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Written by Debbie BrideDebbie Bride

Scorched earth letter templates help channel “resignation rage”

41 min read
Scorched earth letter templates help channel “resignation rage”
Artwork by:Antonina Kasyanikova
It’s not unheard of for disgruntled employees to vent their workplace complaints through extremely scathing and sometimes humorous resignation letters. But fortunately, this scorched earth approach to job departures is an exception to the rule. Still, scorched earth resignation letters can serve a purpose in the realm of fantasy. That’s why Resume.io has devised a unique hotness scale for matching the right tone of letter to the degree of raging revenge.

O Canada! What’s up with those scorched earth resignation schemes, eh? And a semi-related question: Why did the Canadian go to anger management classes? Answer: Because he apologized to a door after bumping into it!

No worries if you’re neither Canadian, nor have any grasp of our self-deprecating sense of humour. 

Wherever you are and whatever the room temperature, lower the thermostat or crank up the air conditioning. Your shivering will be short-lived as we explore the torrid topic of scorched earth resignation letters, one sizzling degree at a time. Escape to the fiery fantasy that ignites in the minds of unhappy employees on the verge of roasting their boss and torching every last workplace woe with a few blistering keystrokes. Ah, the satisfaction of letting loose your inner hot-head! But wait... reality kicks in and you’re suddenly torn between self-protective restraint or setting your professional world ablaze. (By the way, hyperbole like this is often a fun feature of scorched earth resignation letters!) 

Here’s what we’ll discuss in this playfully unorthodox acknowledgement that scorched earth resignation letters have their place — including on a heat rating scale:

  • What is a scorched earth resignation letter?
  • How hotness categories are designated
  • The Canadian twist on Resume.io’s scorched earth scale brainwave
  • Cautionary notes
  • Adaptable resignation letter templates, matching your mood to our scorched earth scale — from sweet to fiery, with salty, peppery and spicy in between.
  • Therapeutic benefits
  • The wisely conventional approach to writing a professional and purposeful resignation letter

What is a scorched earth resignation letter?

Scorched earth is a metaphor with military origins. It refers to a combat strategy calling for the destruction of all resources to quash their usefulness in enemy hands. In the context of quitting a job, scorched earth is synonymous with “burning bridges.” Through a hostile resignation letter, and perhaps other aggressive behaviors, this manner of departure seeks to avenge the employee. This is despite the potentially self-sabotaging consequences of broken professional relationships, a tarnished reputation and obstacles to future employment.

Scorched earth resignation letters are typically a vehicle for venting all manner of general complaints and pointed criticism of bosses, colleagues, or the organization as a whole. The tone can be angry, bitter, malicious, or mocking — sometimes to humorous effect. It might include insults, accusations and threats, and, as noted earlier, be laced with outlandish exaggeration.

Accordingly, Resume.io has created a set of adaptable templates for scorched earth resignation letters, to be shared in a later chapter. The concept of mixing and matching a situation and tone to suit the job departure circumstance is similar to a writing tool we call the great resignation letter generator. (To be clear, however, that original “cool” tool follows the accepted approach for writing a level-headed resignation letter with a professional, non-confrontational tone.)

Hotness ratings for scorched earth resignation letters

Each of our scorched earth resignation letter examples is matched to one of the following heat levels, in descending order of fierceness:

  • Scorching
  • Fiery
  • Spicy
  • Peppery
  • Salty
  • Sweet

The hotness ratings for our scorched earth resignation letter templates are modeled after the legendary Scoville Scale for assessing the pungency of chili peppers and hot sauces.

The Scoville Scale — tasting the burn

The burning desire to taste chili peppers is all relative on a scale of 1 to 10, as it has been for more than a century. The universally adopted Scoville Scale dates back to 1912, when American pharmacist Wilbur Scoville created an innovative method for measuring the heat and pungency of chili peppers. 

Brave human taste testers were recruited to determine how many incremental dilutions of a sugar and water mixture were needed before the burning tongue sensation was no longer felt. A corresponding number of Scoville Heat Units (SHUs) was recorded for each chili pepper. Thus, the Scoville Scale became a standard tool for comparing relative amounts of capsaicin, the heat-inducing chemical compound found in the oil of chili peppers or seeds. 

A scorched earth scale for resignation letters: why not?

The creation of a scorched earth scale and resignation letter templates with a jocular slant coincided with an insightful Resume.io research project. Reinforced by news reports about widespread workforce discontent, “resignation rage” was the theme for our survey of 1,000 random Canadians across the country. We sought to explore whether an atypically outspoken approach to job quitting would fly in Canada — or would it be considered “unCanadian?”

