What not to include in your letter of resignation

What not to include in your letter of resignation

Congratulations on being made a job offer.

The time has come to inform your current employer that you’re leaving. But before you start typing up that letter of resignation, spend some time to think carefully about what exactly you want to say, because it's not as simple as saying "I quit my job."

While some may think that this an opportunity to finally tell their manager what they really think of them and the company, this will almost always backfire the wrong way.

Here are five things you should not include in your letter of resignation if you want to maintain a degree of professionalism and leave your current employer on a positive note.

1. Complaints/negative comments

As frustrated as you may be with your current situation, you’ll want to leave on good terms. Complaining about your employer in your letter of resignation puts you at risk of burning your bridges career-wise.

Your current boss(es) and colleagues could one day serve as references for your next job. Complaining about your company could also have serious consequences if you’re staying in the same industry working alongside old clients or vendors.  

Instead of listing down everything you dislike about the company, acknowledge the positives of your time with them and how they have helped enhance your career.

2. The reason(s) you’re resigning

Regardless of whether it’s the people, processes or pay that drove you towards resigning, only your immediate boss/supervisor needs to know the exact reason you’re resigning.

Focusing too much detail about why you’re leaving in your formal resignation letter may give your former company a permanently poor impression of you, especially since a copy of your resignation letter is kept on file as a company record.

To keep it professional when quitting your job, keep your letter of resignation short and sweet. An in-depth explanation is only necessary if you’re asked verbally during an exit interview.

3. Boast about your new job

Your letter of resignation is not the right place for you to share details of your new job. You may not realise it, but this in most cases can come across as annoying or entitled (at best).

Going into lengthy details about your new job is something that most employers don’t want to read about. It can be compared to rubbing salt into their ‘wound’ of losing you – especially if you’re going to work for a competitor.

If you are asked after submitting your resignation letter about your new job, remember that you're under no obligations to give any details. You can offer details once you’ve settled in your new role.

4. Going overboard with compliments

It’s one thing to make your letter of resignation a long rant about everything that’s wrong with your company – as mentioned earlier, that will be frowned upon.

However, you also need to avoid going to the other extreme by sharing too much unnecessary praise for your employer – as your words might be misconstrued as insincere sarcasm, which is equally unprofessional.

Thank your employer in your formal resignation letter by all means – but keep it straightforward.

5. Outcast colleagues who influenced your decision

Perhaps morale has been low in your company and many are planning to quit, or there’s a bad boss in your company who is driving everyone to leave.

Refrain from mentioning any names in your letter of resignation, even though you may be tempted to do. Casting your colleagues in a negative light may jeopardise their career (and yours). As a professional you’ll want to remain in good terms with everyone – even those hostile coworkers.

The best practice when it comes to writing a formal resignation letter is to express gratitude when writing about your team, and wish them all the best in their future endeavours.

Discover more career advice

Keep your letter of resignation short, sweet and simple

Keep these five things in mind as you pen your letter of resignation. A well-written letter puts you in your soon-to-be-former employer’s good graces and sets you apart as a true professional, which is only the more beneficial for your career.

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