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You ASKED Electra
Here's an example of the WRONG way to write a resignation letter. For years Electra has had, pinned to her bulletin board (don't ask why), a quotation from William Faulkner's Letter of Resignation from his job as postmaster for the University of Mississippi.
"As long as I live under the capitalistic system I expect to have my life influenced by the demands of moneyed people. But I will be damned if I propose to be at the beck and call of every itinerant scoundrel who has two cents to invest in a postage stamp. This, sir, is my resignation."[Apparently Faulkner was a lousy postmaster. To learn more see the Faulkner Trivia site...where "itinerant scoundrel" is said more boldly.]
Faulkner didn't know (or didn't care) that settling scores and telling the company "what you really think" has no place in a letter of resignation. Unless you're planning to win the Nobel Prize, you had perhaps exercise more caution.
First, because very few resignations are truly "good-bye." You'll continue to list your former employers on your resume in years to come. You may need references from your boss or a co-worker. If you stay in the same industry, you're liable to run into each other at professional meetings and conventions.
Second, because it's always nice to make a "classy exit." Whatever problems there may have been, they (and your old employer) are now in the past.
The RIGHT way to write a resignation letter is this:
1. First paragraph:
"Please accept my resignation from the position of Chief Buttonpusher with This Wonderful Company, Inc. I have really enjoyed working with all of you and have learned so much from our association." (Put this in your own words.)
2. Second paragraph:
"Even More Wonderful Co., Ltd. has offered me a position as Director of Buttonpushing and I feel that this is the right move for me to make. The experience I have had at This Wonderful Company was essential in preparing me for these new responsibilities." (Also in your own words.)
3. Third paragraph:
"My last day will be in two weeks, March 5, 2007. I will hand over my files to the Assistant Buttonpusher and finish my work on the Sort-of-Big Project by then." (Make sure you insert a date here. Two weeks is the expected notice for most positions. You might want to add a sentence to assure your employer that your last two weeks will be spent productively.)
4. Final paragraph:
"I wish you continued success at whatever and please let me know if I can be of assistance in any way."
Permit Electra to slip in one more piece of advice:
TRY, if you can, to keep your former boss and your co-workers as an active part of your network. Write a letter to your boss and your co-workers after you've settled into your new position, giving them your new phone numbers, etc.
You may need these people one day to find a new job--or to cement a consulting contract with your old firm. And even if neither of those situations comes to pass, it never hurts to have friends.
Websites you may want to check:CareerLab - 250 Letters for Job hunters
From 200 Letters for JobHunters by Willam S. Frank: letters for making a graceful exit. (Take a look at "Don't Leave Kicking and Screaming" also by William S. Frank.)
Graphic Resources: Resignation Meeting
Page last updated: 7:28 PM on 5/22/09