Statistical insight
  • A majority of Resume.io survey respondents across Canada — 64.8% — dream about quitting their jobs with an aggressive resignation letter.
  • At the same time, 68.2% of Canadians think it’s “unCanadian” to actually do so.
  • When asked about the most aggressive element in any resignation letter they’ve ever written, survey participants cited the following negative content:
  • 19.6% — General criticism of management
  • 18.8% — Toxic workplace issues
  • 13.6% — General criticisms of coworkers’ performance
  • 12.8% — Specific criticisms of management

What does “unCanadian” mean?

The scorched earth resignation concept runs counter to the reputation for politeness that Canadians hold dear. In the absence of objective evidence, it’s hard to judge whether this long-standing image of Canadians is well-earned or just a “sorry” stereotype (pun intended). That quip about stepping on a Canadian’s foot to elicit an apology never grows old, as an inside or outside joke.

In any case, the perception of Canadians being respectful, friendly and peaceful has become ingrained in the national identity and sustained in the media and popular culture.

Proceed with caution

Pepper Joe’s, an online supplier of pepper seeds and plants, fresh peppers and food ingredients, offers this cautionary note to enthusiastic customers: “Hot peppers are a lot of fun, this is why we love what we do. But, please take them seriously and handle with care.” 

In the same spirit, our scorched earth resignation letter scale takes a lighthearted perspective of a sobering issue. It’s not that we expect much, if any, uptake on the scorched earth approach to quitting an insufferable job. Nor is it something we would ever encourage for anyone wanting to remain employable!

How to quit your job without burning bridges
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Most of us have mastered the fine art of giving a good first impression, but just as important are the final ones – especially when it comes to leaving a job. Recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the average worker leaves a job every 4.6 years.

Instead, our largely fanciful hotness scale for resignation letters might enable some miserable employees to live vicariously through their bolder — if only imaginary — peers. Or, it could be a catalyst for developing a more level-headed exit strategy, incorporating a respectful resignation letter and more suitable channels for raising workplace concerns. 

Scorched earth resignation letter templates

Now, if your imagination is set to run fearlessly wild, it’s time to have at it! Six scorched earth resignation letter templates appear below in order from mild to flaming inferno. They are yours to copy and paste as you wish. Each numbered label is color coded to match our scorched earth heat scale.

Disclaimer: Instead of “don’t try this at home,” it may be that home is the only safe place to test these scorched earth templates. Otherwise, with the exception of sweet No. 1 and salty No. 2, you are warned never to try this at work!

SWEET

[Your name] Resignation

[Your Address] 

[Your Phone Number & Email] 

[Supervisor’s Name] 

[Supervisor’s Title] 

[Company Name] 

[Company Address] 

[Date of Letter]

Dear [Supervisor’s Name],

Please accept this letter of resignation as formal notice of my intentions to resign from my position as [Your Position] at [Company Name]. My last day will be [XXX XX, XXX]

The environment at [company name] was supportive and I learned a great deal from my peers. I’m grateful for the many positive experiences and friendships formed during my time here.

I want to express my gratitude for the opportunity to develop my skills and thrive in this role. 

During the next two weeks, Please let me know if I can assist with recruiting or training a replacement, or anything else that would help during this transition.

I look forward to staying in touch. Thanks again and best wishes for the future.

Sincerely,

[Your Name]

Copied!
SALTY

[Your name] Resignation 

[Your Address] 

[Your Phone Number & Email] 

[Supervisor’s Name] 

[Supervisor’s Title] 

[Company Name] 

[Company Address] 

[Date of Letter] 
Dear [Supervisor’s Name], 

The purpose of this letter is to inform you that I will be leaving my job as [Job Title] at [Company Name], and my last working day will be XX, XX 2023.

I will be relocating to [New Location] in the near future. Any written correspondence can be mailed to me at [Relocation Address] until further notice.
Sincerely, 

[Your Name]

Copied!
PEPPERY

[Your name] Resignation 

[Your Address] 

[Your Phone Number & Email] 

[Supervisor’s Name] 

[Supervisor’s Title] 

[Company Name] 

[Company Address] 

[Date of Letter] 
Dear [Supervisor’s Name], 

The purpose of this letter is to inform you that I will be leaving my job as [Job Title] at [Company Name].

I have accepted a position at a company that I feel is a better fit for my career moving forward, and my last working day will be [XX XX, 2023.]

