- Creating and submitting a professional resignation letter can have a lasting effect on how you are viewed by past and future employers and colleagues.
- Your resignation letter should be concise. Include the date of your last working day, an offer to assist with the transition, and express gratitude to your soon-to-be former employer.
- In your resignation letter, do not air your grievances or speak poorly about the company or co-workers.
- This article is for employees who need guidance on writing a proper resignation letter.
Resigning from a job, regardless of the circumstances, is a major life decision and should be taken seriously. Crafting and submitting a professional resignation letter is a key aspect of the resignation process and can leave a lasting impression on former and future employers. Knowing the impact this letter can have, it is important to understand what should be included in it and exactly how to write it.
What is a resignation letter?
When an employee decides to quit a job, they should give their employer a formal job resignation letter. Pat Roque, career transformation coach at Rock on Success, described a job resignation letter as being a formal notification of an employee's exit strategy.
"It is a required document that becomes part of your employee records," Roque told Business News Daily. "Think of it as the last chapter of your story at your former company."
Your letter should have a neutral tone that informs your employer that you are leaving and on what date, plus it should offer to assist in the transition to someone new and thank them for the time you were part of the team. Despite your feelings about your job or your boss, being professional, courteous, and helpful provides closure and a positive path forward. [See related article: Quitting Your Day Job? The Basics on Benefits Coverage for Entrepreneurs]
"Always keep the door open, because you never know when you may want to return or even work with other colleagues in a future role elsewhere," said Roque.
James Rice, head of SEO at Picked, said that although you will likely be expected to hand in a standard resignation letter, it is usually best to schedule a meeting with your boss to personally give them the letter and discuss your resignation in person.
Key takeaway: A resignation letter is a document that officially declares your resignation from a company.
What your resignation letter should say
Although the specific contents of your job resignation letter can be tailored to your job and company, there are a few basic elements that should always be included.
Roque suggested including the following elements:
- Your end date. Provide your official end date, ideally at least two weeks in advance.
- Help with the transition. Express your commitment to ensuring a smooth and easy transition, including availability to discuss your workload and status updates with your manager or successor.
- Gratitude for the opportunity. Find something nice to say, regardless of any differences you may have with a colleague or how toxic the job may have become.
- Request for instructions (optional). If you aren't yet aware of the exit protocol at your company, request specific instructions about final work commitments and such. Some companies may ask you to leave immediately, while others may have you very involved in a transition over the two-week period, or they may ask you to work from home and see HR to return your laptop on your last official day.
Alex Twersky, co-founder of Resume Deli, added that offering to assist in training a replacement, preparing the team for your departure and expressing gratitude are important elements of a job resignation letter.
"Conjure up ... the best time at your job and have that image top of mind when you write your resignation letter," said Twersky. "Let your boss think they were great, even if they weren't. [You might] get a good recommendation out of it."
Key takeaway: Your resignation letter should include your end date, gratitude for the employment opportunity, commitment to a smooth transition, and a request for exit protocol instructions (if applicable).
What your resignation letter shouldn't say
Just as important as knowing what to say in a resignation letter is knowing what not to say. Many employees make the mistake of including too many personal details and emotional statements in their official letters.
When you are writing an official resignation letter, omit the following details:
- Why you are leaving. Although you may feel the need to explain your reason for leaving, this is not necessary to include in your resignation letter. Rice said you may believe that the new employer has a better product, service, working environment, salary or benefits package, but these are not things to state in your resignation letter. Keep your language professional and positive.
- What you hated about the job.A resignation letter is not the place to air your grievances or speak poorly of your soon-to-be former company or co-workers. Roque said to let go of anger before submitting the letter. She also suggested having someone else review your letter before submission to ensure it is appropriately polite and succinct.
- Emotional statements. Twersky stressed the importance of using a calm, professional tone in your letter. An aggressive or otherwise emotional letter will only come back to hurt you. Twersky said that even if you are overworked and resentful, don't quit angry. Avoid using phrases like "I feel" or "I think," unless they are followed up by positive statements.
When writing your letter, try not to burn any bridges, as you may need help from these individuals in the future.
"Your employers may be providing you with a reference, or if you are staying in the same field, you may still network in the same circles or want to return in the future," said Rice. "It is always good to keep in touch with your old colleagues, and with social networks like LinkedIn, it may be hard to avoid them."
These are also good tips to keep in mind when you inform your supervisor or manager that you are leaving. Short and simple is fine; you don't to explain your reasons if you don't want to. Just stay polite, respectful and professional throughout the discussion.
Key takeaway: A resignation letter should not include your reason for leaving, what you disliked about the job or grievances.
Sample resignation letter
Here is a resignation letter template you can fill in with your personal details. Remember, you are not required to include your reason for resigning in your letter:
Dear [Supervisor's name],
Please accept this letter as my formal resignation from my role as [Title]. My last day with [Company] will be [End date].
To ease the transition after my departure, I am happy to assist you with any training tasks during my final weeks on the job. I intend to leave thorough instructions and up-to-date records for my replacement.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for the knowledge and experience I have gained by working here. I am very grateful for the time I have spent on our team and the professional relationships I've built. It's been a pleasure working for you, and I hope our paths will cross again in the future.
[Your signature and printed name]
If you opt to provide a reason for leaving, either in your letter or during the conversation with your employer, be clear and positive, focusing on what you are gaining from the change and not the circumstances that caused it. Always be professional and formal.
"Remember that people leave their jobs every day, and your manager will be used to the process," said Rice. "If you are courteous and thoughtful when resigning from your job, you will make the process easier for everyone and set yourself on the right path for future success."
Benefits of providing a resignation letter
Since some companies require employees to turn in a formal notice when they resign, it is important to check your employee handbook before saying your goodbyes. Although a company may not have official requirements in place that obligate you to submit a formal resignation letter, it is always best practice to do so.
At the very least, handing in a formal and professional resignation letter makes you look good. It sets the tone for your departure as professional and courteous, reducing the possibility of hard feelings or uncertainty. It also gives you the chance to officially thank your employer and offer to assist with the transition process, if needed.
A formal resignation letter also serves as a paper trail. Some companies may require a specific amount of notice (two weeks is standard), and your resignation letter can serve as physical proof that you provided ample notice. If there are legal problems, like the disbursement of your final paycheck or the last day of employee benefits, you can look to your resignation letter as support for your case.
Key takeaway: A resignation letter is not always required, but it can make you look professional and courteous in your departure. It can also serve as physical proof of notice.
Additional reporting by Nicole Fallon and Marci Martin. Some source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.