How to Write a Resignation Letter

Inevitably, most professionals, regardless of their field or personal circumstances, make a decision to terminate their connection with an employer and/or corporation. Regardless of the reason for the resignation, providing an official notice of resignation is highly recommended if not required. That said, there are certain guidelines to remember when writing such documents.

Letter Essentials

As with resumes and cover letters, I advise sticking with certain basics when drafting a resignation letter. You do not need to use resume-weight paper, but clean and unmarred copy paper is a must. As for fonts, keep to easy to read choices such as Times Roman, Calibri, and Cambria. Seal the finished letter in a clean, business envelop on the front of which is typed your supervisor’s name, position and contact information.

Avoid using bold colors for paper, fonts and envelopes. Keep it formal, polished and professional. As for the font size, stick with between 11-point and 12-point font (I use 11-point Calibri as a standard in this regard).

As for the delivery of a resignation letter, you could mail it first-class or priority, making certain to require a signature by whomever receives the letter at the company. Personally, I believe it a better move to hand deliver the letter directly to the individual the letter is addressed or her secretary.

Addressing  The Letter

Resignation letters should always be written using best business protocols with regards to formal business letters. To begin with, the letter should include a heading with your name and contact information as well as the date you submit the letter on. The letter should then be addressed to a specific individual at the company, generally your immediate supervisor or the company owner. Should you have any question in regards to whom the resignation should be addressed, speak with your supervisor or a representative in the company’s human resources department.

In the event that you are working in a small company without an HR department and your relationship with your supervisor is strained, address the letter to the company owner or chief executive. Include the individual’s name, tile, the company name, and the company address.

Reasons Behind The Decision

In some instances, an employee resigns to take her dream job at a new company. Should this be the case, mentioning the reason for leaving and what company you are moving on to would be acceptable. In the event you are leaving due to dire circumstances (you did not get along with your supervisor), providing information regarding your new position and employer is not necessary. In fact, in such instances, providing these details could provide any vindictive employer/supervisor to reach out to the new company to speak poorly about your work ethic.

Don’t Burn Bridges

Some professionals use a resignation letter to vent their frustrations over managers, company policies or other issues/individuals that truly prompted the resignation. I do not recommend doing so as you never know what career circumstances you will encounter down the road. What if the supervisor you insult in the resignation letter takes a management job at your new company? They are likely to remember your resignation letter/disparaging words and hold a grudge. It may be a bitter pill to swallow, not lashing out as you leave. However, it is the professional and safe thing to do.

Don’t Burn Bridges  – Part II

It’s bad enough that you can end up working with someone you despised at a job you had years ago. What’s worse? If you lose your job through layoffs, what if the only job available is back with the old company your eviscerated in a resignation letter? I have seen friends and colleagues stuck in that very position.

Leave jobs on good terms whenever possible as you might be dependent on that company (or supervisor) in the future in the form of a recommendation or an actual job during a down economy.

Gratitude and Your Achievements

Building on the ‘don’t burn bridges’ theme, I recommend including a paragraph in a resignation letter where you thank your supervisor or the company CEO for the opportunity to work with the company you are leaving. They gave you a job for which you should show gratitude. Having said that, I also encourage you to identify specific assignments or projects you enjoyed and your related achievements:

  • I am grateful for the opportunity to lead the marketing team that secured the 2 million-dollar FaceBook account.
  • I appreciate being given the opportunity to plan and facilitate the updating of company HR software during the last fiscal year.
  • I treasure the experience of representing the company at the XBOX Conference to present on our new line of audio equipment.

Why mention the achievements and your specific contributions while giving thanks? Well, at a fundamental level, it is the professional thing to do in thanking an employer for the opportunities they provide. In the event you seek employment from that employer again in the future, such a resignation letter component serves as a reminder that you contributed to the company’s past success. In a more immediate sense, if your supervisor is called upon to serve as a reference for you, leaving a reminder of your achievements will help jog a supervisor’s memory.

Remain a Team Player

Again, keeping with the whole ‘burning bridge’ theme, I would follow the section giving thanks with a sentence or two in which you confirm your plan to finish your current projects and aid in training new staff in preparation of your departure. First, it is just a common courtesy to help out your colleagues.

Do you really want to leave workmates in a lurch? Secondly, an employer or a supervisor may feel hurt by your resignation as if it was a personal attack against them. Voicing your wishing to help the team can smooth such emotions over.

Additionally, if you are not on the best terms with your employer, offering to finish current projects and train new personnel in your job may help assure a vindictive employer does not move to make your remaining company tenure difficult or uncomfortable. A supervisor is not likely to harass an employee who is willing to help the company move forward.

In keeping with this idea of letting a supervisor know you are willing to help with any transition efforts, consider also indicating that you would be willing to assist even after your last official day of employment at the company. Remember the early comment about seeking jobs from that employer in the future? Leave on good terms and you are better positioned to be rehired.

A Final Thank You

As with any business or professional correspondence, I advise adding a final ‘thank you’ along with providing your cell/phone number (if the number is not listed elsewhere in the letter). It is likely that your soon-to-be ex-employer will never contact you. Yet, such a gesture on your part could go a long way to smoothing things over between you and the company.

Resignation Letter Sample

Resignation Letter Sample

Conclusion

A resignation letter should be no more than a page in length and it should lean heavily towards graciousness, with only positive remarks. Skip the venting and unleashing of hurtful comments. You will likely never have to deal with a bad supervisor or work situation again after resigning. For safety’s sake, leave on good terms.