Resigning from a company can be a sad occasion or a cause to rejoice, but no matter the circumstances, it’s not official until you’ve written and submitted that resignation letter. For some, quitting a job can be a terrifying matter, but if you’re not sure how to write a resignation letter, we’ve got the pointers needed to take the fear out of the process.
Why is it so important to write an effective resignation letter? Quitting without proper notice can leave a black mark on your career history and affect your future professional relationships. Improper notice of resignation can also have legal liability and can affect your ability to claim any severance or vacation pay. Don’t make mistakes you can easily avoid. Use our tips to make your resignation letter the best it can be.
How To Write a Resignation Letter
The best way to write a resignation letter is to rip the Band-Aid off, so read on for our advice on how to get this unpleasant task out of the way.
1. Get right to the point
It’s never easy to tell your boss “I quit,” whether you’re leaving for a better opportunity, moving, or exiting an untenable situation. Fear of the reaction can lead you to soft-pedal your letter, building up to your resignation in vague terms.
Avoid this, and instead state clearly that you’re submitting your letter of resignation in the first line, or at least in the first paragraph. Address the letter to concerned parties in management and HR, and even if submitting directly to your manager, make sure HR receives an official copy of your letter for its files.
2. Be grateful
Even if you’re leaving the worst job you’ve ever had in your life, you want to keep things positive. Find something good to say about your employer and management team. Take the time to thank them for the things you’ve accomplished together, for the experience you’ve gained, and for the opportunities they’ve given you to grow as a professional. Even if it feels like an embellishment, it’s a matter of professionalism to frame your resignation in a positive light.
3. Don’t leave them hanging
When you leave the company, someone has to do your job. It may be a new hire, or it may be someone already within the department willing to step up into a promotion or take on necessary duties. Be clear in what you can do to ease that transition or train your replacement.
When considering how to write a resignation letter, remember to detail the steps you can take to make sure all files, company assets, access rights, and other important matters are seamlessly handed off to someone else. You want to be sure that your departure doesn’t have a negative impact on the company or leave it in a bad spot. If you’re in the middle of key projects, explain how many more days you intend to stay on the job to see any obligations through or introduce clients to a new point of contact.
4. Be discreet
You may have just gotten the best opportunity in the world, with double the pay and vacation time. The catch is that it’s from a competitor of your current employer. Even if you’re overjoyed to take that next step in your career, don’t say that in your resignation letter. Employers often don’t take it well when their best talent leaves to work for the competition, so don’t create bad blood by rubbing it in. You may discreetly mention your reason for leaving as accepting another offer elsewhere.
You may also have other reasons, such as moving or family or health. Keep mention of personal matters brief but honest when discussing your reasons for resigning.
5. Give appropriate warning
You’ve heard the standard of two weeks’ notice before. Two weeks is the commonly accepted lead time for turning in your resignation in advance of your actual end date, which gives companies appropriate time to account for your absence and adjust around it. Consider your individual situation, however, and determine how much lead time is appropriate to wrap up your obligations and close things out fairly and equitably.
6. Keep your complaints to yourself
Your resignation letter is not the place to air your grievances about an employer, even if those grievances might be your reason for leaving. If you want to use that employer as a reference in the future, a scathing takedown burning every bridge in the place won’t lead to glowing reviews in the future. Be safe, be tactful, be professional, and if you need to, bite your tongue on the resentments simmering behind your departure. Venting might feel good in the short term, but is harmful in the long run.
7. End on a high note
The entire tone of your letter should be as positive as possible, but be sure to end on a strong note by wishing your employers well. Particularly call out anyone who made a strong impression on you as a mentor or collaborative team member, and commend them for making your time with the company the best it could be.
8. Don’t be afraid to ask for references
If you’re leaving a company with a strong portfolio of accomplishments, those accomplishments can make for great references later. If you’re not sure how to write a resignation letter that includes a request for references, it’s not difficult. Simply include a line such as “I hope that I can call on you as a reference for future employment” in the letter, and be sure to distribute your letter to to anyone you might ask for an individual reference at a later date.
Looking for an example resignation letter? Look no further than our great sample below.
I am writing to submit my resignation from the position as Executive Branch Manager for the Columbus location, effective two weeks from this date. While I have greatly enjoyed my career with Appleton Bank, family matters necessitate a move out of state; I will be pursuing other employment once I have successfully relocated and ensured my family’s stability.
Over the course of the next two weeks, I will work with HR to screen and select a new candidate to take my place. May I recommend my current Senior Branch Manager, Holly Armitage? Ms. Armitage has consistently demonstrated leadership skills and innovation in the face of market challenges, both qualities necessary in a successful Appleton manager. She is also well-versed in branch operations, making her an excellent choice to make a seamless transition during my departure.
I have already provided my secure access codes and keys to HR on a temporary basis and will turn them in fully on completion of my last day. I am in the process of organizing all necessary documentation on the company intranet, with clear labels and file structures for easy access.
I will be happy to meet with the Board of Executives to discuss the impact my departure will have and anything I can do to streamline the process. A number of key clients have also relied on their personal relationship with me as the gateway to their relationship with the bank, and I will gladly introduce my replacement to them to facilitate relationship management and client retention.
I want to thank you personally for the opportunities you’ve given me as both my Executive Manager and my mentor. Over the past 10 years with Appleton, you’ve taught me what it truly means to be part of a growth-oriented company and how my contributions could deliver on the company’s vision of sustainability and harmony in a collaborative corporate culture.
Please accept this notice as final. I wish you the best and hope that I can call on you in the future for employment references.
James M. Atherton