How and When Do You Write a Resignation Letter?
Exiting a job is a bit more complicated than simply letting your boss know that you’re resigning as you head out the door. Properly leaving a position at a company can actually be quite a process — especially if you want to maintain your reputation and garner a good referral in the future.
As you prepare to leave, you’ll want to inform management and HR personnel who should be aware of the change. It’s also wise to personally tell your direct superior about your impending departure and offer to help with the transition if you can.
Finally, you should write an official resignation letter. A formal resignation letter consists of several essential components, all of which are important to address when properly leaving a job.
When Should You Write a Resignation Letter?
Typically, the best window of time to present a resignation letter is between two months and two weeks before you officially resign. This six-week window gives you time to complete any ongoing projects. It also allows your employer to hire a replacement and begin training them before the company loses your services.
It’s critical to not send a resignation letter until you’re sure that you will be resigning. For instance, you do not want to send a letter simply because you landed an interview for the job of your dreams. Wait until you’ve accepted a new position and have your own affairs in order.
Along with ensuring you have future employment, being prepared includes considerations such as:
- Making sure your finances are in good order.
- Calculating if you have enough saved to cover costs in between paid work periods.
- Arranging for a potential lapse in health insurance or any other insurance that your current position provides.
What to Write in a Resignation Letter?
In many cases, resigning from a position will first take place through a private conversation between yourself and your boss. Even if this is the case, writing a formal resignation letter is still an important part of the exiting process.
A respectfully written declaration of your resignation can keep you in good standing with your previous employer. It can also create an opportunity for future recommendations, referrals, or even the ability to return to work at the same company in the future.
Each resignation letter should include these basic elements:
- Letter date: It’s always a good idea to date an official business letter, especially when it marks the end of your time at a company.
- Formal address and addressee: Even if your resignation letter is hand-delivered in an office, you want to properly address it with the name, title, company, and address of the recipient.
- Resignation declaration: Don’t beat around the bush. Make your intentions clear right from the beginning of the letter.
- The official date of departure: Clarify exactly when you’ll be resigning in relation to the date of the letter. This will help your manager to create a path moving forward.
- Reasons for leaving [optional]: You can opt to send a bare-minimum resignation letter, but if you have some diplomatic talent, you may want to include a section outlining the reasons for your departure. Make sure to stick to brief, professional explanations, such as “spending time with family” or “health concerns.”
- Positive reflection [optional]: Alongside your reasons for leaving, you can choose to take some time to briefly reflect on your tenure at your current position. Make sure to focus on the positive elements.
- Thank you: Always end your letter with a brief but sincere thank you to your boss for the opportunity that they and the company gave you.
- Signature: Finish off your letter with a signature. If it’s a printed letter, make sure to type your name four lines below your closing phrase. Then, include a handwritten signature in the space above your typed name.
It’s also absolutely critical that you properly proofread your resignation letter. Incorrect spelling, misplaced punctuation, or sloppy writing, in general, will leave a negative final impression.
Resignation Letter Sample Template
If you’re still unsure about how to write your own resignation letter, here is a template you can use as a starting point. Add in your own information and then personalize it to your specific scenario:
[Your name and address.]
Name and title.
City and zip code.]
Dear [first and last name of employer],
Please accept this letter as formal notice that I will be resigning from my position as [fill in position here] officially on [date of resignation].
[If desired, include your reason for leaving — such as taking time to spend with family or accepting another position — here. Also, consider adding a few words of positive reflection on what you appreciated during your time in your current position.]
I sincerely hope that the company continues to thrive. Please let me know if you require any help from me in training a replacement or otherwise navigating through the transition.
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This post was updated November 25, 2019. It was originally published November 25, 2019.