You’ve decided it’s time to leave your current job. And no matter the role or the reason why you’re leaving, you’ll likely have to write a resignation letter.
Because it’s one of the last things included in your personnel file, you want to make sure it’s as direct and professional as possible. Here’s what you should include and what you should leave out.
First Things First
Whenever you resign from a position, it’s best to do it in person, even when you work remotely. It’s considered the respectful and professional way to resign from any position, and even a phone call or video chat will suffice.
If nothing else, it’s a small world! While you may have no intention of using your current supervisor, coworker, or company as references, you never know who they know or how your name could come up in a conversation.
How To Write a Formal Resignation Letter (Template)
Of course, it may not always be possible to resign in person, so an email is your only option. And even when you have resigned in person, you’ll most likely still need to write a resignation letter. Here’s how:
Use a Clear Subject Line
Start with a clear, straightforward subject line. Though your supervisor may be surprised to see “Resignation Letter for [Your Name]” sitting in their inbox, it’s clear what the email contains.
Open your resignation letter with clear intentions and precise language. There are two places you can begin.
You can immediately jump into the facts: you’re resigning from your job. Clearly state your intention to quit and include your end date:
After careful thought and consideration, I’ve decided to resign from my position effective [state your last date].
Alternatively, you can open by thanking your manager and company for everything they’ve done for you during your employment:
Thank you for the opportunity to learn and grow professionally with [Company Name] over the past [length of time you’ve worked there]. I’ve learned a lot about [mention what you’ve learned or how you’ve grown] and am confident this has prepared me for the future.
No matter how you choose to start your resignation letter, include both of these sections. Even if you’re leaving your job after a negative experience, you should express gratitude and remain upbeat. Something neutral, such as “I’m grateful for my time with the company,” is better than nothing at all.
Get Down to Details
After the “main event,” get into the details about your last few weeks on the job. Explain how you will finish your projects, who you will pass things off to, and tie up any loose ends.
This is also the place to offer to train your replacement (presuming it’s allowed by your old and new company). If there’s an internal hire, you can teach that person a few things before you go. But if the company will look outside for your replacement, you can offer to answer stray questions after that person onboards.
Ask About Benefits
You may also want to include a brief section that asks about benefits (COBRA insurance, unused vacation payouts, etc.). Specifically, ask who you need to talk to in order to answer your questions. Alternatively, if you know the information comes directly from HR, you can offer to set up a meeting yourself.
Include Your Contact Information
Finally, if you’ve offered to help out after you’re gone, include your personal contact information. Even if you suspect no one will ever use it, it’s a professional and often appreciated gesture on your part.
What to Leave Out of Your Resignation Letter
Though you might be tempted to include a lot of information, resignations are generally short and to the point. Here’s what not to include in your resignation letter:
Particularly if you’ve been at the company for a long time or if you’re close with your manager, you may feel you need to give a long and detailed reason why you are leaving. And while you should give some explanation, keep it as brief and as positive as possible.
For example, if you’re leaving because you are taking care of a sick family member, there’s no need to get into the details. Saying “to attend to personal matters” or “for family reasons” is often sufficient.
In some cases, people feel bad about resigning their position and don’t want to deliver the news. That can lead to them using language that softens the message, like “I think my last day will be…” But this leaves your last day open to interpretation, which could lead to problems down the line.
No matter how you feel about your job, use precise and objective language. You don’t have to leave emotion out of it, but you should be very clear that you are resigning from the role and the date that you are leaving.
You may be doubling your salary, getting more responsibility, or getting the ability to work from anywhere in the world, but your resignation letter shouldn’t focus on any of that. Instead, focus your letter on your time at the company, what was positive about it, and that you’re moving on.
Telling Them Off
Finally, as tempting as it might be to tell your manager exactly why you’re leaving by listing off all your complaints and concerns, skip it. Once again, it’s a small world, and even if your complaints are legitimate and valid, you never know what could come back to haunt you. If nothing else, a resignation letter should be positive and professional to help instill that image in the company’s mind.
When to Send a Resignation Letter
In the event you must resign via email, know that there really is no “right” or “wrong” day or time to send it.
Some managers prefer to receive a resignation first thing in the morning. This gives them a chance to immediately start doing whatever it is they need to—from starting the hiring process to preparing a counteroffer! Others prefer to receive it in the late afternoon or heading into the weekend, so they have time to think about what you said before responding to it.
The same goes for the date. Monday morning might be the best, but so too might be Friday afternoon. In the end, pick the time and date that works best for you and ensures you are providing at least two weeks’ notice.
Saying Your Goodbyes
Whether it’s bittersweet, going out on a high note, or you’re happy to move on, writing a resignation letter is a crucial part of any job. Use these tips to ensure your resignation letter is just as professional as you are.
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