You’ve been working at your job for years and have decided it’s time to move on. You’ve found a new opportunity, you’re moving across the country, or you just want to try something new. Whatever the reason, resigning from your job is an important step toward a new beginning.
When writing a letter of resignation, include information about your last day, a brief thank you, and set expectations for how you will help your job through the transition. Additionally, address the letter to either your boss or HR (or both). These notes are meant to be short, simple, and positive.
Below, I’ll go through each step of writing your resignation letter and give you a few samples of some common scenarios. First, let’s go through the general rules about writing a resignation letter.
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General Rules About Writing a Resignation Letter
When writing your resignation letter, remember the following:
- Keep it brief, professional, and factual. Do not be vague or ambiguous with your reasons for leaving. Avoid saying anything that would cause you to lose credibility; stick to the facts.
- Avoid being emotional or angry in your resignation letter. You always have the exit interview! This will help you avoid sounding bitter about how things worked out since bitterness is difficult to read through and can make it seem like there’s more going on than what’s actually said in the letter itself.
- Be polite and professional. Don’t use negative language that could be offensive, like “I cannot continue to work here” or “I don’t want to do this anymore.” Instead, come from a place of positivity.
- Don’t apologize for leaving. This is an exciting opportunity, and the tone should be positive.
As soon as you know your resignation date, email your boss. A text message is not appropriate and will come across as unprofessional. You never know where the information may end up and what kind of impression it will make on others if it becomes public knowledge.
Remember, an exit meeting will likely take up an hour or so of your last day. You still need your job until the resignation date comes up! Try to refrain from going too deeply into detail until then.
It’s important to do this exit interview in person (or at least face to face via Zoom) so that you can answer any questions and clarify any concerns. It’s also a great opportunity for them to ask you anything they want. Remember: if they don’t know what you struggled with on the job, your replacement may continue to struggle.
1. Add Your Contact Information to the Letter
First, add your contact information to the letter. You want your company to know the letter is from you to avoid any embarrassing emails titled “Anyone Quitting?” sent to everyone in the company.
Your name is important, but so is your contact info, especially if you are resigning immediately. This includes your email address, phone number, forwarding address, and any social media accounts such as LinkedIn (not necessarily Instagram or Snapchat!). You can also include a new address where they can reach you if they have any questions or concerns about the resignation.
2. Ensure It’s Going to the Right Person
Ensure it’s going to the right person and address it accordingly. Typically, this letter goes above and beyond your supervisor, depending on the company. HR is your best bet if the company you work at has one.
If you want to make sure the letter goes all the way up, you should ensure that your letter of resignation is addressed to the CEO or president of your company. This will set a professional tone from the beginning and ensure everyone knows to whom you are addressing your resignation letter.
If you are unsure of whom to send it to, just ask! Many companies will have an email address for employees’ questions about their job, so don’t be afraid to shoot them an email if you’re feeling lost.
Additionally, when addressing your resignation letter, be sure that its sender line includes both your name as well as “in care of” information (e.g., “in care of HR”). Otherwise, people might start asking questions about where this mysterious resignation letter came from—and why no one else knows anything about it!
3. Pick an “End” Date
Choosing a date for your resignation letter can be tricky. Most people choose a date two weeks after writing the letter so that even if they do end up getting fired because of their resignation letter (which is actually legal due to an “at-will” clause most companies have), they won’t be fired in the middle of a pay period.
Don’t stress too much about getting fired for resignation, though. This is rare, especially if you keep your letter positive, as discussed below.
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However, just in case, if you’re planning on leaving for another job, it might be best to wait until you’ve accepted that new position before sending in your letter. That way, if your employer fires you before you’ve officially left, they won’t be able to stop payment on your last paycheck—and whatever money you’ve already earned at your new job will go directly into your bank account! If this sounds like something you’d like to do, just remember: It’s up to you!
The important thing to remember is that if you write a resignation letter, you should always give at least 2 weeks’ notice (if not more) before the day you leave. This is the traditional thing to do!
4. Disclose Why You Are Leaving (This Step Is Optional)
Tell the company if you have a good reason for leaving, such as a promotion or job offer in another country. If not, keep it to yourself. You don’t have to tell your employer why you are leaving, especially if you are leaving because you don’t like them. Instead, save any constructive criticism for your exit interview.
