By Mike Simpson
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NOTE:The example template can be found at the bottom of this article
Saying goodbye to anyone can be a difficult decision, especially when you’ve invested both time and emotion into the relationship.
But what about saying goodbye to your boss and job?
We’ve all been in those uncomfortable situations, when things just aren’t working out and it’s time to move on.
Maybe you’ve gotten a better offer. Maybe you’re in a position to advance in the world. Maybe it’s just time to try something new.
No matter what your reason, you’re starting a new chapter in your life, and that means closing out the old.
So how do you part ways in the most professional and painless way possible?
By writing a good letter of resignation.
Hang on, like a goodbye letter? An ‘it’s not you it’s me,’ letter? The ultimate ‘let’s see other people’ letter? A…*gasp* breakup letter?
Simply put, a resignation letter is a letter you write to your current employer letting them know that you are leaving your position with the company and moving on.
Now, before you go dashing off a “See ya, chumps” scribble on a sticky pad in highlighter and nailing it to your boss’ door with a smiley face of tacks and industrial staples, there are a few things you need to keep in mind when penning your resignation…starting with why it’s necessary to write one…a professional one.
(***Here’s another point to consider. Are you ready to quit your job? Do you know how to quit your job properly? Don’t worry, we’ve written a companion blog post to this article called How to Quit Your Job. Click the link to read it now!)
Sure, it might be tempting to stand on your desk, wrap your tie around your forehead like an ancient and primitive warrior, spread toner ink on your face and go positively barbaric on those dang files you’ve been slaving over for the past five years with minimal recognition while screaming “I quit” at the top of your lungs…. (Little known fact: This is in fact exactly how Jeff quit his last job. 😉 )
And yes, it’s so tantalizing to imagine the look on your uptight boss’ face as you finally show the copier in the break room what you think of it’s less than stellar collating skills while hollering “Take this job and shove it,” but remember, everything and anything you do when you quit can be used against you in future job searches.
They might be your boss right now, but eventually, they’re also going to be a reference.
That’s right, Rambo….
That milquetoast corporate monkey you’re throwing binder clips at while yodeling about your accrued vacation pay could someday potentially be the one thing standing between you and your future dream job.
Kinda makes those grand gesture exits a little less tempting when you think about the long term, doesn’t it?!?
Dramatic might get you short term bragging rights, but graceful will get you long term results. Remember that.
So sit down, put your tie back on the way it’s supposed to be worn, wipe that toner off your brow, and let’s do this the right way.
But what makes a good resignation letter?
A good letter of resignation is one that clearly outlines exactly what you’re doing (resigning) but in such a way that you’re confident that you will be able to come back at a later date and leverage your (still) positive relationship with your former boss into a solid and effective reference or networking connection.
Ultimately the most basic letter has to include just two absolute core points; the fact that you’re leaving and the exact date of your last day, but we’re not comfortable being basic around here.
Remember, you got this job by being the Perfect Candidate…and now you’re going to be the Perfect Resigning Candidate, and that means making sure your letter goes above and beyond.
12 Tips For Writing a Great Letter of Resignation
1. KEEP IT BUSINESS APPROPRIATE
Yes, you’re resigning from a job, which means your resignation letter should be treated just like any other piece of business correspondence. Address it to your intended audience specifically by name and as always, proof read it before you send it.
No, you’re not burning bridges. Opening your letter with “Dear idiot,” is a good way to make sure your future references are horrible.
2. KEEP IT CLEAR
Yes, you want to make sure there’s absolutely no confusion about what you’re doing. Start first by making sure your letter is upfront…you’re saying goodbye. You also want to make sure it’s about one page in length
No, it’s not the time to be flowery. Don’t get poetic. Don’t get obscure or confusing. Be crystal clear; you’re leaving your job.
Include a brief description of just what that job is while you’re at it. Again…the less room for confusion, the better. Speaking of confusion, don’t go on and on and on. Again, keep your letter to about one page.
3. KEEP IT CORDIAL
Yes, your resignation letter should allow you to leave on a positive note.
No, you’re not using it as a platform to complain.
This letter isn’t a chance for you to unload all the ways you hate the job you’re leaving. This isn’t the place for you to type up an itemized list of all the ways you’ve been going slowly crazy and how leaving is the best decision you’ve ever made.
The only specific details you have to include is your official last day.
4. KEEP IT UPBEAT
Yes, you want to use your former boss as a future reference. Remember, we’re doing our best to leave on a positive note, which is why it’s so important to also include a brief thank you to your boss for the opportunities you’ve had, the knowledge and experience you’ve gained, and the people you’ve gotten to know.
Try to make sure your upbeat tone is genuine. The last thing you want to do is come across as insincere.
No, you shouldn’t be burning bridges if you can help it. Make sure your resignation letter is genuine. Avoid using sarcasm. You only get one chance to make a final impression.
5. KEEP IT SUPPORTIVE
Yes, you’re making sure your transition out is as smooth and painless as possible and that means including in your letter your transition plans. It’s standard courtesy to give an employer at least two weeks heads up so they can start looking for your replacement before you officially say adios.
