Resignation Letters: Dont Let Yours Backfire On You...

It turns out that "tips and templates on how to writeresignation letters" is the third most sought-afterinformation at my Writing Help Central Web site.

So, when I looked into the subject more closely, I wassurprised to find that there is not a lot of guidanceavailable in guide book form on how to write a proper andappropriate resignation letter. In fact, a recent visit tothe world's largest bookstore revealed thatthere are no "how to" books available there that deal withthe art of writing resignation letters.

Surprising, but true.

This is interesting, because when you really look into it,you realize that whether you leave a job gracefully andappropriately will almost certainly have career and personalimplications, and can be almost as important as writinga resume/cv or a cover letter.


A resignation letter will be one of the most emotionally-charged business letters that you will ever write. Thesentiments behind it are invariably volatile because ofwhat it represents. In fact, studies have found thatleaving a job can be almost as stressful as the breakup ofa marriage.

Nevertheless, it is highly advisable that not too many ofthose emotions, especially any negative feelings, gettransferred to the written page. As much as possible, aresignation letter should be treated as a business letter,just like any other business letter.

There are a number of reasons why resignation letters havemore emotional implications than most other personal orbusiness letters. Here are the obvious ones:

- They are highly personal because they normally mark the

severance of both professional and personal relationships,

sometimes of a long-term nature.

- They typically signify the end of a period in a person's

professional and/or personal life.

- They represent the beginning of a new period or phase in

someone's personal and professional life, conjuring up

the fears that often arise with an uncertain future.


Following are a number of primary characteristics thatare unique to resignation letters.

Not Just Job-Related

Mention "resignation letter" and 99 of 100 people will thinkexclusively about job-related situations. In reality, thereare a number of areas and circumstances for whichrecommendation letters can be required. For example, inaddition to leaving jobs, resignation letters can berequired for such situations as: stepping down from acommittee, opting out of a course at school, leaving a clubor fellowship, and others.

Sensitive and Delicate

When you submit your resignation letter it will haveimplications for you, the organization you are leaving,and the colleagues and friends you are leaving behind. Youmust realize that regardless of the real reasons behind yourdeparture, the message received by many will be that you'releaving because the organization and/or people just don'tmeasure up any more. This is a natural human reaction formany people and can't be entirely avoided. Just besensitive to it and don't say, do, or write anything thatunnecessarily aggravates such feelings of abandonment.

Simple Formality or Big Surprise

A resignation letter can simply be the formalization of a conversation that already took place with your boss, or anannouncement you made in a meeting. On the other hand, a resignation letter can be tendered completely unannounced,as a total surprise. In fact, this is often the case in thereal world. If this latter case applies in your situation,you will have to be prepared to deal with any one of anumber of possible reactions from the organization andyour colleagues, ranging from total acceptance, to anger,bargaining, and resentment.

Positive Beats Negative

The way in which you resign from an organization can havesignificant implications, both career-wise, and personally.Regardless of the circumstances and/or atmosphere surrounding your departure, you will be well-advised totake whatever measures you can to neutralize any negativefactors that may be in play. The approach and wording usedin the resignation letter can go a long way towardsachieving this aim.

Always A Balancing Act

Writing a letter of resignation can be a bit of a balancingact. You want to be honest, clear, and firm regarding yourintentions to leave, while at the same time you don't wantto alienate the employer you are leaving. It would be nicefor that door to remain open, or at least ajar, just incase you want to enter it in the future. After all, younever know what may happen down the road. For all you know,your current employer could end up buying the company youare moving to. So be careful about limiting your futureoptions.

Backlash Can Be Swift

Negative impacts from a poorly written or inappropriatelyworded resignation letter can be almost immediate. For

example, if you are hoping to get a good recommendationor reference from the employer you're leaving, a negativeresignation letter can only hurt your letter ofrecommendation/reference. Also, even if you don't requesta recommendation letter there is nothing to stop futurepotential employers from checking back with organizationsyou have worked for.

So here's a word to to the wise. Before you blindly jump into writing a resignation letter, you might want to spendsome time thinking about it and finding out how to writeone that is proper and appropriate, so that it won't comeback to haunt you.

To see a fully-formatted "real-life template" of a simple letter of resignation, check out the following link:

© 2005 by Shaun Fawcett

Shaun Fawcett, is webmaster of the popular writing help He is also the author of severalbest selling "writing toolkit" eBooks. All of his eBooks andhis internationally acclaimed f-r-e-e course, "Tips and TricksFor Writing Success" are available at his writing tools site:

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