Given that some people change jobs on an almost annual basis in today’s economy, one of the common hurdles for the modern worker is the resignation letter.
Whether you’ve been recruited into a new position or have found the next rung in your career ladder, the ability to write a competent resignation letter is a necessary skill.
There’s a whirlwind of emotions and obligations that occur when you decide to quit a job, but that’s not an excuse for neglecting to submit a resignation letter. Your team, and your manager, deserve a fair two-weeks’ notice in order to process your announcement and prepare for their own next steps.
How to Write a Resignation Letter: Dos and Don’ts
It’s important to write a polite and respectful resignation letter, regardless of your experience or place of employment. You want to take the high road, thank your boss for the opportunity and generally leave on a positive note. There’s no downside to this, and there’s a lot you’re risking by burning bridges. So, to leave a good impression as you leave your old job behind, follow these tips to learn how to write a resignation letter.
Do Deliver It in Person
Once you’ve written a professional resignation letter, deliver it personally to your boss. You could mail it or leave it on your boss’ desk, but that’s not as respectful as presenting them with it. This will allow you to talk about the departure and, hopefully, the boss will wish you luck in your new endeavor. Even if that doesn’t happen, your boss will appreciate that you let them know first, privately and professionally.
Don’t Give Your Notice by Text, Email or Social Media
Yes, communications have become more casual over the last number of years. Teams communicate via online collaboration tools; news is disseminated in real time via social channels, and texts no long follow grammar rules. In short: expediency rules the day. That is, except when you’re making an official announcement that you’re leaving the company. To announce your resignation in a line of text with abbreviations and emojis is not only disrespectful and inappropriate, it shows a lack of professionalism and seriousness.
Now, there’s always an exception. A few years ago, an employee of the Hunters Point Naval Shipyard, ended his relationship with the organization by making a resignation cake. It read: “Dear Mr. Bowers, During the past three years, my tenure at the Hunters Point Naval Shipyard has been nothing short of pure excitement, joy and whim. However, I have decided to spend more time with my family and attend to health issues that have recently arisen. I am proud to have been part of such an outstanding team, and I wish this organization only the finest in future endeavors. Please accept this cake as notification that I am leaving my position with NWT on March 27. Sincerely, W. Neil Berrett.”
While unique, the text itself is a model of appropriateness. Depending on your relationship with your employer, a creative approach can show your gratitude and even bring a smile to a situation that could otherwise be tense.
Do Be Concise
There’s no reason to go on and on. There’s really not much to say in a resignation letter other than you’re moving on to new opportunities. While there is some pertinent information that must be relayed, like the date you’re leaving the company, you shouldn’t write a novel.
Even Steve Jobs’ resignation letter was brief: “I have always said if there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple’s CEO, I would be the first to let you know. Unfortunately, that day has come.”
Don’t Use Emotional Language
A resignation letter is not a document in which you get to even the score. If you’ve felt wronged at work, well, you’re leaving, so there’s no reason to use your resignation letter as anything more than an official parting of ways. If you feel inclined to give a reason, just flatly state the cause of your departure. Be honest, but not brutally honest.
Do Tie Up Loose Ends
Whether you need to address this specifically in the letter or not is up to you and your situation. However, you should never leave a position with unfinished business. If there is work that you cannot complete, you should offer your services to help complete those tasks, or help your replacement to do so.
Don’t forget to wrap up your benefits package as well. If you have unused vacation time, be sure to address it with the human resources department.
Don’t Give Reasons
If you have a good reason that isn’t insulting to your previous employer, then by all means, state it, but you’re under no obligation to explain your reasoning. Most jobs are at-will, meaning the employer can fire an employee for no cause at all. Likewise, you, as an employee, don’t have to give your company a reason why you’re leaving; you just have to state that you’re leaving and when that termination date will be.
Infamously, Greg Smith resigned from Goldman Sachs with a long and detailed explanation that included what he called a “toxic and destructive” environment. His whole letter can be read here, along with other noteworthy bad examples not to follow.
Do Leave Your Forwarding Contact
We already suggested that you shouldn’t burn bridges, but now it’s important to note that you can use your departure as a way to build bridges. Colleagues and management can be good future contacts; you never know when you might need the services of your old organization or where coworkers might end up in the future. It’s good to keep the lines of communication open, and you should always be looking to expand your professional network. Therefore, pass on your number, email and even social info.
The last thing you want to do is tell everyone in the office you’re glad to be gone. Worse, you shouldn’t go on social media and start bad-mouthing your previous employer. It’s in bad taste and will likely come back to haunt you. It makes things awkward for your coworkers, especially over the two weeks’ notice until you leave, and posting negative comments online could even lead to legal repercussions.
Resignation Letter Examples
Here are two sample resignation letters to help you get started drafting your own letter of resignation. Feel free to add an extra personal touch!
Formal Resignation Letter Example
Manager’s Full Name
Dear [Insert Manager’s Last Name],
I will be resigning from my position at [Insert Company Name], effective two weeks from today, on [Insert Date].
My time at [Insert Company Name] was immensely valuable, and I appreciate all of the opportunities you have afforded me.
Good luck in all of your personal and professional endeavors. Contact me at [Insert Phone Number], or email me at [Insert Email Address] if I can be of service during this transition period.
Informal Resignation Letter Example
Dear [Insert Manager’s Name],
I am writing to let you know that I will be leaving [Insert Company] two weeks from today, on[Insert Date].
I can’t thank you enough for all of the opportunities you have given me. I wish only the best for you, the team and the company.
Please let me know if I can be of any help during this time.
Once you’ve presented a professional letter of resignation, don’t forget to pack up you desk, including the tools that helped you do your job effectively. If you can’t take them with you, then you should tell your new employer about great project management software like ProjectManager.com. Our cloud-based software offers collaborative project management tools to help you complete tasks and projects with your new team. Resign yourself to trying it for free for 30 days with this trial offer.