How to Write a Resignation Letter

How to Write a Resignation Letter

by Belle Wong, J.D., October 2018

Congratulations, you've done it! You've landed that great new job, and it's time now to say goodbye to your current employer. Once you've told your boss you'll be leaving, though, there's one more step in the exit process: the resignation letter.

Sure, you've told your boss or other higher-ups that you'll be leaving. But a letter of resignation is necessary to formalize things. Because it sets out your resignation in writing, it functions as a formal notice that you're leaving. This is particularly important if you have an employment contract that spells out the need for you to give notice when you terminate your employment.

How to Write a Resignation Letter

You've told your boss you're leaving, and now you find yourself staring at your blinking cursor in a completely empty Word document. There's only one thing you want to know at this moment: what to say in a resignation letter.

A resignation letter can actually be extremely short and to the point. It only needs to cover a few basics in order to "work" as a resignation letter:

  • Format. Unless you're sending a resignation email, your resignation letter is, first and foremost, a letter. And, as with any letter, you'll start off with a date, your address, and your employer's address. After that, you'll add your salutation; this is the "Dear ..." line. At the bottom of the letter, you'll have a closing line, such as "Sincerely yours," followed by your signature.
  • Notice. State that you're giving notice, and the length of the notice you're giving. To make it clear, also set out when your last day will be. Make sure to check your employment contract to see the amount of notice you're required to give.

Enhancing Your Resignation Letter

While a short and sweet letter of resignation will work, it's a good idea to take a bit more time and add a few extra paragraphs to your letter. Saying you're leaving and providing adequate notice fulfills the requirements of a standard resignation letter, but adding some optional paragraphs goes a long way to showing your goodwill toward the company you're leaving. And this can come in handy if you ever find yourself in need of a reference from your former place of employment.

With that ongoing relationship in mind, here are some optional paragraphs you can add to your resignation letter:

  • Thank you. Your resignation letter provides a good opportunity to tell your employer some of the things you're grateful to them for, including what you've learned that has contributed to the skill sets you now possess. It's a nice way to give some positive feedback, and, if you ever do need to ask your boss or another higher-up for a letter of reference, they may very well remember what you've expressed in this section of your letter.
  • Transition period. Offering to help out in whatever way you can during the final weeks before your last day can go a long way to demonstrate both your goodwill and your value as an employee, which will help you to keep opportunities and lines of communication open in the future.

What Not to Include

Now that you know what to say in a resignation letter, there are also certain things you don't need to say. For example, there's no need to spell out the reasons why you're leaving. You've probably already told your boss why, but, even if you didn't, you don't need to include the reasons in your resignation letter.

Your letter of resignation is also not the place to give your employer negative feedback or any sort of criticism. Your goal is to write a professional-sounding letter, and neither criticism nor negativity have any place in your resignation letter.

Resignation Letter Samples

You know the basics of what should be included in your letter of resignation, but you might be stumbling over how you should word things. If this is the case, search online for resignation letter examples or a resignation letter template you can use.

An online resignation letter generator also can be useful; with such a tool, all you need to do is answer some simple questions, and a resignation letter will be created for you. If you'd like more support with the process, you may want to engage an online template to help prepare your letter of resignation.

Customized Letters of Resignation

If you need to write a particular kind of resignation letter, adjust your wording to include any relevant details that may need to be included. For example, if you're retiring, include a line announcing your retirement. If you're unsure how to word a retirement resignation letter, look online for a sample to guide you.

Sometimes it's impossible to give much notice. If you find yourself in this situation, adjust the notice wording of your letter to state the amount of notice you're able to give. If you can't give any notice at all, use wording such as "effective immediately."

Once you've told your boss you'll be leaving, a professionally written resignation letter is your next step. While it may seem daunting, in reality, a letter of resignation doesn't need to be very long. It should instead be direct and to the point, while including some optional wording that will help you leave your employment on good terms.