5 Tips On How To Write A Resignation Email

Winners – as the old saying goes – never quit. But actually they do, and quite frequently for that matter. Unless you’re Mother Theresa, the odds are that at some point in your life you’ll decide it’s time for a career move. And there are a whole bunch of reasons for wanting to do that. Maybe you want a new challenge, maybe you want more money, or maybe you just realise that your incompetent actions over the last 6-12 months are almost ready to blow up in your face and you want to exit before they do.

But while quitting itself can be a big deal, something that’s gained more prominence and importance over the years is the accompanying resignation email. But what should you say? And to who?


Here’s my take on what to consider before you hit “send” that one last time:

1. Don’t use it as a vehicle to settle scores….

This one is difficult to resist because the law of human nature dictates that at least 75 per cent of the people you encounter at work will annoy you. Or upset you. Or both. So with all this pent-up frustration welling deep inside your soul, the temptation to let it explode over your goodbye email is immense. Ultimately though it’s better to suck it up and move on. If you’re a highly valued employee at a company and you’re moving onto something better , the simple act of leaving should itself be enough to satisfy any dark and vengeful thoughts that may exist.

2. …..but if you can’t resist try and be somewhat subtle about it

Ok, so actually you’ve decided you don’t want to be the better, mature person. That’s ok, I’ve been there myself. When I resigned from one job many years ago I left a rather childish cryptic message in my goodbye email. I constructed the email in a way that if you read the first letter of each line vertically it spelled out a word/phrase. It made me feel slightly better at the time because I felt I was sticking it to The Man in a way that was so incredibly clever and devious. Now I’d just recommend Option 1.

3. Don’t lie

As I pointed out in a previous post on my blog, corporations have a tendency to use buzz words to say one thing when they actually mean something else. This isn’t outright deceit as it is subtle sleight of hand. More David Copperfield than Bernie Madoff. But that doesn’t give you a green light to lie about your “achievements” in your goodbye email. This is especially true when it relates to taking credit for things other people have done. You have plenty of time to do that on your resume in the future, but when you’re writing to colleagues and associates most of them can smell Bulls*** a mile away. This is your last word – so try and be sincere.

4. Don’t over-hype your next role

People are naturally curious to find out why you’re leaving your position and where you’re going. Telling them is fine. Telling them in a breathless, hyperbolic manner is annoying. Enthusiasm is admirable, but there’s a line. So expressions such as “I’m sorry to be leaving but I was given this incredibly amazing opportunity at one of the fastest growing companies in this space that is a perfect fit to help me accelerate my career goals **blah blah blah, vomit, vomit, vomit** will not be well received. There’s no need to rub it in that you’re leaving. The odds are there a bunch of people who are wishing they could join you, so handle your departure with some level of grace.

5. Give credit where it’s due

If people report to you, shower them with credit in your goodbye email. They’re the ones that have to continue working long after you’re gone and it’s quite likely that many of them have a fairly low profile in the company. Now is the time to be humble. You’re not pitching for a job, but exiting one. So while this **is** about you – because after all you are leaving – leave the self congratulatory stuff to a minimum.

Read more from Jonathan Hills at his blog, The Spinning Hamster