Quitting the job requires thorough preparation and a little diplomacy. The latter is important if you want to leave on a good note with your current employer and receive positive recommendations form them in the future. In particular, you should write a short notice if you are leaving in two weeks or less. And don’t treat this process as pure formality – the tone of this letter determines your relationships with former boss and colleagues.
According to the statistic, 3.5 million Americans quit their job every month. Yet, telling your boss you’re quitting is never easy. So, make sure you’ve mastered the art of writing an effective resignation letter to smooth the transition and avoid the negativity. Today’s guide from our professional resume writers will tell you exactly:
• The structure of a resignation letter
• Tried-and-true tips for keeping the letter confident and positive, and
• Advice for writing this type of letter in different life situations.
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Quitting a job should never be an impulsive process. Even if your boss is an awkward customer, or some of the colleagues are a real pain in the neck, make sure to weigh all pros and cons of such a decision. Use this checklist of to-do items before you quit:
• Put your finances in order. If you don’t have an offer from a new employer at hand, make sure your savings are enough to support you until you land the next full-time job. Otherwise, it makes sense for you to stay a little longer and save the needed amount.
• Prepare your resume. Unless you are switching to a new job immediately, your job search process will start with updating a resume, so you’d better take care of it early on. Today, many job-seekers rely on resume services and say “redo my resume for me” – this helps them get a flawless resume and get hired again faster.
• Choose the right timing. Make sure you don’t have an important or urgent project at work right now, and you are not breaking any important agreements. Leaving in a situation like this will undermine your professional reputation.
• Clean up your desk and virtual space. Start packing your belongings early on when you’re not in a rush. Similarly, delete any personal or sensitive information such as emails and photos from the corporate computer and smartphone. Copy any information you will need in the future.
• Create a plan. Unless the work environment is toxic, it’s better not to quit if you’re not sure where you’re headed next. First, determine what kind of job you’d like to find and where you’d like to head next in your career. it will make your job search more focused.
Whether you write a traditional or a short notice letter, make sure it contains the elements as follows:
• A professional salutation – just like any business letter, a resignation note should start with a formal salutation, i.e. “Dear Mr. Johnson” or “Dear Larry”.
• The facts about your resignation –what role you’re leaving and the reason. For example, you were offered a new job in Fortune 500 company or plan to turn a hobby into a business. There’s no need to be too detailed about the reason – we’ll talk about it below.
• Your last day on the job – the standard timing for handing in your notice is two weeks, but there are exceptions.
• Gratitude for collaboration – even things weren’t always smooth between you and the manager, remember the good things and express your appreciation for them.
• A plan for your remaining weeks (or days) – offer to train your replacement, document the processes, or interview the new candidate.
• Closing statement – close as you would close any formal email or letter.
Now, let’s have a closer look at how you should approach the writing process.
The common courtesy dictates that you speak to your manager about resignation in person first (or via the video call if you’re a remote employee). If the boss finds out about the issue through an official letter only, they may perceive it negatively. Let alone the fact that your quitting creates the need to train or hire a replacement. If you approach the boss personally, there’s every chance of leaving on a good note. Moreover, it’s an opportunity to discuss the leaving salary and other benefits you’re entitled to.
Start the letter like “I am resigning from the position of Key Account Manager in XYZ Wholesale”.
This may sound nonsense to you, but this letter is your official termination document and will be stored by the HR department. Include the statement of resignation and the effective date. Don’t make the readers to look for this information in a letter – list it early on.
If you are handing a regular notice, including the reason for quitting or not is totally up to you. But since you are leaving on the short notice, you need to provide a solid reason for this hasty decision. The common reasons are relocation, a job offer requiring you to start immediately, or toxic workplace environment. You don’t need to over-explain yourself here, though. Simply indicating the reason in a sentence or two will be sufficient.
Simply presenting the fact that you’re quitting is not enough for an effective letter. It’s recommended that you also thank the current employer for the time spent with the company. You may want to remember specific successful projects, the skills you’ve gained, and the milestones you’ve reached as a part of the team. Even if your relationship with the boss wasn’t smooth, still find a few good things to thank them for. This gesture will be appreciated and will help to maintain good relationship in case you need a recommendation from them.
Once you quit, the manager will have to hire a replacement or train the existing team member to take on your workload. So, if you offer help with this process during your last days on a job, it will be appreciated by the company. Specify what kind of assistance you may provide. You might offer to train the person taking on your responsibilities, to comment on your reports or practices you’ve used to make everything clear for your successor, and more.
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Chances are, you’re quitting because you didn’t like something about the current job. Maybe, the boss took credit for an important project you were responsible for, you didn’t get a promotion or had an unhealthy environment in the office. But even in these cases it’s important to keep the tone of the letter positive. Don’t burn the bridges as you don’t know where you’ll cross paths with the current boss or coworkers. Find something good to be grateful for, and focus on these positives.
It’s important to know what kind of information you shouldn’t mention in a letter. Don’t focus on negatives – if you’re quitting because of toxic environment, you might mention it in a private conversation with a boss, but not in an official resignation letter. Secondly, don’t list too many details – writing two paragraphs to describe your new job or a business idea isn’t the best decision. And finally, don’t make promises you cannot keep. Don’t claim that you will complete a report in three days if you are sure you won’t have time for it.
Relocation is one of the most popular reasons for giving a short notice. If that’s your case, mention the relocation in the letter early on. Include your new address and tell that you are willing to be contacted for a job in a new city. If the company has a branch in the area you’re relocating to, chances are you won’t have to quit at all and can be transitioned to that branch. As usually, express gratitude for all the positive aspects with the company and offer your help during the transition.
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Hectic and busy environment, working long hours for weeks or even months, and tight deadlines can put the growing pressure on you as an employee. If the stress you experience is too significant and affects your physical health, it’s a solid reason to quit. As you write a resignation letter, mention this reason. If you saw a doctor who recommended you to take a break off work, you can include this information, too. Write that you are not willing to quit the company and list the positives you enjoyed while working with them. You don’t have to describe your medical condition in detail – simply using stress and anxiety as reasons will be enough.
Some companies and departments have unhealthy competition, toxic leadership, or hostile environment. Under these circumstance, it may be tough to fulfil your daily duties because of overly high expectations or mental pressure. Whether to include such a reason for leaving is up to you, but note that in big companies managers may lose touch with the workplace, and your note can attract their attention so they could take action. Use a neutral tone for describing the situation. You might say that new methods of work don’t let you contribute enough, the workplace relationships have become tense, or someone creates a hostile environment. Don’t specify the names, though, since this is not a letter of complaint but your official resignation.
As you see, this employee specifies the reason for quitting a job (relocation to North Carolina) in the second paragraph. Their letter starts with the resignation statement and effective date. They also express willingness to train the replacement and express gratitude to their boss for mentorship and guidance.
You can use this sample for inspiration, but avoid copying the sample word for word. The letter should describe your unique career situation and be genuine which is possible to achieve only if you write it on your own. If you write an overly formal letter, it might be seen negatively by the boss.
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