If you’re considering leaving your job, whether for personal reasons for because you have a better offer, a good resignation letter can work in your favor in multiple ways. Whether you have a good relationship with your current employer or you’re jumping ship because they treat you badly, your exit matters.
First, it’s just good manners. If you’re considering just not showing up, don’t do it. It’s not worth it. Besides burning bridges, it’s not ethically okay to ghost your employer. Whether you like them or not, they worry. Your soon-to-be former employer and your coworkers (and HR department) want to know that you weren’t in an accident or hospitalized.
How Much Notice Should You Give When You Leave Your Job?
Generally speaking, an employer can accept your resignation at any time and employers would prefer even a short amount of notice versus none at all (which is considered job abandonment). While most people do give the typical two weeks’ notice, in industries like restaurants or retail, sudden quitting happens more frequently. When I was a manager in retail it caused a lot of issues for me as an HR leader because the practice often for the employer was to send a registered letter to the employee. This was done to because we wanted to make sure that nothing nefarious had happened to the employee, but I also used this information to fight an employee if they chose to file for unemployment benefits.
A formal resignation letter (email is considered just fine these days, but I recommend you send it from your personal email account so you can maintain a record – at the least, BCC your personal email) with a thank you statement, record of intention (offering to train your replacement), and timeline is sufficient.
Before you send your resignation, make a point to talk to your current supervisor. If you’re leaving because of your current supervisor and you don’t feel comfortable doing so, talk to your supervisor’s boss or human resources. Depending on the circumstances, especially in cases of harassment, this should be your first conversation once you’ve decided to leave. If you’re genuinely leaving for a better opportunity, be upfront with your current supervisor, be positive, be cheerful. Make a point to thank your supervisor for his or her support (you’ll reiterate this in your resignation letter) and ask your supervisor how they would prefer to communicate the information to your team and/or human resources.
Once you’ve had this meeting, you can send your resignation email. If you’re stuck on what to say and need some inspiration, see the example resignation letter below.
SAMPLE RESIGNATION LETTER TEMPLATE
Dear (supervisor, manager, or employer),
I would like to inform you that I am resigning from position as (job title) at (company name) effective (date at least two weeks in the future). I appreciate the opportunities for learning and development and the support I have received during my time with (company name).
I am available immediately to discuss this transition and will be happy to assist with redistributing my responsibilities or training a replacement. Please let me know how I can help.
(your name and personal contact info)
That’s it? That’s it. Your resignation letter should be short. You are not required to provide a reason for leaving in writing (it’s best if you don’t put it in writing regardless), and you definitely do not want to use this opportunity to vent about all of the job-related or personal frustrations you’ve been holding back. That’s exactly what you’d do if you wanted to burn this bridge and potentially create a poor reputation in your community forever. Yes, forever, and I’m not being dramatic for emphasis.
Build Bridges Even with Your Resignation Letter
Remember that the world is a much smaller place than it used to be, especially with digital communities or if you work in an industry like technology. If you use your resignation letter as an opportunity to blast your manager (even if you do it via HR), you’re the one who will appear unprofessional, no matter how terrible your manager or your company is. It only takes one HR pro quoting your “epic resignation letter” to a colleague – you don’t know how far this kind of information can spread.
Additionally, you might want (or need) your current supervisor or employer to be a reference for you in the future. It might not seem important if you’re leaving for another job, because your new job may seem secure from your current perspective, but you can’t predict what may happen down the road. You could be out of a job in two months’ time, and might even want to consider returning to your former employer. A negative resignation letter not only means you won’t be eligible for rehire, it also means that your former employer will not be eager to be a reference when you’re applying for future jobs. Even if it’s the job after the one after the one you’re leaving this one for, most companies and recruiters will contact your last four or five employers for a reference (and background checks certainly will). Ten years down the road, your “epic resignation letter” could come back to bite you.
Let me reiterate one point: Unless you believe your health or life is in danger, do not ghost your employer. It might be tempting, but doing so will ensure that your soon-to-be former employer will never be a good reference for you in the future. Even if you’ve only been employed for a month and you have genuine reasons to be ticked off, even a short notice is better than not showing up and blocking phone calls and emails. This does happen and it never looks good.