Whether you love or hate your present job, leaving for a better opportunity doesn’t necessarily mean closing the door on your past career for good. Resigning from your current position is a big step that needs to be handled correctly. You don’t don’t want to permanently close any doors, and certainly not completely close them with bolts, chains, and padlocks. While we would all love to do a ‘Bridget Jones’ type resignation at least once in our life, in reality, there is no need to flounce out on a dramatic note. It’s always best to part with your former employer on good terms and that starts with writing a resignation letter.
How to Write a Resignation Letter: 5 Essential Tips
A resignation letter is a corporate document that you submit to HRs along with your two weeks notice letter. While the latter, notifies your direct boss and the HRs of your intention to quit in 2 weeks (or more if that was agreed upon), the letter of resignation is a formal summary of your decision.
In other words, you state that you are ready to move on elsewhere and that’s it. However, it’s best not to act rash in your letter as you’ll still have to work with the same people for another two weeks. So keep things simple, civil, and polite.
Start with Having a Conversation with Your Boss
Don’t ambush your employer with an out-of-the-blue resignation letter and a two weeks notice. Even if you do so, you still will have to have the “quitting conversation” with your direct supervisor or the HR team (or both).
So if you want to lead that conversation, rather than go with a flow set by another party, it’s better to tell your boss about your intentions to quit first. Schedule some private time with them, explain your decision for leaving (without resorting to harsh criticism), then follow up with a formal resignation letter.
In case you are still somewhat unsure of your decision to quit (or didn’t sign the new job contract yet), you can also give your boss some extra time to respond and perhaps make a counteroffer by filing your official letter a couple of days later.
Go with a Simple Resignation Letter
Your letter of resignation will be kept on record, so there’s no need to make it extra fancy or eloquent. Simply state the facts of your departure, such as the date you are leaving, and that you are willing to help them to get a new employee settled in and up to speed with the duties required of them.
Here’s what a basic resignation letter should include:
- The current date (this is the date you are submitting your letter)
- Your formal resignation statement (I resign…)
- A preferred leaving date (this will depend on what notice period you need to give)
- A short line to thank the company for the job opportunity
- Your signature
This is an excellent structure for a short formal resignation letter. It’s sufficient to do the job and avoid burning any bridges.
Simple resignation letter example
Current Job Title
City, State, Zip Code
Date of Resignation
Dear [Boss Name],
I’d like to inform you of my decision to resign from the position as Y from Company Z, effective March 17th.
Being part of Company Z was very beneficial for me and I appreciate all the training opportunities, mentorship, and advice that you’ve provided me with at my role. It’s been an amazing experience working with other talented professionals in Department X.
I hope that we can stay in touch in the future.
Your Signature [hard copy letter]
[Your Typed Name]
Don’t Bash the Employer
Resist the opportunity to nit-pick or list all the faults or flaws you saw in the role. Your resignation letter is simply an official notification of your leaving. It is not a job critique or a place to vent about other staff members or managers.
Also, don’t go into listing your reasons for quitting or trying to justify your decision. You can have such conversations privately with various people on your team (if you need to).
Lastly, never-ever use your resignation letter as an opportunity to brag about that amazing new opportunity you’ve just landed and how happy you are to leave the current employer. Again, such a stance can majorly backfire you if the initial offer falls through or if you ever need to ask your employer for a personal reference or a letter of recommendation.
Your resignation letter is not your opportunity to rant. Period.
Send The Right Message With Your Resignation Letter
If you plan on having a long career, you will never know who you may end up working with – or for – in the future. The last thing you want is for your best-laid plans for your career path being scuppered at some point by a disgruntled ex-boss who themselves have also moved to a new position at a company that you long to work for.
You also cannot know for sure what business connections your current employer may have established within your industry. They could spread negative information about you to other employers, which can see you earning a bad reputation even before you have applied for a job.
So it’s always better to use your letter as an opportunity to ‘thank’ and ‘appreciate’ all the good stuff about your former role, rather than go into confrontation mode.
Offer Your Help to Assist During the Transition Period
Your decision to quit puts your employer into a tough position of looking for a replacement candidate on a (relatively) short notice. New hires will also need time to settle in and understand how the ropes work at the company.
Offering help with new employee onboarding and transitioning is a solid gesture that only shows you from a better side as a person (and may positively reflect on your references).
If you know that a replacement will be coming in while you are still in the office, mention how you could help and in what capacity. For example:
- Assist with onboarding
- Provide training/mentorship
- Stay as a contractor/freelancer while they search for a replacement
Resignation Letter Example
Now let’s wrap all of the above into one quick letter. Remember: your goal is to keep it short (one-page max) and positive just like this sample resignation letter is!
Notice of Departure
To Simon Simons,
Head of Marketing
96 Duncan Avenue
New York, NY 10011
I’m reaching out to give you a formal notice of my resignation from the position of Social Media Manager for Cool Company on July, 24th.
Working with you and other people on the team was an incredible learning experience for me, and I appreciate the autonomy you gave me when it came to planning the online advertising campaigns for the brand. Challenging at times, but absolutely rewarding, I greatly enjoyed being part of the Cool Company Marketing Department, and thank you again for all the great professional development opportunities I had over the last 3 years.
During the next two weeks, I’ll do my best to share my knowledge and transfer all current projects to the new team member. If needed, I can also offer extra consulting as a freelancer as part of the lengthier transition.
I wish you all the best and would love to stay in touch. You can always reach me via my personal email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
When you sit down to create your resignation letter, do it at a time when you are relaxed, calm, and in a positive frame of mind. Never write your resignation letter after having a stressful conversation with your boss or an HR person. Take your time to reflect on your experience and draw in the positive moments and experience you had on the job!
This article has been originally published on May 14, 2018 and has been extensively revised and updated on November 26, 2020.