Sincerely, 

[Your Name]

Copied!
SPICY

[Your name] Resignation

[Your Address]

[Your Phone Number & Email]

[Supervisor’s Name]

[Supervisor’s Title]

[Company Name]

[Company Address]

[Date of Letter]

Dear [Supervisor’s Name],

The purpose of this letter is to inform you that I will be leaving my job as [Job Title] at [Company Name], and my last working day will be [XX, XXX 2023.]

The reason for my resignation is that I have decided my consistent hard work over the past [number of years in position] deserves a reasonable chance of promotion and pay increase which I do not believe is the case at [current company name.] I have accepted a position that grants me both at a company that I can continue to advance at.

My last working day will be [XX XX, 2023.]

Sincerely, 

[Your Name]

Copied!
FIERY

[Your name] Resignation

[Your Address]

[Your Phone Number & Email]

[Supervisor’s Name]

[Supervisor’s Title]

[Company Name]

[Company Address]

[Date of Letter]

Dear [Supervisor’s Name],

The purpose of this letter is to inform you that I will be leaving my job as [Job Title] at [Company Name], and my last working day will be [XX, XXX 2023.]

The reason for my resignation is that I can no longer accept working in what I consider to be a toxic working environment. This is something that I am sure you are aware of, being in management and interacting with staff every day. I have accepted a position at a company that will make my workday far more pleasant with a management team that listens to the very real concerns of their staff.

My last working day will be XX XX, 2023.

Sincerely, 

[Your Name]

Copied!
SCORCHING

[Your name] Resignation

[Your Address]

[Your Phone Number & Email]

[Supervisor’s Name]

[Supervisor’s Title]

[Company Name]

[Company Address]

[Date of Letter]

Dear [Supervisor’s Name],

The purpose of this letter is to inform you that I will be leaving my job as [Job Title] at [Company Name], and my last working day will be [XX, XXX 2023.]

The reason for my resignation is that I truly can’t spend one more day in the [insert from options below]

  • Toxic hellscape.
  • Seventh layer of hell.
  • Radioactively toxic wasteland
  • Dystopian fascist regime.
  • Destroyer of talent hopes and dreams.
  • Nightmare-inducing Thunder Dome.
  • Soul crushing and conformist beige box.
  • Horrific generator of mediocrity.
  • Sucking wound of a thousand micro cuts by stupidity, mismanagement, and incompetence.
  • Endless audition of Canada’s Got Talent (with absolutely no talent)
  • Joyless grey Borg cube of repetitive tasks and monotony
  • Space and time fogging vortex of sadness
  • Optical migraine-inducing commercial assembly line of sheer boredom
  • Customer facing endless negotiation to placate completely unreasonable humans
  • Groundhog Day movie (without the charm)
  • All night restaurant serving gruel and misery

that [company name] has become (and possibly always has been.) I do, in fact, have many grievances that I’d like to share here since management (yourself included) have never let me express them in any meaningful way.

For one, [possible grievance #1.] Secondly, [possible grievance #2.] in addition, [possible grievance # 3] and finally, [possible grievance #4.] 

Possible grievances:

  • I have been paid well by 2010 standards (unfortunately, it’s 2023)
  • 2-3 people would have to leave or be hit by a bus for me to get a promotion.
  • I was promised a parking space in the good lot.
  • My co-workers do nothing and force me to do everything to keep this out-of-control freight train running; sometimes I think they are sleeping with their eyes open and staring at a monitor.
  • Have you ever actually tried the coffee here?
  • You won’t let us work from home so we can be more ‘productive’ really, it just adds 2 hours to my commute, makes me more tired and less likely to care about anything by the time I get to work.
  • It’s insane that you make us pay for our own office supplies.
  • I can never book off the days I want for my well-earned vacation.
  • We have many empty offices, but for some reason, I still must work at a ‘hot desk’ like an intern.
  • It’s always cold in the summer and hot in the winter here, just as I suspect Rikers Island prison would be.
  • The sound of my co-workers' laughter and phone conversations in this open-concept hellish landscape is enough to drive anyone to question their life choices and how they brought them here.
  • You may decorate this place with a used foosball table and toys so clients can believe it's a ‘fun’ and creative place to work … but the staff aren’t fooled.
  • You force me to have countless never-ending meetings that are about as productive as explaining how crypto currency works to my elderly parents.
  • The break room fridge is a black hole where food goes to die. I swear I saw a sandwich in there from 2017.
  • The office bathrooms are like a scene from a horror movie. I'm pretty sure there's a family of raccoons living in there.
  • My job title is so convoluted that I don't even know what I do anymore. When you hire my replacement, simplify it to something that doesn't require a dictionary to understand.
  • The office chairs are so uncomfortable that I think they were designed by medieval torturers.
  • The office lighting is so harsh that I feel like I'm being interrogated by the FBI. For the sanity of your remaining workers, Sweetdim the lights a little.
  • The company social events are so awkward that I'd rather be stranded on a desert island with only a volleyball for company.
  • The office smells like a combination of burnt popcorn and stale coffee. Be a hero and invest in some air fresheners or candles.

