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Andrew Arkley|February 15, 2019

Our guide to the perfect letter of resignation

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So it's time to write a resignation letter. 

Whether you’ve been offered a new job or simply wish to leave your current one, a 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 resignation letter is polite, formal, grateful, and states your good intentions for the notice period.

Physically handing in your notice 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 present your boss with a hard-copy of your resignation letter. 

Why do I need to write a resignation letter?

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, sending it in writing is not a legal requirement, 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 suitable 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.

Read on for our expert advice on how to write a 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 no notice period is stated in your contract, two weeks 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, tell your employer 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.

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 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.

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 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.

Resignation letter sample

[Insert your name]

[Insert your address]

[Insert date]

[Insert name of recipient]

[Insert recipient title]

[Insert organisation]

[Insert address]

Dear [Insert name of recipient]

Please accept this letter as a notice of resignation from my position as [Insert position title] effective [Insert date you will be leaving]. I have enjoyed my time in what I consider to be a rewarding position and I would like to thank you for the opportunities that have been presented to me.

As per the terms of my employment contract, I will continue to work for the next [Insert notice period]. During this time, please let me know if there is anything I can do to assist with a smooth transition.

I also intend to complete all tasks/ongoing projects before my final day at [Insert company name].

Once again, thank you for the opportunity here and I look forward to our paths crossing in the future.

Yours sincerely, 

[Insert your name]

How to write a resignation letter: key takeaways

· A formal letter of resignation 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. 

· 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

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