How to Write a Resignation Letter

How to Write a Resignation Letter

A resignation letter is a document that an employee gives to their employer to formally recognize that they are leaving the company. Handing in a resignation letter starts the off-boarding process for the employee. The letter should include details such as when the employee’s last date of employment is and future contact information.

As an employee leaving a company, it is important to ensure that your resignation letter is clear and concise. Furthermore, it is always recommended that the letter reads in a manner which is graceful. One of the overarching goals when leaving a company is to maintain and protect your reputation. Industries are small and word travels fast; leaving a company gracefully will solidify your reputation while ensuring you don’t burn any bridges.

Before writing and handing in a resignation letter

Before you formally resign, a few steps should be taken to ensure that the decision is the right one for you.

First, tell your manager that you are leaving. This is important for two reasons: one, it gives your manager a heads up about your departure, which is usually appreciated. You never know where someone will end up and you may need them for a future reference; two, having the conversation will open the opportunity to negotiate. If you are leaving because of a better job and or more pay, your company may be able to provide a counteroffer that is more attractive than the one you have. Thus, letting the manager know about your intentions may land you an even better outcome.

Next, take inventory of all your important projects and deadlines that you have. This should be done proactively to surface any critical dates that are highly dependent on you. For example, if you are an IT project manager who is nearing the end of an implementation, knowing when the go-live date is critical as it may guide when your final date of employment is.

Lastly, determine when your last date of employment will be. Two-weeks is the standard notice however you should check your employment contract or HR handbook as there may be some clauses or guidelines as to what the minimum notice is. Unless necessary, you should always make sure to hand off all projects and outstanding work to whoever is taking over your role.

Elements of a resignation letter

The three key elements of a resignation are the intent, the thank you, and the hand-off.

Intent – this part of the letter states clearly, and in plain English, that you are leaving the company. It should include when your last day is, but it does not need to include an in-depth explanation as to why you are leaving. One sentence, at maximum, should be dedicated for the reason of leave. Any additional details as to why should be discussed face-to-face with managers and or HR.

Thank you – take the time to thank your manager and employer for the opportunity. Despite how you feel about your time at the company, it is important to be graceful as you exit in order to keep your reputation intact.

The hand off – as part of a graceful exit, always offer to provide support during the transition. It can take many months for an employer to find your replacement and during that time they will likely have another employee back-fill your role. Offering to support the transition will be positive for your reputation. This part should include how you can support and your contact information.

Resignation letter example

Resignation letters can either be an email or a printed letter or both. Below is an example of an email resignation.

Email resignation letter:

Subject: Resignation Letter: Full Name

Dear [Manager name],

Please accept this email as my formal resignation from [Company name]. My last day will be [Date here].

I want to thank you for the wonderful experience I have had at [Company name]. This role has taught me a lot about this industry and my role. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to be part of such an inspiring team.

As I wrap up with my projects, please let me know if there’s anything I can do to help with the transition. I can be reached at [contact information]. I wish you and the team at [company] the very best!


[Your name]

The Do Nots of a resignation letter

There are some key do nots in a resignation letter. Doing any of the below takes away from the true and precise purpose of a resignation letter.
Discuss or mention new job – there is no need to discuss any details about your new role in the resignation letter. Keep in mind that leaving an organization is disruptive to the business and if you are a high performer, it can even be devastating. Talking about your new role can be taken the wrong way and in some cases its rubbing salt in the wounds.

Complain about management or the company – the resignation letter is not the place for constructive or any type of feedback. This is especially important if you are leaving under unpleasant circumstances – you may not feel the same about your frustrations in a few weeks or two and putting them in writing will be more of a reflection of you as an employee rather than the company. Also, there are other productive ways to provide feedback to the company, such as the exit interview.

Frequently asked questions about resignation letters

Can I provide less than 2-weeks notice?

In the case where you are unable to provide two-weeks notice, explain to your manager as to why. There are certain situations where you will need to leave immediately, such as personal illness or a death of a loved on. In these cases, leaving immediately is acceptable. It is still recommended to extend an offer for transition, even if it is offering to answer questions in the future.

How do I provide feedback?

Exit interviews are the most appropriate place to provide feedback. If you are leaving the company on a sour note, then other places where you can provide feedback are online job websites, such as Glassdoor. Employers do monitor feedback found on the site to manage their reputation. Therefore this channel is great for providing candid and constructive feedback.

Who else should I notify about my resignation?

Other individuals you may want to notify can include colleagues from other functions or departments that you work closely with and or clients that you have had long relationships with. This may be especially important if you are still engaged in work with these groups. The same sentiments apply – be graceful.

Key takeaway

  • Resignation letters should be clear, concise, and graceful
  • Never complain or brag about a new job in the resignation letter
  • Include contact information if you are able to support the transition period and in case there are any administrative loose ends to tie up post departure
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