It’s always difficult to navigate a job resignation, but you can make the process significantly easier if you write a brilliant resignation letter.
There are plenty of rules to follow to ensure that you get the job done professionally. We’ve outlined the key facts here alongside tips that can help you handle any resignation situation without upset and acrimony.
It’s a good idea to produce a resignation letter even if the company hasn’t specified that this is a requirement for leaving the job – it’s a good formal notification for everyone involved and it’s a paper record that can’t be disputed. If you keep things amicable, then you’ll have a better chance of getting a good reference in the future, and it’s also important to keep things as pleasant as possible because you could encounter people again at different stages of your career.
We’ve detailed exactly what you should include in your resignation letter – and how you should write it. And if you want more help finding your next job, head here for our choice of the best US job sites (opens in new tab).
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What you should include
There’s certain information that any resignation letter needs to include, no matter the circumstances surrounding your resignation.
You need to give formal notice of your intention to leave so that your managers know that you plan to end your employment. Include your official job title here, too. You need to include the date when the letter was written and you also need to state the date of your last day with the company – this should reflect the notice period included in your contract.
Your letter should include your contact information so your employer can get in touch, if necessary, after you have left the business.
Ideally, the best resignation letters (opens in new tab) should specify that you’re willing to complete a full handover of duties before you leave the company. And if it’s been an amicable split and you feel satisfied with your time at the company, you should thank your supervisors and managers for the opportunity and support.
If you feel particularly grateful, going into more detail here will do no harm, and it’s worth thanking the right people even if you’ve not had a positive time at the company and if the split is not friendly – think of the bigger picture.
Writing the perfect letter
If you want to avoid burning bridges, keep things professional and ensure a smooth exit, you can follow a few key rules to produce the best resignation letter possible.
You could start by being generous with your handover help. You can offer to train your replacement, produce documents that detail key workflow concepts or even help with interviewing and recruiting your replacement if that’s appropriate. Conversely, be careful not to promise anything you can’t deliver.
If you don't have any particular negative feelings towards the company, keep the letter positive – a resignation letter isn’t necessarily the best place to vent all of your grievances. That’s best kept to your exit interview – some companies have these as standard, while you’ll have to request an exit interview in other organizations. Don’t brag about your next job, either. If possible, it’s always good to stay professional: if you rub people up the wrong way then you could struggle to get a positive reference in the future.
As ever, keep it short and concise – no-one wants to wade through a letter of unnecessary text. Run the document through spelling and grammar checkers before you submit, and keep your formatting consistent.
You’re under no obligation to include the reason why you’re leaving in your letter of resignation. But if you do wish to add this information, use neutral language and keep it brief.
Delivering the document
Writing a letter of resignation is one thing – delivering the document can be a nerve-wracking and stressful experience, especially if you’ve had a particularly positive or negative experience at the company or with your manager.
It’s a good idea to rehearse what you’re going to say before you speak to your manager and deliver the letter, as it gives you the best chance of presenting the letter in a clear, professional manner. Arrange a specific time to meet with them to deliver the document – a formal meeting is always better than springing the letter on them in the corridor.
As well as presenting a paper copy of your letter to your manager, send an electronic or paper copy to HR so they’ve got a formal record of the document. And when you do meet with your manager, remain firm, but be ready to deal with questions – remember that you don’t have to give detailed answers. If the company values you, then you may also have to deal with a counter-offer.
Leaving a job is usually stressful, but if you follow these steps then you’ll be able to write the best resignation letter possible – and make your exit smooth rather than bumpy.
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