Letter Of resignation — How to guide

by LegalZoom Staff
updated February 03, 2023 ·  3min read

1. Overview

Lifetime employment at one company is no longer a business norm, and individuals decide with increasing frequency that a new job may provide fresh and different benefits. Once an employee has made the decision to move on, his or her supervisors must be informed of this decision. In such cases, a resignation letter may be required.

Although it may seem an archaic formality, resignation letters signal respect and consideration, and reflect well on an individual and his or her character. This can prove useful in later years, as references may be required in further job searches and an employee’s farewell actions can make a lasting impression on a company.

If you follow the suggestions provided, you will show consideration for your former employer, establishing a tone of mutual respect and laying the foundation for a future business relationship. Inappropriate behavior, whether by thoughtless letter or ignored formalities, will only hurt your career. A well-constructed resignation letter will allow you to maintain your business reputation. In the end, you know your situation better than anyone else. Feel free to adapt the enclosed document to meet your specific needs.

2. Letter of resignation instructions

  • Generally, you should address the letter to Mr./Mrs./Ms. followed by their last name. If you work in a less formal office and use your supervisor’s first name, you may address the letter “Dear [first name].”
  • Keep the letter short, simple, and sweet. A resignation letter is not the place to criticize an employer or provide negative feedback about a job experience. If you feel it is necessary, bring this information to light in an exit interview or other face-to-face forum. Remember: your letter will probably be kept in your personnel file, and will remain an essential part of your employment history. 
  • Do not include a request for a reference in your resignation letter. Address such requests in different correspondence or in person.
  • Although it isn’t absolutely necessary, consider including a couple of positive remarks in your resignation letter. There are some general examples of comments in the enclosed document, but you should consider adding more specific items if you can.
  • Be sure to give sufficient notice of your departure, allowing your employer enough time to find and train your replacement. Generally, this is between two and four weeks, but the time may be more or less depending on your industry and the nature of your employment. Review your employee handbook and your employment contract to see if there are specific notice requirements in place at your company.
  • Offer to help locate or train your replacement. This will emphasize your conscientiousness and leave a lasting positive impression with your company
  • Do not discuss your resignation with your co-workers before providing notice in a written letter to your supervisor. If this information is leaked before you have the chance to provide it, it will reflect poorly on you.
  • Sign your letter and seal it in an envelope. Hand it over to your supervisor in person. Do not send your resignation via e-mail. Note that your boss may wish to discuss your departure and future plans in person, and you should allow time for this discussion. As in the letter itself, keep the conversation about your resignation professional and courteous. 
  • After you have become comfortable in your new position, provide your former supervisor, human resources department, and co-workers with your updated contact information. This will allow your business network to continue to grow, and will make easier any future job searches or other commercial opportunities. 
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LegalZoom Staff

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This portion of the site is for informational purposes only. The content is not legal advice. The statements and opinions are the expression of the author, not LegalZoom, and have not been evaluated by LegalZoom for accuracy, completeness, or changes in the law.