How To Write A Resignation Letter (Example Template Included)

By Mike Simpson

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.

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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?

Essentially, yes!

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? Are you prepared for your exit interview?  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.

Top 12 Resignation Letter Tips

 

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 professional 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 provide your employer with 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.

MIKE'S TIP: While a minimum of 2 weeks notice is industry standard, there are always exceptions to the rule. In situations where you just can’t give the full two weeks notice, try your absolute hardest to ensure that you manage to wrap up whatever project you’re currently assigned or assist in delegating it to someone who will be able to complete it in your absence. It can also benefit you to offer to remain available to answ