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Andrew Arkley|February 15, 2019

Resignation Letter: A Guide To Handing In Your Notice

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So it’s time to write a resignation letter. 

Whether you have a new job offer or simply wish to leave your current position, a professional resignation letter is essential, and learning how to write one is a skill.

However, while you could technically state your leaving date with a swift ‘goodbye’, a good and simple resignation letter is polite, formal, grateful, and states your good intentions for the notice period.

Physically submitting your resignation letter can be a nerve-wracking moment, but with our advice this will be as stress-free as possible, and start your departure on a positive note.

NB: If you work remotely, it’s fine to email rather than inform your employer with a hard-copy of your resignation letter. 

Why do I need to write a resignation letter?

Once you’ve made the decision to leave your current job position, a letter of resignation is the first step of the process.

Also known as ‘handing in your notice’, it’s a breach of your contract with potential legal ramifications if you don’t let your employer know you’re terminating your contract. 

If you’ve done this in person, it is not a legal requirement to write a resignation letter. However, it’s always a good idea to formalise your resignation in writing. 

This helps clarify your position from a HR perspective and allows you to leave on a strong footing – you never know when you might need that connection! 

Failing to write a professional resignation letter may burn bridges with the company you’ve worked so hard for and tarnish your connections within that company, which may impact future references.

A poll by The Society for Human Resource Management found that 76% of employers check the references of all their job applicants, so it may be vital for your future career that you maintain a good relationship with your former employer.

Read on for our expert advice on how to write a formal resignation letter.

Clearly (and accurately) state your notice

You should have been made aware of your notice period on starting out in your organisation – so check your contract for this information.

If your contract does not state a notice period, two weeks notice is a good rule of thumb.

State your final day at work as early as possible in your resignation letter. This is the most essential piece of information to convey and you don’t want it to be missed.

Your notice period is vital to an employer, who will need to plan for a transition period or embark on the hiring process.

With this in mind… 

State how you will be helpful during your notice period

Do the right thing. Just because you’ve handed in your notice doesn’t mean you can start waltzing into work late and doing the bare minimum. Professionalism is a must (think of that sweet reference!).

In your letter of resignation, inform your employer about how you intend to facilitate a smooth handover – whether that be through leaving detailed notes, training colleagues or helping the recruitment process.

If you have outstanding projects, state your intention to see them through before your last day.

You’re not obligated to, but it will reflect well on you if you’re available for questions or queries after you’ve left the company, too.

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Make sure you thank them!

Express your gratitude for your time at the company. 

Whatever you feel at the point of writing your resignation letter, it’s worth remembering the value of every role in shaping your professional skills and experience. 

Again, don’t burn your bridges.

Thank your boss or line manager for their support and state your appreciation for the growth and development you have experienced within the organisation.

Maintain professionalism

Remember, this is a formal document. Include a header with the employer’s name and address, the date, and your name and address. 

It goes without saying that you should also thoroughly proofread the letter before sending it. 

Again, you may need to ask for a recommendation from your employer, and you want this letter to reflect your high standards.

An OfficeTeam survey of hiring managers revealed that 21% of candidates are eliminated after their references are checked, which highlights the importance of making a good last impression when leaving a job.

If appropriate and you wish to keep in touch with your current boss, you could include your personal contact information. However, this decision is entirely up to you.

Keep it short and sweet

Your letter of resignation should be concise and to-the-point.

As stated above, this isn’t the time to complain and you don’t need to detail your reasons for leaving or your new role in the letter.

It’s likely (and recommended) that you’ll be having a conversation with management alongside the submission of this letter. Any elaboration can take place then.

Do however, ask any practical questions you might have about payroll, return of materials or equipment or HR policy. It’s best to have these in writing.

Are you ready for counteroffers?

Handing in your letter of resignation may prompt a reaction from your company’s management – be prepared for a counteroffer.

Have you considered how you might react to an offer of more money, responsibility or flexibility?

While it may not happen, having a suitable response in mind might help the resignation process move forward more smoothly.

How to write a resignation letter: key takeaways

· Writing a resignation letter is a key skill, and we’re all likely to need it at some point.

· A formal resignation letter is a great way to maintain the connections you have worked so hard to build.

· Be specific. Provide your employer with enough notice and give them your final day.

· Try to be thoughtful. For example, maybe you can: train a coworker, leave detailed notes or even help in the recruitment process.

· Say thank you! Remember the skills you learned and the opportunities you were given.

· Don’t drop the ball! You may have mentally checked out a little, but maintaining professionalism is still super important.

· Keep it simple. The resignation letter doesn’t need to be too long – get to the point quickly and professionally. 

· If you’re unsure, follow a resignation letter template as we’ve shown above.

· Think about the possibility of a counteroffer. What might you say if they raise the stakes?

Thanks for reading – and good luck with the next step in your career!

If you’re not yet in a position to resign and need help with getting your CV up to scratch, why not speak to our CV writing experts

For more career advice, make sure you check out our blog.

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