What information should an exit letter contain?
November 7, 2011 7:13 AM   Subscribe

My boss has asked me to write my own an "intent to leave" letter and I'm wondering if anything else should go in it beside the date of my last day of work.

I'm leaving my job after 5 years because it's transitioning into a position that's not compatible with my long term goals. My boss and I have both agreed that it's a good decision and he's asked me to write a letter for HR which includes my final date of work. I'm wondering if I should include additional information like - things I liked about the job, positive feedback about my boss, things I've achieved while I've been with the company. I work off-site so it's possible that I won't have an in-person exit interview or actually ever see anyone at my company again and I want to make sure I'm protected and that this all ends smoothly.
posted by victoriab to Work & Money (17 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
You can put whatever you want in that letter--they just need something official to cover themselves. I'm fairly certain that any feedback you put in that letter will have an impact or really cover you beyond the fact that you're resigning, but it can't hurt if that's what you want to do.
posted by Kimberly at 7:16 AM on November 7, 2011

If it's for HR I would be as terse as possible. If you want to give feedback etc I'd do it on the phone or in person with your boss if you have a good relationship with them. Otherwise not at all.
posted by crocomancer at 7:17 AM on November 7, 2011 [6 favorites]

"To whom it may concern, I am resigning effective [date]. Sincerely, victoriab."
posted by chickenmagazine at 7:19 AM on November 7, 2011 [18 favorites]

2nding chickenmagazine. Do not put anything more than you have to in this letter.
posted by bfranklin at 7:21 AM on November 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'd just supply the bare minimum in the letter. HR just wants a letter in their files to protect themselves. If they want feedback, they can ask for an exit interview or otherwise request it. You can also reach out to people you've worked with and discuss your experiences more personally with them. These could be colleagues you want to thank and/or those you might want to use as a reference in the future.
posted by zachlipton at 7:22 AM on November 7, 2011 [2 favorites]

Richard Nixon wrote the best resignation letter possible. If there's a situation in which it would not be appropriate, I've never heard of it. Emulate and adapt that letter for your position, and you'll be fine.
posted by deadmessenger at 7:29 AM on November 7, 2011 [4 favorites]

Best answer: If you intend to file for unemployment, you may wish to cover the change in job duties in your letter so that you'll be eligible. Something along the lines of:
Dear So-and-So,

I am resigning from my position as Widget Designer as of 12/4/11, due to the reorganization of job duties and requirements in my position which are no longer compatible with my skill set. Thank you for the opportunity to spend five years working for Widget Co.

That should do it.
posted by juniperesque at 7:37 AM on November 7, 2011 [7 favorites]

Odds are no one is even going to read it - it's just going to get filed. So short and sweet is the way to go. (If you want to provide feedback, take your manager out for happy hour on your last day and let 'er rip. Warning: this can backfire if you ever want to work there/for him again.)
posted by restless_nomad at 7:40 AM on November 7, 2011

Agreed it should be as brief as possible, and may not even get read if your company is large enough to have an HR department that observes these formalities. For what it's worth, I've only had one job where the HR department gave me an exit interview, and it was very perfunctory in my case... my reasons for leaving were already known and nobody (including HR) cared, so the interview went more or less like:

HR Guy: "You already told your boss why you're leaving, usonian. Anything to add?"

Me: "Nope."

HR Guy: "Ok, good luck."
posted by usonian at 7:47 AM on November 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

Nthing juniperesque's suggestion.

Short, simple but covers the important points. No need for embellishment other than that. I wish I had done that in jobs that I walked away from in the past.

Put together with happy hour beers with boss, and that is a winning combo. (Just don't overdo it)
posted by lampshade at 7:54 AM on November 7, 2011

If HR wants more than that, they'll ask for it. At my employer, we have a form to record things like the things you liked best about your job and such. I hereby resign effective x/x/xxxx. Maybe "I appreciate the opportunity to work here" or something, if you're feeling wordy.

Remember - this will be in that file forever (or, well, till their retention date rolls around.) It absolutely will get looked at if you apply to work there again.
posted by SMPA at 8:00 AM on November 7, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks everyone...I'm going with short and sweet version and they can request more info if they want. Thanks for mentioning the unemployment angle Juniperesque but it's not an option in my current situation.
posted by victoriab at 8:05 AM on November 7, 2011

I typically go with the short and sweet:
Dear X,

I am hereby resigning from my position with COMPANY, effective DATE.


I may add a few words about why I liked working there, if I had a particularly good relationship with the person to whom I am tendering my resignation. In your case, you may wish to add a bit about your skills no longer being relevant to the position, as juniperesque suggested, just in case you do need to file for UI and they ask why you quit your job.
posted by asnider at 9:45 AM on November 7, 2011

Junieresque nailed it.
posted by sandra_s at 9:54 AM on November 7, 2011

Nthing everyone else, Nixon style.
posted by Brian Puccio at 11:23 AM on November 7, 2011

I've given this outline before (here) but I think it fits your purposes, too because it puts all the nice stuff in your file/permanent record/whatever without being too detailed.



Dear Boss'sFirstName,

Please accept this letter as my formal notice of resignation, effective LastDate.

This was a difficult decision, but it is the right one for me as I work toward my career goals. I thoroughly enjoyed TaskYouDoWell, and it was a real pleasure to AchievementYou'veHad.

If I can help train my replacement or transition my work to another person, please let me know.

Thank you for the opportunities you have provided me. I wish you and EmployerCompany continued success.


cc: HRPerson'sName
posted by Houstonian at 4:07 PM on November 7, 2011

Response by poster: I marked Juniperesque as best answer (better late than never) because I did include the change in job scope in my exit letter and was subsequently approved for unemployment benefits. As I enter my 5th month of unemployment, these benefits have obviously made a huge difference. Thank you from the bottom of my heart and wallet.
posted by victoriab at 6:47 AM on May 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

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