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However many people you're writing to, make your resignation letter a professional one that can garner no complaints or ill will. Explain your reasons for leaving, when appropriate, and pay attention to protocol and tone. Your excitement at starting a new job is momentarily dampened at the prospect of writing the resignation letter for your current position. To make matters worse, your position requires that you write it to three or four people, and you have no idea of the proper protocol. Relax. Rest assured that it is easier than you think. Most of all, regardless of your experience with your present employer, approach the resignation letter with positive thoughts.
Begin with a standard business letter format on either personal or company letterhead. Since you are writing to multiple people, you will need more than one address block if they are at separate physical addresses. If they are at the same address, just put the names on separate lines, starting with the highest-ranking manager, and then write the physical address below the names.
Write your salutation. Your organization may have a particular format for internal communications and if so, let this guide the format for your letter. A simple “Dear Mr. Jones, Mr. Smith, Mr. Black and Mr. White” may be all that's needed. For female recipients, use Miss, Ms. or Mrs. as preferred in your organization. You should also be respectful of titles and use Dr. rather than Mr. of Ms. when called for.
Write your intent to resign in your first paragraph, with effective date. If your job requires notice, then use this paragraph to state your intent with regards to serving that notice. For example: “I am writing to inform you of my resignation as associate vice president effective Friday, May 26, at the conclusion of my required two weeks’ notice.” Even if you strongly suspect you will be asked to leave immediately and accept pay in lieu of working during your notice period, you are serving your notice properly and are leaving that option open to your employer.
State your reason for leaving in the second paragraph. You do not have to give details, particularly if you are going to work for another company. You can state a health, personal or family reason as just that: “My reasons for leaving are personal and related to my family, and in no way should be taken as a reflection on my job satisfaction or happiness with the company.” If you are leaving for another job, simply state that you have decided to accept another opportunity that is more closely aligned with your career/personal/family goals.
Write your appreciation and extend an offer of assistance in the third paragraph. Regardless of your overall experience, even if you have to draw down to a level of merely appreciating a paycheck, express appreciation. You can simply state, “I have appreciated my employment with Acme Industries and will take the lessons learned as I move forward.” Of course, if your experience has been more positive, you should state that. Offer to help with necessary transitions during your remaining time; you can put this in a concluding paragraph if your third paragraph has become too lengthy. Close with a professional salutation, such as "Sincerely."
Now is the time to review your employee handbook or employment contract for resignation guidance. This is particularly true if you are going to work for a competitor. It may be worth it to consult an employment attorney, particularly if you are in upper management.
Do not use the resignation letter as a venue for your grievances. It will be placed in your employment file. In a few years’ time –perhaps even less – many of your co-workers or managers may not be there, leaving no one behind with a memory of your tenure. That letter in your file may be the only impression a new human resources director has of you, so make it a professional one.
Based in Central Texas, Karen S. Johnson is a marketing professional with more than 30 years' experience and specializes in business and equestrian topics. Her articles have appeared in several trade and business publications such as the Houston Chronicle. Johnson also co-authored a series of communications publications for the U.S. Agency for International Development. She holds a Bachelor of Science in speech from UT-Austin.
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