You’ve made many big decisions regarding your career, but the decision to leave your current job may be the most significant one so far. Deciding to find work elsewhere can be a tough decision to make, but you’re not alone. After all, a recent survey from Workhuman found that 36 percent of workers have plans to leave their jobs over the course of the coming year.
You likely have good reasons for wanting to find employment with a different company. A survey from Flexjobs of more than 2,000 workers discovered that some of the top reasons for leaving a job included the presence of a toxic culture, low salary, poor management, and the lack of remote work options. Issues with low pay and insufficient benefits were also the main reasons people left jobs according to a study from ConsumerAffairs.
Whether these are the same reasons to leave a job that you have or you just need a change of scenery, the prospect of a new job can be enticing. However, how you exit your current job matters, and part of that comes down to your resignation letter. A well-crafted and professional resignation letter can solidify career connections and maintain healthy relationships. Do it poorly, and you risk burning bridges and souring those connections beyond repair. So before focusing too much on your new job, getting the letter of resignation right should be a priority.
In this article, learn how to write a resignation letter, including the elements you shouldn’t forget to leave the best impression as you head out the door. Additionally, you’ll see a resignation letter example that will show these elements in action.
What Is a Resignation Letter?
A resignation letter is the official documentation an employee gives to their employer notifying them that they intend to leave their job. In some cases, a letter of resignation is how a worker announces that they will be quitting. In other cases, the employee may have already informed their boss that they were taking a new job through more informal means such as in a conversation or with a brief email. The resignation letter acts as a more formal manner of announcement regarding the employee’s departure and will often be saved by the company for reference to the information the employee writes.
Part of knowing how to quit a job starts with writing this letter. Think of resignation letters as a professional courtesy to your employer. A letter of resignation can help you demonstrate that you maintain the highest standards of conduct, even when you’re leaving. It also gives you a chance to show your appreciation for what you’ve learned and how you’ve grown. Even under less-than-ideal circumstances, showing a high degree of professionalism will reflect well on you and your values.
How to Write a Resignation Letter
There is no official resignation letter template that all people should use when quitting their jobs, but there are certain elements and components that you need to keep in mind to write the best letter possible.
Format and Structure
Ideally, your letter of resignation should be a physical letter that you hand to your boss. Obviously, if you work remotely, this scenario will play out differently. You’ll need to send your letter via email. When doing it this way, maintain the look of a professional letter and include a part where you ask for the employer’s response ensuring they received your letter. In this way, you can follow up if you don’t receive that response.
The structure of your resignation letter should follow what you would see in a normal letter. There should be a greeting at the start, followed by the main body of the letter. Your letter should wrap up with a closing sentence or paragraph. Additionally, make sure to include your contact information, the date, and the recipient’s information.
A resignation letter should always be polite in tone. Even if you feel you experienced a toxic work environment or had a toxic boss, your letter isn’t the place to air your grievances or get something off your chest. If you simply can’t wait to leave your job, then keep the letter concise and to the point.
The beginning of your letter should be clear and straightforward. There’s no need to beat around the bush. After addressing the recipient, come right out and say that you intend to resign from your position. This is, after all, the most important part of your letter and the entire reason you’re writing it. A busy boss might miss this information if you bury it in the middle of the letter.
Be sure to tell your employer when your last day of work will be. While this may seem obvious, it’s a piece of information that’s easy to forget to include. Providing your departure date will let your employer know how much time you have left, allowing them to prepare for when you leave.
A typical timeframe for your last day is two weeks after announcing your resignation, hence the term “two weeks’ notice.” This doesn’t always apply. In certain situations, your last day can even be the day you deliver the letter, or it might be a month or more in advance. Understand that the sooner you leave, the more inconvenient it is for your employer.
Expression of Gratitude
After telling your employer that you are resigning, talk about what you’ve learned during your time with the company that will benefit you going forward. Share the experiences that have been valuable to you and influential in your growth. Even if you’ve spent a short time with the organization, you likely will have learned something that will help you in your career.
Even if you struggle to come up with positive things to say, look for at least one thing you’re grateful for. Research has shown that expressing gratitude helps people be happier, increases self-esteem, improves optimism, and even helps employees find more meaning in their work.
The transition from you to a new employee can be difficult for the employer. As part of your resignation letter, you can offer your assistance in getting your replacement up to speed with your duties and responsibilities. This will not be possible in every circumstance, but if you valued your time with the company and want to make the transition smooth and seamless, offering help in this manner will always leave a positive impression.
A quick, professional conclusion is an excellent way to wrap up your resignation letter. You can also include additional thanks for your time with the company. The closing is also an opportunity to wish your boss and the organization continued success into the future.
- Always proofread your letter before delivering it. If possible, give it to someone else to proofread as well.
- Make a copy of your letter for your own records.
- Seek the advice of a mentor or trusted colleague as you write the letter.
- Don’t explain why you’re leaving. All your employer needs to know is that you will be leaving the company.
- Avoid badmouthing the company, your managers, or your coworkers.
- Keep the letter relatively simple and short. A resignation that goes on for pages is too long.
Sample Resignation Letter
While not all resignation letters will be exactly the same, the following resignation letter example provides a helpful guide if you get stuck on yours.
Dear John Smith,
This letter serves as an official notice that I intend to resign from my position as a project manager at Company X. My final day with the company will be March 12.
I want to thank you and everyone at Company X for the wonderful experiences I’ve had during my six years here. As a project manager, I was able to lead a team for the first time in my career. As a result, I felt I grew in my leadership capabilities while forming close bonds with my teammates. The organization’s resources and your support were instrumental in my success.
Before I leave, I would like to offer any assistance to the new project manager as he or she gets up to speed with the position and our current projects.
Thank you again for the six amazing years I’ve worked here. I hope you and the company continue to be successful for many years to come.
Exit the Right Way
While you may be excited to start a new job, don’t overlook how you leave your current one. As long as you exit with dignity and class, you’ll be able to forge strong professional relationships with the company. Exit with bitterness or skip any steps of the process, and you just might damage your reputation.
That’s what happened with Jay Mariotti, a former sports columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times. After nearly two decades with the newspaper, Mariotti abruptly resigned in 2008. While he sent a resignation letter to the CEO of Sun-Times Media Group, he apparently failed to inform the Sun-Times editor Michael Cooke or the sports editor Stu Courtney. The manner of his exit drew criticism from all corners, including a scathing rebuke from famed movie critic Roger Ebert. A later statement from Michael Cooke revealed how workers at the newspaper really felt: “We wish Jay well and will miss him—not personally, of course—but in the sense of noticing he is no longer here, at least for a few days.”
Don’t end on a sour note. Let people remember you fondly by leaving the right way.
If you’re struggling at work and asking, “Should I quit my job,” you may be working with a narcissist. The following article can help.
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- Ackerman, C. E., MA. (2023). Benefits of gratitude: 28+ surprising research findings. PositivePsychology.com. https://positivepsychology.com/benefits-gratitude-research-questions/
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- Change of Subject: Mariotti resigns: It was fun while it lasted. (n.d.). https://blogs.chicagotribune.com/news_columnists_ezorn/2008/08/mariotti-resign.html
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