Career Development

Guide: How To Write a Resignation Letter

June 25, 2021

A resignation letter is part of the formal process of leaving a job. The best resignations letters are concise, well-written and professional. Your resignation letter will allow you to give notice to your employer and provide sufficient time for a hand-over and transition period. A well-written resignation letter can make this process amicable for all involved. In this article, we discuss how to write a resignation letter, what to include and give you an example of a good resignation letter.

What to do before submitting your resignation letter

While a resignation letter is the first formal step in leaving your job, it's considered professional and respectful to speak with your employer beforehand. By speaking with your manager directly, it will leave them with a positive image of you in their mind. This is especially important if you're planning to ask them to be a referee for a future job. Ideally, you should have this conversation in person, but if that's not possible, then doing so over the phone or a video call is appropriate.

Your manager has most likely changed jobs in the past as well. If your departure is on good terms, they may have words of advice for you going forward. They may also try to persuade you to stay in your current role.

Once you've spoken with your manager, write and submit your resignation letter. For most jobs, you'll submit your resignation letter directly to your manager. However, some organisations may also require you to submit it to your HR department. You should check your contract to see what's required.

What to include in a resignation letter

Generally, most resignation letters follow a similar formula. Unless your contract requires you to include specific information, the elements outlined in this section should be everything you need for a well-written resignation letter.

When writing a resignation letter there are a few key things to note. Your letter should be short and direct. Be honest with your decision to leave and express gratitude. Ensure you are firm in your timeline and terms of departure. Submit your letter by email and also in person, if appropriate.

Introduction

You should include a brief introduction to state your intention to resign from your current position. As with other professional letters, be sure to include your contact information and name in your letter. Address the person to whom you are writing by name. You should clearly state the notice period that you are giving and include the date you expect to be your last day. If you have had a conversation with your manager about your departure, this will be a date you've both already discussed and agreed upon.

Thank your employer for opportunities

Thank your manager and the company for hiring you and for the experience you've had. If appropriate, provide a specific example and express your gratitude for their support. No matter how long you've been working with this company, you should still aim to keep this section short and concise.

You may also express gratitude for personal encouragement and development opportunities. It's perfectly acceptable to include a short personal message of thanks to your manager or supervisor. Remember they are the ones who will typically write your recommendation letters in the future.

If you wish to express gratitude and leave a more personal message to your colleagues, this is best done separately. Your resignation letter is a formal document expressing your intention to leave your job and should only include essential information.

Conclusion

Conclude your resignation letter by offering to train your replacement and provide comprehensive information to support the handover process. Indicate that you want to make the transition as smooth as possible throughout your notice period. Express well wishes for the future of the company, your department, your team and your manager. You may also provide contact information going forward, in case there are any follow-up questions once you've departed. If appropriate, tell them where you're going to work next and how they can reach you there.

Example of a good resignation letter

Dear [Manager],

I am writing to inform you of my decision to resign from [Company Name], effective four weeks from today on [insert date].

The five years I have worked at [Company Name], with you and my other colleagues, have been very formative for my career. I have gained new skills, expanded my knowledge and enjoyed unique opportunities. I am very grateful for the support and leadership, both professionally and personally, that you have shown me during this time.

As I move on to the next challenge, I want to wish you and the company every success. During this transition phase, please don't hesitate to reach out if I can be of any extra assistance on projects. I will put together a comprehensive handover package and am happy to facilitate the transition in any way possible.

Sincerely,

[Your Full Name]

Things to consider when writing a resignation letter

Reasons for leaving

There are many reasons why you might be leaving your current position. You may be leaving because of an exciting new opportunity. Or perhaps you've decided to return to education. Other reasons could include family circumstances, relocation or a career change.

Whatever your reason for leaving your current job, it isn't essential to go into great detail in your resignation letter. It's just recommended to give your employers a formal reason for your departure as a sign of respect. Depending on your relationship with your manager and the company, you can choose how much detail you wish to go into in your resignation letter. If you want to provide more detail to your manager or colleagues informally, you can do so separately.

Notice period

If you wish to leave your current job, in Ireland, by law, you must give notice to your employer. The length of time is designated by law and is usually included in your contract. Be sure to review your contract to see if there are any deviations from the law that you should respect. Remember, an employment contract is a legal document and you should check it before making any decisions that affect your current employment.

The typical notice periods are as follows:

  • If you have worked at a company for fewer than 13 weeks, no notice is required
  • Between 13 weeks and two years requires you to give one week's notice
  • Between two to five years requires you to give two weeks' notice
  • Between five to ten years requires you to give four weeks' notice
  • Ten to 15 years requires you to give six weeks' notice
  • Above 15 years requires you to give eight or more weeks' notice

If for some reason you cannot remain with your employer for the outlined period, discuss this with your employer in an honest and clear conversation. This will allow you to come to a suitable arrangement that works for everyone involved and helps maintain a positive relationship with your employer during your transition period. In some cases, your employer may choose to waive the notice period, and you may leave your position immediately following the submission of your resignation letter.

Writing style and content

It's important when writing a resignation letter to keep your words positive and concise. You also don't need to overshare with your soon-to-be previous employer if you don't want to. You should aim to keep your timelines regarding your departure period clear. Your tone should be positive and professional, to leave on good terms. Finally, make sure to proofread your letter for spelling, grammar and other writing errors.

Remember, this letter will likely remain on file with your previous employer and they could review it in the future if you're looking for a reference or returning to the company for some reason. With that in mind, you should avoid including any negative comments in your letter. If you absolutely must do so, balance any concerns or comments with positive and productive suggestions.

Leaving on a good note

Handing in your resignation letter is a big moment in your professional career. You should prepare for questions to come from your manager or human resources department. It's possible they expected you to resign, especially if you have expressed an interest in other opportunities. Their response may be simple acceptance or they could extend encouragement and further support. It is equally possible that they might be surprised by your decision.

The important thing is to remain confident in your decision and compose a well-written and professional resignation letter. Maintaining strong interpersonal skills when communicating with management about this decision will help the process.

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