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I am soon to be handing in my notice at my part-time office job.

From what I've gathered, it seems handing in resignations via email is a little unprofessional... but in my circumstances, would it be more acceptable?

I would like to hand in my notice in person, however I'm thinking email is probably the best bet for the following reasons:

  1. The CEO isn't always at the office
  2. The CEO is often very busy and hard to find time to catch-up with even if he is around
  3. It is only a small company (around 8 people) with no HR department... apart from one guy who handles some HR tasks, but I dont think anyone would hand their resignation to him
  4. I work part-time, 2 days per week and don't wish to wait until Im next at the office
  5. It is a small, open plan office... there is sometimes a side-room for more private conversations but it's not guaranteed that there will be no-one else there

If I email him with my resignation and state my reasons, but then offer to talk about it in person... does that sound a little more professional?

marked as duplicate by Xavier J, mcknz, Chris E, Mister Positive, JasonJ Jul 17 '17 at 17:58

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  • 3
    Hmm. no. Do it in person. – user1220 Jul 17 '17 at 14:31
  • Where in the world are you? Does your contract have a meaning, or is it at-will-employment? Don't you need a receipt for your resignation? – nvoigt Jul 17 '17 at 15:15
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Yes, it's unprofessional to resign over an email.

Do it in person if possible and explain as you start the conversation that you have a list of things you want to run through. Be clear, concise and give your reasons.

If it's not ideal, drop a mail, but as you said your boss is super busy which means he may read your mail and forget it or forget reading mails or checking them on time which will further delay your resignation process. Hence, it's always best to resign in person.

  • thanks, I actually had never realised just how big of a deal this is! I just happened to look into the matter before posting this question, just to be sure... my CEO is away at the minute but I have a 1:1 coming up soon, so will most likely break the news to him then – Pel Jul 20 '17 at 12:00
  • All the best for it, hope it goes as you want..:-) – rshah4u Jul 20 '17 at 12:19
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Book a meeting in both of your calendars for the next time you are both in the office. Title it "catch up".

Once int he meeting, hand in your written notice.

Problem solved.

  • I would like to do that but I imagine he'd want to know what it is we were catching up on... I often find myself having to email him to see when he's free to talk about a project, and then when we do find time to talk it feels quite rushed – Pel Jul 17 '17 at 15:10
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    "I would like to discuss my future with the company." – mcknz Jul 17 '17 at 15:26
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If I email him with my resignation and state my reasons, but then offer to talk about it in person... does that sound a little more professional?

Not much.

Instead, send an email asking for a small bit of his time privately at his earliest convenience. Make a special trip into the office if necessary or go in early/stay late if needed, and discuss your resignation in person.

It's a bit more awkward resigning face-to-face, particularly if you haven't experienced resigning before. But, as with most things, it gets easier the more you do it.

  • This is a good point -- resigning in-person for this job will make it easier to do the next time, when it may be more critical or important. – mcknz Jul 17 '17 at 15:29
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If I email him with my resignation and state my reasons, but then offer to talk about it in person... does that sound a little more professional?

Not really, it would actually look as if you were trying to hide.

The best way (etiquette-wise) usually is to have an honest conversation with your current line manager before sending your resignation by e-mail.

Now, if your line manager is unavailable (like your CEO in this case), it is just a matter of booking a small meeting with him - you don't need to state the reasons in advance - and break the news to him. If you have no meeting room available for this, you can just go with him for a coffee, or something similar.

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Try and think about it from the CEO's perspective. You are (presumably) a valued employee who will be difficult to replace. The company will most likely suffer a significant decrease in productivity and possibly monetary loss during the time it takes them to find a replacement. Would you want to find out about this news in such an impersonal manner?

That said, I think the answer really depends on the level of respect you have for the CEO and the company as a whole. If you don't care at all about his/her feelings and just want to make things as easy as possible for yourself, by all means, resign over email. (Adding the option for a followup meeting to discuss the resignation, to me seems to simply be adding insult to injury.)

Even if you don't like or respect the company, I feel that it's always better not to burn bridges--you never know when you might meet these people again and when questioned about your character, you will want them to say good things.

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This isn't a "whenever it's convenient for your CEO conversation", it's a "as soon as possible" conversation.

I need a moment for a private conversation.

Step into an office, a side-room, the hallway, or leave the office building entirely. Whatever you need to do to have a private conversation. Hand the CEO your resignation, let him know your last date and an outline of your transition plan.

CEO, I'm handing in my resignation. hands resignation letter My last day will be DATE, and I will work with CO-WORKER to hand-off my projects and transfer appropriate knowledge. Is there is anything else I can do to ensure a smooth transition?

Heck, if you really want it sooner than later, schedule a meeting the next time he's in the office, even if you're not scheduled that day (that will certainly send the message that it's important).


Based on your comments on other answers, it seems like you're concerned you're not going to be able to get his time.

If after the "I need a moment", the CEO brushes you off, stand-up for yourself. Assuming a public location, hand him the printed resignation letter and follow-up with "I really think we need to talk." If at that point he still can't be bothered, you've successfully turned in your resignation and are confirmed to have made the right decision to leave.

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Think about this a little bit more…

are you trying desperately to find any excuse not to hand them in person?

If yes, then hand them in person.

I might be wrong, but the reasons you list sound like excuses to me.

  • I dunno, if it was more a case of my boss having his own separate office where I could just head into and have a private conversation about it then I'd feel a lot more comfortable... but that's not really the case at my current place. Also my boss is quite regularly really busy and doesn't like to be distracted, so it can be hard to find time to talk to him about things unless it's at a 1-to-1 (which we rarely have) – Pel Jul 17 '17 at 14:38

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