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How to Write a Resignation Letter and Exit in Style

Updated on
August 24, 2017
How to Write a Resignation Letter and Exit in Style

When it comes to making big shifts in the direction of your life, changing jobs ranks right up there among the most significant. You’ll be leaving behind familiar faces, tasks, and roles to sail into unknown waters. It’s energizing and daunting at the same time!

Once you’ve made the decision to leave your job, you’re faced with the challenge of leaving on good terms. How you tender your resignation letter can mean the difference between building a network of positive connections and burning bridges.

Give Two Weeks’ Notice in Person When Possible

When you leave a job, it’s customary to give your employer at least two weeks’ notice unless you have an HR handbook or contract that says differently. Whenever possible, quit your job in person by speaking with your boss.

Don’t go in cold! Rehearse what to say so you don’t make any missteps. According to The Muse, you should

  • Explain that you have received an offer from another company and have accepted
  • Express gratitude for the opportunities given to you
  • State when your final day at work will be
  • Offer help with the transition process

Writing a Letter of Resignation

Although it’s best to quit in person whenever you can, it’s a good idea to prepare a more formal letter of resignation for your employment file. Your letter should include

  • Your announcement of your intent to resign
  • The date your resignation is effective
  • A thank you for the opportunity your employer gave you

A printed letter should have a formal heading, like this:

Your Name Your Address Your City, State, Zip Code Your Phone Number Your Personal Email Address


Name Title Organization Address City, State, Zip Code

You can leave off the heading for a resignation email. Just include a subject header that states “Resignation: FirstName LastName.”

Be sure to carefully proofread your letter. Not only is it important to correct any typos, it’s essential to make sure you’ve stated everything clearly and positively. Here’s an example:

Please accept this letter as my formal resignation from Alpha Omega, Inc. My last day will be on June 23, 2017.

I’m grateful for the opportunity you and Alpha Omega have given me to learn and grow as a marketing professional. It’s been exciting to be a part of such an innovative and fast-paced team over the past three years.

I’m eager to do whatever I can to help with this transition. [Optional: I’ve put together the attached transition plan, which should make the process smoother.] I wish you and Alpha Omega all the best in reaching your goals.

Keep your letter brief and stick to the point. Don’t explain why you’re leaving—that’s not relevant here. Your letter of resignation is also not the place to share criticism, even of the most constructive kind. Simply state the facts and answer any further questions that your boss may have in person or during the exit interview.

Here’s a tip: The only time it makes sense to explain why you’re leaving is if you’ve received a better offer from another company and you’re willing to accept a counteroffer from your current employer. Then, you might say “I have received a better offer from ABC Corp. I’m willing to entertain a counteroffer.”

A Word About Transition Plans

In some cases, it’s a good idea to outline your responsibilities and projects so that your employer knows what’s in the works and can help figure out who’ll step in for you until your replacement comes on board. Here are a few things to include:

  • A list of your tasks and projects
  • Any important deadlines associated with your projects
  • A list of tasks you will complete before you leave and their completion dates
  • Your recommendations for any co-workers who could take over for you in the interim

Although your boss may want to manage the transition herself, having everything outlined in advance is helpful and will ensure you leave your job in good standing.

Two Weeks’ Notice Do’s and Don’ts

Do tell your boss first

If you can help it, don’t let your impending departure become a rumor before you have a chance to make it official. Tell your boss that you’re quitting before you discuss your departure with your teammates. (Unless, of course, you’ve used any of them as references.)

Don’t be negative

Even if you hate your job and don’t get along with your boss, keep it professional. People learn from their work experiences, even in the worst cases. Try to focus on what you’ve learned rather than what you didn’t like. You’re moving onward and upward!

Here’s a tip: Never put your negative feelings toward your company in writing. They can only come back to haunt you. The Balance offers this list of what not to say when you quit your job.

Do prepare for a counteroffer

Are you willing to entertain a counteroffer? Give this question some serious thought before you turn in your resignation so you’re prepared in case you’re asked. If you’ve received a better offer from another company but you’re willing to stay on if your current employer matches or exceeds it, let your boss know.

Don’t brag about your new gig

Moving up the career ladder is exciting, but be sure to stay grounded while you’re transitioning out of your current job. It’s okay to express enthusiasm for the new opportunities that await you, but it’s also important to show your colleagues that you’ve appreciated your time with them.

Do invite colleagues to keep in touch

Make sure you connect with colleagues on LinkedIn and let them know that you’d like to keep in touch. You never know when a contact will be helpful in the future. Consider including a LinkedIn invite in the form of a goodbye letter to your teammates.

Leaving a job is a big step. With a little planning and a lot of tact, you can ensure that you exit with class and style. Now, onward to the farewell celebration cake!

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