Resignation letters 101

August 9, 2010

Resigning from a job is never a pleasant time — regardless of whether or not it was a tough decision.

Some jobs you just can’t wait to get out of. Others you think long and hard about before calling it quits.

Whether it’s a breeze to arrive at that decision or it’s a torture, it helps to consolidate your thoughts in a letter of resignation.

I have written four so far and every time I’ve researched the topic, I’ve found very little information on how to write a good resignation letter without dwelling over it for weeks.

So, I decided to share five handy tips that will make it easier for you to pen that goodbye and good luck note.

1. Write an outline first – don’t start writing the entire letter at once. Create a clear outline that looks like a template with a salutation, an introductory statement, a two-paragraph body, a conclusion, and number of people in senior management and HR you want getting copies of your resignation letter.

2. Be brief — this is not the time to tell stories. This is just a statement that will go into HR files as a record of your wilful separation from the company. State the reason for your leaving (it can be as vague as “time has come for me to move on” or as specific as “I am not finding my work to be satisfying and don’t think the job is tapping my potential to the extent I want it to.”

3. Do not vent and do not gloat — also do not reminisce. You don’t have to elaborate on how much you’ve enjoyed, or hated, working at this company — that’s what you do in an exit interview. The body of the letter elaborates on details of your position, when you’re resigning, and the fact that this serves as a two-week notice (which is the norm), with your last day of work being XXXX.

4. Keep it professional — at all times be cognizant of the fact that this is a small world and you may be working again with some people you’ve worked with at this company. You don’t want to burn any bridges — definitely not by putting anything incriminating in writing.

5. Get another set of eyes — don’t send off the letter via e-mail, snail mail, or deliver it by hand until you’ve had someone else give it a read. You’re so emotionally invested when closing one chapter of your professional life and moving on to the next, that it’s always best to have someone removed from the situation review what you’ve written. Usually it leads to removing unnecessary text and flowery language.

Here are two sample letters to make it even easier for you, each with a different tone.

Resignation Letter2 Resignation letters 101

Once you’ve submitted the letter there is no turning back.

So relax, say your goodbyes and move on.

But, remember no door is ever fully closed…

16081BD1A60533E0F1173D28DE4F0D3F Resignation letters 101

dp seal trans 16x16 Resignation letters 101Copyright secured by Digiprove © 2010 Mansi Bhatia

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12 Responses to Resignation letters 101

  1. LenaNo Gravatar on August 10, 2010 at 1:01 am

    Here we have it a lot simpler. There is a standard form of a resignation letter which you only have to fill in and hand over. Have done it once only though and it was not all a pleasure indeed.

    • MansiNo Gravatar on August 11, 2010 at 10:15 am

      Aah! The power of templates.

  2. DaveNo Gravatar on August 10, 2010 at 6:46 am

    Interesting post!

    I’ve only had one instance where a resignation letter was really required. Every other job has been with a group of people small enough that a resignation letter was merely a formality (I left the job because I was moving elsewhere, and we had all been talking about it for a couple of months anyway so everybody knew it was coming).

    The one resignation letter I did write was probably along the lines of what you mention above, though it was 15 years ago so I don’t remember exactly.

    But I did make one mistake that, thankfully, wasn’t that big of an issue. But it could have been.

    I was working on a Saturday at a data entry job where we were all on terminals (i.e. not computers of our own). Our boss let us use her computer for certain things that needed to be done, and I also used it to print off the letter I had written because I didn’t have a printer at home.

    I was going to give it to her Monday, but she came up to me Monday morning before I got a chance and asked me if I was resigning. She saw "resignation.doc" as one of the "last-opened files" on her word processor and put two and two together.


    Thankfully, she was really gracious about it, but I still consider it a mistake.

    Wow, this was long-winded. Sorry about that!

    • MansiNo Gravatar on August 13, 2010 at 11:39 pm

      Long-winded is good. The more verbose you are, the wider the grin on my face :D
      Thanks for sharing this story, Dave. A great lesson to be learned from it.

  3. Anu MantraNo Gravatar on August 15, 2010 at 7:04 am

    Wow…another great article from you and certainly helpful…although in my company it is required only as an intimation. the entire process is online and no interference of any kind…
    Although I would love to write a lot about my seniors though…hehehe… I guess that’s why they have made the process online where one just have to click on button resignation. Guess they also know what people will say about them…

    P.S. Sorry for my funny comment on such a serious topic.

    • MansiNo Gravatar on August 16, 2010 at 2:53 pm

      I suppose the more they streamline the process, the easier the transition — also reduces the chances for any emotional outbursts.
      Thanks for your kind words. :-)

  4. ChristinaNo Gravatar on August 17, 2010 at 2:21 pm

    Great post!

    • MansiNo Gravatar on August 17, 2010 at 5:55 pm

      Thanks, Christina!

  5. HarshaNo Gravatar on September 8, 2010 at 11:57 pm

    Great post Mansi, But how to take back the resignation in case the company offers a better deal than the new company.

    • Mansi BhatiaNo Gravatar on September 10, 2010 at 3:39 pm

      You’d just accept their new terms, Harsha — no need to write another letter taking back the resignation. You will, however, need to write a letter to the new company explaining to them that you can’t join since you’ve been given rather compelling reasons by your current company to stay.

  6. zuraNo Gravatar on September 24, 2010 at 3:36 pm

    i want the resign….but i dont no write my resignation letter…so how i want to write my resignation letter for 2 month……

  7. Jaan PehchaanNo Gravatar on May 7, 2011 at 10:16 am

    I am almost tempted to copy your first template word for word for my own resignation.

    Also, can you just have a ‘Like’ button at the end of your post too? I like the post, and I don’t really see the need to rate it on a scale of 1 to 5.


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