I have gladly tunnelled a way out of this ongoing nightmare of a job by accepting a position at a company that will make my workday far more pleasant with a management team that listens to the concerns of their staff. If that sounds good to you too, please don’t ask me to write you a letter of recommendation or give you an introduction to my new company. In fact, I’d love it if you were to always stay 100 yards from them (and me).

My last working day will be [XX XX, 2023.] Before you ask, I have no interest in an exit interview. I am very much looking forward to walking through the doors of [company name] and never returning (or thinking) about my past [number of years] ever again.

Gleefully, 

[Your name]

Copied!

“Resignation rage” detox

At the very least, the potential for comic relief at escalating levels of seething on the scorched earth scale could be a welcome antidote to unexpressed “resignation rage.” Or, it could be a catalyst for developing a more level-headed exit strategy, incorporating a respectful resignation letter and more suitable channels for raising workplace concerns. 

That brings us to the therapeutic benefit of scorched earth resignation letters — as long as they remain unsent.

Imaginary escape

Perhaps you are trapped in a toxic workplace, surrounded by obnoxious or incompetent coworkers, and governed by a boss you loathe and fear but don’t respect. A great escape may not be feasible for any number of valid reasons — at least not right now. Maybe it’s something you daydream about, or perhaps you do have a concrete exit plan. Either way, is there any harm indulging in ”blaze of glory” fantasies about your dramatic workplace departure in an unsent resignation letter?  

Probably not, as long as you’ve taken precautions against ever hitting “Send” — accidentally or on purpose. And it should go without saying that such letters are never shared with anyone in your workplace. There’s no surer way to damage your professional relationships and future career prospects!

Reclaiming control

The value of a never-sent scorched earth resignation letter lies in personal reflection, emotional release, and self-care. As a cathartic process, it lets you safely express and release pent-up emotions — notably anger — along with frustrations and grievances in a controlled manner. Allowing yourself to imagine an outlandish hypothetical scenario could actually give you a sense of empowerment. Psychologically and emotionally, it offers a way to reclaim some control over the way you experience the real situation. 

So much the better if you’re able to liberally infuse your scorched earth resignation letter with wit, humor, exaggeration, sarcasm, and irony. It can be a powerful creative exercise for  lightening the mood, while relieving some of the weightiness of your darker emotions.

Expert tip

According to Karen Dempsey at Davanti Counselling, unsent letters of any nature can be a process for letting go of hurt or rage before they distill into resentment. As the feeling becomes less powerful, its meaning becomes less significant. “The page or screen now holds your anger so you don’t have to,” Dempsey explains. “So, you may have to press ‘save’ on the email, but you don’t need to press ‘save’ on your anger.”

Unlocking positive alternatives

Ultimately, there are healthier and more pragmatic ways to hold tight in a job you hate. An unsent resignation letter should not be seen as a substitute for those strategies. If it’s impossible or futile to address your workplace concerns through direct HR or management channels — notably if a toxic boss stands in the way— consider seeking support from trusted colleagues, friends, or a counselor. 

Exploring new career opportunities can be a great way to redirect some of that dark energy in a brighter direction. Taking a fresh look at your resume is the right place to start. Focusing on recent work experienceaccomplishments and transferable skills — that future employers would value can be a confidence booster.

How to write the right kind of resignation letter

Let’s be clear about the widely accepted HR wisdom: No matter what reasons you have to quit your job, there’s essentially just one proper way to write a resignation letter. It always comes down to ensuring the content and tone are professional, polite and positive. This is never the right place to settle scores or offload gripes and grievances.

How to write your resignation letter (with examples & templates)
Related article
How to write your resignation letter (with examples & templates)

Explore why a good resignation letter is important and how to write it, and check out our free resignation letter examples.

Resume.io has a wealth of practical advice on writing situation-specific resignation letters, with adaptable examples. Links are provided throughout this blog chapter. Any online search will yield infinitely more information along the same lines. 

