Before you walk out of the door, you need to tell your boss you’re leaving!
Quitting your job is a huge deal — but letting your employer know doesn’t have to be. Before you wave goodbye, you need to write a simple resignation letter. While that sounds straightforward enough, it’s something that all too many professionals struggle with.
It’s all too easy to fall into the trap of writing a rambling letter that lacks clarity. Dazed by emotion, you could end up over-explaining your departure or even writing a short essay.
So, how can you pitch it just right? How do you toe the line between formality and politeness? Here at Resume.io, we’ve got you covered with expert-backed advice to help supercharge your career journey. In this quick guide, we will cover the following:
- Why you need to write a resignation letter in the first place
- How much notice you should give
- What to include in your letter (plus a simple resignation letter sample)
- Advice on how to quit your job and leave on good terms
Why should you write a resignation letter?
It doesn’t matter how casual your relationship with your employer is, writing a simple resignation letter is a must. Whether you work in a cafe or a law firm, giving your boss formal notice of your resignation is the professional, respectful, and polite way to go.
You may think you can simply speak to your manager, but there are flaws in this approach. Firstly, neither of you has a written record of what was said, which may prove important later. Talking it out can also be intimidating. You may stumble over your words and fail to convey exactly what you mean. Writing a letter means that you can get your message across in a clear, succinct manner. There’s no room for misunderstandings.
Replacing employees costs companies big bucks!
The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) reports that employers spend the equivalent of six to nine months of an employee’s salary on replacing them.
For example, if a staff member on $60,000 quits, the company may have to fork out between $30,000 to $45,000 to find a new team member and get them up to speed.
For that reason, it’s only fair that you give your employer a heads up when you’re ready to move on. Writing a formal resignation letter gives them the time they need to prepare.
Your resignation letter not only lets your employer know that you’re planning to leave but it also outlines the finer details. It is where you give them a notice period and share your gratitude for your employment. Overlooking this part of the process is a rookie mistake.
How much notice should you give your employer?
Let’s deal with the elephant in the room: How much notice should you give? The answer will differ depending on your circumstances.
Experts at Harvard Business Review say you should give no less than two weeks’ notice, regardless of your field. They also recommend working closely with your employer to tie up any loose ends. The smoother you can make this transition for them, the better relationship you will have.
Bad blood won’t do you any favors in the business world. You may be relying on your former employer for a reference. You might come into contact with them professionally further down the line. Either way, it’s a smart move to leave things on good terms.
Worried about moving from job to job? It’s more common than you expect. Long gone are the days of staying with one company for your entire life. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics suggests that the average worker stays in their job for 4.6 years. While you don’t want to flit around too much, it pays to keep your eyes out for new openings.
Of course, there are exceptions to the two-week rule. Before you do anything, refer back to your contract. You may find that your employer has specified a longer notice period — let’s say a month — in that agreement. If that’s the case, you will need to adhere to that.
What to include in your resignation letter
Now that you’re ready to put pen to paper, you may be wondering what to include. Let’s not beat around the bush: writing a resignation letter can be intimidating.
Whatever your relationship with your current employer, telling them that you’re out is hard. It feels like a professional breakup and in a lot of ways, it is. However, rather than writing a long, meandering apology-style letter, you need to keep things simple. As a baseline, your resignation letter should include the following elements:
- The date
- Company details (your manager’s name and role, company name, and address)
- The fact that you are leaving the company
- Your notice period / last date of work
- Gratitude for the experience
You don’t have to include the reason that you’re leaving. While you may be tempted to justify the fact that you are quitting, you can save yourself the hassle. Keep in mind that modern-day professionals move around from company to company. Resigning isn’t a slight on your current employer. It’s not a personal decision — it’s a business decision.
Once you take the emotion out of writing your resignation letter, the process will be much easier. Use the above formula to craft a straightforward letter that ticks all of the boxes.
Basic resignation letter example
Looking for some inspiration before you get started? If you’re far from a wordsmith, we’ve got you covered. Check out our simple resignation sample:
FAO John Righton
District Sales Manager
Big Bear Party Services
Newark, New Jersey
Dear Mr. Righton,
I hope that this letter finds you well.
Please accept this as my formal notice of resignation from my position as a sales executive at Big Bear Party Services. My last day of employment will be [date]. This is two weeks from today as outlined in my contract.
I would like to make the transition as smooth as possible. As such, I am available to help recruit and train my replacement. If there is any other way I can assist, do let me know.
Lastly, it has been a pleasure working with the sales department over the last four years. I would like to express my gratitude for this opportunity. Additionally, I want to thank you directly for the support you have given me in the role of line manager.
A polite tone will go a long way here. Yes, there’s a right way to break the news. By thanking your former employer and offering to help find a replacement, you will leave a palatable taste in their mouth. You don’t have to gush but show some gratitude.
Email resignations vs. formal resignation letters
We live in a technological age, so it may feel completely natural to shoot your boss a quick message. But is it ok to resign by email? The short answer is probably not.
When you send an email to your employer or manager, you have no control over when or where they will open it. It could be a matter of days before they take a look at your resignation. That makes the quitting process more convoluted than it needs to be.
It doesn’t end there. Many businesses require employees to submit hard copies of their resignations for their records. You should check your company policy to see what it says.
Printing out a simple resignation letter and handing it to your boss is a professional move.
Quick tips for quitting your job
Now that you know how to write a solid resignation letter, it’s time to say sayonara. As we’ve already covered, it’s savvy to leave things on good terms. Even if you can’t wait to rush out of the door, you don’t want to let that show. Professionalism is everything. With that in mind, here are some quick tips to help you quit your job the right way.
- Give a fair amount of notice to your employer
- Make sure you tell your manager before your co-workers
- Stay productive up until your very last day of employment
- Be discreet about your next career move
- Offer to help your employer find your replacement
- Speak to your manager about giving you a reference
When you’ve handed in your resignation letter, what you do next matters. Showing your former employer you’re dedicated to helping them with this change makes a big difference.
1. Keep things short. As you can see from our simple resignation letter sample, you don’t need to write an essay when giving your notice.
2. Make sure that you find out how much notice you have to give your employer first.
3. Don’t be too casual. Adopt a professional tone in your letter of resignation.
4. Express gratitude to your former employer. It’s smart to leave your job on good terms.