Paralegal Career Tip: How to Write a Resignation Letter

To everything turn turn. There is a time to plant, a time to reap. There is a time to laugh, a time to weep. There is a time to build up, a time to break down. And there is a time to resign from your job (we aren't sure why the Byrds didn't include that last one in their lyrics). When this time comes - the time for you to resign from your job, a resignation letter is usually written.


Writing a resignation letter seems simple enough: if you don't do it correctly, what are they going to do, fire you? Even so, a resignation letter needs to include - and exclude - certain things. You might be quitting your job, but you don't really want to burn any professional bridges in the process. The point of a resignation letter is to keep things clear for both the employer and employee.

Be Certain You're Ready to Move on:

Before composing a resignation letter, you have to be absolutely certain that you really do intend to resign from your job. A resignation letter is a tangible proof of evidence: once it's in circulation, there is no going back. Sure, you could claim that you didn't actually write the letter or that - Hi, OJ - the black glove didn't really fit, but employers won't be fooled by this. Once you've submitted a resignation letter, whether you want to or not, you are resigning.

Be Polite:

On the level of likability, your boss may be up their with Joseph Stalin, but a resignation letter does not serve as your podium to tell him that. Though you may be washing your hands of your boss and his unfair, harsh ways, sometime down the line you might need to borrow his paper towel, so to speak. Former bosses are often used as references, even when you don't intend them to be. Jobs, apartment rentals, background checks can all call on former employers to attest to your character. If you write a letter of resignation that tells your boss where to stick his hard drive, you might find yourself being referenced as a villain.

Be Brief, But Not Too Brief:

While a resignation letter should be to the point, it doesn't need to be drowning in brevity: simply writing "Peace, I'm outta here!" on a sheet of notebook paper doesn't exactly suffice. Instead, type up a letter that officially announces your departure and thanks your employer for the years - or perhaps days - you've spent working at his company. Adhere to business format and include all your contact (and future contact) information. Your employer may need to contact you at a later date.

Don't Give Reasons for Your Leaving:

Whenever we leave a job, there are probably a million and one reasons why. We hate our coworkers, we think our job is boring, the coffee in the break room tastes like motor oil. Whatever the reason for your departure, don't announce it to your supervisor. Doing so will only place your supervisor on the defensive: no one wants to hear bad things about the company they oversee.

Be Prepared for a Follow Up:

Most employers, upon receiving a letter of resignation, will call whomever is quitting into their office for a quick follow up. This typically involves formalities: what your employer wants you to get in order before you leave, where you are on your work load, and a general debriefing. Though the irate employee within you may be screaming to let your boss have it, hold your tongue. There's no sense in opening a can of worms you won't be around to put back in.


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