5. Thank Your Employer and Reflect on the Opportunity
A reflection on your time with the company and what you have learned from it. This can be a brief overview of some of your most memorable experiences and accomplishments while working at this company or a more detailed description of individual projects or challenges that were particularly enjoyable and/or challenging.
This section is especially important if you want to use your employer as a reference in the future because it can help you end on a good note.
Thanking everyone for his/her time and effort during his/her employment — specifically thanking bosses/managers by name first before mentioning coworkers who worked directly under him/her so that he/she has no doubt who’s in charge here…but still gives credit where credit is due when talking about other people who helped you out along the way.
6. Offer Assistance (This Step Is Optional)
An offer to help with the transition process when someone new takes over for you. You will want to provide any information and resources that might help make this transition as seamless as possible.
For example, if there is an employee handbook available online (i.e., not just in print), then include a link so they can access it easily; if there are documents related only to work email accounts or other aspects of technology use at the office (such as computer settings), offer those as well; etcetera!
You can also offer to help hire a replacement or train a new replacement as long as you have time. Your employer will appreciate this if they feel blindsided by your resignation or if things have been particularly busy.
Sample Resignation Letter: You Have Found a New Job
You can make your letter pretty simple if you are looking for a new job or have already found one.
I’d like to thank you for the opportunity to work with your company. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time here and will miss everyone on the team. However, I am leaving in search of a new position that will allow me to utilize my skills more effectively and challenge myself in new ways.
Thank you again for everything over the last few years, and I wish all of you success in your future endeavors. I’d be happy to train my replacement or assist you all in finding someone to take on my role in any ongoing projects. If there are any questions regarding my last day or paychecks, please contact me at [email address or phone number].
The above letter is simple, factual, and right to the point.
Sample Resignation Letter: You Are Moving
Moving is a common reason for leaving an employer. Especially when moving, it’s important to give your company a little heads up that they need to find a replacement because there’s little that can change your mind as you pack up to set out to a new location.
Dear [Employer] and Human Resources Department,
I have enjoyed my time at [Company Name] and appreciate the opportunity to work there. I am thankful for all I have learned and truly appreciate working with you all.
I am moving to another city and will leave on [date]. In the meantime, I would love to help transition my replacement into this position. Please contact me at [email or phone number] with any questions.
Thank you for everything!
Most companies will ask old employers if said employee quit without notice. If the answer is yes, this can look bad for the potential employee. That’s why it’s so important to create a resignation letter! If you can, set up an exit interview with your company and see if they’ll be a reference for your future job-hunting endeavors.
Sample Resignation Letter: You Are Leaving Because of a Toxic Company Culture
How do you write a letter to a toxic company? If you’re leaving because you hate your organization’s culture or are not going out on good terms, then there is a certain way to write your letter. This one is a bit of a tricky situation, though. Read below:
Dear [Employer] and Human Resources,
I am writing to inform you of my decision to resign from [the Company] immediately. I have enjoyed working here and am grateful for this opportunity.
I hope to facilitate a smooth transition while offering support during the process of finding someone new who can take over my role. I would like to schedule a time to discuss my decision with you and Human Resources via the exit-interview process outlined in the handbook.
I can be reached at [email or phone number] for any questions about payroll or to discuss my time at this company with Human Resources.
Though you may be angry, your resignation must have a positive tone. You do not need to add anything about your anger to your resignation letter, though! You can air out your grievances professionally (especially if you want them to be a reference for you) during a meeting where HR is present.
Send this email up the ladder, so it doesn’t go unnoticed. You can send it to HR as well. In fact, if there are grievances you want in writing, you’d be better served to write a separate letter on your last day (before or after the exit interview) listing specifics.
I have another article about writing resignation letters for your toxic jobs here. If you don’t mind (lightly) burning some bridges, you can list the reasons you leave professionally, as I describe. Make sure to find the right, professional, non-emotional language.
For example, this article I wrote on avoiding companies that pose as a family gives a few important terms you can use to describe the toxicity in the work environment you’re in.
Make sure your letter is short, sweet, and free of any negativity or resentment toward your employer, especially if your resignation date is a few weeks away. Make sure to schedule an exit interview with Human Resources if you’d like to discuss the work culture, and keep that out of your letter.