Sometimes you end up in a position, for instance, Press Secretary at the White House, that you’re not exactly cut out for. Everyone has to quit a job at some point. Whether you’ve found a new gig or just get the feeling (perhaps from watching news reports) that your seconds away from being fired when it’s time to walk away, there’s a right and a wrong way to do it.
Write a Nice Letter
Even if this was the worst job you’ve ever had and you’d love to burn the place down, your resignation letter should be polite and professional. One thing I’ve learned over the years is that the world is really a super small place. Presuming you’re working in a professional capacity at your job, then your professional world is probably even smaller. Don’t burn any bridges.
You’d be shocked at how a bad boss or a bad job can pop back up down the line. Ten years from now you might want to get a job at another company where the boss is good friends, or neighbours, or old uni classmates with your bad boss from the decade before. Or maybe your boss will have moved on and you’ll want to come back to the company in some capacity.
Bosses are temporary, but your employee file is forever. Don’t screw over future you by leaving a nasty note in there to be found.
Instead, keep your resignation letter to just a few sentences. Try and have a sentence or two of positive comments about your time at the company, and then note the day you would like to be your last. Something like this:
I’ve really enjoyed my time working at Acme Inc., particularly the past few years in the whoopee cushion department. Unfortunately, the time has come for me to accept a position elsewhere. My last day will be August 31. Over the next month I would be happy to help find and train my replacement.
All the best,
This isn’t the time to talk about how you were wronged or to point out bad decisions that were made over the years. Keep it short, sweet, and to the point. You’re leaving, all that bad stuff doesn’t matter anymore.
Give Two to Four Weeks
Don’t ruin your years of hard work at your job by catching your boss off guard with a resignation letter. No matter how bad the job is, you should always offer to work for an additional two-four weeks after you pass in your resignation letter. In some cases, your boss might tell you to go ahead and go as soon as you pass in the letter, in others, you sticking around can help give the company time to find a replacement and/or come up with a plan to handle your job responsibilities until they do.
If you have a particularly involved job and like your employer, you may want to consider giving even more notice to discuss an appropriate end date with your boss. Or your contract might actually stipulate an amount of notice you have to give. The goal here is to give the company a chance to make plans for what they’re going to do without you rather than to leave them unexpectedly hanging.
Be Ready to Go
Before you hand in your resignation letter, be ready for today to be your last. Sometimes employers take resignation letters well and want to keep you around for as long as possible (or want to offer you more cash than that fancy other company did). Other times, an employer might feel betrayed by your resignation or concerned that you will use your remaining time at the company to gather knowledge you’ll take to your new gig and they might ask you to leave immediately.
Don’t clear off your desk before you head into your boss’s office, but do back up any emails and files you want that your boss might lock you out of once he hears you’re leaving. If you use a company computer, make sure you’ve removed any personal photos or files, and that you’ve deleted those chat messages you and your coworker had about how awful your boss is. That way if he does ask you to leave, you’re ready.