How to write a letter
When it's time to move on, just shouting "Ciao!" at
your boss is not enough. As a professional, you'll want to write
a brief, but cordial, letter of resignation. This will help avoid
ambiguity and set the tone for your departure. This letter is nearly
the last thing you'll do at this job, so do it with class.
First, make sure you are certain about quitting this
job. If you're feeling wishy-washy about the new job, don't commit
yourself to paper just yet. And if you're thinking about "announcing
your resignation" as part of some ploy to get a lucrative counter-offer,
a letter could lock you into an undesirable position. If you're
playing this delicate/dangerous political game, skip the letter
and talk to the boss about your new offer and see what develops.
If your new plans are indeed rosy, and you're truly
ready to depart oldjob.com, then pull out the pen and paper...or,
nowadays, belly up to the keyboard and turn on the printer. Don't
write more than necessary. Keep it short, simple, positive, polite,
discreet and mature -- without sentences full of adjectives like
The elements of your letter should include:
Use of proper business letter format. Before
starting the letter, put your name and address at the top, then
the date, and the employer's name and address.
Begin with a direct statement that you are
resigning your particular job, and when your last day of work
will be. Two weeks notice is polite. Jobs with more responsibility
are often expected to give longer notice. Don't make them do
the math -- tell whether this is two-weeks notice or if you
are resigning immediately. Keep in mind that some companies
may require you to leave the day you resign. Something like:
"I am resigning my position as Junior Bottlewasher, effective
in two weeks on August 23, 2002."
Tell them why. This is not the time to rant.
Keep those negative reasons, opinions and disgruntlements to
yourself. Any problems with the current company are in the past
as of this letter. More legitimate and respectable reasons for
leaving include going back to school, accepting another offer
or moving to another city. If your only reason is because
you hate this job, this boss and this company, then just skip
the why. Something like: I am returning to school this
fall to complete an advanced degree in bottlewashing.
If it's sincere, thank management for their
help, mentoring, whatever. Something like: I appreciate
the opportunities I've had at Bottlewashers United Inc. My supervisor,
Joe Glass, taught me so much that I've decided to pursue bottlewashing
as a profession.
Say "sincerely" or something else polite
and professional, and then sign it. Take a deep breath. Turn
Now that your letter has been read by the boss and
the goodbye party is scheduled in the conference room, don't start
coasting. No one appreciates a lame duck -- pull your weight until
your last day.
You might be done with the place, but this job will
be on our resume for years to come. Therefore, fulfill your obligations.
Then, in a few years, when asked for a recommendation, the last
thing your old boss and co-workers will remember is what a pro you
were and how much they missed you.
Now, that's a happy ending.
--Updated: Aug. 23, 2002