Resignation Letters: Dos and Don'ts

by Safani, Barbara Thursday, November 04, 2010
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Are you preparing to resign from your current job? AOL Jobs recently spoke with Dr. Randall Hanson, founder of Quintessential Careers, one of the oldest and most comprehensive career development sites on the Web, for advice on the best way to resign from a job.

According to Hanson, a resignation letter documents your last day of work, but it also eliminates the potential for any miscommunication that can occur when an employee resigns verbally. The resignation letter gives you the opportunity to highlight some of your key achievements and it can cement relationships (and even a reference) with the boss. As Hanson notes, "you never want to end things on bad terms, as word can easily get around."

In order to ensure a graceful and professional resignation, Hansen recommends the following:

-Do know how to resign from your job gracefully and professionally.
-Don't get caught off-guard, so do prepare to resign by removing all personal items and files from your office and computer for those instances when your employer will ask you to leave as soon as you tender your resignation.
-Do make the transition as easy and as smooth as possible. And do offer to help find and/or train your replacement. But don't make promises you can't or won't keep.
-Don't make any statements or express any opinions that you may later regret. Remember that old adage: If you have nothing good to say, say nothing at all.
-Do be sure and give proper notice to your current employer.
-Don't burn any bridges. Do leave on good terms with your co-workers and supervisors.
-Do the exit interview with your current employer, if required. But don't say anything negative about your supervisor or co-workers during the interview, no matter how tempted you are.
-Don't disappear during your last weeks on the job. Do stay a productive member of the team.
-Do make sure you receive all your stored-up compensation and benefits including bonus checks and unused vacation time, personal days, etc.
-Don't consider a counteroffer unless you are sure it's a better deal for you; studies show a high percentage of workers still leave the employer within a year of accepting a counteroffer, some being forced out.
-Do make a plan to keep in touch with key coworkers, friends, and mentors. Keep your network strong.
-Don't feel guilty about leaving. It may be hard to leave, but focus on the fact that you are leaving to accept a greater career opportunity. And don't brag about that great opportunity.
-Do your best to wrap up all your major assignments. And do leave a detailed progress report for your supervisor and/or successor.
-Do be prepared for some employers to overreact to your resignation; some employers immediately dismiss employees who resign.
-Do write a professional letter or memo. See these resignation letter samples.
-Don't feel as though you need to tell your current employer any reason for leaving your job, but do be polite in thanking the employer for the opportunity to work there.
-Do submit your letter of resignation to your immediate supervisor, with a copy to the human resources department.