Whatever your reason for leaving a job, there is a right way and a wrong way to resign…
Leaving with the right level of grace and decorum not only speaks volumes about your character, it also shows potential employers that you’re able to handle sensitive situations professionally.
If you’re thinking of moving on, and don’t really know how to resign, don’t panic. You just need to get to grips with putting together a formal resignation letter.
How to write a resignation letter
Even if you want to keep it brief, there are some essential pieces of information you need to include in your letter of resignation:
- Your name
- The date
- The position you’re resigning from
- Addressed to the appropriate person (line manager, supervisor, manager etc.)
- When your resignation will take effect
- Your signature
Reasons for leaving a job
You aren’t necessarily obligated to include your reasons when resigning, but if you think it’ll be constructive – they might be worth mentioning. Just make sure you focus on the positives.
For example, possible reasons for leaving a job could include: ‘I am moving on to a new position’, ‘I am seeking a new challenge’ or ‘there are limited opportunities for progression’.
Remember: under no circumstances should your resignation letter become a tirade against your employer. Whatever your feelings, you must remain as professional and as objective as possible.
And if you are looking for an outlet to voice your grievances, get in touch with your company’s HR department, or bring it up in your exit interview – not in your notice letter.
Getting personal will only risk your reputation (even if it seems like a good idea at the time).
Resignation letter tone
If your relationship with your previous employer deteriorated by the end of your time at the company, you might be tempted to be blunt when handing in your notice. But approach with caution.
Although it’s not a necessity, thanking your employer for the opportunities they’ve given you and offering them your best wishes for the future is a great way to show you’re able to be gracious and polite – no matter what the circumstances.
Something as simple as: ‘I would like to thank you and the company for the opportunities given to me over the last two years, and wish you all the best for the future’ will send the right message, without compromising your integrity.
And always aim to keep it short, and as succinct as possible. Remember: this is your formal letter of resignation, not an extended goodbye email. Anything more informal can be sent to a wider audience, if you want to do this later down the line.
Aside from being a formality at the end of any job, your resignation letter is also a great way to tie up any loose ends – which will make your exit from the business as stress-free as possible.
For example, if you’re leaving in the middle of a specific project or piece of work, you should make it clear where you’re at, share where the work is saved, and provide any other information which may be pertinent to the person taking over.
Not only does allowing a smooth handover show your continued commitment to the business, it also practically demonstrates your professionalism and dedication to the role.
And if you’re leaving on good terms, providing your contact information for future enquiries should things go wrong can soften the blow (a nice touch if your work is especially cryptic or difficult to understand).
Resignation letter format
Although every situation will be different, getting your resignation letter format right should always follow a few simple rules. Aside from being a typed document, it should also:
- Follow the conventions of a standard letter
- Include clear paragraphs to outline each point
- Be addressed to the correct person
- Show the date
When it comes to length, this is generally up to you – although sticking to one page or less is a sensible guideline to follow.
Just cover the basics (stating that you’re going to leave, and when you’re going to leave) – and you’ll be on the right track.
Final thoughts on resignation letters
Before writing your letter, always check your employer’s resignation policy to ensure you’re aware of your notice period.
Similarly, it’s important to note that whatever the organisation’s policy on notice period is, they are well within their rights to ask you to leave on the day you resign. In other words, if you don’t have another position guaranteed to move on to, think seriously before handing your notice letter in.
Finally, when writing your resignation letter, always avoid using slang terminology or anything that could be considered rude or inappropriate. Because you may be leaving your current position for good, but recruitment can be a very small world.
All it takes is for one person to call your employer for a reference and you may miss out on the perfect job in the future – simply down to a lack of tact.
Do you have any essential resignation letter tips? Share them with us below, or tell us on twitter @reedcouk
Still searching for your perfect position? View all available jobs now
Find a job
Sign up for more Career Advice