Work It Out

Here's exactly what to write in your resignation letter

Dear Work It Out,

I work in a metal fabrication company and would like to resign. I'm quitting for the first time ever in my life and need some advice.

My questions are: What should I write in a resignation letter? And how many weeks notice should I give? I don't know the company's policy when it comes to quitting a job.

New job? Congratulations! You're on trend: This year, thanks to higher confidence levels and more opportunities, American workers are quitting their jobs at the highest rate since 2001.

Despite all the fretting that quitting can cause, it's usually a good move financially and personally. As bestselling management author Suzy Welch has said: "About six weeks after you quit, if not sooner, you're going to realize that you waited about six months too long to walk out the door. Your life is going to go on — only better. "

Of course, before you can move on to (hopefully) greener pastures, it's important to resign gracefully from your current position. Business circles are small, and you don't want any bad Karma following you around.

Writing a clear and concise resignation letter is important, but don't skip the first step: It's best to schedule a time with your manager to break the news in person. Even better, give your boss some advance warning by saying you'd like to discuss "your future," so that they're not too surprised.

Then, in the meeting, you want to succinctly explain that you've decided to move on, express gratitude for the experience, and discuss an end date.

Two weeks notice is standard at most companies if you're an individual contributor, but know that it's the minimum you should provide. If you oversee a team or division, or if you're an integral part of a project and would be difficult to replace, you may want to provide several weeks or even months of notice, depending on the circumstances.

After this conversation, you should follow up with your official resignation letter or, since it's 2018, email. This will be forwarded to HR and possibly the higher-ups, and will be kept in your employee file.

While a resignation letter is not usually required, it's a nice gesture. You don't have to go into much detail, and your tone should be polite, professional and gracious. You should include:

  • Your intent to resign
  • Your last day
  • Your appreciation for what you've learned
  • An offer to help with the transition

For example, you might say:

Dear [Manager's Name],

I would like to inform you that I am resigning from my position as [Title] at [Company]. My last day will be [Date].

Thank you for the opportunity to learn [list some specific skills and growth areas] and to contribute to the team. I am so grateful for the experience and for your support.

Please let me know how I can help make the transition as smooth as possible. I wish you and the team continued success.

Sincerely,
[Your Name]

You could include a sentence or so about why you're leaving and your future plans, but it's not necessary. Whatever you do, stay positive. It's not the time to list all your grievances against management.

In your final days or weeks on the job, fully commit yourself to the work and helping with the transition. You're often remembered by the way you leave, so be useful and be kind. You'll be able to walk out the door without any baggage.

Have a pressing career concern or question? Email me anonymously at workitout@cnbc.com. Submissions may be edited for length and clarity.

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Suzy Welch: Ask these 3 questions before changing careers
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