Help me resign
August 11, 2018 5:14 PM   Subscribe

So, I plan on leaving my job and would like to hand in my official resignation letter on the 20th of August. Help me write the most professional letter possible. Some details inside...

Firstly, I understand that writing a "fuck you" letter is not constructive, despite being very tempting, and that's not quite what I'm after.

I have a number of things I'd like to comment on (management decisions that seem discriminatory, management instructions that were very nearly ethics violations, management instructions that were laughably useless but for which we are being blamed after following them etc etc) and have concrete examples to present. We've gone from a really good low-bullshit company to a Dilbertesque shit-heap in a little under 4 years and I'm angry.

Thinking in terms of the amount of damage I can do, would it be better to keep the letter strictly professional ("thank you for the wonderful opportunities...") and request an exit interview from HR instead? Is that going to accomplish anything? I know for sure that one other person will walk soon after I do, and there are a couple of others teetering on the edge, so there's a chance that the department will be so empty that it'll get disbanded and the surviving members absorbed by a different team. I don't know that that will spotlight management incompetence to the higher-ups, but it may do.

I believe I need to give 30 days notice (will check on Monday) so will need to deal with the fall-out for that time, although the temptation is to write a fuck-you letter and hope that they walk me immediately. And frankly, I don't think it's possible for the environment to get any more toxic than it already is.

I know I'm far too close to this to see clearly, so hope that the HiveMind can give me a little clarity.

Suggestions?? Cautionary tales??
posted by ninazer0 to Work & Money (25 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
"Dear Boss,

This message is my notice of resignation. My last day will be $lastday.

Thank you,

No more, no less.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 5:21 PM on August 11, 2018 [106 favorites]

Do not do what you are thinking. Do exactly what Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The suggests.
posted by lazuli at 5:24 PM on August 11, 2018 [10 favorites]

A scathing resignation letter will not change anything.
An exit interview with HR will not change anything.
You will be surprised at which colleagues stay at the job after you go.
They don't care what you know, how you feel, or what you think.
They have already proven that.

You don't need to thank them for 'wonderful' opportunities; you just need to announce your resignation and your last day.
posted by calgirl at 5:25 PM on August 11, 2018 [26 favorites]

Absolutely do not put anything in writing beyond the fact that August 20 will be your last day.
posted by caek at 5:25 PM on August 11, 2018 [7 favorites]

Resist the temptation to burn bridges. While it may give you immediate satisfaction to write that F-You letter, in the long run it’s always better to exit with as much grace as humanly possible.
Vent to friends/family, write about it all in your journal, but don’t burn bridges by expressing hot emotions when you resign. In the end, it won’t change a thing and your future self may well regret it.
posted by bookmammal at 5:27 PM on August 11, 2018 [2 favorites]

Nth-ing Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The's letter. Richard Nixon's letter was effectively that, and I figure if he managed to say nothing else, I probably should as well.
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 5:30 PM on August 11, 2018 [9 favorites]

I wrote a fairly stern resignation letter and it got an underwhelming response. Last day, loved the job, drop the mike.
posted by vrakatar at 5:37 PM on August 11, 2018

Living well is the best revenge! I highly recommend it.

So, do that after you follow Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The's text in your letter.
posted by jgirl at 5:48 PM on August 11, 2018

I have actually helped change things on the way out the door by addressing some specific issues in the exit interview. But it was with a company whose management did want to change for the better.

It doesn't sound like your management is like that.
posted by Candleman at 5:51 PM on August 11, 2018 [2 favorites]

Your actions speak for themselves.
posted by slidell at 5:57 PM on August 11, 2018

It's time for you to detach from the company you have worked for. You're not invested there anymore. It's not up to you to try to change things. If management cared about your opinion, they would have asked for it already.

