What to Include in Your Resignation Letter
Whether for personal reasons or professional advancement, you’ve decided to leave your job. You sat down with your supervisor, had a one-on-one chat, and proffered your notice. You’re ready to quit gracefully and finish these last weeks with a stalwart performance.
Except, there is one final undertaking, and for some, this step will prove the most daunting: the resignation letter.
Most people don’t practice writing resignation letters often, so they can struggle in deciding what information to include, what tone to take, and how to format the document. Fortunately, it’s not a strenuous letter to write once you know what to include.
A quick caveat
Remember that your resignation letter isn’t confidential. Your imminent ex-employer will keep it on file and may review it later (e.g., a potential employer calls requesting a reference). Given this, write your resignation letter like an official document. Because it is.
Start with a formal heading. Include your address in the top-left corner and insert the date below. Beneath the date, add an inside address. This will consist of the addressee, their title, the company name, and the company address.
We recommend a physical letter, but if your supervisor requests an email, include your contact information under your valediction. No need to include the inside address for an email.
Open the letter (or email) with a proper salutation, not a “To whom it may concern.” The latter comes off as disregarding and thoughtless. Greet a specific person.
How you address the receiver depends on company culture and your work relationships. You can be formal (Dear Ms. Bauman) or more personal (Dear Jennifer). If in doubt, err towards formality.
Statement of intent
Begin your letter with a statement of intent that is brief and focused. State that you are resigning and the effective date.
Something like, “I am writing this letter as formal notification that I am resigning from [your position] at [company name]. My last day will be [insert date in month-day-year format].”
You want to include the specific date so there’s no confusion or misremembering. You don’t want your plans railroaded because your supervisor can’t recall if you gave your two weeks’ notice last Thursday or—wait, was it Tuesday? A specific date prevents such issues.
What comes after the statement of intent is up to you. If you’re ditching a bad situation, you can skip to the thank you. But if you want to include something more personal, do so here.
You can discuss a characteristic of the job you found rewarding or something you learned. You can commend your supervisor’s mentoring. The only rule is that your comments should be positive and business appropriate. They should also be brief—a short paragraph or two will suffice.
Should you divulge why you are resigning? You can, but you aren’t required to. If you do, ensure your phrasing doesn’t read as backhanded. Saying you’re leaving for a salary increase or to work with an industry leader comes off as crass.
Conclude with a thank you
Your final paragraph should thank the employer for the opportunity and wish them future success. Your gratitude doesn’t have to be effusive, especially if your experience was subpar, but include a thank you anyway. If you had a rewarding experience, make your appreciation known.
Nothing too fancy here. Use the formal signoff “Sincerely,” and sign the letter.
Oh, and be sure to proofread it for spelling and grammar errors. Just in case.
Stay positive, stay professional
Congratulations! By including these components in your resignation letter, you’ve crafted a focused, positive, and professional document.
All you must do now is finish your remaining days with a strong performance, and you’ll be ready to start the next stage in your life. And should you need it, this resignation letter will be waiting to assist you down the road.