What to say (and not to say!) in a resignation letter

A resignation letter needs to specify certain things, but others are best omitted! Watch out for blunders, because the written word is forever.

Above all, a resignation letter is not a settling of accounts. All the human resources specialists we consulted were unanimous on this point—it is never appropriate to complain about or criticize the employer, colleagues or the company in such a letter. Regardless of the circumstances, a respectful, sober tone is required. Why? Because the job market is not as big as you think it is, and you may one day again have to work with a former boss or colleagues. Moreover, you should stay on good terms to get the good references required to land future positions.

“The letter should be succinct, two or three paragraphs at most,” explains Danielle Labre, CHRP and Senior Partner with Vézina Nadeau Labre, a human resources consulting firm specializing in career transition and employee retention. To leave on good terms, indicate that the departure will be effective as of a certain date (after previously checking with the employer for the length of notice required, or other arrangements to this effect).

“To terminate the employment relationship constructively, you can also say that you appreciated your time with the company, and list the positive things that you liked about working there,” says Ms. Labre.

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