What you should do now is what's best for you, which is to leave as gracefully as possible and burn as few bridges as possible. You don't have to pretend that you feel thankful for wonderful opportunities, but you do need to avoid committing something to writing that could come back to bite you in some unknown way, possibly years from now.
posted by nirblegee at 6:15 PM on August 11, 2018 [7 favorites]

And this is why I come to to MetaFilter. Thank you, cooler heads.
posted by ninazer0 at 6:19 PM on August 11, 2018 [8 favorites]

I agree, short, neutral letter of resignation. However, there may be an exit interview, and you should be prepared to be mild.
posted by theora55 at 6:23 PM on August 11, 2018

my advice is mostly the same: keep the resignation letter short. Do not expect that any conversation with management will result in meaningful change unless you believe that your boss is someone who could be an ally (but even then if they had the power to make positive change, the question is why didn't they?) Don't burn your bridges with other colleagues, especially ones with whom you may want to work with in the future in a different company. Don't be surprised with disappointment if nobody actually follows you out the door.

The one change of advice that I will bring up is that if part of what is driving you out is discriminatory behavior or other forms of an unsafe work environment, it might be worth bringing that up to HR. If it's just management making stupid strategy decisions, HR is not going to care or be empowered to change that. If it's an executive or manager being generally clueless, HR is also not going to intervene on that. but if it's something that could eventually lead to the company being sued, like discrimination or some form of illegal activity, then you might get HR interested.

Some HR will squash that, and eventhough HR exists to protect the company, I have seen cases where toxic individuals were quietly shuffled into positions without direct reports after teams that they managed quit and told HR about the individual's shenanigans. It usually won't be something as bold as firing people. At best, it's just a few discreet org changes to keep the individual from being a further embarrassment/risk. If you tell HR, be prepared that either nothing will happen or HR will pressure you into signing some form of non-disclosure agreement for your severance. So it's up to you about how much energy you'd want to put into that. And if you do choose to have a whistleblower conversation, do it on your last day. Also talk to an actual lawyer before going this route.

Regardless, even if you choose not to go to HR, you should find some way to vent about your experience, if only to hit the mental reset button before your next job starts. Friends and family are good, but honestly, what I've found best are ex-colleagues. If you're still in touch with anyone who left recently, it may be worth letting them know that you're following in their steps. It not only gives you a chance to unload with someone who had a shared experience, but you may also be offering them a chance at catharsis that they haven't had yet.
posted by bl1nk at 6:26 PM on August 11, 2018 [2 favorites]

Send that small resign letter. That's what you do.

SOMETIMES, some companies will give an exit review. Then you can lay it all out. If they don't, just leave.

You are gone, you are done. Count that as a win for you.
posted by sanka at 6:36 PM on August 11, 2018

If they ask you to do an exit interview, in your situation I personally would refuse. They don't have any leverage to force you, and it's likely to be unpleasant and unproductive. If they'd really cared about your thoughts and feelings, they'd have asked earlier. Why put yourself through the charade of pretending that you like the company more than you actually do, or the humiliation of spilling your guts to uncaring people whom you despise? There's no upside. Once you've given notice do the bare professional minimum, serve out your time, and then never look back.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 7:21 PM on August 11, 2018 [2 favorites]

So, yes on all the "make it simple, just say your last day is x".

But beyond that - never burn bridges with individuals. Odd as it may sound, one of the people you think is the biggest jackass at wherever you're working you will likely run into in the future and they will not be as jackassery. Because likely they were like that because of the work environment you were in and dealing with the same crap you were.

And they might be able to help you in the future. t's work - don't take it personal, unless someone comes at your personally. And even then.. there will likely be complications.

There are only 2 people in my 30 years of working I'd speak bad about and go out of my way to not succeed. There was a third, and it turned out I was wrong for 5 years about them.

Stay professional, get your check and cash it.
posted by rich at 8:44 PM on August 11, 2018

Something that took me a while to realize is that when people say "don't burn your bridges," what they mean is "don't damage your professional reputation." I had really similar feelings to you toward the end of my last job, and I even came here to AskMe to ask some really similar questions to this one. I got the same kind of advice you're getting, I took it (see my original answer at the top of this thread) and oh boy am I glad I did.

Part of me was thinking, "Why do I care about burning bridges at a company that I hate and never want to work at again?" It seemed like there could hardly be much downside to leaving a scathing resignation letter, quitting without notice, or something like that. However, as soon as I got to my new company (which I love!) I realized that half a dozen folks here have worked with about half a dozen folks at the old company, and knew them personally (meaning in a professional context, but with a direct line rather than just through their respective employers). Not only does that mean that I am likely to run into some of those old-company folks again in the future, it also means that there are half a dozen folks at my old company who might have been informally tapped for their impressions of me as a worker during the time that I worked with them. The last thing I want is to do something that might start industry gossip about my supposed unprofessionalism—something like that could really hinder my career development.

