How to Write an Immediate Resignation Letter
Can You Resign From a Job With No Notice?
In an ideal world, you would always aim to work your full notice as a courtesy to your employer, but sometimes that is just not possible.
If circumstances leave you no choice but to resign from your job with immediate effect, you should handle it gracefully and in a dignified manner to help minimize the impact on your employer.
Your contract of employment will specify the expected notice period, but employers recognize that unforeseen situations can sometimes render that impossible.
In the US, if you are employed ‘at-will’, you are not obliged to give a notice period, but it is generally accepted that most people try to give at least two weeks’ notice.
Trying to make the process as smooth as possible for your employer means that you are less likely to face repercussions or backlash.
If you do not handle your departure well and end on a sour note with your employer, they have the power to make future employment difficult by refusing to provide a reference letter or relaying your circumstances around leaving to other employers.
Why Might You Need to Resign With Immediate Effect?
There is a multitude of plausible and valid reasons as to why someone would decide to resign from a job without notice.
A common situation is that ‘personal reasons’ arise, leading to a sudden change in circumstances that renders an employee unable to continue working.
Giving a vague reason such as ‘personal reasons’ can cover a wide range of circumstances, and if you wish the matter to remain private, then this term will usually suffice.
However, if you feel able to explain your reasons further and provide greater detail about why you are leaving, you are more likely to leave on good terms with your employer.
Examples of personal reasons could be:
- A close bereavement
- Caring duties (for example, looking after children or elderly relatives)
- An illness or health condition
- A loved one’s illness or health condition
- A change in family circumstances
Concerns about the workplace itself can also prompt immediate resignation, especially if the employee feels that they are being placed in danger, or are being asked to do something unethical, illegal or that goes against their moral values.
Harassment in the workplace can be a cause for resignation and it is left at the employee’s discretion whether they report this officially before they leave.
An employee may decide to leave with immediate effect if their employer is not fulfilling their end of the agreement, for instance, by not paying agreed wages, not providing personal protective equipment or failing to prioritize employee wellbeing.
If your reason for leaving is due to an issue with your employer, refrain from including anything negative in your resignation letter. It will benefit all parties for you to leave on good terms.
A bitter or dramatic exit will stay in peoples’ memories for a long time and may overshadow any good work you did at the company.
A resignation letter is your written record of the circumstances and conversations around your resignation, so you must get it right.
Copies of your resignation go to your employer, the human resources department of your workplace, and one copy stays with you.
An immediate resignation differs from a standard resignation, as the lack of notice can be extremely inconvenient and disruptive to the company you are leaving behind. As such, you are encouraged to provide an explanation.
Your resignation will almost certainly come as a shock to your employer, so the way you handle the process is crucial in not causing bad feelings.
How to Write an Immediate Resignation Letter
The letter should be written in correct and formal layout, with your contact details and date at the top.
This is followed by a greeting, then the main body text of your letter, concluding with a polite sign-off.
Use clean, neat paper and seal it in an envelope, ready to deliver.
State Your Intent to Leave
As you proceed to write the main body of your letter, include a statement of your intent to leave with a brief explanation.
If you would like to go into more detail, do so at a level in which you feel comfortable.
The circumstances in which you are resigning usually dictate the level of detail that seems appropriate and relevant.
Remain professional and do not lay blame with your employer or colleagues, even if you feel that way.
Include the Date of Your Last Day at Work
Clearly state when your last working day will be, giving as much notice as possible.
Express Your Apologies
It is polite to apologize and express regret at having to leave so suddenly (whether or not these are genuine sentiments).
If you are resigning for reasons out of your control, you may well have genuine regrets that you have to leave.
If you’ve been an employee at that company for some time, made friends there and enjoyed your role, resigning suddenly can be quite an emotional experience.
Update Your Employer on Any Outstanding Work
Update your employer on where you are up to on your work projects, whether there is outstanding work to pass on, and any projects you have recently completed.
Offer to Help
Your unexpected resignation is very likely to leave your employer in a tricky situation.
Unless you have a colleague who can cover your workload, there will probably be a quick scramble to find a replacement.
If you can help make this process any smoother, by supporting a new starter or handing over to your replacement, it will benefit your employer and is more likely to result in a positive reference letter in the future.
Thank Your Employer
If you wish, you can give your employer thanks for their support, especially if you have been with them for a substantial amount of time or they have invested in your professional development.
