It turns out that "tips and templates on how to write
resignation letters" is the third most sought-after
information at my Writing Help Central Web site.
So, when I looked into the subject more closely, I was
surprised to find that there is not a lot of guidance
available in guide book form on how to write a proper and
appropriate resignation letter. In fact, a recent visit to
the world's largest bookstore www.amazon.com revealed that
there are no "how to" books available there that deal with
the art of writing resignation letters.
Surprising, but true.
This is interesting, because when you really look into it,
you realize that whether you leave a job gracefully and
appropriately will almost certainly have career and personal
implications, and can be almost as important as writing
a resume/cv or a cover letter.
THE EMOTIONS BEHIND RESIGNATION LETTERS
A resignation letter will be one of the most emotionally-
charged business letters that you will ever write. The
sentiments behind it are invariably volatile because of
what it represents. In fact, studies have found that
leaving a job can be almost as stressful as the breakup of
Nevertheless, it is highly advisable that not too many of
those emotions, especially any negative feelings, get
transferred to the written page. As much as possible, a
resignation letter should be treated as a business letter,
just like any other business letter.
There are a number of reasons why resignation letters have
more emotional implications than most other personal or
business letters. Here are the obvious ones:
- They are highly personal because they normally mark the
severance of both professional and personal relationships,
sometimes of a long-term nature.
- They typically signify the end of a period in a person's
professional and/or personal life.
- They represent the beginning of a new period or phase in
someone's personal and professional life, conjuring up
the fears that often arise with an uncertain future.
KEY CHARACTERISTICS OF RESIGNATION LETTERS
Following are a number of primary characteristics that
are unique to resignation letters.
Not Just Job-Related
Mention "resignation letter" and 99 of 100 people will think
exclusively about job-related situations. In reality, there
are a number of areas and circumstances for which
recommendation letters can be required. For example, in
addition to leaving jobs, resignation letters can be
required for such situations as: stepping down from a
committee, opting out of a course at school, leaving a club
or fellowship, and others.
Sensitive and Delicate
When you submit your resignation letter it will have
implications for you, the organization you are leaving,
and the colleagues and friends you are leaving behind. You
must realize that regardless of the real reasons behind your
departure, the message received by many will be that you're
leaving because the organization and/or people just don't
measure up any more. This is a natural human reaction for
many people and can't be entirely avoided. Just be
sensitive to it and don't say, do, or write anything that
unnecessarily aggravates such feelings of abandonment.
Simple Formality or Big Surprise
A resignation letter can simply be the formalization of a
conversation that already took place with your boss, or an
announcement you made in a meeting. On the other hand, a
resignation letter can be tendered completely unannounced,
as a total surprise. In fact, this is often the case in the
real world. If this latter case applies in your situation,
you will have to be prepared to deal with any one of a
number of possible reactions from the organization and
your colleagues, ranging from total acceptance, to anger,
bargaining, and resentment.
Positive Beats Negative
The way in which you resign from an organization can have
significant implications, both career-wise, and personally.
Regardless of the circumstances and/or atmosphere
surrounding your departure, you will be well-advised to
take whatever measures you can to neutralize any negative
factors that may be in play. The approach and wording used
in the resignation letter can go a long way towards
achieving this aim.
Always A Balancing Act
Writing a letter of resignation can be a bit of a balancing
act. You want to be honest, clear, and firm regarding your
intentions to leave, while at the same time you don't want
to alienate the employer you are leaving. It would be nice
for that door to remain open, or at least ajar, just in
case you want to enter it in the future. After all, you
never know what may happen down the road. For all you know,
your current employer could end up buying the company you
are moving to. So be careful about limiting your future
Backlash Can Be Swift
Negative impacts from a poorly written or inappropriately
worded resignation letter can be almost immediate. For
example, if you are hoping to get a good recommendation
or reference from the employer you're leaving, a negative
resignation letter can only hurt your letter of
recommendation/reference. Also, even if you don't request
a recommendation letter there is nothing to stop future
potential employers from checking back with organizations
you have worked for.
So here's a word to to the wise. Before you blindly jump
into writing a resignation letter, you might want to spend
some time thinking about it and finding out how to write
one that is proper and appropriate, so that it won't come
back to haunt you.
To see a fully-formatted "real-life template" of a simple
letter of resignation, check out the following link:
? 2005 by Shaun Fawcett
Shaun Fawcett, is webmaster of the popular writing help site
WritingHelp-Central.com. He is also the author of several
best selling "writing toolkit" eBooks. All of his eBooks and
his internationally acclaimed f-r-e-e course, "Tips and Tricks
For Writing Success" are available at his writing tools site: