You’ve decided that it’s time to quit your job. Maybe you’ve accepted a better position elsewhere, or perhaps you’re leaving to escape a toxic work environment.
One of the next things you have to do is tell your boss – which isn’t always easy.
While there are some instances where quitting on the spot is the right thing to do, the majority of the time, you’ll hand in your resignation letter and give your two weeks notice.
Knowing how to write a resignation letter is important when planning to leave your current job. You need to give your employer something in writing even if you’ve already let your boss know you’ll be moving on. It helps keep everything organized and initiates a paper trail that most organizations need to start the process of finding your replacement.
Deciding whether or not to resign can be difficult. Once you are sure, the following tips will help ensure you leave on good terms.
What is a Resignation Letter?
A resignation letter or resignation email is a formal record for HR and your employee file that you are quitting. It gives your employer notice of when your last day of work will be so that they have time to find a replacement or train someone else to cover the duties they hire someone. It is also a traceable record of the timeline needed for things like payroll.
Handing in your resignation and following your contract or company policy will ensure you get the exit benefits you are entitled to, such as severance pay. It also maintains a professional relationship between yourself and your employer, which means you can use them as a reference in the future.
How to Write a Resignation Letter In 7 Easy Steps
Your resignation letter should be courteous and professional. Remember that this is not the time to vent about your horrible boss or co-workers or make accusations. Keep the letter positive, and focus on the fact that you are moving on to new opportunities.
It should also be brief. It is best to keep it short (two to three paragraphs) and to the point.
1. Start by clearly stating your intention to resign.
There is no need to beat around the bush – state your intention to resign clearly and directly. Don’t use vague language or bury the point of your letter.
2. Give notice for your last day.
Give a specific date for your last day of work so your employer has time to plan for your departure and find a replacement.
Giving two weeks’ notice is typical; however, this is not a legal requirement in most cases. (Please consult an employment lawyer if you have any questions or concerns.) Your employee handbook or contract may specify a different notice period that you should follow.
You may decide to give more notice if, for example, you are in the middle of a big project or want to finish the season or term. On the other hand, you might provide less than two weeks’ notice if you need to leave sooner.
Either way, clearly state when your last day will be.
3. Decide whether or not you’ll include the reason you are resigning.
You do not have to explain why you are resigning, but should you? There is no right or wrong answer to this question, as it depends on your specific situation.
Doing so can help you maintain a positive relationship with your former employer, which is beneficial if you need to use them as a reference. If you are resigning for personal reasons, such as relocating, or you don’t mind sharing, offer a brief explanation but don’t go into great detail.
However, suppose you are resigning due to adverse circumstances, such as hating your job or receiving criticisms from your boss. In that case, it is probably best to keep this information to yourself.
If you are unsure, it is always best to err on the side of caution and leave this information out.
4. Offer your assistance.
Offering to train or provide training materials for your replacement will help make the transition period easier for everyone involved.
5. Say thank you.
Even if you are not happy with your current situation, remember to be grateful for your opportunities. Thank your employer for their time, and wish them continued success in the future. Saying thank you is a courteous way to end your letter.
6. Add your contact information.
Include a way they can contact you, such as your email address or phone number if they need to reach you about any outstanding items.
7. Sign and date the letter.
If you submit your resignation over email, you don’t need to worry about dating your letter, as it will be time stamped.
Resignation Letter Template
Now that you know what to include in a resignation letter, it’s time to start writing. Use this resignation letter template to get started:
I am writing to inform you of my resignation from my position as [position] with [company]. My last workday will be [date], and I have given [notice period] notice.
I want to thank you for the opportunity to work with [company]. I have appreciated the experience and skills I have gained during my time here.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me. You can reach me at [email or phone number].
Yes, your resignation letter really can be that simple! Or, you could use the more formal business letter format and include your full address, the company’s full address, etc.
Who to Give Your Resignation Letter To
Now that you have your resignation letter written, you have to give it to your employer. For most people, this is the hardest part.
Ideally, you should schedule a meeting with your supervisor when you have decided to quit. This meeting gives you a chance to deliver the news in person, have a conversation about your departure, and answer any questions they may have.
However, you may not be able to meet in person. Or, if you are leaving on bad terms, you may want to avoid any confrontation.
Resigning over email is less formal but is also acceptable. If you choose this route, it’s wise to copy HR on the email when you send it. You should still be prepared for your manager to request a meeting with you to discuss your leaving the company.
If you are resigning from a remote position or have a problematic relationship with your boss, you can also choose to have the conversation over the phone. You will likely need to submit your resignation to them and the HR department in writing afterward.
While some resigning methods are considered more formal and appropriate than others, the important thing is that you give your employer as much notice as you can.
What To Do After Handing In Your Resignation Letter
Your manager or HR representative will advise you of the procedures you will follow to resign officially. The process typically includes filling out some paperwork and returning company property.
Next, start tying up any loose ends at work. Complete any unfinished projects, clean out your desk, and start saying goodbye to your colleagues.
You will likely spend your last two weeks training your replacement and handing off any unfinished work to them. If they haven’t found a suitable replacement, your manager may ask you to create training materials to ensure a smooth transition.
Your coworkers will quickly realize that you’re leaving, even before being told. The chances are high that someone will ask you why you are resigning or what you’ll be doing next. Again, it’s best to prepare a brief answer that only discloses what you want to share.
Thank your coworkers for their help and support, and exchange contact information with anyone you would like to keep in touch with.
In some cases, surviving your last few days can be challenging. For example, in a toxic work environment, your coworkers might resent that they have to take on your workload, or your manager may exclude you.
Again, it is important to be professional and respectful during this time and still do the job you are getting paid to do.
You should also be prepared to leave immediately upon telling your employer you are resigning. Your manager does not have to honor your notice period and could tell you that your last day is today.
Quitting a job can lead to all sorts of emotions, so take some time to process and reflect on your decision. Even if you are moving on to something better, it’s a significant change in your life. Focus on the positive aspects of your decision to leave and what your next opportunity can bring.
If you can, take a few days off before starting your new job. Spend time with family and friends, take up a new hobby, or just relax. That can be stressful and challenging, so take care of yourself.
Telling your boss you are resigning is not always easy, but following these steps will help ensure you leave on good terms.
Amanda Kay, an Employment Specialist and founder of My Life, I Guess, strives to keep the "person" in personal finance by writing about money, mistakes, and more. She focuses on what it’s like being in debt, living paycheck to paycheck, and surviving unemployment while also offering advice and support for others in similar situations - including a free library of career & job search resources.