23 April, 2021
By Mike Simpson
At some point in your career, you’re probably going to resign from a job. After all, practically no one stays in one role for their entire working life; moving on from time to time is normal. In fact, it’s so normal that millions of professionals leave their jobs every month. That’s right, millions. And when that moment comes, there’s something you’ll need to do: write a resignation letter.
While, on the surface, writing a letter of resignation seems like an incredibly simple thing to do. The trick is, you do want to make sure you get it right. In the end, this will be one of the final impressions you make on an employer and, if you want to make sure they don’t turn your exit into anything harder than it needs to be, remaining professional is a must.
Now, does that mean you should panic? Of course not! You just want to make sure you understand how to write a resignation letter the right way. So, if you’re wondering what it takes to nail it, come with us as we explore the wild world of resignation letters.
What Is a Resignation Letter?
Alright, we know you’re here to find out how to write a letter of resignation and to take a look at a handy-dandy sample resignation letter or two, and we promise that it is all coming. But before we get into the resignation letter template, the resignation letter example, and other tidbits about how to write a letter of resignation, let’s all take a step back and take a good, hard look at what a resignation letter even is.
In the simplest sense, a letter of resignation is a document that informs your employer of your intention to sever the employer-employee relationship on a specific date. Essentially, it’s an official notice that you plan to head out of the door on a particular day and not return, at least as an employee in your current position.
Why would you need to write a resignation letter? Isn’t just saying that you’re quitting enough? Well, it’s the polite and professional thing to do, for one. For another, it creates an official record of your intention to leave, and that can be incredibly important.
Besides, a resignation is usually a planned moment. You typically know well before you give anyone notice that you intend to leave; you aren’t just making this move on a whim.
Plus, a resignation letter helps you avoid burning bridges and maintains your reputation when done properly. That matters!
Why would a person resign? Well, it could be because you’re moving toward something. For example, if you landed a new job, are starting a new business, or are heading to a new city, resigning may be part of tying up loose ends before you transition.
But those are just a few reasons why someone might resign from a job. In some cases, people quit because of a health condition or to care for a loved one struggling with a medical concern. Others leave to preserve their mental health, allowing them to get themselves out of a workplace that’s toxic, dangerous, or is otherwise harmful.
Burnout is another reason some professionals resign. Heck, 63 percent of professionals have thought about leaving a job because their employer’s communication was so ineffective it hindered their ability to do their job.
You may be wondering, has COVID-19 altered the resignation letter landscape? Will things look different in a post-pandemic world when it comes to resigning from a job?
Well, yes, some things have changed. First, some people may have discovered something about their employer that made them want to leave. For example, numerous essential workers who had to keep reporting to a workplace found that their companies didn’t take safety seriously, and some of those professionals decided to quit because of it.
At times, people had to resign to care for children who were no longer going to school or daycare. They didn’t have much of a choice since leaving kids home alone all day isn’t really an option.
On the other side, some employees may have delayed a resignation out of fear about finding a new job. High unemployment will do that to a person, particularly anyone working in a hard-hit industry.
How people deliver resignation notices has also changed a bit. While resignation emails are certainly nothing new, they became more common in the remote-first world that emerged due to the pandemic. In some cases, the email approach may have been a necessity, even if it isn’t what the company usually prefers.
Alright, there’s a pretty decent chance that you’re wondering, “Are a resignation letter and a resignation email the same?” More or less, yes they are.
The main difference between the two approaches is the delivery method, as emails are completely digital while letters usually need to be printed (or are at least designed with being printed in mind). There can also be some slight formatting differences.
Beyond that, a letter of resignation may feel a bit more formal. Additionally, some companies – but by no means all – have official resignation policies that list an actual letter as a requirement.
Does that mean you can’t send it digitally? Not necessarily. Instead, it simply needs to be in a printable format when it arrives. Usually, that means using the traditional approach for how to write a letter of resignation and then sending the document as an email attachment. However, company policy is what really determines if that’s allowed, so review your employee handbook to see if there are any rules you need to follow.
Common Resignation Letter Mistakes
There’s a good chance that you’re thinking, “If I’m about to leave a job, do mistakes in my resignation letter actually matter? Would someone actually care?”
Well, while you might think that how you write resignation letters wouldn’t matter, it really does. In the end, you should always want to make the best impression possible. After all, people talk, so if you submit an inappropriate, unprofessional, or error-laden letter, work could get out, damaging your reputation.
So, how do you avoid resignation letter mistakes? By knowing what they are and what to do instead.
First, make sure to hand over your resignation letter at the right time. Generally speaking, you want to give your employer two weeks’ notice. However, if your employee handbook requests a different amount of notice, then use that number instead. That way, you’re giving them enough of a heads up to keep your reputation intact.
Second, whatever you do, don’t talk to anyone else at work – or anyone who has a relationship with your manager or employer – about your plan to resign. Your boss needs to hear about it from you and not through the grapevine.
However, once you do inform your manager, don’t assume that they’ll handle telling everyone else. Yes, word will get around, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t talk with people directly. It gives you a chance for some formal goodbyes, as well as find out if there is anything you can do to ease the transition, both of which can be powerful for staying connected and building your network.
Finally, if you’re leaving because you feel undervalued, hate your manager, or another negative situation, don’t get into that in your resignation letter. Even if your complaints are reasonable, badmouthing your employer on your way out is never a smart move.
Top Tips for Writing a Resignation Letter
While looking at a resignation letter sample or two can certainly help, it’s also a good idea to understand how to put a letter of resignation together in the first place. That way, when it comes time to create yours, you’ll have a wealth of information at your fingertips, as well as some examples that can serve as a letter of resignation template.
