Quitting your job is
no easy task, but sometimes it just has to be done. Whether you've grown disenchanted with your field or have decided to pack up and move to the rainforest, the possible motives for a major change are endless. Of course it's usually a good idea to quit calmly and professionally, with no hard feelings. But sometimes, if you're leaving a particularly dire work situation and you feel like you just have to leave your employer a message that won't soon be forgotten — well, who are we to judge?
We rounded up a few real-life resignation letters that did just that. These explanations of unfair employers, failing industries, and classic misogyny make us pretty damn thankful for our own jobs. These letters undoubtedly grabbed the attention of the employers in question — while also captivating the entire internet. But it's not all job drama and burned bridges: One particularly poetic letter-writer resigned for a surprising but positive reason.
Ahead are some of our favorite resignation letters that went viral. As for whether your next resignation should include similarly, um,
strong messaging — we'll leave that up to you.
In 2012, Goldman Sachs executive director Greg Smith resigned from the company in possibly unprecedented fashion: via
an op-ed piece in . His sign-off is more sad than scathing, chronicling the dashed dreams of a man who dedicated much of his life to an industry that fell prey to widespread corruption and greed. The New York Times
"After almost 12 years at the firm," Smith writes, "[it] has veered so far from the place I joined right out of college that I can no longer in good conscience say that I identify with what it stands for."
He continues to explain that when he began, the Goldman Sachs mission revolved around integrity, teamwork, humility, and always putting the client first. "I am sad to say that I look around today and see virtually no trace of the culture that made me love working for this firm for many years," Smith adds. "I no longer have the pride, or the belief."
Smith concludes by saying he hopes this will serve as a wake-up call for the firm's board of directors, urging them to stop putting profit before people. "People who care only about making money will not sustain this firm — or the trust of its clients — for very much longer."
There's nothing quite like using your undervalued yet highly trained skills to stick it to the man.
Cracked reports that instead of a scathing resignation letter, one "unnamed techie" left behind a scathing pop-up Mac alert:
"The designer you treat like shit has quit unexpectedly," the alert reads. "Your company and other employees are not affected. Click Renegotiate to discuss terms for new contract. Click HR to find out how badly you fucked up."
Cracked hypothesizes that the designer is a man "trying to set an ultimatum for his employers to treat him better." But we like to imagine a
badass lady coder who's had it up to here and is ready to exit in dramatic style. More
As far as horrible bosses go, the guy who was running London media agency MEC Global may just take the cake. Racism? Check. Ableism? Check. Sexism and anti-Semitism? Check and check.
According to the Huffington Post, one employee's now-viral resignation letter chronicles this supervisor's laundry list of inappropriate behaviors:
Made jokes about the “Spastic Olympics” (referring to Para-Olympics)
Openly claimed to be proud “not to have a drop of Jewish blood in him”
Regularly made sexist and other bigoted remarks
Took a female colleague out for a drink on the day he interviewed her, then later took her back to the MEC offices that night and had sexual relations with her in the meeting rooms on the 3rd floor.
And that's not all: The employee explains that the supervisor was not even keeping any of this misconduct a secret, and that it was widespread knowledge throughout the company.
A spokesperson for the company responded: "We are sad that one of our employees has chosen to share their personal views in such a public way and has left the company with such bad feeling." Gee, you think?
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After writing for
People magazine for 14 years, Sara Hammel went out with a bang, penning a job-breakup letter for the ages.
"It's not me, it's you," she wrote. "Despite your nicey-nice, glossy and chirpy veneer, some of us think of you more as the Leo DiCaprio of magazines, using up every beautiful model that crosses your path ('beautiful model'= 'award-winning journalist' in this scenario), discarding them, and pretending you leave no wake behind you."
She also called out the magazine's "batshit crazy publicists" and apparent lack of recognition for hard-working staff members.
New York Post asked for its side of the story, a spokesperson said the magazine does "not comment on personnel matters." People Illustrated by Abbie Winters. More
When elementary school teacher Zoë Brown
quit her job last year, she didn't send her resignation letter to her boss. Instead, she went straight to the Education Secretary, Nicky Morgan — taking the U.K. government to task for its controversial (and, it seems, totally unreasonable) testing requirements.
“I know you’ve struggled to listen to and understand teachers in the past so I’m going to try and make this as clear as possible,” she wrote in her letter. “In the six short years I have been teaching your party has destroyed the education system. Obliterated it. Ruined it. It is broken.”
She added that the government tests "are making up their own grammar rules and insisting we assess children’s ability to follow them," and that the unfair exams effectively cause children to give up on their own education.
BuzzFeed reports that when schools minister Nick Gibb appeared on BBC to defend the new tests, he failed to correctly answer a question designed for kids nearly 50 years younger than him. Illustrated by Abbie Winters. More
Okay, this "resignation letter" is not notable for its contents. It's notable (and absolutely appalling) because it was forged — and sent — by a woman's husband without her knowledge. Apparently, he had decided that having a working wife was just TOO STRESSFUL for his gigantic male ego to tolerate.
Shah Faesal, the unidentified woman's employer, refers to her simply as a "lady official" who worked for him in government service; he
wrote on Facebook that he received her (fake) resignation letter in the mail. The woman heard about her own supposed resignation from office staff.
"I have not filed this resignation," she told Faesal, according to his post. "The letter was sent by my husband in my name without telling me. He is not having a job and he doesn't want me to have one. I want to work and earn for my children." As you have every right to do, lady.
"It shattered all of us," Faesal added. "Most of us were men around and our heads dropped with shame. We knew that somewhere all men have this insecurity that they do not want their wives to outgrow and outshine them. But here was a great lesson to learn... We need to do something about it."
Illustrated by Abbie Winters. More
Wendy Bradshaw, like Zoë Brown, left her teaching job after it became clear that the under-funded education system was depriving schools of resources while simultaneously prioritizing tests over the actual education (and well-being, and mental health) of the kids. She posted her
heart-wrenching resignation note on Facebook.
"I just cannot justify making students cry anymore," Bradshaw explained. "They cry with frustration as they are asked to attempt tasks well out of their zone of proximal development. They cry as their hands shake trying to use an antiquated computer mouse on a ten year old desktop computer... Some misbehave so that they will be the ‘bad kid’ not the ‘stupid kid.'"
Since tendering her resignation, Bradshaw has founded
her own alternative K-8 school that prioritizes independent learning and self-motivation. Illustrated by Abbie Winters. More
Possibly the most poetic resignation letter of all time, this particular quote even has the required 17 syllables of a Haiku.
Whats On Weibo reports that the letter writer is a social worker named Wu, who is from China's Zhejiang province. A mother of one who longed for another child, Wu was already unhappy with her job when she learned about the end of China's one-child policy. She decided this was the perfect opportunity to quit. And she did so with quite the lyric letter:
The policy has loosened, I’ll resign and go home Take care of my body, and give birth again
Illustrated by Abbie Winters. More Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here? What If The BBC Viral-Video Dad Were...A Mom? Here's What Really Matters In A Job Interview, According To A Google Exec What's Next For 'Feminist' Company THINX After Employee Backlash?