Leaving a job can feel exciting. But it can also be uncomfortable, especially when it comes to delivering the news to your current colleagues. Writing a resignation letter can feel difficult at a time when you already have a lot on your mind. It’s standard protocol to share this change face-to-face (out of courtesy for your manager and peers) and to also put the news in writing, in the form of a letter of resignation (for official HR purposes). But what if you don’t know what exactly to include and how to appropriately word it?
Writing a resignation letter doesn’t have to be something to fret over. In this guide, we explain everything you need to know about how to write a letter of resignation. We go over what to include in yours and cover some helpful tips. Plus, we provide a handy resignation letter template to get you started.
What to include in your resignation letter
As with writing a cover letter, when you write a resignation letter you need to include specific information that the employer needs to know. On top of that, there’s work etiquette you should follow, so your employer will also expect certain pleasantries. Specifically, your resignation letter should include the following:
Formal greeting and closing
Resignation letters are business documents, so open with a formal “Dear” and conclude with an appropriate closing such as “sincerely yours.”
Announcement of your resignation
Typically the first sentence of your resignation letter explains your intent to leave your role. This informs the reader right away about the contents of your letter, and avoids burying the lede. Clearly state that you’re resigning in plain language. If your resignation letter is too vague or ambiguous, your employers might misinterpret it. It’s best to be candid and direct—in other words, rip the bandage off quickly.
Most people don’t enjoy delivering bad news, so some tend to soften their resignation letter with euphemisms or hedging (uncertain language like “I think . . .” or “it might be best if . . .”). Not only does this create ambiguity, but also it clutters up your writing with excess words that detract from your message.
Date you stop working
It’s crucial to openly state your last day of employment so that your company can properly adjust. A lot of preparations are needed, such as finding your replacement or even restructuring your team. To properly schedule and organize these events, the company needs a conclusive date.
Offer to assist in the transition
When you resign, you put the company in a tough position. Proper work etiquette suggests that you help your team prepare for your departure during the time between your resignation and your last day to avoid burdening your coworkers.
The specific ways you can help vary from job to job, but here are some common tasks:
- drafting a transition plan that details who will be taking which of your former tasks, as applicable
- training your replacement or colleagues
- handing off ownership of projects
- writing a manual on how you accomplish certain tasks
- detailing your ongoing schedule so someone can pick up where you left off
- informing/transferring your business contacts
You’ll likely need to work out such details with your manager, so you don’t need to commit to specifics in your letter of resignation. Even if there’s no assistance necessary, it’s still a thoughtful gesture to offer. Whoever’s reading your resignation letter will appreciate it.
Polite statement of gratitude (if sincere)
Often it’s considered courteous to thank the company for the opportunity to work there, especially if they provided training or personal aid. Of course, if your reason for leaving involves a hostile workplace, feel free to disregard this section as it might come across as hypocritical or feel inauthentic.
Somewhere in your resignation letter, include up-to-date contact information for yourself. Perhaps HR might need to discuss something with you in the future, or maybe your colleagues or replacement will have a few questions.
If you’re writing a formal letter, your contact information should go under your name in the upper-left corner. If you’re writing an email, you can add this to the bottom under your signature.
How to write a letter of resignation
First and foremost, you need to choose the right channel of communication for your resignation letter. Usually, letters of resignation are sent as emails or printed out and delivered by hand.
As mentioned above, it’s recommended to resign face-to-face (either in person or over a video call if you work remotely) and then deliver your resignation letter. Not only is this more polite, but also you control when the news is delivered. If you simply send an email or letter, you don’t know when the person will read it—that can complicate matters, especially concerning two weeks’ notice.
Assuming you do resign in person first, the choice between printout and email depends on your company. More formal companies would like printout letters, whereas more casual ones would be fine with an email. If in doubt, you can simply ask your manager or HR team which they would prefer—after you break the news, of course.
When writing your resignation, stick only to the essentials and keep it short: no more than one page. Cover all the areas mentioned above and leave it at that. No need to dwell on the details.
If you have a personal relationship with your manager, you may feel you have more to say. In that case, why not send them a personal letter? Your resignation letter should be strictly professional, but that doesn’t mean you can’t share your thoughts in a separate, informal message.
As for tone, use the same language as you would writing on LinkedIn. Even when emotions are involved, resignation letters are still formal documents. Avoid jokes, slang, emojis, and other communication that might seem too casual.
Resignation letter template
Here’s a resignation letter template to help you get started. Feel free to copy it and fill in the fields accordingly.
Please accept this letter as my formal resignation from [company]. My last day will be on [date]. I’m grateful for the opportunity you and [company] have given me to learn and grow as a [job title]. It was a pleasure to be part of such an innovative and fast-paced team. I’m eager to do whatever I can to help with this transition, including [helpful task]. I wish you and [company] all the best in reaching your goals. Sincerely yours, [full name] [email] [phone number] [address]
Please accept this letter as my formal resignation from [company]. My last day will be on [date].
I’m grateful for the opportunity you and [company] have given me to learn and grow as a [job title]. It was a pleasure to be part of such an innovative and fast-paced team.
I’m eager to do whatever I can to help with this transition, including [helpful task]. I wish you and [company] all the best in reaching your goals.
Tips on how to write a letter of resignation
Time it appropriately
Your resignation letter shouldn’t be the first time your employer hears about your leaving. As we mentioned above, you can’t control when they read your letter, not to mention that significant news should always be told in person.
Rather, your resignation letter acts more as documentation than notification. Think of it as a receipt. The best practice is to tell your manager that you’re resigning in person and then deliver the resignation letter as an official record.
You can hand your employer a printout letter when you discuss it in person, or you can email it afterward. Either way, it should complement an in-person conversation, not replace it.
Don’t burn bridges
Remaining cordial is not completely about good manners; it’s common for people to retain work relationships even after they resign. Perhaps there will be an attractive new opening at your old company in the future, or maybe you’d like to recommend them as a client for your new company. Those situations run more smoothly if you end things amicably.
Moreover, you’ll often need to use your previous employer as a reference for new jobs. Saying negative things in your resignation letter will only hurt your chances of finding a new job if your previous employer holds a grudge.
Instead of venting all your negative feelings, it’s best to be polite. Even if you’re leaving because of a hostile work environment, state that in professional terms—that way your company has your complaint on record in case others leave for the same reasons.
Don’t taint your graceful exit with an embarrassing typo. As with any important document, proofread it carefully for mistakes before anyone else can see it. Give it a quick read when you’re finished to check for spelling and grammar mistakes.
Grammarly’s writing suggestions will notify you of any mistakes while you write, with feedback on how to correct them. Moreover, our tone detector ensures your resignation letter comes across how you want it to, by letting you know if you sound too “informal,” “forceful,” or “accusatory,” granting you some extra peace of mind.
This article was originally written in 2017 by Karen Hertzberg. It’s been updated to include new information.