Resign From a Job for Personal Reasons the Right Way

i resign message on abandoned office desk
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When you need to resign from a job for personal reasons, it can be difficult to know how to tell your employer, and how much information to share.

Surprisingly, you don't necessarily need to provide details to your employer. For example, you can simply state that you are leaving for personal reasons or family reasons.

In other cases, you may want to give a reason. For example, if you are leaving because of a family illness or you are going to be a stay-at-home parent, you might share this.

To help you navigate the process, here's some advice on how to resign, how to tell your boss, and how to stay on good terms with the company after you leave.

How Much to Share

It can be hard to know how much to share with your employer about why you are leaving. If you are at all uneasy about sharing your reasons, simply say that you are leaving for personal reasons. This will demonstrate to your boss that you are not leaving because you are unhappy with the company.

If you think you might reapply for a job at the company once your personal issues are resolved, you might provide a bit more detail. For example, if you are resigning because you are going to be a stay-at-home parent for a couple of years, you might explain this to your boss.

If you are actually resigning because you are unhappy with your job, do not go into detail about this. You want to maintain a good relationship with the company (and your supervisor) so you can use them as a reference. In this case, you can use the vague language that you are leaving for personal reasons.

The Resignation Process

When resigning for personal reasons, you always want to talk to your boss first, in person. You can decide whether or not you want to provide him or her with personal details as to why you are leaving.

After speaking to your boss, follow up with a resignation letter to your boss as well as a human resources representative. You can choose how much to share with human resources about why you are leaving but explain that you are leaving for personal reasons, and include details on when you will be leaving. If feasible, offer to help during the transition. Just remember in both letters not to get overly-wordy, you want to keep the letter brief.

If you're unsure how to write your letter, it's okay to use a sample resignation letter.

Be Positive

It's key that you be positive when discussing the company, and your job. There’s nothing to gain by being negative, and everything to lose. 

Down the road, your employer might have to serve as a reference for you or you may want a letter of recommendation from him or her. Also, you don't want what you say about your employer to jeopardize future job opportunities if word gets out that you're negative.

Even if you hate your job, hate the company, or the pay is terrible, you shouldn’t mention any of that in your letter or your conversation with your boss.

Other Ways to Resign from a Job

While the best way to resign is to tell your employer in person and then follow up with an official resignation letter, sometimes personal issues come up quickly and you're forced to resign in haste.

When there are extenuating circumstances, you might need to resign on the phone or send an email message. However, these are not professional ways to handle a resignation. Only use these methods in emergency situations.

Ideally, you should give your employer at least two weeks notice when you resign. This is the accepted professional and courteous behavior in the workplace. However, in some circumstances, you'll have to give less notice but only do so if it's an emergency. You always want to give people as much time as possible to adjust to you leaving.

Resignation Letters for Personal Reasons Examples

Here are sample resignation letters, including letters that cite general (and specific) reasons one might resign a job for personal reasons.