Writing a resignation letter is the professional way to end your employment relationship with an employer. This guide will provide you with helpful tips and advice on how to write a clear and concise resignation letter.
What is a Resignation Letter?
A resignation letter is an official notice to your company that you are going to be leaving, either handwritten or an email. In this article, we cover what you need to know about how to write a resignation letter when to write one, and what kind should you use for your situation.
Don’t have time to read the whole article? Skip ahead to Resignation Letter Examples.
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Before You Hand In Your Resignation Letter
- Check for a company policy regarding quitting – do you need to give more than 2 weeks’ notice?
- Make sure you’re ready to quit
- Find a new job.
- Write your resignation letter
- Prepare for all possibilities
- Know who to inform of your resignation and when
- Consider if you want a counteroffer or not
- Hand in your resignation letter
Follow Any Company Policy
If your company has a resignation policy, it’s always best to follow that. You don’t want to leave and then have to deal with a past employer after you’ve moved on. If there are guidelines, follow them now. Check your workplace handbook for clarification. It’s better to do it now before you’ve contacted anyone or let on that you’re quitting.
When to Give Your Boss a Resignation Letter
It’s polite to give this letter to your employer well in advance of your departure. Two weeks in advance is considered the standard minimum unless there are extenuating circumstances that would require you to resign early or without giving notice.
Resignation Letter Basics
It is professional to tell your manager first in person. All resignation letters have the same information that any employer would need when an employee has decided to leave:
- Your contact information
- The date that you’re handing in this letter
- Resignation Declaration
- Date of departure (usually at least two weeks’ notice)
- Reasons for leaving (if necessary)
- Thank you section
It’s imperative that you keep your tone professional. Even if your current boss is relaxed and understanding, it’s best for you, long-term, to keep your resignation letter formal. We suggest that because it’s difficult for anyone to make a human resources case against you when there is a solid paper trail stating politely that you are leaving. When you’re writing a resignation letter, the trick is to keep it simple and not personal.
Avoid Personal Criticism
While it can be tempting to air your grievances, you really shouldn’t. First, consider that it probably won’t change anyone’s mind at the business (after all, you’re leaving). Secondly, it is always best to keep your professional relationships positive.
Start with a Formal Greeting
If you’re submitting a hard copy of your resignation letter, it’s best to follow the standard business format. Start with the date that you are submitting your resignation and your contact information. If you’re submitting an email, it’s not necessary to include your contact information. Address your letter with a formal salutation, such as “Hello Such-and-Such” or “Dear Such-and-Such”. For your greeting, you should use the hiring manager’s full name. Additionally, if you built a relationship with the human resources department at your job, it can be appropriate to address them in your letter as well by including their titles or departments.
Next formally announce your resignation and include your last day of work. While it is standard to give two weeks’ notice, you may be asked to leave later due to previous company engagements or a specific situation. You won’t know that information for certain until you discuss leaving with management, so you will have to write in the date based on the information that you have. If you’re comfortable discussing leaving with your current manager, you can write the date accurately afterward.
After addressing your recipient, offer a polite salutation such as “Sincerely” or “Best Regards.” Or, if you are a close colleague of the hiring manager and have a strong relationship with them, more informal greetings like “Warmly” or “All the best” can be appropriate. It’s important to end the letter professionally so that it is presented in the best light possible.
At the very least, it’s nice to include a brief thank you in your resignation letter. Even if the job was a terrible fit for you, don’t forget that your employer offered you an opportunity and allowed you to grow professionally. Be sure to express your appreciation for the job opportunity or any other experiences you have gained while on the job. Of course, if there’s something specific that stands out—like excellent mentorship or flexible hours—say so. It won’t hurt to acknowledge what skills and knowledge have been gained by working with the organization too.
State Your Decision to Resign
As soon as you enter the letter, be sure to state your intent to resign and the expected end date. You should also explain how long you have been employed with the company. It’s important to note that by giving at least two weeks of advance notice, you are allowing an employer adequate time to prepare for this transition. If your resignation is urgent, however, it’s still advisable to provide some sort of notification in writing if possible.
While it might be tempting to offer up your reasons post-resignation, it’s best to forego this opportunity and instead, focus on thanking the company for your opportunities. Resigning professionally will not only reflect positively on you but also can leave the door open for possible future employment with the same company. Writing a resignation letter is simpler than you think; just explain and elaborate where appropriate, while keeping it succinct and positive.
Include the Date of Your Resignation
It’s important to include the date of your resignation so that you and your employer have a record. Note when your last day of work will be in the letter, and if possible, try to provide at least two weeks’ notice before your departure. If you are leaving sooner than that, explain why in the body of the letter.
As you write the letter, make sure to include all the necessary details like your current contact information and forwarding addresses, who you report to, and how long you have been with the company. Additionally, if you are leaving to take a new job or pursue a career opportunity after being laid off, be sure to thank your employer for giving you the opportunity and offer to help transition your role. By including these details in your resignation letter and providing at least two weeks’ notice before departure, both you and your employer can move forward on amicable terms.
Should You Address Why You’re Resigning?