If you want to make sure you know exactly how to write a resignation letter, here are some tips that can help.
1. Use a Formal Business Letter Format
Business letters don’t start with “Dear [person’s name].” Instead, they begin with contact information.
By listing your and the company’s contact information, you make it clear who is writing the letter and who the recipient is. Since documents at times are misfiled or set in the wrong places, that can be surprisingly important to include.
Start by listing your contact information, including name, address, phone number, and email. Then, write the date based on when you intend to turn in your letter. After that, list your manager’s contact details. Once that’s in place, you can move onto the “Dear” part.
2. Get Straight to the Point
While you might think that you need to offer up some pleasantries first, that isn’t the case. Instead, when you’re writing the letter, make sure your opening sentence tells the reader you’re resigning.
Keep in mind that now isn’t the time to hedge. Don’t use phrases like “like to resign,” “hoping to resign,” “maybe,” “if it’s alright,” or anything else that comes across as uncertain or ambiguous. That may give your employer the wrong impression, leading to confusion about what’s coming next.
Instead, be blunt. That way, there isn’t any room for any misunderstandings about your plans.
3. Include the Right Details
Along with stating that you’re leaving the company, you need to include a few extra details in the first sentence or two. One, make sure to list your position title and department, ensuring everyone knows exactly who is resigning. Two, include the date of the last day you intend to work.
4. Offer a Reason [Optional]
When you are writing a letter of resignation, you don’t necessarily have to give your employer a reason for your departure. It’s completely optional, so only do it if you’re comfortable with sharing, and the reason doesn’t involve you having to badmouth the company.
Even if you do give them a reason, you are within your right to be vague and concise. In fact, launching into a ton of detail is a bad move, as it draws out the letter unnecessarily.
5. Express Your Appreciation
Once you get to the second paragraph, it’s time for some of those pleasantries. You want to showcase your appreciation for the experience, even if you’re leaving because you hate your boss, dislike the culture, or another issue of that nature.
In the end, kindness – and occasionally biting your tongue – go a long way here. Remember, someone who reads this letter may need to be a reference for you in the future, so this isn’t a bridge you want to burn.
When in doubt, you can call any job a “valuable experience.” Even if it was horrible, it’s taught you a lot about what you don’t want, and that is “valuable.”
6. Say You’ll Help
For the third paragraph, let them know that you’ll do everything in your power to ease the transition. You don’t have to get into specifics of how you’ll help; the general sentiment is enough.
7. Close Strong
After that, it’s time for a quick closing sentiment. Usually, this is where you’ll offer some well wishes, so put your optimist hat on, a smile on your face, and offer a cheery moment of hope for their future.
8. Sign Off
Signing off is pretty straightforward. All you need is a classic closing, like “Sincerely” or “Best Regards,” and your signature. Done!
3 Resignation Letter Examples
Alright, now that you know a lot about how to write a letter of resignation, it’s time for a sample resignation letter or three. You can use these as a resignation letter template by using the kinds of sentiments expressed to guide you as you write or just as a source of general inspiration.
With all of these letters, you want to use the classic business letter format. Usually, that goes something like this:
[Your Home Street Address]
[Your City, State, and Zip Code]
[Your Personal Phone Number]
[Your Personal Email Address]
[Date Letter Will be Delivered]
[Company’s Street Address]
[Company’s City, State, and Zip Code]
[Manager’s Work Phone Number]
[Manager’s Work Email]
You’ll want to do that no matter what, as it ensures everyone knows who the letter is from, as well as who the recipient is. Additionally, it gives the company a way to confirm your current home address, phone number, and email, ensuring they can reach you after you leave should the need arise.
So, without any further ado, here are three sample resignation letters, each one covering a different reason why you might be heading out of the door.
1. Accepted a New Job
Dear Ms. Doe:
I am writing to inform you that I’m resigning from my Marketing Assistant position with the ABC Co. Marketing Department, effective May 1, 2021.
I am forever grateful for the opportunities this role has afforded me, including the amazing people I’ve met along the way, and the chances I’ve had to learn and grow in the position.
As my last day approaches, please let me know if there is anything I can do to ease the transition.
Thank you again for an outstanding experience over the past three years, and I wish both you and ABC Co. continuing success.
2. Relocating to a Different City
Dear Mr. Doe:
Please accept this letter as formal notice of my resignation from the Executive Assistant position in the Operations Department at XYZ, Inc. My last day will be on May 1, 2021.
My time with XYZ, Inc. has been incredibly valuable, giving me numerous opportunities to learn, hone new skills, and connect with amazing colleagues. As I seek out new positions once I arrive in my new city, I know what I’ve learned here will continue to serve me well, and I am forever grateful for the support and guidance you’ve offered during my journey here.
Until my final day, please let me know if there is anything I could do to make this transition simpler.
Thank you again for an outstanding experience. I wish you and XYZ, Inc. the best.
3. A Health Condition or Well-Being Issue
Dear Dr. Doe:
I am writing to inform you that I am officially resigning from my IT Technician position with ABC Corp., effective May 1, 2021.
I am incredibly appreciative of everything this opportunity has afforded me over the years, but a recent change in my health has made resigning necessary.
If I can make the transition easier as my last day approaches, please let me know, and I will happily help.
Thank you again for the guidance and support.
Putting It All Together
At this point, you should have a solid idea of how to write a resignation letter. Use all of the tips above, as well as the resignation letter examples above, to help you craft a letter that covers all of the necessary bases while maintaining a professional tone. That way, you can leave on good terms, no matter your reason, ultimately ensuring that your reputation stays intact.
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