It’s also a professional courtesy to offer to help bring that replacement up to speed with what your duties and responsibilities have been.
While it’s always a plus to offer to help out with this transition, make sure you promise only what you’re willing to deliver. You don’t want to end up in a situation where you’re stuck providing support and assistance beyond what should be reasonably expected…and without pay.
For upper level and/or senior level employees, a longer transition might be expected. A good rule of thumb is to make sure you’re always giving as much notice as you’re allotted vacation time per year, so if you’ve got 4 weeks of paid vacation a year, expect to give 4 weeks’ notice.
6. KEEP IT COZY
Yes, you’re ending a relationship. When you sign off, make sure you do so with a genuine salutation. Throwing in a small personal note to your boss is a nice way to wrap things up.
7. KEEP IT PHYSICAL
Yes, we mean physical as in your resignation letter is actually typed out and either printed or emailed. Even if you’re speaking with your boss on the phone and letting them know you’re resigning, it’s also a good idea to include a paper copy of your resignation. Many times companies will keep resignation letters on file for future reference.
No, we don’t mean physical as in swinging punches. No. No. No.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, it should be easy to write, right? Of course! We’ll even give you a solid example later on in this article you can look at for inspiration.
Awesome! I think I’m ready to get this letter started. Onward to new adventures!
Hang on…before you do that, there are a few things you want to do before you write your letter and absolutely before you turn it in!
8. BE PREPARED TO LEAVE IMMEDIATELY
Yes, your letter details your transition plans, but there’s always a chance that your boss might have different plans. No matter how carefully you write your letter or how positive you think you’re wrapping things up, there’s always a chance that your boss will have different plans for your farewell.
Make sure your personal area is cleaned up enough that if you have to box it all and go, you’re in a position to do that as quickly and cleanly as possible…and that means your computer as well.
If you’re using a business computer, clean off all your personal files, accounts and emails…and back them up. Speaking of backup…if possible, ask HR for copies of your personal file as well.
It’s also a good idea to draft a farewell letter to your coworkers and peers letting them know you’re going. Again, keep the letter upbeat and positive, but don’t brag.
9. BE PREPARED TO TALK ABOUT YOUR RESIGNATION AS SOON AS YOU HAND IN YOUR LETTER
Unless you plan on sliding you letter under your boss’ door and hiding while they read it, be ready for a sit down.
Most employers will want to talk to you as soon as they know you’re planning on leaving and you’ve got to be ready to have that talk…and yes, it’s entirely possible it’s going to be an awkward conversation.
Just remember to keep it professional.
10. BE PREPARED TO DEAL WITH A POSSIBLE COUNTER OFFER
It’s also entirely possible that your boss doesn’t want to let you go (you’re the Perfect Candidate, remember?) and they might try to entice you to stay by offering you incentives to stick around.
Be ready for this and make sure you’re 100% ready to commit to whatever decision you ultimately make.
11. BE PREPARED TO DISCUSS THE DETAILS OF YOUR DEPARTURE
Depending on the deal you have with your employer, you might be entitled to certain benefits. What happens to your employee health plan, retirement and/or vacation days?
What about stock options or investment programs? Make sure you’re informed about what will happen to any and all accounts you have established with and through your employer.
12. BE PREPARED TO HAVE TO PARTICIPATE IN AN EXIT INTERVIEW
Some companies like to conclude a business relationship with an employee by conducting an exit interview. These interviews help provide companies with insight as to why employees are leaving and can be used to help reduce turnover and increase retention. They can also be used to get feedback from employees on the job they’re leaving, the overall work environment and the company itself.
Now that we’ve got all that out of the way, it’s time to write your letter. To help get you started, here’s a great example of a simple letter of resignation you can use for inspiration.
Here's A Sample Resignation Letter Template You Can Use
Your City, State, Zip Code Your Phone Number Your Email
Name Job Title Company/Organization
City, State, Zip Code
Dear Mr./Mrs.(remember, make this specific!):
Please accept this letter as official notice of my resignation from my position as a Walnut Shell Checker with the Oakland Walnut Company, effective (put in your final date of work here).
I have truly enjoyed my time working here at the Oakland Walnut Company. I am incredibly grateful for the opportunities this job has afforded me and for the experiences and skills I have gained while working here. I would like to ensure that my departure is as smooth as possible. To that end, I am more than happy to help with the transition of my duties and responsibilities.
I would also like to take this opportunity to extend a personal thank you for all your support over the years.
So there you have it. A very simple, very short example letter of resignation. Of course, it’s only an example.
Make sure you personalize yours and tailor it to your job, company and experience.
No matter why you’re resigning your job, submitting a well thought out, well written letter of resignation will help to ensure that not only are you exiting your job in a professional manner, but that you’re leaving bridges intact.
You never know when you might have to cross back over that proverbial bridge, and the smoother the road, the better.
And as always, good luck!