Thinking of quitting your job? So you want to make sure you do it the right way, and by that we mean without burning bridges. People leave their jobs every day for a myriad of reasons, and yours can be as simple as moving to a new state or even just looking for better career growth.
Whatever the reason for moving on, you’ll want to spend some time writing a professional resignation letter for your employer before you leave your job. These letters not only help ensure that everyone is on the same page, but they will also make it easier for you to leave on good terms.
10 tips for writing a resignation letter
Ready to learn how to write the perfect resignation letter before throwing down the proverbial work towel? Keep reading.
1. Be very safe
This may seem obvious, but the first step in writing a killer resignation letter (sometimes also called a notification letter) is making sure that you are 100% willing to quit your job. Take a minute to go over all the reasons you are quitting and make sure they are not minor things that you will change your mind about later.
You should also consider what you will do after you quit and start looking for new job opportunities if you haven’t already. While a turnover (also known as quitters) is expected in any company, it is also detrimental to both your manager and team, and your own personal lifestyle. Therefore, before writing something, be sure to take it seriously.
2. Set the terms of your resignation
Once you’ve made the decision to quit, it’s time to lay down the terms of how you will do so. These things should be included in your letter, but it helps to find out the details of quitting your job before you start writing them formally. Begin by choosing a last day for your job and take note of any other important details, such as how you will work until then, what projects you will finish, and whether you are willing (or able) to help find a replacement for your position. Many of these things will depend on both your role and the reason you are leaving, but having them figured out and ready to hand over to your boss will be helpful as you both go through this transition period.
3. Decide how much notice to give
This step occurs almost simultaneously with the last, but is important enough to warrant your own recognition. Deciding how much notice to give is a matter of respect and principle. Depending on the reason you are leaving the company (and assuming you are in good standing), standard practice is to give your employer at least two weeks’ notice. If you really like your company or your manager, and you think they will handle the news well, you might even choose to give more notice, like a month.
The more notice you can give, the better. Just know that less than two weeks will make it seem like your departure is urgent. If so, that’s fine. But if you manage to give them at least those two weeks, you will look better and increase your chances of getting out on good terms.
4. Include a reason for resignation (or not)
Another thing to consider including in your letter is the reason for your resignation. Again, depending on what it is. If you are leaving because your manager is an idiot, this is probably not something you want to include in a letter. You should feel comfortable sharing that you are leaving for a new job opportunity at XYZ Co. or because you want to take time off. Keep in mind that no matter what your answer is to leave (and regardless of whether you include it in your letter), someone is likely to ask you about it. Be prepared to answer this question as honestly as you can, or think of something else to say that you are comfortable sharing.
5. Ask questions
While the goal of resignation letters is ultimately to share the terms of your resignation, it is also a good place to ask any lingering questions you may have. Again, a resignation letter can serve as a roadmap for both you and your employer to navigate this transition. If you have questions about things like your benefits, the latest paycheck, or even any company equipment you currently own, now is the time to get an answer. By presenting this list of questions to your employer in your letter, you will help ensure that everything is addressed prior to your departure and that nothing important is forgotten.
6. Thank your employer
If you’ve really enjoyed working with your current company or manager, a resignation letter is also a great place to thank them. You might consider including this at the end of your letter after addressing all the harsh details of your departure.
Whether you’re grateful for the opportunity, the experience, or even just the camaraderie of your coworkers, this is a good time to congratulate your boss and thank them. Not only will this help you get out on good terms, it will also make your resignation feel more professional than personal.
7. Include contact information
If you plan to move for your new job or change your email address or phone number, it is a good idea to include the new contact information. Even if nothing will change, consider including your personal email or cell phone number somewhere in the body of the letter or at the bottom below your signature. This will help your coworkers to contact you with any questions they may have, and it will also help HR and payroll to ensure that your final payments and benefits continue smoothly.
8. Avoid burning bridges
Regardless of your reason for quitting, burning bridges is never a good idea. Maybe you worked with a bad apple or were the unfortunate victim of unfair or lousy company policies. Just remember that even toxic workplaces have nice people, and it’s always good to leave in professional terms.
If you had a serious problem with one of your co-workers, take the time to find the right person to report to. Maybe that’s your manager, or even someone from Human Resources. But do your best to avoid any workplace drama or bad feelings in your letter. It’s a small world, and depending on your industry, you may very well cross paths with some co-workers. Keep your head up and your letter strictly professional.
9. Don’t forget your coworkers
While resignation letters are typically for management, you’ll also want to take some time to craft something for your team members. There is nothing worse than being misled by a colleague, especially if it is someone you have worked closely with for a period of time. Once you’ve worked out the details of your resignation and submitted your formal letter to management, take a minute to compose an email for your coworkers. Thank them, discard the best, and leave your personal contact information in case they want to get in touch with you later.
10. Start writing!
With all these tips in mind, it’s time to start writing. Take it from someone who does a lot of this – there’s nothing worse than a blank page. Start by writing down your ideas and don’t be too hard on yourself. Once you have a draft of your letter, ask a friend you trust (ideally not a co-worker) to review it for you.
Above all? Don’t overthink it. Chances are, your manager has received these letters before, and no one will examine your choice of words or write a review of your letter in the New York Times. The important thing is that you write the letter, address the important points, and move on. Your employer will appreciate the effort and having your resignation details on hand will help ease the transition.
Larissa Runkle is a contributor to The Penny Hoarder.