What Not to Include in a Resignation Letter

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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 would feel good to say how you really feel. Your motivation could vary from payback to catharsis to a sincere interest in providing feedback to your employer. 

Regardless of how much you’d like to say it, 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 you.

Here are 10 things not to include in a resignation letter.

Don't Be Vague About Your Resignation

Don’t hand in a letter until you are sure you want to leave. Also, state a specific date for your departure in your letter. You want to be as clear and specific as possible, to avoid any confusion.

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 staying. Here are some reasons why an employee may not be able to give two weeks notice.

Don't Include Anything Negative About Your Supervisor

You may have worked with the most incompetent or negative boss imaginable. However, your letter of resignation is not a confidential document and may be shared with your supervisor. Remember that your supervisor might have to give you a recommendation in the future, or at least answer questions about you when a potential employer does a background check on you. Make sure you leave on good terms with your supervisor.

Don't Disparage the Company, or Its Products and Services

Avoid phrases like "I am leaving to work with an industry leader" that imply your current employer is inferior. Again, you want to leave the company on as positive a note as possible.

Don’t Use Language That Implies You Were Unsatisfied at the Company

Your letter is one of the last impressions you will make. If there is a negative tone to your communication, then 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.”

Don't Mention a Better Salary as the Reason You Are Leaving

Don’t say you’re leaving in hopes that the company will offer you more money. If they don’t offer you the money, you are out of a job. Instead, if you want to use a new job offer as leverage to negotiate more money from your current employer, meet with your boss and discuss the situation.

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. Make sure you leave your colleagues and employees on a good note. In fact, consider writing a message to your co-workers and subordinates telling them you 

Express Your Gratitude With the Organization

Individuals who believe that you appreciate them will be more likely to say good things about you. Therefore, try to mention any positive experiences that you are grateful for at the company.

Don’t Forget to Proofread

Your resignation letter is one of the last samples for your employer of your writing skills and attentiveness to detail. Remember to proofread it carefully to avoid spelling and grammar errors. Consider asking a friend or family member to read it for you as well.

10. Don’t use an overly positive tone that will seem 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." This will come across as sarcastic and even offensive.

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.

Read Resignation Letter Samples

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