Structure of a resignation letter, in business letter format

This is the structure content for a basic resignation letter:

  • Header with your name and contact information
  • Recipient’s name, company and address
  • Date
  • Salutation / greeting
  • First paragraph: Advise that you are resigning as [position title] with [organization name], and indicate your final day of work
  • Second paragraph: Express gratitude for your time with the company
  • Third paragraph: Expression of willingness to help with a transition
  • Optional: Your reasons for departure — but there is no obligation to elaborate or indicate at all)
  • Sign-off
Expert tip

To avoid ambiguity about when your employment ends, specify when your final day of work will be, rather than an effective date. For example, “My resignation is effective August 4” can be interpreted two different ways: August 4 is your last day on the job or August 4 is the first day you are no longer there.

General guidelines for writing a resignation letter:

  • In some instances, a resignation letter is necessary to formalize and document your departure from the employer organization. Even if not required, it’s almost always advisable.
  • Two weeks’ notice is the standard requirement or expectation for advising the employer of your intention to resign. Be sure to check whether any other conditions or policies apply in your workplace.
  • Whenever possible, inform your boss of your departure before sending your resignation letter. Try to schedule this conversation when disruptions are least likely — preferably in person or in a phone call if necessary. Otherwise, keep the news to yourself; grapevine gossip can get out of control quickly.
  • Ideally, in addition to indicating your departure date, express gratitude for the employment opportunity and willingness to help with transition.
  • Two or three paragraphs is the appropriate length for a resignation letter. If you have personal reasons for adding more, that’s fine but never exceed a single page.
  • Resignation letters should be addressed to your boss and copied to HR or the appropriate administrative officer. Traditionally, hard copies would be printed and delivered, but it’s become common and quite acceptable to email your resignation letter as an attachment.
  • Keep your resignation letter clear, concise and courteous, however constrained and curt. That’s regardless of whether you are leaving on bad terms or with otherwise negative feelings. If you’re at a loss to incorporate anything positive in your parting remarks, neutral is the next best tone.

The key common denominator for all resignation letters is covered in the last bullet point above: Always take the high road. Resist the urge to criticize your soon to be ex-employer. However justified you might feel in lobbing a flame-thrower missive at the boss, even if your colleagues or working conditions are the primary scorched earth targets, any momentary satisfaction you take is surely not worth the long-term fall-out. A scorched earth resignation letter might seem like a hiring reversal scenario, where you get to fire the employer. But it will inevitably cause a lot more harm than good … to you, not the employer. 

Here are some specific reasons to refrain from scorching the earth beneath your feet at this “I quit!” crossroads:

  • Leaving on the most positive note possible is your best form of short-term and long-term damage control. On the other hand, fanning the flames of your discontent can only make a bad situation worse. A disrespectful or downright hostile resignation letter can swiftly leave a trail of burnt bridges in its wake. Efforts to rebuild those bridges down the road can be disheartening, if not futile.
  • There’s always a chance that hiring managers will contact your previous employers to get their take on why you left. And the need for you to ask those employers for a recommendation would not be unusual.
  • There’s also a good chance of running into ex-colleagues, or even the boss, when you least expect it. In the small world we all live and work in, that could be anywhere — from a professional conference to the dog park. Such encounters can be awkward, if not impossible, for saving face after a scorched earth departure.
  • Simply wishing the employer well in your resignation letter, even if it’s a stretch to sound sincere, is a worthwhile reputation protection measure. The same goes for staying on board to tie up loose ends and help ease the handover of your job duties to someone else.
  • As unlikely as it seems now, you might one day thank yourself for leaving the door open, even a smidgen, for a future comeback after the workplace has been radically transformed.
  • Nothing that you might later regret saying in your resignation letter can be unsaid. That includes speculative rants and offensive language. It’s safe to assume your letter of resignation will be on record forever in your personnel file, whether printed or electronic. It could even be used against you in court for any number of reasons.

Key takeaways for a scorched earth resignation letter

  1. Scorched earth resignation letters can be a playful or therapeutic way to savor the moment when your employer-aimed fury boils over in a potent, colorful concoction of vitriolic venting, biting barbs, and scalding sarcasm — but only inside the confines of your wildest dreams.
  2. The resignation letter templates rated as fiery, spicy and peppery on our scorched earth hotness scale should be reserved for that solely imaginative, private purpose.
  3. The only other scorched earth letter templates you should ever consider for a real-life resignation are at the cool end of the scale. Always stick with a sweet or slightly salty tone of resignation letter.
  4. Otherwise, Resume.io has an abundance of advice on writing professional resignation letters in diverse circumstances, along with resignation letter examples you can modify for your own use.
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