Spectacular Resignations: How to Write a Great Resignation Letter

“I’m just going to burst into her office as she’s sipping her herbal tea and tell her what I think of her and this rotten excuse for a department. I can’t wait to see her face when I tell the bitch I’m walking out…”

Of course, you’ll never get to see that look of astounded, spluttering surprise on your boss’s face. The perfect fantasy resignation remains never escapes the world of daydreams for most of us, sweet revenge for being taken for granted. No, most of us will shuffle into the boss’s office, hand in our notice letter and follow up with the usual spiel about how we’ve enjoyed working there so much but nevertheless feel the need to move on. Resignation as revenge is likely to be a self-defeating exercise – giving your employer a piece of your mind means you drop your professional defences to strike, if only momentarily, but it could damage your job prospects permanently if word gets out.

One of our own surveys indicated that nearly 40% of workers will leave their job without even saying goodbye. But what of those with a more cavalier attitude to their career and reputation? Thankfully, these people have been sent to the world of work to entertain the rest of us, but if you are one of those who is past caring about the consequences, here are three ways to ensure your resignation will be elevated from conventional to spectacular status.

1. Timing

You can use timing to great effect – choosing just the right moment to walk away from your job is a relatively painless way of achieving notoriety, registering indignation or making the evening news. It’s simple. Take a look at your diary and try to anticipate a time when all eyes will be on you – perhaps you’re due to chair a meeting, announce the completion of a project, or command a space shuttle mission? It’s important that you choose a day when the continued success of the whole enterprise is solely dependent on your responsibility and tenacity. This would be the best day to quit if you want to be remembered.

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Another approach is to have your departure coincide with an event of such magnitude that you can ensure that you’ll be caught in the media spotlight that happens to be shining anyway. Timing your exit to coincide with a historical event can get you to the very top of the headlines. One of the best exemplars of this approach to resignation has to be Boris Yeltsin. He decided to announce that he had stepped down as President of Russia at the very same moment the rest of the world was celebrating the millennium. His was the story of the night, footage of Sidney Harbour, The Eiffel Tower and Times Square exploding with thousands of fireworks spliced together with pictures of Boris reading his resignation statement while seated behind his desk in the Kremlin. This impeccable timing ensured even more notoriety for a boozy Tsar who had already made a career out of a series of impulsive, often hilarious acts.

William Hague, leader of the Conservative Party until the election defeat early on the morning of 8th June was another leader who chose the moment well when he announced his intention to stand down. His party’s defeat was total, partly because of a shambolic campaign, partly because of a low turnout but mainly because Hague himself did not appeal to the voting public. Perhaps he wished to scrape back his reputation for integrity and common sense by quitting while the ballot papers were still being sorted in some constituencies. So, although conceding defeat and personal failure, he won another battle by pushing his archrival outside of the Tory party, Tony Blair, of the headlines on one of the most significant days of the Prime Minister’s political career. The victory of a sort as defeat swallowed him whole.

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2. Noise

Sometimes you cannot wait for the right moment to leave. You just have to quit. Now. And you want everybody to know it.

In these circumstances, if it’s a spectacular exit you’re aiming for, you going to need to kick up a fuss, to cause a scene. Of course, it’s possible to take this attitude too far and end up taking potshots at colleagues with automatic weapons. resignletter.org is in agreement with the forces of law and order on this one – just don’t do it.

We received an email from an employee who resorted to punching his boss and then proceeded to delete every single web site he had worked on from their servers. Eventually, the police were called and to the boss’s surprise, they sided with the employee.

There have been several cases of DJs and television presenters resigning on air. Radio 1, one of the UK’s most popular stations, saw a rash of very public departures within months of a new controller taking over. More recently, Graham Mack, a DJ with a Birmingham radio station refused to play a “rubbish” record by Eminem before berating his producer after being told he was paid for spinning records, not his opinions. “I’m out of here”, he retorted. Very satisfying, but like all of these other noisy quitters, will he ever work in the industry again? That is the risk one takes when making a spectacle of the act of resignation.

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3. Tactics

There is a third class of quitters who use the public threat of resignation to boost their career. At the highest level of some sports, where the teams have become multimillion-pound business operations, continued success can depend on a single player. A rumour that a supremely talented individual may quit if certain conditions are not met is often enough to frighten the club into negotiating a more generous contract.

A more serious deployment of the tactical resignation, and one that is likely to hit the headlines as the deadline approaches, is due to come to a head-on 1 July this year. This is the date that David Trimble, leader of Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party, has promised to step down as First Minister if the IRA fail to take more definite steps towards destroying their arsenal of arms and explosives. Trimble’s departure would leave the country’s fragile democratic structure in an unstable condition; it may even be a threat to the entire peace process in the provinces. Resignation as a political or financial weapon is becoming more common in a world obsessed with personal power and individual statements. Think long and hard before committing to such a course of action yourself.

Remember though that I-resign.com always recommends that you leave with style and dignity. Ranting, violence and door-slamming should be left to the professional blusterers, egomaniacs and those who have decided that their careers are just not important enough to warrant consideration. You have been warned!

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