Drafting a letter of resignation may seem like just one more hurdle to cross before you can move onto the next stage of your career. However, like every aspect of resigning, it is important to maintain a professional approach. So, even if your boss doesn’t specifically ask for notification in writing, handing in a resignation letter can enhance your professional reputation and support a healthy working relationship with your manager.
The key is to remain diplomatic. Don’t turn your resignation letter into a list of grievances. You may want to work for the company again at some stage, or you could cross paths professionally with your current boss down the road. At the very least, you may need your employer to provide a reference for you. So, keep your letter positive and tactful.
Draft the main points of your letter in advance but wait until you have had a conversation with your manager to fine-tune the wording so that it reflects the main points of your conversation.
What your letter of resignation should include
Your resignation letter doesn’t need to be long or complicated, but some aspects should be standard.
- Date your letter so there's written documentation of how much formal notice you have given the company.
- Address the letter to the appropriate person.
- Keep the opening paragraph short and to the point regarding your intention to resign.
- Provide the date of your last day with the company.
- Sign your letter, followed by your personal/forwarding contact information for any post-departure questions or communication.
Extend an offer of support
Make it clear in your resignation letter that you are willing to assist with training your replacement and preparing your team for your exit. Explain that you will aim to complete your current tasks before you leave and provide key information in writing about contacts or dates when regular duties need to be completed. (Take a look at our letter of resignation examples below to see how this can be done.)
Note your appreciation in writing
Even though you may not always have enjoyed positive experiences in your current role, it’s likely your employer has invested time and money training you for the position. This makes it courteous to thank your manager for the opportunities you’ve been given.
No job is smooth sailing all the time, and it can help to think back to some of the best times with the company to set the tone of your thank-you. It’s all part of adopting a professional approach to your resignation letter and leaving behind a good impression.
What to avoid
It’s likely your employer will keep your resignation letter with other employee files, and it may be referred to in the future if another company requests a reference. This being the case, a poorly written or overly critical resignation letter has the potential to impact your career after you’ve moved on from your current job.
- Don’t explain why you are leaving.
- Don’t vent about the downsides of the job, your coworkers or the company.
- Don’t brag about what you’re doing next.
- Don’t send an unedited letter with errors.
- Stick to the basics, no more than one page.
Keep the tone positive and professional, and your resignation letter can’t work against you at any point in the future.
Resignation letter template example
Dear (manager’s name),
Please accept this letter as formal notification of my resignation from (company name). My last day with the company will be (date).
Before I leave, I will ensure that all my projects are completed as far as possible, and I am happy to assist in any way to ensure a smooth handover to my replacement.
I would like to thank you for the opportunity to work at (company) for (years of service). During this time I have enjoyed working with the team and will miss our interactions.
While I am excited by the new opportunities that I will be pursuing, I will always remember my time at (company name) with affection. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you need further information after I leave, and I would be delighted if you stay in touch.
(Your printed name and contact information)