How to Write a Resignation Letter

You have finally made the decision to leave your current position at your job. Maybe this current job just does not suit your needs, you have found a better job, you have decided to go back to college to further your education, you have decided to stay home and raise your children, or you have decided to drop out of the workforce due to medical issues. Whatever your reason is for deciding to move on from your current position, you will need to create a resignation letter. So how do you write a resignation letter?

Why Use a Resignation Letter?

If you decide to leave a job, you should always write a resignation letter and submit it to your supervisor and Human Resources department before you give a verbal notice. Do not discuss your plans of resignation with any co-workers or anyone connected to your current company. You do not want to create a negative energy around the office. You need to have something in writing for proof that you actually gave a notice and resigned. Remember that you are a professional so it is imperative that you resign like a professional. So how do you write a professional resignation letter?

Before You Start Creating the Resignation Letter

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Before you ever start creating your resignation letter, there are some things you should consider.

  • Analyze Your Current Job: Make sure that you are certain that you actually want to leave this position. Once you submit a resignation letter, it cannot be retracted. Make a list of why you are leaving this position. If your supervisor counteroffers you with something that will ‘fix’ the reason you want to resign your position, would that change your mind? If so, then you should have a meeting with your supervisor to discuss these concerns before resigning. I highly discourage accepting counteroffers because by submitting a resignation letter, you have broken the trust between you and your supervisor.
  • Research the Company Termination Policy: Find out what the termination policy is for your company. Most companies require a minimum of a two week notice. If there is no policy in place, it is good business etiquette to provide a two week notice. If you do not adhere to the company policy, this may disqualify you from ever returning to that company in the future. Keep in mind that your employer could ask you to pack your things and leave as soon as you turn in your notice.

Before You Submit the Resignation Letter

Before you submit your resignation letter, there are some things you should do to prepare.

  • Insurance: Make sure all your doctor and dentist appointments are up-to-date for yourself and your family while you still have company insurance. Do not let your health insurance lapse because this could disqualify you, if you or any of your family members have any preexisting health conditions.
  • Employment: Make sure you have already secured a new job before resigning your current job. It is harder to find employment when you are unemployed. This will also keep you from having a lapse in your insurance as long as your new job also has insurance.
  • Personal Information: Make sure you save and remove all personal files from your computer. You can email all files and information to your personal email account. Do not forget to gather up all contact information for co-workers that you may wish to maintain a networking relationship with. After you have gathered and saved all your information, I would suggest ‘cleaning’ your computer. Delete all personal files, pictures, personal information, inbox emails, sent emails, saved emails, etc.
  • Supervisor Meeting: Be prepared for your supervisor to have a meeting with you to discuss your resignation after you submit your resignation letter to him/her. It is important to remain calm, remain polite, and remain professional during this exit meeting. Your supervisor may react negatively and become upset but it is important that you remain calm and leave gracefully and on friendly terms. This supervisor is possibly someone you will need to use as a professional reference in the future. It is important not to burn any bridges with your supervisor or any of your co-workers because these are people that you may want to network with in the future.

Resignation Letter Format

Always use the Standard Letter Format to write your resignation letter.

  • Addressing the Recipient: Address the letter to your supervisor.
  • First Paragraph: The first paragraph should only contain positive information. Use this paragraph to highlight your accomplishments, as this might improve your chance of networking with your former supervisor and co-workers. Highlight your skills and emphasize your contributions by using plenty of action verbs.
  • Second and Third Paragraphs: The second and third paragraphs should contain your actual resignation. Your resignation should include the proper notice that your company requires or a two week notice if your company does not require a notice. You should state the date that your resignation is effective.
  • Final Paragraph: The final paragraph should also only contain positive information. You should thank your employer for the opportunity that they have provided you and express your gratitude. You should show your enthusiasm and appreciation for the work you have done.
  • Closing: You should end with “Sincerely”, sign your name, and then type your name underneath your signature.

Correct Resignation Letters

  • Format: Always use the Standard Letter Format for your resignation letter. Always type your resignation letter.
  • Proofread: You should always proofread your resignation letter. Check for spelling and grammatical errors. I would recommend having someone, that has no connection to your current company, proofread your resignation letter after you have proofread it before you submit it to your supervisor and Human Resources department.
  • Length: Resignation letters should never be more than one page. Your resignation letter should be as simple, brief, and as focused as possible. Make sure your letter is direct because you do not want to leave any information in the letter up for interpretation.
  • Specific Details: Do not include specific details including why you are leaving, where you will be working next, etc. You do not want anything in your resignation letter to leave any negative impact.
  • Delivery: Seal your resignation letter in an envelope addressed to your supervisor. You can give it to them personally or have it delivered. If your company has a human resources department, it is important to copy the human resources on the letter as well.
  • Tone: It is important to keep your tone positive in your resignation letter. This document will become part of your personnel file and it will be used by future employers for professional reference calls. You should always maintain your dignity and chose words that demonstrate your qualities so that you only leave behind positive memories of you. You must stay positive, professional, and courteous at all times.

Incorrect Resignation Letters

  • Format: Never email or handwrite a resignation letter. Emailed or handwritten letters are not professional. Remember that your resignation letter is the last reflection of your personal character.
  • Contractions: Do not use contractions. Write out the word ‘do not’ instead of using the word ‘don’t’, etc.
  • Fonts: Do not use decorative fonts, flashy colored paper, or unusual formats. Your resignation letter should look professional and will look that way if you use the Standard Letter Format. I suggest using Arial 10 as a font. Make sure your entire resignation letter is in the same font type.
  • Wording: Do not overuse adjectives in your resignation letter and do not use the word “very”. Do not start too many sentences with the word “I”.Limit the use of writing in the passive voice. Avoid using clichés and meaningless or wordy expressions. Do not use exclamation points in your resignation letter.
  • Tone: You must resist the temptation to vent or say anything negative in your resignation letter. Keep your personal emotions out of your resignation letter.
  • Supervisor Reference: Do not ask your supervisor for a reference in your resignation letter. Ask for a reference only after you assess the reaction of your supervisor to your resignation.