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5 Steps for Writing a Clear Resignation Letter

Not everyone does it but writing a resignation letter is the professional thing to do when you leave a job. Writing, “I’m leaving, bye” isn’t the appropriate way to go about it. However, it doesn’t need to be a novel, nor should it.

Step one is to keep your resignation letter to a single page and make sure it includes the following key points:

  • The intent of leaving a job
  • Last date on the job
  • Appreciation to your employer
  • Openness to training replacement
  • Your contact details

Step two is to commit to writing a resignation letter

Not everyone wants to submit a resignation letter or go through the process of creating it. Writing doesn’t come naturally to everyone, and neither does having ample amounts of time. However, creating a paper trail can help with your exit and transition regarding passing on your responsibilities, receiving your final paycheck, and determining health insurance next steps.

Step three is to control the message about your departure

There is no guessing when you have your exit explanation in black and white. Writing a resignation letter gives your boss and human resources clarity on why you’re leaving and how your last couple of weeks with the company will go. It’s also a written blueprint you can use when preparing to have a face-to-face conversation about it.

Step four is to know what to say

Don’t drag it on. Treat the letter as a transactional notice. Briefly explain why you’re leaving. You can keep the reason general too. For example, “I’m leaving to further explore my career.”

Express your gratitude for the employer and your time there. If you want to recap some of the highlights from your time there briefly, that could fit nicely into the resignation letter.

Complete the letter with your date of departure, how you plan to transition your role to the next person or a colleague taking on the responsibilities, and your contact information if you need to be reached after you leave.

Step five is to know what to avoid

Once something is in writing, it lives on in infamy. Most likely, your employer will file it away and possibly refer to it down the life if a reference is requested. With this in mind, control the narrative of what goes into that reference and avoid doing this:

  • Providing the downsides of the job (if you feel the need to share this information with your employer, do so during an exit interview)
  • Giving a detailed explanation of why you’re leaving
  • Sending a letter that hasn’t been proofread (sending a letter with errors comes across as unprofessional and unprepared – not the way you want to go out)
  • Bragging about the next move you’re making
  • Writing overly emotional statements (don’t use the terms I feel or I think – it doesn’t need to be excessively personal, keep the letter as professional as possible)

The tone of your resignation letter will differ depending on the situation. However, below is a general example of a good, standard resignation letter.

Dear (supervisor/HR contact),

Please accept this as my resignation letter from my job as (job title) at (company), effective (date).

My career goals have changed since I started working here, and the time has come for me to pursue another opportunity and further explore my career elsewhere.

I appreciate the opportunities you granted me during my time at (company). Please let me know how I can assist in the transition. I hope we can stay in touch moving forward. Thank you for everything.

Are resignation letters a part of your professional etiquette when leaving a job? Join the conversation on LinkedIn and check out Responding to Inappropriate Interview Questions.