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Update:

I ended up giving my two-weeks notice. My manager asked if there was anything they could do to keep me around or make things better for me at my current position, to which I very vaguely responded that there wouldn't be, and that it just wasn't a good fit for me. I ended up just telling my manager I'd be leaving over the phone, after sending him a message asking for a meeting (We live on opposite ends of country so couldn't talk in person), instead of writing out my notice on a document.


If someone intended to resign a position at their current job, and did not want to give any specific reasons for leaving, would this be unprofessional?

It seems to me that it's 'expected' that you give some sort of reason / feedback for leaving.


Quite frankly, I'd like to leave my current position. Management 'listens' to issues, but does not act to resolve them. So I feel that it would be a waste of my time to re-iterate a long list of things that have been communicated over time and more or less ignored as my reason(s) for leaving. Not to mention trying to pick 'one' specific reason or a few, when really it's just a culmination of things about this position - the company really, more than the position - that make me want to find opportunities elsewhere.

When the time comes, I'd like to know whether it's acceptable to say something along the lines of the following (Cleaned up a bit of course, but you get the idea):

"Hello,

I will be resigning from the position of [Current position] at [Current Company] on [Month and Day]/[Year].

I do not wish to give a specific reason for leaving. I do not wish to be retained, please do not submit a counter offer."

I just want things between me and this company to be more or less done. I'm sure they'll try, and try hard, to retain me and find a way to keep me here, as it's a small company and I've had major contributions to the team and several projects that I've been the only one to work on.


Regardless, I've wanted to leave for a long time. At the time that I give my notice, there's literally no offer that will convince me to stay here, and I'm having trouble finding a polite way of conveying that. They already compensate me more than well enough, and I can not possibly think of anything they could 'give' me to make me happier here.

The problem lies directly with the way the company is run, and there hasn't been any progress on fixing core issues there in the entire time I've been working here.

Is there a professional / polite way of resigning from a position, not giving a reason and asking the company not to provide a counter offer?


Note:

I'm not very concerned about the concept of 'burning bridges', beyond the concept that I'd rather not have negative things said of me if a future employer contacted this one to ask about me. I don't see myself ever returning to this employer - small company - or doing much future work with any of my current coworkers. On that note, I am on good terms with my current coworkers, there's just a large issue with the company that's making things difficult for all of the employees. Others have left, and I'm fairly certain I'll be next, in the coming weeks.

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    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Monica Cellio Jun 27 '17 at 19:01
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    Yes, obviously. If asked then, "I'd rather not say". Your employer has no right to know what you will do next. – cja Jun 28 '17 at 16:39
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    You can't really insist that they make no effort to get you to change your mind, just like they can't insist you not resign. – DLS3141 Jun 29 '17 at 12:34
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"It's not like they'll simply email me a counter - they'll want to know why I'm leaving, whether there's something they could do to try and keep me here, etc. There's a lot of discussion that they'd want to have before doing a counter offer, and the point of my question is that I want to find a non-rude way of asking them not to waste their time on that."

Here's a resignation letter for your situation,

"Dear team,

I'm hereby resigning from the position of [position] at [Company]. My final full day will be Wednesday July 3rd.

My plans and location from Thursday July 4th are settled.

Thanks for the great experience at [Company]. Please let me know every way I can ease the transition and ease any paperwork.

Cheers, F. Attie

That's all there is to it.

DON'T say anything explicit, such as "do not send me a counter offer" or "no discussion will be entered in to".

The closest you can get to being blunt, is this language:

"My plans and location from Thursday July 4th are settled."

or perhaps

"My plans and location from Thursday July 4th are settled, thank you."

As my shrink says, "you can only be responsible for you".

If some person at the organization begins talking about the issue - that's not you, that's them.

It won't happen, but in that case just politely say "Ah. My new plans are completely settled from the 4th. Thanks."

Same by email, or spoken. The closest you can get to being direct is the phrase:

My plans and location from Thursday July 4th are settled.

Hope it helps!