Most industries are small worlds. The people you work with now are people you will likely meet again in one way or another, and they might also have cause to tell others in your industry what they think about you. Don't create problems for yourself down the line.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 5:01 AM on August 12, 2018 [7 favorites]

Aside from all the very sensible advice others have given here, when you do hand in your letter, please be ready for the possibility that they will escort you out immediately. The "30 days" requirement (if it is a requirement) is not symmetrical. They may or may not abide by it.

Keep no personal possessions on-site that you can't afford to lose. Keep your wallet and ID on your person at all times. Don't let them damage you any more than they already have.
posted by Weftage at 6:08 AM on August 12, 2018 [3 favorites]

Maybe an anonymous, very professionally neutral letter to HR or the president of the company?

The safe thing to do would be resign for personal reasons and leave on good terms. The angry letter approach will likely go nowhere and leave you high and dry. If you do give the company your list of gripes, keep it neutral and professional. If you suspect the company's actions are illegal, you may want to talk with a lawyer. At a lot of the companies I've worked at, HR seemed to live in fear of the company being sued, probably with good reason. If the company really owes you something, or you are leaving because of illegal or immoral activity, talk to a lawyer. It can't hurt. Honestly, I think a lot of companies are scared more employees will do this. I know a lot of people that left jobs under circumstances where they were really owed something for the time they put in and what they put up with.
posted by xammerboy at 6:37 PM on August 12, 2018

Yes, of course, be 100+% aboveboard professional and discrete.

If wanting change is something that you value, is there a C-suite person who has actual influence that you have access to? Ask that your exit interview be with them.

Otherwise, there's not much you can influence outside of informing their customers of why they shouldn't shop there.
posted by porpoise at 7:41 PM on August 12, 2018

Aside from all the very sensible advice others have given here, when you do hand in your letter, please be ready for the possibility that they will escort you out immediately. The "30 days" requirement (if it is a requirement) is not symmetrical. They may or may not abide by it.
Having been on both sides of this (as the employee quitting and as a manager receiving the resignation letter) I just want to reiterate and affirm this point, especially if your job is 'employment at will', as most of our jobs are.

The last day that you are obligated to be an employee is the day you turn in your resignation letter. The amount of time you give for a notice period is a courtesy, and can be used for knowledge transfer and tying up of loose ends as well as shoring up your professional reputation; but if the relationship is sufficiently toxic there is no reason why you or your company can't just end the relationship earlier.

I have escorted people out of the office ahead of their notice* because I was either ordered to or I made a judgement call about how the lingering employee's presence would hurt the team. And in times when a company has asked me to stretch out my notice to ensure that a certain project was finished or documented, I was so glad when I held to my boundaries and didn't give them more of my time. But, yes, be absolutely ready to clear your desk the day that you resign.

(* -- and ensured that they were properly paid and their early termination didn't, say, count against their PTO balance ... if you do wind up leaving earlier than your notice, do be sure that your employer doesn't just count it as "vacation" and an excuse not to pay your for outstanding vacation hours)
posted by bl1nk at 5:10 AM on August 13, 2018

Okay. So the deed is done - I gave in the recommended 2 liner and I'm waiting for the response. I'd be delighted to be walked (although it's unlikely) - they'd still have to pay me out as normal and frankly every second that I'm here is a second I won't get back.

Thank you everyone for your responses - it's times like these when I know I can rely on MetaFilter to steer me in the right direction. So thank you and again, thank you. I really and truly appreciate the help.
posted by ninazer0 at 2:48 PM on August 16, 2018 [3 favorites]

posted by lazuli at 4:41 PM on August 16, 2018 [1 favorite]

FWIW when I sent my two-liner I never got a response. Nothing. Zilch. I served out my time, went home never to come back, and nobody even said goodbye. I sent an email immediately after my last day (from the parking lot) affirming that I no longer worked for them, reminding them of the PTO that needed to be paid in my final check, and giving a contact email in case they needed to get ahold of me later for something. Never got a reply to that either.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 4:56 AM on August 18, 2018

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