Whether you have secured a new position or you’re leaving your job for some other reason, you will need to write a resignation letter to inform your employer of your intention to leave. Simply telling them verbally that you are leaving is not enough.
The main purpose of a resignation letter is to inform your employer that you are leaving, provide them with brief reasons for your resignation, state your notice period, and to leave on a positive note.
A resignation letter must include a statement that you are leaving your employment and the date on which your resignation comes into effect. As an employee, you are also encouraged to thank your employer for the opportunities you had during your employment.
The way in which you resign will often depend on the place where you work; that said, the norm is to resign in person and then follow this up with a written resignation to your manager. A formal letter is commonly used, though email is increasingly common. If you do opt for an email resignation letter to your manager, make sure it is still formal and professionally presented.
There are numerous reasons why you may be resigning and no matter how you feel about it, if you do mention the reason why you are leaving, avoid including anything negative about the company, your colleagues, supervisor or management. It’s not worth burning bridges, and resignation letters will be kept on file and may be viewed by future employers. You don’t want something that was said in the heat of the moment to negatively impact your future chances of employment.
Always try to end your employment on a positive note with a graceful exit. A letter of resignation should offer thanks to the manager and mention any experiences that you have valued, or anything that you have particularly enjoyed.
In the majority of cases, resignation letters should aim to assist any transitional phase, whether that’s helping with the recruitment of a new member of staff or training up an existing member of the team. Either way, both the employer and employee should leave the situation with closure and a sense of respect.
If you do have a complaint or concern about your employer, a colleague or the company, the resignation letter is not the place to raise this as an issue. Below we cover what else you should avoid including - no matter how tempting.
Resignation needs to be done calmly, professionally and positively.
If you are leaving a company because of a particular situation or things have escalated to a point where leaving is the only option, it can be tempting to let your employer know exactly what you think. We recommend that you do not include any grievances or complaints in a resignation letter. Saying the wrong thing in a resignation letter can have a detrimental impact later on. Making allegations or statements in the heat of the moment can come back at a later stage.
Other things you should not include, or be wary of, are:
In a resignation letter you should be as precise as possible. Never attempt to provide vague information. A specific date from which your resignation takes effect should be stated. Don’t hand in the letter until you are absolutely sure that you wish to leave.
When you joined the organisation, you should have been provided with information about your notice period. Often this information is included in your contract. Make sure you check what the notice period is for your place of work, and give that rather than a specific leave date. You can subsequently negotiate your final day at work with your employer.
As well as avoiding negativity in your letter, you should also avoid making critical comments about the products or services that the company sells. Equally, don’t say that you are moving to a competitor because their products are more effective.
Watch your language in a resignation letter. You are still employed by the company and professionalism is very important. If you really want to indicate that your new appointment is an improvement, then highlight how the new post will help to advance your career, turning it into a positive.
Even if you are leaving because you will receive a better salary elsewhere, don’t state this in your letter. Your employer may want to make a counter-offer, in which case they will enquire as to your new salary. But let them make the first move.
Even if you don’t get along with a particular colleague or you don’t agree with the way they work, avoid stating this in your letter of resignation. Bear in mind that the company you are leaving may be asked as a reference for future employment, and this could be used to your detriment as evidence you do not work well with others in a team.
Ensure that you proof your letter for any errors - not just the basics but any factual information that may need checking such as notice periods.
When writing your letter, try not to be overly positive about the business. This could be interpreted as being insincere.
Any concerns that you have about the organisation are best left unsaid. If you find it essential to mention the behaviour of a colleague or your manager, state this verbally to the human resource department rather than writing it in your letter.
Exit interviews are the ideal place to explain your grievances, problems and reasons for leaving that are not suitable for placement in a resignation letter. You can always ask for an exit interview if they are not commonly provided.
If possible, schedule your exit interview as close to your departure as possible. Many employers will arrange them for the last day of your notice.
The opening sentences of a resignation letter are often the most difficult to write. They should strike a balance between being friendly while maintaining the formality that is expected within a letter of this nature. The letter should start formally, addressing your boss by their first name if you are on friendly terms.
The first section of your resignation letter should clearly state your intention to resign and your notice period. Being unambiguous is important so your boss doesn’t misconstrue your letter as a request for higher pay or revised conditions. Your statement should be confident, clear and concise.
As an example, you could write:
It is common courtesy to give your employer the proper notice. This gives them time to recruit a new member of staff or make arrangements for your role to be filled temporarily. Organisational policy will state what your notice period should be.
Although there are many reasons why you might wish to stay at your current employer, remember the reasons why you are leaving. Reflect on the reasons behind your decision to leave and keep this in mind as you write your letter.
It should be noted, however, that you don’t have to state why you wish to leave. If you are leaving your job because you are very unhappy with your role, your work or your colleagues, you don’t have to give any detail. If you have accepted a new job offer, you can briefly state this to give your employer a better overview of your situation.
Examples of ways in which you could do this are:
“After careful consideration, I have decided to leave to explore new opportunities and develop my career further.”
“I was recently offered a new employment opportunity with a different company and have reached the decision to accept their offer.”
Leaving your post is an unsettling time for your colleagues and managers. As a matter of courtesy, always offer to facilitate the transition until a new member of staff can be recruited into the role. This could be training the new recruit, if you are still there when they are appointed, or training a colleague who will step into your role after you leave. Writing a manual could be a great way of doing this, or even a simple set of procedures in the key areas of your job.
Even if you are on your notice period, reassure your employer that you will keep engagements and you can introduce your predecessor to customers and suppliers. Any offer to make the transition easier will be both recognised and appreciated by your current employer.
When drawing your letter to a conclusion, be sure to give thanks to your employer. Write something like:
The final section of your resignation letter should end on a positive note, giving the employer your best wishes and expressing an interest in keeping in touch once you have left their employment.
If you have been offered a new job, you are leaving for personal reasons or you are embarking on a new self-employed venture, writing a resignation letter must be approached properly. In addition to what we’ve said above, we recommend that you:
Resigning from your employment is not the easiest thing to do, but it is important that you approach it properly and show that you have given it some thought.
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