Resignation Letters

These letters should not be lengthy or be an attempt to say, “Hey, if you ever need me for anything, . . . .”  No.  These letters should be short and concise.

Following my exit from a 7-month assignment in Torrance, CA, I got some great advice from a very savvy business manager who understands corporate and business structures. I wrote:

I have written only a couple of resignation letters all my life. They seem to be a way to wrap up, to say goodbye, and to thank the supervisor/manager for all of what you learned. . . . They are a good opportunity to remind your . . . manager that you are forever available [as if] for future project work or serve as a consultant. These are excellent letters to use to imprint on the mind of your supervisor, so that when someone comes to him and asks, “Hey, do you know anyone who can do X, Y, and Z?” your name comes up.

That was my assumption.  I was wrong.  And the letter I wrote wasn’t bad.  It’s just that you want to follow North’s instructions, “Don’t burn the bridge. Just cross over it, look behind, and think to yourself: “Free at last!”  To that end, this business manager wrote the following:

Here’s the ideal letter of resignation:

[from address]

[boss’ name and business address]


Dear [bosses name],

I hereby resign from my employment at [xyz company], effective [date].

[typed name]

CC: [HR]


A Letter of Resignation should only be used to establish documented evidence of your choice to end employment. Anything more is superfluous and could be detrimental to your future opportunities. The “one-liner” states the only important fact, and leaves no opportunity for misrepresentation. More to the point: you are not asking; you are telling; and it is unconditional.

Also note that it is neither the purpose of, nor the effect of any letter of resignation to fix anything or anyone. The content of the letter is a private business communication that will not be shared outside of your chain of command and HR. (To do so would put the firm in jeopardy of litigation.)

Also note that one builds one’s [employment] reputation prior to the resignation, rather than with the Letter of Resignation; hence, the letter is not an effective marketing device, and never will be.

Also note that what one “learns” is wholly dependent upon oneself; management, supervisors, and peers merely provide the context. If you feel you must offer gratitude, offer it for the context; but offer it orally in a manner by which you wish to be remembered. In other words, consider what reputation you want to follow you.

Also note that regardless of the content of the letter, you will be “debriefed” in a closed meeting IF the management team wants your opinion; otherwise, they’ll remain silent. The purpose of any debrief will be an attempt to obtain “the truth.” And, from their perspective the truth about how p***** off you may be. Remember the old intelligence maxim: there are no winners in an interrogation; only degrees of loss. (And, don’t be so naive to think they’ll act on your complaints; if they were so disposed, they would have already acted.) So, before the fact, consider how much you can afford to lose by getting chatty.

Lastly, remember that you are under no obligation to communicate the whys and wherefores or rationale of your decisions. These are your private business. Period.

Based on your other thread, followed by this thread, you may find it valuable to assess whether you really want to fix this firm, or really want to get on with your career. That is: wallow in this cesspool, or build your career. Truth be told, you can’t do both and be prosperous.