While it’s not required that you explain why you’re resigning from a company, you might feel compelled to explain why you’ve made this decision. The most common reasons that someone would address why they’re resigning are to support family, to relocate, an illness, to return back to school, to change careers, or other reasons unrelated to the company or their prior position. All of those are legitimate reasons and would explain to a surprised employer why you need to leave.
If you’re leaving because you directly have an issue with a poor working environment, your past employer, coworkers, industry, or anything similar, and you have another job lined up, then you’re leaving “for a better opportunity”. You’re never leaving because you hate Marcia in accounting because she won’t stop microwaving fish or because Jim in management is a giant jerk who refuses to ever give anyone a raise. You’re leaving for better opportunities. After all, any job without those people, management, or environment is definitely a better opportunity! You won’t get any points or credit for specifically stating why you’re leaving.
If you can’t stand anyone or anything at your current position, but you don’t have anything else lined up, then “this isn’t the right industry for me” or “this isn’t the right environment for me”. After all, it’s not. There’s no need to go into specifics, though.
Common and Faultless Reasons To Give Why You’re Leaving
If you’re not up for saying “better opportunities” for whatever reason, here are some common reasons to give that don’t fault anyone or burn any bridges:
- Changing careers to a new industry
- Leaving the workforce entirely, such as: going back to school for a degree, taking care of your family (common reasons are childcare or sick family members), or going to travel.
- Looking to advance your career in another direction that this current company doesn’t offer
- Offered a new position closer to home/full-time remote/offers more benefits/etc.
Related: How to answer “Why did you leave your current job?” in an interview
Show Gratitude for Experience and Signature
Showing that you are thankful can make a large difference in how you’re treated for the rest of your time there. At the very least, you have learned about what you do and don’t want to do in the future. Therefore everyone is able to say that they are grateful for the learning experience. Did you learn how to work under tight deadlines? Did you learn more about the industry? Finding something you genuinely learned will make a difference in how your resignation letter is received. Remember that it is always a good idea to keep your business relationships professional.
At the very end, simply sign with a professional send-off (such as “Sincerely” or “Best Regards”) and then add your handwritten signature.
Resignation Letter Examples
Example #1: When You’re Leaving for a Better Opportunity
If you’re quitting because your boss never offered a raise, so you found a better-paying position (Notice that they don’t give a reason why they’re leaving):
Your Contact Information
Date You’re Handing in the Letter
As we discussed in our meeting today, I am resigning from my position as XXX at XXX, effective two weeks from now at X/X/XXXX.
I appreciate the time I spent here at XXX. The knowledge I learned here, including learning how to work under a tight deadline and in the beverage industry will be useful in the future.
While I am here, I would be happy to train any new team members if needed. I plan to work my last two weeks to the best of my abilities. If there is anything that I can help with going forward, please let me know. I hope to stay in touch in the future and wish the company great success.
Is it noticeable that the person didn’t give a reason? Not really. If anyone asks Nick’s former employees why they’re leaving, they can always say “a better opportunity”. This is a perfectly polite and acceptable resignation letter.
Example #2: When You Have a Personal Reason Unrelated to the Work
Your Contact Information
Date You’re Handing in the Letter
Please accept this letter from the role of XXX from the XXX company. Although I have enjoyed working here as XXX, personal reasons have required that I vacate this post and focus on improving my position at home.
My final day will be X/X/ XXXX. Despite having to leave, I would like to offer my assistance in doing whatever it takes to ensure a smooth transition. I have several team members in mind who would be excellent at this position or could assist with the process of finding a strong external replacement. Please don’t hesitate to be in touch.
Once again, thank you so much for the opportunity to be a part of XXX. I hope we can stay in touch as business colleagues and I look forward to working with you in the future if the opportunity presents itself. Thank you very much for understanding.
What are the reasons for leaving? “Family reasons” could include any personal issue, from someone being sick or going to rehab, to childcare, to any other issue that could come up. You don’t have to explain yourself to your former employer if you aren’t comfortable. If you think your boss and you have a strong enough relationship and you feel comfortable then feel free to discuss the situation with your boss in person. Putting that specific position on paper isn’t required.
Example #3: Letter of Resignation Without New Position
Your Contact Information
Date That You Hand in Resignation Letter
I would like to inform you that I am resigning from my position as XXX from XXX, with my last day being X/X/XXXX.
Thank you for the personal and professional development you have helped me with for the past two years. I have enjoyed my time here and consider all of my coworkers to be close friends.
Unfortunately, between my family responsibilities and grad school courses (insert your reasons here), my career has taken a different direction and I feel it is time to move on to new opportunities and experiences.
Please let me know if I can help in any way with recruiting, hiring, and/or training my replacement before my departure. Feel free to keep in touch.
Again, thank you for everything.
This letter gives a reason, expresses regret, and offers assistance as needed. It’s difficult for anyone to consider this a “burning bridges” letter and is ideal as a result.
When it comes to resignation letters, you get more with less. You may need these contacts for future references or for networking, and leaving on a classy note will make a bigger difference than anything else. Keep it short, keep it professional, and keep it to the point.
Looking to leave but don’t have a new position yet? Check out our Current Job Openings.
Other career advice:
5 Steps for a Career Change Resume (With an Example)
“Why Are You Leaving Your Current Job?” Interview Question
10 Things To Consider When You Want to Change Careers
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