Quitting a job is never easy, but the most anxiety-inducing part can be the thought of facing your boss and telling them you are leaving. That is why formalizing your resignation through a letter has become a business standard. In fact, when you give just a verbal resignation, employers will often ask you to submit written notice anyway. So, writing a resignation letter is not only a smart way to approach a potentially awkward situation, but also it’s often expected by employers. Here’s a guide to writing a resignation letter that will keep you on good terms with the company and preserve the integrity of the all-important reference for your professional future.
What to Include in a Resignation Letter
Regardless of your reasons for leaving the job, it’s important to be graceful and professional as you convey that you are leaving. To that effect, here are some elements to include:
Address the letter: Write directly to your manager or supervisor, using their first name if that is what you usually call them.
Start with a statement of resignation: Don’t try to build up to the news or share it indirectly. Instead, a statement as simple as “I am writing to inform you that I am resigning my position,” is clear and informative.
Clarify the date of your last day: Let your employer know the last day you are available to work. Two weeks is considered a standard notice that will give your employer time to plan for a transition. However, you should prepare for the chance that the employer does not allow you to continue working until that day.
Offer to help with a transition: No matter the position, someone will need to be hired and trained to replace you. Offering to help with this through involvement in the recruitment and training process is a classy move that shows your respect for your boss and the company.
Share your gratitude: It’s also common for resignation letters to include thanks to your supervisor and the company, including specific examples and reflections on the learning opportunities and growth you have encountered during your time there.
Add contact information: At the end of the letter, make sure to include your mailing address, personal phone number, and personal email. Even if your employer already has this, this ensures you have provided the most up-to-date information so they can reach you with questions.
What Not to Include in a Resignation Letter
You might be really excited to be handing in this letter, whether you are leaving a bad environment or just on the way to a more engaging one. However, there are still several things that should not be included in the letter, even if you are tempted:
Complaints or critiques: You might see your exit as a chance to voice concerns about the company, its products and services, or even your supervisor and colleagues. While you might indeed be able to share these insights during an exit interview, putting them in writing can be compromising. Not only will this cause you to be negatively perceived, but also it could lead to other repercussions in your industry or with references. While your frustrations might be valid, the resignation letter is not the right place to share them.
Overly-positive tone: On the flip side, saying too many nice things about your past employer is going to come across as ingenuine—remember, you are leaving. This also might make your resignation seem vague or casual, which could be confusing to your boss.
Immediate departure: Unless there are personal reasons for which you are unable to give adequate notice, you should always give your employer time to plan a transition. Even if you know they have never accepted another employee’s two-weeks’ notice and will ask you to leave immediately, you should still provide that courtesy to the company.
Overt bragging: While your new position might be a vast improvement, you don’t need to go into detail about that when resigning. If you think your supervisor will push for justification, you can focus on how the change will advance your career or help you develop certain skills. However, it’s best not to mention the new job at all in the letter. If they really want to know, they can ask in person.
New salary: Sometimes, if you mention a better salary in your resignation letter, your employer might take this as an opportunity to make a counter-offer in order to keep you as an employee. While you might ultimately just be leveraging the other job offer to get a raise in your current position, that discussion should always take place in person, initiated by you, not started by your manager as the result of a resignation.
If you’re struggling to start a resignation letter, there are many templates and guides available online to give you inspiration. Two last tips—remember to carefully check the document for errors, and ensure this is the correct decision for you before handing in the letter. Once you have done so, stay focused on your intention to make a graceful and professional exit to manage the situation and whatever comes next.