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I'd strongly advise against "I do not wish to give a specific reason for leaving. I do not wish to be retained, please do not submit a counter offer." This could entice HR to try to get to the bottom of the retention issue. Leave it out, if they try to retain you just keep saying "I'd rather not discuss, it's personal" which in this case is very true in that you are personally offended at their inaction.

Edit: If "personal reasons" would invite too much scrutiny, some other options are "I'm not excited to come to work here; I'm ready for a change; I want to try something that I'm more passionate about". Again based on what you've said, these would be true statements and they are very hard to argue against.

  • In my experience, "personal reasons" invites more probing than a simple, "I've decided I'm going to work somewhere else." – Kent A. Jun 26 '17 at 22:15
  • @KentA. Yes, and that's something I've wanted to avoid. A coworker left with just 'personal reasons', and the result was a lot of questions about what personal reasons there may be. I see your point about trying to give a direct answer to end the conversation there. It seems for me I'm going to end up getting a few questions either way if I leave it vague. – schizoid04 Jun 26 '17 at 22:17
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    "To pursue other opportunities" is a useful phrase. It really means "None of your business" but is much politer. – Patricia Shanahan Jun 26 '17 at 22:36
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    In my opinion it's a good idea to tell them at least something along these lines. Saying so explicitly that you don't want to go into reasons seems very suspicious to me. It seems like it could lead to more prying. – JMac Jun 26 '17 at 23:19
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    Interesting. In my experience, 'personal reasons' usually means a relationship breakdown and the writer is trying to make a clean break (leave work if in a workplace relationship, leave the city/state/region otherwise). This is usually met with a sympathetic, but not probing reaction. – mcalex Jun 27 '17 at 16:38
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Can you decline to give a reason, and ask to not attempt to be retained when you resign?

Yes you can.

It seems to me that it's 'expected' that you give some sort of reason / feedback for leaving.

It is the norm, so of course it is expected. But there is no law saying that you have to conform to the norms. You can choose not to give any reason at all and choose to give no feedback at all. It would seem odd in the eyes of most of the people that ask you, but it's certainly your choice.

Is there a professional / polite way of resigning from a position, not giving a reason and asking the company not to provide a counter offer?

The sample note you provided is reasonably professional and polite enough. As I mentioned, it will still seem odd.

As you mentioned, they will probably still try to get you to stay, or at least to get a reason (it's only human nature). But you don't have to go along with their requests.

Just keep saying "Sorry, my mind is made up." Eventually, they will stop. Eventually you will be long gone.

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    If you wish to remain professional and in good standing the typical response I've seen (and used) is for 'personal reasons'. – Der Kommissar Jun 27 '17 at 1:43
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    I do not wish to be retained, please do not submit a counter offer. Does seem polite and professional but also a bit arrogant as the OP is assuming he will get a counter offer. In my opinion it would be best to leave it out as it could leave a bad taste in peoples mouths. – TheLethalCompany Jun 27 '17 at 9:04
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    @TheLethalCoder has a huge point. It is better to play humble and wait to see if a counter offer is on the table before declining it. Less is more. – Mindwin Jun 27 '17 at 9:17
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    @TheLethalCoder Beside that a counter offer seems to be a good way to see what the company really think you are worth, vs what they have been paying you. Seems to be good info. – Jeroen Jun 27 '17 at 9:50
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    Note that some companies don't like you moving to a competitor, to the point of litigation. Being evasive about why you're resigning might make them suspicious, which could just complicate things. – Roger Lipscombe Jun 27 '17 at 10:46
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I disagree with the accepted answer.

It seems to me that it's 'expected' that you give some sort of reason / feedback for leaving.

No. In my opinion and experience, leaving is a very formalized process because that is the one thing your employer has no control over, at all. You hand in your notice with no reason whatsoever, as matter-of-fact as possible, and in the unlikely case that they try hard to hold on to you, you use the magic word: "no". Make sure that you get some kind of receipt to avoid the case that the letter gets lost on the way.

