- My editor asked me to see whether ChatGPT, an AI chatbot, could write a decent resignation letter.
- I’d had a hard week at work, and the assignment gave me an opportunity to (artificially) quit.
- But I hadn’t expected that the personalized resignation letter would prompt self-reflection.
That was the question my editor posed to me one day in a team meeting, and I valiantly volunteered for the mission. (It had been a tough week, and the assignment strangely appealed to me. Come on, who hasn’t fantasized about quitting their job? The chance to live out my daydream — even artificially — was an opportunity to seize.)
I looked forward to receiving my resignation in pixelated form. (Did I mention I was having a hard week?) It’s not that I wanted to quit, necessarily, but I’m tired and maybe suffering from some pandemic burnout, like a lot of people. Besides, having spent the past two years as a careers and workplace reporter covering the “Great Resignation,” an unprecedented period in which workers have been quitting — and changing — jobs at record-high levels, some part of me longed to join the crowd.
What I didn’t expect was that the effect of seeing ChatGPT’s personalized resignation letter in black and white would be so jarring. I thought that I was fulfilling an assignment to help prospective quitters take care of an otherwise tedious task. Instead, I got career counseling.
Logging on took a while
First things first: I needed to log on to the chatbot. This took some time. ChatGPT was released to the public in late November, and within five days, it gained more than 1 million users. Lately, it’s been overrun with requests. And while I initially found charming the chatbot’s joking attempts to “explain its status” in Shakespearean prose, pirate talk, and sea-otter speak, they soon grated on me.
Finally, after four days of trying, I got in. My request was straightforward and so was the reply:
Can you write me a resignation letter for my job as Senior Correspondent at Insider? My last day is February 1.
Dear [Editor’s Name],
I am writing to inform you of my resignation as Senior Correspondent at Insider, effective February 1st.
I would like to thank you and the entire team at Insider for the opportunities and experiences I have had while working here. I have greatly appreciated the support and guidance provided by my colleagues and superiors during my time at the company.
I assure you I will do everything possible to ensure a smooth transition and to make sure that my departure will have minimal impact on the team and the projects that I have been working on. I will gladly assist in training or finding a replacement, and I will make sure that all of my current assignments are completed to the best of my abilities before my last day.
Thank you again for the time and opportunities that I have had while working at Insider.
Can you write me a resignation letter?
Momentary joy, then panic
Well, there it was. I could now quit. The catharsis was real. Assignment done.
But as I read it again, my exhilaration turned to panic. See, in addition to covering the Great Resignation, I’ve also written recently about the softening of the economy, mounting layoffs in tech — many others in the media industry — and a possible recession. I’m a worrier by nature, so quitting might not be a good idea (for me, at least; many others think differently).
What’s more, the letter’s reference to “the support and guidance provided by my colleagues and superiors” left me feeling tender. The wording was generic, but the sentiment was apt. I can’t leave, can I?
Luckily, I could ask the AI:
What if I change my mind and I don’t want to resign?
If you change your mind and decide that you do not want to resign, you can try to retract your resignation letter. It will be up to your employer to decide whether or not to accept your retraction. It’s always best to speak with your manager or supervisor and have an open and honest conversation about your decision.
It’s important to keep in mind that once you have submitted a resignation letter, it may be difficult to take back, and your employer may have already begun making plans to fill your position. It’s also worth to consider that if you do retract your resignation, it may damage your relationship with your employer and colleagues.
It’s best to weigh all the pros and cons before making a final decision and talk it over with someone you trust.
It’s good to have options — and advice you can trust
ChatGPT is right, of course. Quitting then un-quitting is not a good career move. (Looking at you, Tom Brady.)
I was enjoying the back-and-forth. True, ChatGPT’s answers were robotic, but I work from home and it gets lonely sometimes. Plus, my kids are teens/tweens, and getting immediate, fulsome responses from ChatGPT was satisfying.
I wanted to keep the conversation going, so I asked one last question based on the previous response:
Who can I trust?
It’s important to have people in your life that you can trust and confide in. Some people you may consider talking to include:
- A close friend or family member who you trust and who will give you honest and unbiased advice.
- A mentor or someone who has more experience in similar situations who you respect and can guide you.
- A therapist or counselor who can provide a neutral and confidential space to talk through your thoughts and feelings.
- A career coach or a professional who can help you think through your career choices.
It’s also important to remember that you can trust yourself. Take the time to reflect on your decision, and consider what is best for you and your career.
Amen. Everyone needs reliable and honest people in their lives. And you can trust yourself. If you’re ever unsure, ChatGPT is a decent sounding board.
Look, I don’t mean to gloss over ChatGPT’s problems. The chatbot is not only rife with bias but also could allow students to cheat, spread misinformation, and be used to enable questionable business practices. But for simple chores, like writing resignation letters, it seems useful and could even prompt a bit of self-reflection.
My week is looking up. Note to my editor (hi there!): I’m not resigning today. But when I do — some day long into the future — I know where to turn to write my letter.