Most people in the workforce will, at some point, leave a job. This can feel challenging and fear-inducing, but it should be considered a natural step in your career progression. It can be an incredibly empowering phase in your career as you prepare for new adventures while closing out your current responsibilities.
Once you have made your decision, there are a few tasks you need to do to make the process as stress-free as possible. Set your attitude to be unemotional and business-focused, allowing you to execute a calm and professional exit. Do all you can to leave your employer with a positive impression of you and your service.
Preparing a concisely written letter outlining your wish to leave the company before your “resignation meeting” with your employer is recommended. You can then formally document your intentions during or immediately after this meeting.
The first step in this task is to clearly understand what a good “resignation letter” is and the details that it should contain.
What is a resignation letter?
A resignation letter is a document used to notify an employer of your intention to leave your job. The letter outlines some fundamental information—for example, the last working day and a short statement outlining the reason for departure. Additional information may include appreciation for opportunities during the employment tenure and a wish for all parties to enjoy success in the future.
A resignation letter is part of the standard employee-employer relationship management function and facilitates a seamless transition of individuals departing a company. The tone should be neutral, formal, and professional. You should ensure that the person you have given the letter to understands why you are leaving and can quickly update any HR members or senior managers on the situation.
The step-by-step approach to writing a resignation letter
Follow these steps to format a simple resignation letter:
- Insert recipient title
- Date your letter
- Open with a formal greeting
- State your intent to resign
- Outline why you are leaving (optional)
- Offer to help with the transition
- Express gratitude for the opportunity
- Close with final comment and sign
Standard resignation letter example
Click here to download our free Word template Resignation letter template.
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When do I hand in my resignation letter?
Arrange the earliest possible face-to-face meeting in the day to hand over your resignation letter to your line manager or HR representative. This will ensure that this often nerve-racking event is dealt with at the beginning of the working day.
Avoid an online meeting if at all possible. This activity, which is a formal procedure, is best completed face-to-face. Miscommunication via emails or internet-based chat is avoided by speaking and interacting in person.
Ideally, you will have a firm offer in writing from your new employer before you formally resign. This is not always possible, but knowing you have a unique opportunity waiting will boost your confidence when dealing with this potentially stressful scenario.
Who do I send my resignation to?
A resignation letter recipient is typically your line manager or the most senior person in your reporting structure. If you are unsure, check your employee handbook.
FAQs for writing a resignation letter
We have gathered some valuable tips below for properly planning your resignation and departure. We recommend that you refer to any contracts in place for your employment and adequately check the notice period clauses. Some companies may require extremely long notice periods to be adhered to, and any departures from the agreed internal processes can create a tense working environment.
What not to include in a resignation letter?
Do not include negative comments relating to your company or work colleagues. Avoid unnecessary explanations, for example, detailed reasons that have forced you to resign and an in-depth analysis of what you feel is wrong with your current employer. Any grievances highlighted in your resignation letter will likely reflect poorly on you and remain as a permanent record on paper of your last interaction with the management team.
What are three essential items to include in a resignation letter?
The date of your resignation, the notice period you are undertaking and your signature.
What should I say when handing over my resignation letter?
You should ask your manager for a quick, private meeting to discuss something important (or put this in their calendar if this is how you work). Ensure you find a quiet space in the office where you won’t be disturbed. You should hand over your letter and ensure you clearly state that you are handing in your resignation. Depending on your relationship with your manager, this may instigate further conversation, but try not to let the meeting go on too long and don’t elaborate on reasons for leaving if they are to do with the company (if you’re moving abroad or changing career path, you can be more detailed).
What happens after your resignation letter has been delivered?
Employees will generally undergo a working notice period. This may range from one month to three months (typically more for senior roles). This time should be used to organise a professional handover, documenting all your current processes and briefing any team members on current projects you are leading. If handled well, this time can prove highly satisfying as you close out your commitments with the company.