Obviously, you can inform them on multiple channels (e.g., a formal letter to HR, and a separate email to your boss "I handed in my resignation today, please let me know what you want me to do in my last X weeks"). It is the letter to HR that is the important one, and it is important that you get a formal response from HR.

The standard reason to give is "for private reasons", which is both the truth and pretty much unattackable. If they start to nag, then you can say things like "I have been offered a pretty exciting opportunity" (only if you actually have another job lined up!) or "I decided to change some things in my life" (if you have no other job lined up, so you do not have to lie about anything). As uncommitted as possible, not lieing, without giving anything away, and making clear that you do not wish to talk about it.

If your manager still keeps at it, like "is it related to topics X, Y and Z you asked about" then you can say something like "sure, if those had been resolved in time, it would have been harder for me to decide to leave", both truthfully acknowledging it, and making sure that it's too late now. If he then goes on like nothing had happened and tries to talk about X, Y and Z with you, quickly end the topic "I am not too worried about X, Y and Z for my last few weeks - how do you want me to hand off my work, and to whom"?

At no point should you (feel the need to) lie, nor should you talk more about why you are leaving. There is simply no reason to do so, the decision already has been made. If they are in the least professional, they know that and will know that it is futile.

  • Totally agree here. "that is the one thing your employer has no control over, at all" - Quite. – Fattie Jun 28 '17 at 13:34
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Generally speaking, no, you do not have to provide a reason. You can simply give notice (in writing is usually required) that you are resigning from the company and your last day will be _____.

What might complicate this would be whether or not you are a contractor, or whether you are part of a union or other collective bargaining agreement. You would need to check your contract/agreements to see whether they cover early termination of the agreement, and what your responsibilities are if you decide to terminate early.

You can expect to be questioned because they want to find out how they can convince you to stay. If you are determined to leave the company, you can simply say, "I have decided it is time for me to move on."

  • To answer your note on these (Good point in including them in your answer!), in my specific case I'm not part of a union or CBA, and I'm not an independent contractor. I'm a full-time employee at a consulting firm, and our employees do give 2 weeks notice before leaving, it is considered 'at-will' employment here. – schizoid04 Jun 26 '17 at 21:42
  • I know there's a separate question on this, but would you consider an email to be 'in writing'? In my specific case, any and all management exists in an entirely separate state on the other side of the country, in our other office. Our office is just 5 developers and no manager, so I'm never really in contact with any of our management, and was thinking about just sending it as an email to my direct supervisor as well as the next manager up to ensure it's read. – schizoid04 Jun 26 '17 at 21:49
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    Generally, email is considered as sufficient. When you deliver your notice, you can ask them if they want something more formal. – Kent A. Jun 26 '17 at 21:53
  • email is completely fine. – Fattie Jun 26 '17 at 22:44
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    "You can simply give notice (in writing is usually required)" - that is very culture (and I suspect job) specific. This site doesn't only cover the US. – Martin Bonner Jun 27 '17 at 12:21
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I had a similar situation at my last job. I wasn't interested in any counter-offer they may have presented, so in my resignation letter, I simply stated:

Please consider this notice final and non-negotiable. 
  • Very nice sentence. – Fattie Apr 24 at 19:01
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Pragmatically, given that others have already left, management should be aware that they have problems and even if you don't say it, will either guess or attribute your departure to those problems.

To answer the question, you are under no obligation or legal duty to provide a reason, so you're left with the questions of professionalism and social niceties. Again, to be pragmatic, if the goal is to minimise discussion on the subject, the best approach is not to bring attention to the fact that you don't want to talk about it. You'd be better off giving a reason that is hard to question and that people accept than making stand-offish statements, or being vague enough to keep them off your back up to the point you have no further obligation to interact with them (i.e. you've left).

I'd either omit the last paragraph, or just use filler; there's plenty of advice elsewhere on what to say (and not to say) in a resignation letter, enough to distract from the fact that you haven't given a concrete reason.

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If you are leaving to a better job, you have the power anyway, don't be a sore winner.

