How to Write A Letter of Resignation

By Lexie Brada

Under the best of circumstances, sometimes a job has to come to an end. General common courtesy is to give your supervisor or boss a letter of resignation, stating your intentions and when your last day will be.

It sounds simple, right? However, many people are unnecessarily stressed over this topic. They may wonder if they’re saying too little or too much. They might worry about how much time they need to give. They might be stumped on how to end the letter. Concerned about how to write your letter of resignation? We’ll let you know how to go about doing a task that is necessary but not very fun. Just follow these simple tips and you'll be on your way.

  1. Be Professional

If you’re leaving a job due to frustrations you had about your position, the company, or other co-workers, it may seem extremely tempting to write your magnum opus on why this company and everyone in it completely sucks.

Don’t do it. And if you feel like you must, do it just as a way to let your emotions out, and then rewrite it more professionally. A resignation letter is not a platform to air grievances or to take potshots at your former place of employment.

If you absolutely must make a note of why you’re leaving, keep it brief.

Sometimes you’ll be asked to do an exit interview or a feedback form, and this is the time to let them know your true feelings. If they don’t, just send your letter in and let it go. You may want to ask for an exit interview if it is truly important that your concerns or comments be heard. Unless your company is doing something illegal or dangerous that would need to be reported (and please, if that’s the case, do so!) you’re getting out of that environment, and it’s better to look to your next adventure instead of holding grudges about the past.

  1. State Your Intention to Leave

Make sure you actually do in this letter what you mean to do; let your job know you’ll be leaving! It seems silly, but I’ve read plenty of drafts that hedge around the point without saying it.

Not only is this the professional thing to do, but it’s also providing a history of receipts in case things go wrong. So you want to be as clear and to the point as you can be; there is no room for vagueness or unsureness in this letter.

A letter can very well be made up of one sentence: “I intend my last day at this company to be X”.  The most essential information is the firm date you’ll be leaving on.

Make sure that you are giving notice in accordance with your company’s policy. If they don’t have one, two weeks is generally what people will give. For jobs that are more difficult to fill or require more training, you may be asked to give a month’s notice to prepare for the transition to a new employee.

This is just a guideline. You are not required or bound to stay longer than you can, but there may be some consequences about not giving a head’s up, like not getting a good letter of recommendation. You may also need to check if you are an ‘at-will’ employee or if there is something in your contract. If this is something you can sacrifice and you need to leave tomorrow, you are able to.

  1. Keep It Brief

As I stated above, it may be very tempting to write a ten-page tell-all about every terrible thing that happened to you at this job, or you may want to gush poetically about how much you’ve enjoyed this job but have to leave. Save it. That’s not what a resignation is for. There are other times and places for either of those scenarios.

In fact, most resignation letters should not exceed one page, and rarely have cause to go beyond two paragraphs. Keep it to the point, take out unnecessary explanations, and remain neutral in tone.

  1. Don’t Burn Your Bridge

It’s always better to be the bigger person, even if this job was a terrible fit for you. You may want to express gratitude for the opportunity or take a moment to thank a coworker that really helped you. You don’t need to spread it out to the point it becomes a soap opera, but looking at the positives in a situation will make sure that this transition is as painless as it can be. You’ll never know when you may need some contacts from this previous job.

If you’re leaving on good terms, you especially want to take a moment to do this!

Either way, thank them for the opportunity to work at the company, and express enthusiasm for what's next in your career. You did learn something at this job…even if it was that you did not like working there (they don’t necessarily have to know that part though).

  1. Proofread!

This might be one of the last official messages put on your company file or that gets to the hands of a superior before you leave. It would be embarrassing if you had any misspellings, especially on a document that is often so short! This should be the standard for anything you’re sending out at work, but the ‘book-end letters’ (cover page/resumes and resignation letters) are the two times you really want to assure your grammar would make your middle-school English teacher proud.

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By following these simple guidelines, you can resign with grace and dignity - even if the act itself isn't always easy. With these tips in mind, writing a letter of resignation can be a straightforward and painless process. Once you're satisfied with the letter, hit send - and get ready for your next adventure.

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