gained from your
association with the company. Offer your best wishes for the company’s
A resignation letter written according
to this four-part formula might read something like this:
"My 45 years with Frigid Air Industries
have provided me with invaluable experience in the winter clothing
industry. I hope my service has also proved valuable to you and the
"Despite my pleasure in working for
Frigid Air Industries, the time has come for me to move on to greater
challenges. Therefore, I have accepted a position at Arctic Augurs, where
I am scheduled to begin work as Head Borer one month from today. If you
need assistance in hiring and training my replacement, however, I would be
happy to stay a little longer.
"Thank you for everything you have done
for me. It has been a pleasure working for you. Please accept my best
wishes for your continued success."
Well, that’s the diplomatic way to take
your leave, but if you are truly unhappy with the way you have been
treated, you may want to take a different tack, perhaps something along
"My two months at Minnesota Long Johns
have been – well, special. I’m sure I’ll never forget all I’ve learned
about frostbite, hypothermia, light-deprivation, and winter survival
"Despite the countless ways this has
strengthened my character and improved my moral fiber, I can’t wait to get
out of here.
"To that end, I have accepted a position
at the Los Angeles firm of Skivvies Anonymous, where I am scheduled to
begin work in three days. If you need me to help hire and train a
replacement, however, I can arrange to delay my departure by an hour or
"Thanks for the opportunity to work for
Minnesota Long Johns. I will think of you often as I recline on my balcony
in balmy southern California, watching the sun set peacefully over the
Pacific Ocean, while you huddle over your coffee pot for warmth,
gazing through frosted windows at the steam rising from the half-frozen
Mississippi River. Your tenacity is inspiring."
Now, don’t let that letter give you the
wrong impression. Actually, I enjoy Minnesota winters. I do.