All rules have exceptions. There are times when a letter of resignation should be frank. There are even more occasions when writing a candid letter seems extremely tempting.
In most cases, however, the wisest move is to resign gracefully and without recrimination. Doing so makes it harder for those remaining to claim that an intemperate attitude was behind your departure. A restrained resignation also doesn't burn bridges and, oddly enough, you may need to recross a bridge or two some day.
A letter of resignation is one of those social gestures with an expected script. Just as the usual query of "How are you doing?" does not anticipate a full medical and financial report, so too is a letter of resignation not expected to reveal all grievances and criticisms.
As a result, a letter of resignation should be gracious, brief, and above all, discreet.
Discretion can be the greatest form of style and style leaves a lasting impression.
I think it is important to provide a quick summary of the key critical achievements (completed projects, awards and mastery of skills) in your resignation letter.
Why? It is always the last piece of paper that stays on your employee file long after you have moved on. You never know when at some future time long after your current boss has retired, a future employer may want to conduct a reference check -- it makes it easy for them to confirm and provide reference. Or someone may go through previous employee files looking for candidates to try to attract / recruit.
Or a new CEO is hired to change the corporate culture and instructs HR to identify a short list of employees to lead the corporate wide effort.
Also, regardless the circumstances that you are leaving it is always easy to adopt a professional and courteous tone when you are listing YOUR accomplishments while you were employed at this firm.
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