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Written by Lyndsey McLaughlinLyndsey McLaughlin

How to write a formal resignation letter

13 min read
How to write a formal resignation letter
Artwork by:Anya Mihailova
There are many reasons why you might choose to resign from your job. You may have found a better job, or you may simply feel that the job is detrimental to your mental health.

Whatever the reasons, when you decide to leave your job, a formal resignation letter is required to inform your manager and the HR department of your intentions to leave.

In this blog, we’ll cover the following topics to help you get started writing a formal resignation letter and offer a professional cover letter template for creating your own.

  • The purpose of a resignation letter
  • The required sections for a complete resignation letter
  • The importance of showing gratitude in a resignation letter
  • How to hand in your resignation
  • Template for a formal resignation letter
The great resignation
The great resignation

What is the purpose of a resignation letter?

Resigning from a position means that you have decided that you no longer wish to be employed in the place you are working. Most employers will expect you to resign formally, i.e. to send a professional document detailing your intentions, including the date you wish to leave. 

How to write a short & simple resignation letter
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Whether you’re moving on to new feats or simply taking a career break, you need to know how to write a simple resignation letter. Read our guide on how to let your boss know you’re leaving both professionally and politely.

It is good practice to discuss with your manager to let them know you have decided to resign before you send a formal resignation letter. This will give you the chance to discuss any questions they may have about your reasons to leave and to help keep the relationship positive.

What to include in your formal resignation letter

The company you are resigning from will need some key information so they can keep the operations running smoothly. They will need a statement with your intentions to resign and the date you intend to conclude your employment. You do not need to go into detail about why you are leaving; this can be discussed informally with your manager, or formally during an exit interview. You may also want to include a statement of your gratitude to the company, like the adaptable example below.

Example

“I have enjoyed my time here at JCT Ltd and have met many people who have become lifelong friends. I feel this is a company that values their employees and it’s been a pleasure working here.”

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Of course, if you are leaving on bad terms, or have had a negative experience like a toxic boss , you don’t need to leave a statement of gratitude. However, the formal resignation letter is not the time to let out your grievances. If you wish to do this, you can speak to your manager or ask for an exit interview with HR to discuss your concerns.

Writing a letter of resignation

It shouldn’t take long to write your resignation letter as it needs to include some standard information without unnecessary details. Here are the sections it should contain:

  • Greeting
  • Introduction
    Reason for leaving (optional)
  • Statement of gratitude
  • Conclusion
  • Sign-off

Greeting

 The first step is to write your introduction, which is the way you inform the recipient of your intentions to resign. The recipient of the resignation letter would either be your line manager, or you may want to just address the HR Department. In most cases, you would use your line manager and a formal greeting, for instance, Dear (First Name.)

Introduction

The introduction should include the phrase “Please accept this letter of resignation” along with the name of your position, company name and date you plan to work to. Although the position name will be obvious to your direct supervisor, the letter of resignation serves as a formal, legal notice of your decision to leave so it should make your intentions crystal clear.

In many cases, your work contract will stipulate the amount of advance notice you need to give before quitting. Make sure to check whether “14 days’ notice” means calendar or business days before determining your last working day. It is good practice to leave any job on good terms, by giving them sufficient notice so they can find cover. However, if this is not possible, it is important to speak with your manager directly before submitting your letter.

Here you’ll find an adaptable introduction.

Example

Dear Brian,

Please accept this letter of resignation as formal notice of my intentions to leave my role as a project manager in the JCT Ltd New York office. My last day will be January 4th, 2021.

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You can also add in your reasons for resigning if you wish to, although we would only suggest doing this if it doesn’t involve slating the company. For example:

Example

“As discussed, I have decided to return to education and will be starting my BSc in Engineering in early 2022.”

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Showing gratitude in a professional resignation letter

As discussed earlier, you should always keep the resignation letter professional. If you are leaving because you have been unfairly treated, the resignation is not the place to state your concerns. It is a brief, formal letter to inform your manager and the HR team of your intentions to leave. However, if you are leaving on good terms and have had a pleasant experience, you may want to show gratitude.

Example

I would like to take the opportunity to express my gratitude for the progression I have made during my time here. I have learned a lot from my manager and colleagues and will be forever grateful for the positive experiences during my employment at JCT Ltd.

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Conclusion

The conclusion is the place to add in any other information that you feel may be relevant or helpful to the company. Here is an example.

Example

“I have an outstanding project which will be completed by the 21st of November. I am also happy to train a new member of staff if required.”

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Signing off your resignation letter

You can be as informal or formal as you wish here. You might want to sign off your resignation letter with “Yours Sincerely” or simply, “Thanks”, with your name.

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Formal resignation letter template

You can use this sample resignation letter to write your own. Simply, copy and edit with your information, and add wherever relevant.

Example

Dear Brian,

 

Please accept this letter of resignation as formal notice of my intentions to leave my role as a project manager in the JCT Ltd New York office. My last day will be January 4th, 2021.

 

As discussed, I have decided to return to education and will be starting my BSc in Engineering in early 2022.

 

I would like to take the opportunity to express my gratitude for the progression I have made during my time here. I have learned a lot from my manager and colleagues and will be forever grateful for the positive experiences during my employment at JCT Ltd.

 

I have an outstanding project which will be completed by the 21st of November. I am also happy to train a new member of staff if required.

 

Thanks again and best wishes for the future.

 

Sincerely,

John

Copied!

As you can see, the resignation letter is formal, but it also ends on a positive note. John may want to return in the future, and by providing a formal resignation letter, notice, and an offer to help, the manager will be more likely to open the door to him again.

Top tips for dealing with resignation

  • End on a high note – Ultimately, you are ending the relationship between yourself and the employer, but it doesn’t need to be negative. Keep the resignation letter as positive as possible and always try to end on a good note. It is never pleasant to leave a job on a negative footing.
  • Prepare for a negative response – Some employers will wish you well in your future endeavors, while others may not have such a positive response about your resignation. Even if you wish to leave on a good note, be prepared that your  resignation letter  may not be received well. Take it as a compliment if this happens, rather than being tempted to get angry or annoyed.
  • Support next steps – You may be asked to support your manager with the next steps in the transition, including training a new team member. Be ready and prepared to give a bit more effort on your last days.

How to send your resignation letter

If possible, aim to hand in your resignation in person as well as emailing it to ensure a digital trail. If working remotely, email a copy to your direct manager and cc a hiring manager as well. Make sure to let them know first though. A surprise resignation email never looks professional.

Key takeaways:

  • Set your formal resignation letter out with an introduction, middle, and end, wrap it up with a positive conclusion.
  • Keep your resignation letter positive throughout. Use positive language and don’t get caught up in the whys and hows, especially if you are leaving on a negative note.
  • Offer your support if possible in making the transition easy for the company to hire a new person.
  • Prepare yourself that your manager might not take the news well, try to stay professional and positive. It is not good to leave jobs on a negative note .
How to write your resignation letter (with examples & templates)
Related article
How to write your resignation letter (with examples & templates)

Explore why a good resignation letter is important and how to write it, and check out our free resignation letter examples.

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