Resignation Letter for a Job That's Not a Good Fit

Woman writing letter on laptop
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No matter how carefully you research a prospective employer and question the hiring manager during the interview process, you still can wind up in a job that’s a bad fit.

How does this happen? Sometimes, it’s because the company was less than truthful about the job or the corporate culture, whether they realized it or not. Sometimes, it’s because the organization’s needs changed rapidly, and the job description evolved into a role you wouldn’t have taken. Perhaps most commonly, the parts of the job that don’t work for you just weren’t obvious until you were actually on the job, performing the daily duties and tasks of the role. It’s just not always possible to tell if you’ll like a job until you take it.

Regardless of how you got there, the fact remains that you’re in a job that’s not a good fit for you, and you need to get out—without damaging your professional reputation on your way out the door.

Do’s and Don’ts

When you decide a job is not right for you and it is time to move on, the usual rules for quitting apply: give at least two weeks’ notice, be gracious and helpful with the company transition, and send a written resignation letter.

These are the things you definitely should do:

  • Give notice. Even if you hate the company and everyone working there, you still need to conduct yourself professionally in order to protect your reputation. That means giving at least two weeks’ notice, in writing.
  • Offer to help during the transition. Leaving the company in the lurch puts your former employer in a bad spot and doesn’t help you maintain the relationship. Be courteous and helpful.
  • Nail down the details on your end. It’s unlikely that you’ll qualify for unemployment if you leave the job voluntarily, so make sure you have your finances in order and/or another job lined up to see you through the gap. Ask about continuing your benefits under COBRA and cashing out any unused vacation or sick time.

    These are some things you should avoid doing:

    • Be negative. Now is not the time to trash your soon-to-be former boss or coworkers or to speak ill of the company’s mission or culture. Even constructive criticism is unlikely to inspire changes at the organization since it will be all too easy for management to dismiss your concerns as sour grapes. Plus, it’s a small world; you never know when you might need someone at the company for a reference, and there’s no sense in burning a bridge.
    • Apologize too much, or get into the weeds of why the job wasn’t working. Sometimes, jobs just don’t work out. You took the offer in good faith and gave it your best shot. There’s no need to be abject or to over-explain. Apologize once if you like and offer to help them during the transition. That’s all that’s necessary—or expected.
    • Check out before it’s time. If you agree to stay through the transition, commit to doing your best work during that time.

    Sample Letter

    Use this resignation letter sample to advise an employer that you are resigning because the job wasn't a good fit.

    Your Name
    Your Address
    Your City, State, Zip Code
    Your Phone Number
    Your Email
    Date
    Name
    Title
    Organization
    Address
    City, State, Zip Code
    Dear Mr./Ms. Last Name:
    Please accept this letter as my formal resignation from CLL Records. Over the last few months, I have realized that I am just not a good fit for my position here.
    My final day of work will be July 31, 20XX.
    I feel that the company culture is not as I had expected, and the environment has been a difficult adjustment for me. I am so sorry for the inconvenience, and I thank you for your understanding. You have been very patient with me in this transitional time, but unfortunately I no longer think either of us are benefiting from my presence at CLL.
    I am happy to help in any way necessary to alleviate this rocky time. Please let me know if you need anything; I am more than willing to assist with the transition. I wish you all the best and lots of success for CLL Records.
    Sincerely,
    Your Signature (hard copy letter)
    Your Typed Name
    Job Title
    Company

    Sending an Email Resignation Letter

    Sometimes, it’s best to email your resignation letter. If you choose to resign this way, you’ll include all the same information as you would in a hard-copy letter. The formatting will be similar, with these key differences:

    • Omit the paragraphs with your address and the company’s address.
    • Choose a subject line that’s clear and direct, e.g., “Resignation—Your Name.”  
    • Keep your message concise. Readers have shorter attention spans for email than they do for old-fashioned correspondence. Make your message easy to scan by using short paragraphs.
    • Test your email message. After proofreading as usual, be sure to send yourself a test email, so you can be sure that your formatting comes through without any strange line breaks or typos.