When it comes down to quitting a job, there's a tactful way to do it, and then there's the way that tends to burn bridges. Writing your boss a resignation letter is always appropriate if you want to leave on good terms with him and co-workers.
Keep your letter short and sweet. Even if you harbor resentment toward the company or your supervisor, focus on the positive, and leave the emotion out of it.
"Thank people for the things that you have learnt during the time there. Or focus on the positives that helped you (e.g., experience, new skills, managing people) get the new gig," suggests Nauman Noor, senior manager at Oliver Wyman.
Should You Give a Reason for Quitting?
Depending on what your reason is, you should consider mentioning it in your letter. Dr. Michael Provitera, author of the book "Mastering Self-Motivation," suggests only offering the positive reasons you're leaving, such as "better opportunity for growth, relocating, [or] family."
If you're taking another job elsewhere, you can mention it if you think it's appropriate, but don't dive too far into details. You can simply say you're moving on to a promising role in the tech industry. General tends to be better than specific in this type of situation.
How to Format Your Resignation Letter
Simply writing "I quit!" on a piece of paper won't suffice for your resignation letter. Rosemary Guzman Hook is a certified career coach and executive recruiter for Hook The Talent, Inc., and she recommends writing no more than three to four sentences: "Thank your boss for giving you the opportunity to learn more about (_______) industry and (________) job. Tell them one thing you learned from them and let it be the truth," Hook says, "[Then] invite them to keep in touch."
Hook stresses the importance of not expressing your negative feelings in a resignation letter. "There's no purpose or point to it and it reeks of an unprofessional manner regardless of how justified you might be."
Venting about how crazy you think your boss is won't change him, nor will saying something you will regret later help you in the long run. You never know when you might need a referral from your previous boss or co-worker, and if you're remembered as the employee who went ballistic in her resignation letter, they'll be less inclined to help you later.
Tying Up Loose Ends
If you have responsibilities you need to finish up or transition to someone else before you leave, reassure your manager that you'll ensure it's all done by the time you leave (also state your last day of work in the letter).
"Say that you will give a report of the status of all your projects before you go," explains Mary Greenwood, an attorney, human resources director, and the author of "How to Interview Like a Pro: Forty-Three Rules for Getting Your Next Job." "Say that you will do your best to have a seamless transition and encourage the employer to call you after you have left if questions come up."
Taking care of outstanding issues and projects can be a big help to your co-workers who would otherwise be saddled with your leftover work. They'll appreciate it if you have a plan to make sure there are no loose ends when you leave the company.
A well-written resignation letter can help you leave on good terms, and help you maintain relationships for the future. Remember to be professional at all times, and give your boss a reason to be glad he hired you in the first place That way, he'll still give you a positive review if a future employer calls for feedback.
Lindsay Olson is a founding partner and public relations recruiter with Paradigm Staffing and Hoojobs.com, a niche job board for public relations, communications, and social media jobs. She blogs at LindsayOlson.com, where she discusses recruiting and job search issues.