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  • Writer's pictureScott Munden

Time to Resign? The Resignation Letter

Remaining professional in one’s career is an ongoing commitment through good and bad times.

Sadly, many of us have been in a job in which, for one reason or another, we choose to resign. Sometimes those decisions come easily and other times they are riddled with self doubt and second guessing. Regardless of how one comes to the conclusion, the need for professionalism remains even when employment circumstances are intolerable. Take the high road always, since the low road goes nowhere. The low road might give an employee a temporary high, but it will be replaced by a regretful low in most cases.

This brings me to the subject of the resignation letter. I’m sure most people think that a resignation letter is archaic and wonder why any person would bother? I tend to be old-fashioned when it comes to these things… and, yes, that does include cover letters for those who know me.

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The Right and Wrong when it comes to Resigning

I do believe that a well-crafted resignation letter is a way to exit a position with grace and dignity intact, and isn't that something to strive for? So, what should be in a well-crafted resignation letter? What does it look like? Here are a few tips...

Keep it short

A resignation letter is not the time to become emotional and lash out at managers or colleagues. It should be a simple statement of resignation and identify the final day of work. That last day should be honoured by the employer and, in most jurisdictions, they have the option of either terminating employment immediately and paying out jurisdictional severance or allowing the person resigning to work through their notice period. Don’t take it personally should the employer decide not to honour the resignation notice period. It just might be company/household policy and have nothing to do with the employee.

Offer assistance

Be gracious. Try to be understanding. Make the offer to assist the employer transition during the notice period. This might mean making sure that the manager/employer has all the data s/he will need going forward to facilitate the onboarding of the person hired to fill the position. I understand that the gesture might be difficult to swallow if the employee has been mistreated, but the objective should always be to exit and hold one’s head high. Rise above circumstance. Don't be dragged down into the muck.

Deliver the resignation letter directly

Don’t use email. Certainly don’t text. Engage your employer or manager at an appropriate time and have a face-to-face conversation about your departure as you deliver the formal resignation letter. Keep it neutral. Let your employer or manager ask follow up questions about your departure. Once again, resist going on the attack. Exercise all of your diplomatic skills. The employee’s mission is a simple one. Resign and deliver the formal letter of resignation. Leave the kvetching for home or over a drink with a friend.

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Keep it Professional & Deliver it by Hand when Possible

Be prepared for the unexpected

To be prepared, one must fully understand why the resignation is occurring. Resigning doesn’t come easily to most people and lots of thought goes into the decision. Remember those thoughts. An employer might try to retain the person resigning with a promotion or a salary increase. That’s great if that’s what prompted the resignation in the first place. Then again, an employee should ask themselves: “Why did my employer wait until they were confronted with a resignation before offering me something that’s been earned?” It’s a good question.

An employer may request an exit interview. Agree to it. Again, don’t use an exit interview to express anger or hurt feelings. Focus on what the organization can do going forward to retain talent. In times of labour shortages, all firms want to understand how they can reduce staff turnover and retain talent. In most cases, the employee will be respected for their contribution.

Say your goodbyes

Finally, say goodbye to trusted and valued colleagues. It is part of cultivating and nurturing one’s professional network. Colleagues will likely miss the person resigning and deserve a heartfelt farewell and perhaps an invitation to remain in touch. A sincere farewell will pay back.

Graciousness. Dignity. Professionalism. These are all good things and represent the qualities employees should strive towards when leaving a position. In spite of what may have occurred, the aim is to hold one’s head high while departing that front door for a final time.

© 2023, Portico Inc.

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