The Quick Report

Quitting? Never Write These Things in a Resignation Letter

Artistic depiction of a man quitting his job and burning bridges

When it’s time to quit a job, it’s a common practice and courtesy to hand in a resignation letter to your current job. But whether you have a new position lined up or not, it’s important to exit graciously. Here’s what not to say.

Why You Should Play Nice Upon Your Exit

Sometimes people leave a job to advance their careers or earn more money. However, there are other scenarios when someone needs to quit a job to get out of a bad situation. It could be a toxic environment that is untenable, or someone is screwing you over.

However, you might want to play nice for several reasons, even if the other parties aren’t. Here are a few:

  • You may need a reference from your current boss
  • A nasty attitude or exit could spread quickly through word-of-mouth in well-networked fields.
  • The company might make you a better offer to retain you.

The bottom line: No matter how badly you may have been treated, you don’t want to burn the bridge behind you as you exit.

Resignation Letter Basics

A resignation letter only needs a few ingredients. Keep it basic and simple. There are only four elements you need and two optional inclusions:

  • A declaration that you are leaving your position (example: As of (the date of the letter), I hereby inform you… Include your job title).
  • The date of the last day you will be working. (It is customary to give at least two weeks’ notice. However, for some positions, 3-4 weeks might be the norm).
  • [Optional]: A brief mention of your new plans (only if you care to share these details).
  • [Optional]: A plan of action for creating a smooth transition of your duties and responsibilities.
  • A statement of gratitude for the opportunity the company gave you.
  • A professional signoff that contains your name and signature.

What to NEVER Include in Your Resignation Letter

No matter how unpleasant or less than ideal your experience was working for an employer, it’s important to make a classy, positive, and professional departure. Never throw caution to the wind and tell your employer what you really think (no matter how bad they might need to hear it). Here are 7 things you should NEVER include in your resignation letter:

1. DON’T: Give a Lengthy Explanation of and/or the Real Reason You’re Leaving

Your boss may be the biggest A-hole in the history of bosses. But there is such a thing as being too honest.

You may hate your job, but stating so will only make you come off as bitter. It also projects you as someone who enjoys holding a grudge.


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What to Do Instead

There is no requirement that you disclose your reason for leaving. Additionally, you don’t need to reveal your plans for the future if you don’t care to share those. If you choose to offer one, your explanation can be as simple as “another opportunity has presented itself.”

2. DON’T: Share Detailed Information About Your New Job

Although you may be tempted to brag a little by letting your employer know you are going on to a better company, higher pay, and a bright future – don’t.

In general, the less said about your new position or plans, the better. There are several reasons for this. Your new company may have rules for not disclosing such details. If you are exiting a toxic environment, you never know what your former company workers might do to make trouble with your new opportunity.

What to Do Instead

You are not required to describe anything about your new job. If you feel you must say something, “a new opportunity has come along” conveys the point without revealing detail.

3. DON’T: Express Negativity

Any negativity you express in your resignation letter only has the effect of reflecting on you, giving the impression of a negative person.

Don’t give any negative comments about your boss, even if they are well-deserved and true. Likewise, avoid negativity about your coworkers, your position, your department, and the company as a whole.

4. DON’T: List the Reasons You Hated Your Job

While there may be a long list of reasons of why you hated your job and decided to quit, skip all these details. It may backfire and come off as a laundry list of a disgruntled employee.

What to Do Instead

Focus on the positive aspects of your job. Mention what you learned and thank the company for the opportunity the position provided you. Offer a brief statement that expresses appreciation and gratitude.

5. DON’T: Disparage Your Coworkers, Reveal Secrets, Etc.

Even if you had to work with the team from hell, criticisms of your coworkers will only shine a bad light back on you.

Likewise, do not assign blame or pick this as the opportunity to spill secrets on the misdeeds of your peers. Whatever they have done or might continue to do is not your problem anymore – you’re leaving.

What to Do Instead

A resignation letter should only focus on you, so there is no need to mention anyone else. 

6. DON’T: Use Inappropriate Language or Suggestions

No matter how angry or emotional you feel, obscenities have no place in a resignation letter. Any language that is deemed inappropriate for the workplace doesn’t belong in your letter.

Avoid descriptions, allusions, or off-color suggestions even if you don’t use obscenities. Such wording demonstrates a lack of professionalism on your part.

What to Do Instead

Stay classy and keep it professional. Having a document on file containing obscenities or inappropriate suggestions can come back to haunt you.

7. DON’T: Include Threats or Aggressive Remarks

Any type of statements that can be viewed as overly aggressive or threatening should be avoided at all costs. Your resignation letter is not a place to exact your revenge via words.

Don’t allow your emotions to affect your writing. Some threats could have criminal implications. Having a threatening letter on file could harm your prospects for future employment elsewhere.

What to Do Instead

Keep your tone professional, amicable, and on point.