To make sure this sounds sincere, avoid any gushing sentiments. You can always thank people personally before you leave if you have colleagues who you have grown particularly close to.
Hand delivering your resignation letter also means you can sign it by hand, which is advised.
If you have to submit it by email, don’t worry too much about a handwritten signature.
The following is an example of a template you might use to write a letter of immediate resignation:
[Your telephone number]
[Your email address]
Dear [Manager’s name],
Paragraph one: State that you are resigning with immediate effect and explain the reason why. Provide as much detail as you feel is appropriate. Remember that ‘personal reasons’ can cover a lot of situations. Give the date of your intended last day of work and apologize for any inconvenience caused by your sudden resignation.
Paragraph two: Detail any ongoing projects that you have managed to complete, or any outstanding tasks or work that you will need to hand over to someone else. Add any further information your employer might need to know.
Paragraph three: If it is possible, offer to help the smooth transition between you leaving and another employee taking your place. Only make genuine offers that you can honor.
Paragraph four: Show gratitude for all your employer has done for you during your time of employment.
Example Immediate Resignation Letter
912 Atlantic Street
Ramsey NJ 07446
201 187 4924
Dear Mr Johnson,
I hereby give notice of my immediate resignation from my position as receptionist at Johnson Electronics Co. My last day of work will be 09.30.2020.
Please accept my apologies for not providing notice, but due to a sudden family bereavement, I am temporarily relocating to Chicago to support my family and provide urgent childcare for bereaved relatives.
I have sincerely enjoyed working at Johnson Electronics Co and will be sad to leave this team as I have made some true friends during my time here. Thank you for your support and the opportunities you have given to me to progress.
I have completed the data transfer onto the new system and will give full handover of any outstanding work to other staff members before I leave. If you would like to contact me over the coming weeks, I am happy to offer my support in training my replacement. I will be checking my emails daily and will gladly answer questions, particularly about the new IT system, as I know very few staff members are up to speed with it.
Many thanks for your understanding.
Ms. J Williams
Top Tips for Resigning With No Notice
- Remain professional – Remember that this is a formal document that will be kept in your personnel file after you have left the company, so choose your words and phrasing carefully. Although you may have built up a very friendly relationship with your manager, don’t be over-friendly or informal in your letter. Similarly, if you are leaving under bad terms, resist criticizing or apportioning blame in your letter.
- Only disclose as much as you are comfortable with – It is acceptable to cite personal reasons if you don’t wish to go into too much detail about why you are resigning. If issues with the employer or a colleague are prompting your resignation, you don’t have to go into detail in your resignation letter (although you may decide to take your grievance to the HR department before you leave).
- Give as much notice as you can – Your employer will look more favorably on you if you work even one or two days after handing in your resignation. Try to give as much notice as your circumstances allow.
- Hand deliver your letter – Handing in your resignation letter in person gives the recipients the chance to ask you questions and allows you to explain your reasons.
- Offer to help with transition – Depending on the reason for your resignation, you may be able to help your replacement transition into the company. Suggest ways the company can contact you if they wish to, and put a timeline on your offer if you feel colleagues may take advantage (you don’t want to still be receiving calls months after you have left). If you know that you have no intention of helping, resist offering, as it will reflect poorly on you when you cannot deliver.
- Proofread your letter – Make sure you proofread your letter before submitting it. Ask someone you trust to look over it if you would like a second opinion. This letter will stay in a personnel file for some time and you do not want errors clouding your message.
- Do not bring up grievances in your letter – The cause of your immediate resignation could be due to unpleasant circumstances in the workplace. Unfortunately, bullying, harassment and inappropriate behavior do happen and, of course, these are valid reasons for a sudden resignation. It is always advisable to take issues like these to your company HR department before you leave. Your resignation letter is not the appropriate place to personally name people or make accusations (even if true). If your reason for leaving is immoral practices, unsafe procedures or any other company-wide issue, you do not need to go into detail or make sweeping statements in your letter. If you have a legitimate concern about the way the company runs, you can report them to the appropriate watchdog or governing body and leave it to them to investigate further.
- Do not ask about money – You may have outstanding wages owed to you due to your sudden departure, but your resignation letter is not the appropriate place in which to raise them. See your payroll or HR department for any questions regarding pay or your 401k.
Ideally, working your full notice period is always preferable when resigning from your job.
In some circumstances, however, that is just not possible.
In this case, managing your immediate resignation carefully can reduce the negative impact on your employer, improving your chances of receiving a positive reference in the future.