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After almost 7 years at my current job, I recently accepted an offer from another company. I now have to write my resignation letter and hand it to my manager.

While searching the web for resignation letter examples, all I found were very formal and pompous ones.

The company I work for is a small start-up, where I am on familiar terms with my boss since the first day I've been here. I've always called him by his first name (as do all employees), and used tu to address him instead of the more formal vous.

(For those who don't know the difference between the French tu and vous, it's the same as between du and Sie in German, tu and usted in Spanish, or tu and lei in Italian : the first one is much less formal and is usually used to address your friends, or people you know well, whereas the second one is used to address older or more powerful people.)

So I was wondering : Should I use tu or vous in my resignation letter ? And should I use my boss's first name or his last name ?

Dear Michael,

I regret to inform you (de t'informer) that I am resigning from my position as Salesman for Dunder-Mifflin. etc.

Or

Dear Mr Scott,

I regret to inform you (de vous informer) that I am resigning from my position as Salesman for Dunder-Mifflin. etc.

Which one should I use ?

Side note : there's no real HR in my company, as my boss is the one handling all hires and resignations.

  • Why would you change an established form of communication for this letter? Maybe in case you had recent problems and your relationship deteriorated before writing the letter, but otherwise I would stick to "tu" – skymningen Mar 16 '17 at 9:18
  • This sounds to me more like a question of French usage, and hence for French Language, than an actual workplace issue. – AakashM Mar 17 '17 at 8:45
  • @AakashM I thought about it, but seeing that the difference in pronouns also exists in other languages, I decided to post it here, since Italian, German or Spanish speakers may face this situation too. – roberto06 Mar 17 '17 at 8:55
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A resignation letter is fairly formal, I would suggest the formal tone. You are not just notifying your manager, but the company as well.

As such, de vous informer would be correct.

That said, there's nothing stopping you sending a follow up email to your boss to thank them personally for their input into your career.

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    It might even be better to do it the other way around; the first one he gets is what'll stick in his mind. – Erik Mar 16 '17 at 15:09
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It may clarify things to separate "inform your manager that you plan to resign" from "submit a written resignation letter". (Especially given the company and your relationship, but I also expect this is locale-specific.)

Letting your manager know in person may be more natural; this may be the more authentic conversation and use the usual level of formality. The resignation letter serves the formal/legal process.

Both things can happen at the same time, e.g., you schedule a meeting, let the manager know, have a conversation about it, and then convey the formal letter.

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As there is a high chance that this exchange will be forwarded to HR or other people, I would use the most formal tone possible, whatever could be your relation to your manager.

The "vous" option is for me the most natural option.

  • There's no real HR in my company, as my boss is the one handling all hires and resignations. – roberto06 Mar 16 '17 at 9:28
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    I see no downsize on writing "vous" instead of "tu" while the opposite can be sometimes considered inappropriate. I does not mean that on the other exchanges you should use "vous" while you're used to use "tu". In the end, whatever you will choose will have close to no impact as this is a small detail. – BigPanda Mar 16 '17 at 9:44
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A resignation letter is a formal and legal document, I'd keep it simple and stick to facts - you don't have to "regret" anything in a resignation letter. You just inform the company that you are leaving on [date].

Then, depending on your relationship with your boss, two options:

  • inform him in person. Ask for a meeting, and take the time to say that you appreciated your time working there. As you leave, hand in your formal resignation letter, which is purely administrative.
  • attach the formal letter to a less formal e-mail, which replaces the face to face meeting and is a perfect place for "je regrette de t'informer que je vais quitter l'entreprise X, tu trouveras ci-jointe ma lettre de démission officielle" [I regret to inform you that I will be leaving the company X, you'll find attached to this e-mail my official resignation letter"] and whatever details/thanks you want to add.

Good luck in your new job!

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