I would argue against anything that makes a bad impression. Why not answer the question of why you left with: "I received an offer I could not refuse" or something. It implies that they are not smart for not offering you more and does not necessarily relate to money, it might even have to do with your wife having made you move to be closer to her job. If really pressed, name a salary that would make you stay and if offered this salary don't say yes, but take your time to consider.

  • Not sure I saw this one originally, but to respond to your points here: The conflict here is that it really wasn't about the money. I was already being paid much more than I needed, and there truly wasn't a salary that would have kept me there. I didn't have another offer, I just needed to get out of that position as soon as possible. The issue was more or less with the management figures that would be asking me why I'd be leaving, and the issues that employees were having with them weren't really 'issues' to them, so there wasn't really anything left to say at that point. Just had to get out – schizoid04 Nov 25 '17 at 23:00
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I would argue against both of the premises in your question.

  1. You should give them the exact reasons why you leave. You should give a detailed account of the things that are not going well and the suggestions you made to fix them which were ignored. You should point out the disadvantages they continue to suffer because your suggestion were ignored. You should also point out that apart from being disadvantageous to the company from a purely economic perspective, this continuing refusal to change things for the better also spoils the fun which is an indispensable part of why you work at all: It is not only for the money. It is also likely that you are not the only frustrated employee.

  2. I believe that almost everybody has their price. Money is fun, too; it can compensate for some suffering. Why don't you — seriously — ask yourself how much money would compensate for the (as I understand, fairly modest) suffering at the work place, and name that salary as a condition to stay, if indeed they make you a counter-offer. If it is a seven-figure, so be it. It should be enough money that your heart skips a beat if they accept it. If they ask you whether you are serious you say yes: that's the compensation I seek for enduring my work here. It is that simple.
    As a second thought, conditions from your side don't need to be restricted to money. You could demand more paid vacation days, more home office, flexible work hours, a larger office, a better computer with larger monitors, whatever would make the work more fun. You could also demand to report directly to higher management (the CEO in your small company) if the passive resistance you experience comes from somewhere in between.

The reason I make the first suggestion is that to leave without clarification seems lacking closure to me, a bit like walking away from a personal relationship without comment. I would feel better if I clarified things because an employment is also an inter-personal relationship. Besides, your input may be valuable to the company.

The reason for the second suggestion is that tipping the scale towards you may turn the employment into a mutually beneficial relationship: They seem to appreciate your work, but you feel not appreciated so far. A fantastic salary or unique privileges may change that sentiment.

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    I think the first point is very unprofessional. You are basically trying to change the company, an because they won´t listen you write "Resigantion" above your plans. This is like a child that wants to make you buy ice cream or just stop breathing .... Professional is to except that this company runs things different and won´t change the way you proposed earlier, so you part on different ways and seeks something fitting. – Daniel Jun 27 '17 at 12:50
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    @PeterA.Schneider on your second point - I've more or less already done this. My salary is ridiculous, given my age and experience. An extra 5,10,15, X grand per year is not going to make a significant difference to me. I actually feel somewhat disadvantaged in having done this, because now that I want to leave, any comparable position I find will come with a pay cut. I'm unhappy with the company due to the way that it's managed, the policies, and the people themselves. I could ask for more money, but in the end I'm planning on leaving because I just hate this job. – schizoid04 Jun 27 '17 at 13:11
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    @schizoid04 If money can't fix that then the point is indeed moot ;-). – Peter A. Schneider Jun 27 '17 at 14:30
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    @Daniel No, it's not like a toddler and ice cream, and it's not blackmail. It's like a life partner declaring to leave you. When you implore her to reconsider, she gives you a choice of changing your ways or at least compensate with an assorted girl's best friends. If unsalvageable, it's not immediately clear whether you feel better with a detailed list of your defects or without one; but given that there is an apparent need for a life partner (=employee), and even a desire for this particular one, a list of reasons may make the split more intelligible and help with the next partnership. – Peter A. Schneider Jun 27 '17 at 15:48
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    If you demand a series changes under threat of extermination of the relationship/contract, then it is already unsalvageable. – Jacco Amersfoort Jun 28 '17 at 11:57

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