What Not to Include in a Resignation Letter

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Writing a resignation letter is a good way to formalize your departure from an employer and confirm the details of your termination. It’s important to be careful what you include—and what you omit—when you’re writing a resignation letter or email message. It’s important not to overdo it and share too much information with your soon to be ex-employer.

It can be tempting to let your employer know exactly how you feel about your experience at the company in your resignation letter. There are several reasons why it might feel good to say how you really feel.

Your motivation could vary from payback, catharsis, closure, or a sincere interest in providing feedback to your employer about your experience with the organization.  Regardless of how much you’d like to say it, please don’t do it.

Saying the wrong things in your letter can bring unwanted consequences if you aren't careful.

Before you write your resignation letter, review these guidelines to avoid any damaging mistakes that could come back to haunt your career.

10 Things Not to Include in a Resignation Letter

Here are ten things that you shouldn’t write when you’re providing notice that you’re resigning.

1. Don't be vague about your resignation. State a specific date for your departure, and don't share or send a letter until you are sure you want to leave. 

2. Don't say that you will be leaving immediately. Research the norms or policies at your employer for giving notice. Provide adequate notice and offer to help train any staff who will assume your duties—even if you are certain your employer will ask you to leave right away. 

You want your parting impression to be that of a concerned professional.

The exception would be if there are personal or work issues that preclude you from staying. Here are some reasons why an employee may not be able to give two weeks’ notice.

3. Don't put anything negative in writing about your supervisor. You may have worked for the most incompetent or negative boss imaginable. However, your letter of resignation is not a confidential document and may be shared within the organization. Most likely, your boss will not forget the embarrassment when a future employer does a background check or you need a reference. 

4. Don't disparage the company, or its products and services. Avoid phrases like "I am moving to an innovator or industry leader" that imply your current employer is inferior. It’s always smart to keep it positive, even if you’re feeling negative.

5. Don't pass up the opportunity to express your gratitude for any of the positive aspects of your experience with the organization. Individuals who believe that you appreciate them will be more likely to say good things about you. If it was a challenging experience, try to think of at least one nice thing you can say about your boss or the company.

6. Don’t use language that frames your tenure with the organization as unsatisfying. Your letter is one of the last impressions you will make. 

If there is a negative tone to your communication, you might be perceived as a disgruntled employee with an attitude problem. 

If you want to point to a new job as an improvement, then emphasize how the position advances your career. For example, you might say, "I am moving on to a district manager position that will enable me to apply my strategic planning skills.”

7. Don't mention a better salary as the reason you are leaving. If you want to use an offer as leverage to negotiate more money from your current employer, meet with your boss and discuss the situation. Make sure you are willing to leave if your needs are not met. 

8. Don't criticize or imply a criticism of any of your subordinates or co-workers in your letter. Future employers may reach out informally to individuals who aren't listed as your references to determine whether you were a good manager or team member.

9. Don’t forget to proofread your letter carefully and be sure there are no errors. Your resignation letter is one of the last samples of your writing skills and attentiveness to detail that you’ll share with your employer. It’s also a document that may be placed in your employment file.

10. Don’t phrase your letter in an overly positive tone that will be interpreted as insincere. For example, if it is well known that you had difficulties with your boss, don't say something like, "It will be difficult to leave such a capable and visionary manager as Brad." Save the sarcasm for your friends.

How to Address Your Concerns About the Job or Company

Because you have already decided to move on, your concerns are probably better left unsaid. However, if you believe it is absolutely necessary to address your manager’s behavior or a difficult situation at work that led to your resignation, verbalize your feedback to a trusted individual in management or in human resources.

Try to do so in a very objective manner, devoid of emotion. Your focus should be on specific problematic behaviors. If you balance your comments with some positives, it will enhance your credibility.

You may have the opportunity to share your reasons for leaving in an exit interview. If that’s not an option, schedule a time to address your concerns. It’s best to do it as close as you can to your departure date, so your last days on the job aren’t any more difficult than they have to be because you ticked off your boss.

Review Resignation Letter Samples

One way to write a professional resignation letter is to read resignation letter and email samples. Use resignation letter samples as templates for your own correspondence.

They can help you structure your letter, and can even help you think of what to say. However, do not simply copy and paste a resignation letter sample and send it to your employer. Be sure to change the details to fit your personal situation.

If you are sending a resignation email message, make sure you review email message examples.

Key Takeaways

Do Write a Letter. A resignation letter or email will confirm your last day of work, and will give you a record of your correspondence.

Keep it Private. Share your letter with your immediate supervisor and your company’s human resources manager. You don’t need to announce that you’re quitting to the entire company.

Don’t Share Too Many Details. Your resignation letter doesn’t need to say more than the fact that you’re leaving, and when your employment will end.