Resignation Letter Story: Lessons Learned from Leaving a Job on Good Terms

July 8, 2023
Est. Reading: 7 minutes


Resignation Letter Story: Lessons Learned from Leaving a Job on Good Terms

Every once and a while, you’ll get a better offer or just feel the need to leave your current employer. When this happens, you can choose how you exit the place. Sure, you can slam the door behind you and exit to be retold for generations of new employment cycles, but this is not the best of ideas. 

The last time I found myself in this situation, a few things were on my mind. It was not uncommon for you to work with the same people again (colleagues circulate, but it’s not impossible to encounter some of the people you’ve already worked with in one of your next posts). 

Also, people from the same industry meet and talk. So, how you exit will be retold more than you expect. If any of your future employers ever decides to try digging out the dirt, what they find depends (greatly) on your behavior while resigning.

Then, there was the question of my work ethic. Except for a few instances and individuals, my working experience in this company was (mostly) positive. It’s not that I didn’t like it there; it’s just that the new offer was too good for me to let slide. So, it was also important for me (from a personal standpoint) to be fair to the organization that was fair toward me. 

So, in my experience (gathered from a few such instances), here’s how you write a great resignation letter. Also, here are a few pointers on how I think you should conduct yourself during the exit interview and how to act in the aftermath, in general. 

In this article

How to write a letter of resignation

The first thing you need to do is prepare a letter of resignation. If you’ve never made one or just need some inspiration, you should find an example of a letter of resignationA template is always useful to help you stick to the form and format and help you stay on track.

Stay professional while writing the letter. This is still a formal document and may go to the archive to be analyzed later. At that point, the HR at the company may have a completely different composition and consist of people who have never met you. Try to be impartial and professional. 

Start with a clear statement of resignation. You need to avoid ambiguity and be as concise as possible. There’s no better opening statement than just to say outright that you’re leaving.

Then, you want to mention the effective date. Study your contract and see how long you have to submit your resignation. Even then, don’t just do it for the contract. Your employer deserves time to find someone to replace you. You may even have to stick around to train your replacement (or at least onboard them). This might take a while.

Then, you need to express your gratitude. Mention how long you’re there, thank them for your opportunities, and even point out what you’ve learned in their employ. If there’s anyone there that you believe benefited your career, now’s the time to mention them. It could make a difference. Don’t shy away from using some storytelling in your letter of resignation.

Ultimately, offer some assistance in this transition period. It would mean the world to them and give you a chance to say goodbye. 

Check, edit, proofread

Let the letter sit on your desk for a while when it is done. Sure, you may be eager to wrap it all up. After all, this is a big move, and you may be anxious about how your current employer will take it. 

Even taking an hour’s break before returning to the letter will make a difference in your perception of it. One of the biggest mistakes that most writers make (even if they’re just writing a letter) is assuming that what’s clear to them is clear to the reader. You know more than you’ve written; you also know what you want to write, which sometimes makes a huge difference. 

Ideally, you want someone else to read this letter, as well. A friend, family member, partner, or acquaintance would help.

Read it aloud to make sure everything’s in order. You would be surprised how many errors this simple proofreading trick has prevented. 

You want to check grammar and punctuation. Failing to do so will send a message that you didn’t even try. Especially today, when there are so many AI tools that can help you check your grammar, the only explanation to why you have spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors is that you didn’t try.

The most important part of the letter is verifying names and details. The last thing you want is to mispronounce the name of someone you’ve worked with for years and years. 

Finally, keep a formal tone and avoid any negative or emotional language. If you give the letter to someone to check it for you, instruct them to watch out for these elements. 

Keep the NDA in mind

Many people sign an NDA either when they start working at a certain company or just before they quit. Now’s the time for you to carefully review the NDA terms. If you’re unsure what some of the things in your NDA mean, you could ask HR or legal to clarify them.

Now, the majority of NDA agreements usually involve several clauses:

Maintain confidentiality: This is the most important part of every NDA. It means that, even after leaving the company, you must keep client data, trade secrets, and any other form of sensitive information secret. Without it, corporate espionage would be too potent, and all it would take for a competing company to poach a single employee to learn all their secrets.

Return company property: If you have electronic devices (like a company phone or a laptop) that you’ve received in the line of duty, you must return them. Company documents, access cards, keys, and other materials fall under this category. Lastly, even digital files and copies of private information you’ve kept on your devices count.

Non-compete clause: Some NDAs require you to sign a non-compete clause. This means you may not be allowed to work in a similar field after leaving the company. This one is quite rare but is the most important clause you should focus on.

In the end, your NDA is something that you should read carefully when signing and something that you should check before resigning. 

How to act during the exit interview

Coming up with some nice phrases is always welcome, but now you must show that you mean it. More likely than not, you’ll be summoned for the exit interview. Pay attention to your behavior during this critical moment. 

Start prepared: Have a few positive (and even one or two negatives) experiences to share. Remember that people from HR aren’t talking to you just to honor the form. They need feedback. Try to give them something constructive.

Avoid personal attacks: This is no longer relevant, even if you leave because of a single person. Chances are you’ve already tried to sort things out by any means necessary. All that’s left for you is to keep your dignity while leaving.

Express gratitude: Here, you can afford to be less formal. Recognize the positive aspects of your time working there and be prepared to specifically state one positive thing about the workplace that you’ll miss.

Actively listen: While this is the time for you to speak, don’t ignore what the interviewers have to say. You may benefit from their insight. They also want to part ways; the least you can do is listen to them. 

Two key things you need to express here are your professionalism and respectfulness. Still, people will understand even if you are a bit more emotional now. 

Learn how to act during these last few weeks

This is a test that a lot of people fail. Many people mentally quit their job even before submitting their resignation letters. They feel like they’re no longer obliged to care or try just because they’ve decided to leave. This is the last thing you want. It’s the easiest way to ruin everything you’ve done well in this enterprise and earn some negative reputation.

Remain a team player. Fulfill all your obligations and ensure your replacement gets the right onboarding. You want to tie all loose ends before you leave.

Also, keep the communication active. You want to use this last networking opportunity. You never know if one of your colleagues will be in one of the next enterprises you apply to. Always think three steps ahead.

As we’ve mentioned, there are company items to return and company profiles to log out of. So, make a logistical plan for handling all of this during the last few days. 

Learning how to resign in style is a crucial part of your career journey

Remember, this is one of the last formal instances of your interaction with the firm where you spent so much time. Because of this and some of the reasons we’ve already listed, try to be as respectful as possible. If nothing else, honor your experience and the time you’ve invested in this enterprise. This is a sign of professional maturity and a positive work ethic. 

By Srdjan Gombar

Veteran content writer, published author, and amateur boxer. Srdjan is a Bachelor of Arts in English Language & Literature and is passionate about technology, pop culture, and self-improvement. His free time he spends reading, watching movies, and playing Super Mario Bros. with his son.

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