Question: I have always wondered what the correct procedure is for resigning from a company. Also, what should be in the body of your resignation notice, and is there a basic outline for this?
Answer: Not really. But there are a couple of basic rules about how to conduct yourself and what to say or not say at your exit interview.
1. Don't burn your bridges. You might need the company for a reference, or you might want to come back later. Or you might encounter the people you leave here at your next job or at a job down the road.
2. If you're leaving because you are being treated unfairly and might want to sue, don't let on. Quietly gather your evidence and look for a lawyer. Keep smiling, or the element of surprise will be lost.
3. Study the employee handbook and your benefits literature. That way, you'll know exactly what you are entitled to be paid after resigning -- unused vacation time, etc.
4. Calendar your deadlines. Know when you need to get back to the company on issues such as COBRA. If you are resigning in the face of termination, go to the unemployment comp office.
5. Get an agreement from someone in the company to be your reference later on. Most company HR offices will just give out your name and dates of employment.
6: Keep in touch with your business contacts and mentors, not just your friends. Start a little black book of contacts who might be fond of you and will help you later on in your career. This is usually overlooked by most people, but it's something top executives always do. (And you wonder why they make the big bucks!)
As for the resignation letter, you might just want to send a two-liner stating, "It is with regret that I must resign my position at this time," and leave it at that.