How to write a resignation letter: Tips, templates and examples

How to write a resignation letter: Tips, templates and examples
SEEK content teamupdated on 28 February, 2024
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Resigning from a job is never easy. It means stepping into the unknown and leaving the relationships you’ve built behind. Whatever your reason for moving on, if the time has come to formally submit your resignation, you might be wondering how to write a resignation letter.

Learning how to write a resignation letter professionally is important if you expect a great reference for your next job and if you want to keep professional relationships intact. If this is your first time resigning, or if emotions are high, then you may be looking for a resignation letter template to help keep your exit as professional as possible. In this guide, we take you through what to write in a resignation letter and what to avoid. 

Types of resignation letters

Every resignation is different – people leave their jobs for many reasons. So you’ll need to tailor your resignation letter to suit your circumstances. Common types of resignation letters include:

  • Standard resignation: a formal letter stating your intention to resign with the date your employment will come to an end with the company.
  • Immediate resignation letter: an immediate resignation letter can be used to resign without notice where the circumstances allow, such as for some casual employees or when unforeseen circumstances arise.
  • Retirement resignation letter: a letter to advise of your intention to retire, typically accompanied by an expression of gratitude for your time with the company.
  • Resignation with notice period extensions: a tailored letter to address the extension of a standard notice period, such as where more time is needed for a smooth handover transition.
  • Resignation letter due to relocation: a resignation letter that includes moving cities or countries as the cause of resignation. 

While these are some of the most common resignation letters, you can adapt any template to suit your needs. 

Dos and don'ts of writing a resignation letter

Writing a resignation letter can be difficult, especially if you aren’t leaving on good terms. However, there are some things you should and shouldn’t do in your resignation letter, no matter the circumstance. Here are some tips to help you resign the right way.

Some resignation letter dos:

  • Keep things professional 
  • Be clear and concise 
  • Maintain a positive tone
  • Wish the company well

Some don’ts for your resignation letter:

  • Use negative language about co-workers or the company
  • Use emotional language that frames your resignation in a negative light
  • Include overly critical statements 

Remember that this is a formal record of your resignation. It’s best to bring up what the business may have done wrong, how you’re feeling or what the business could do better during your exit interview, rather than in your resignation letter. 

How to format a resignation letter

A resignation letter should have all the information you need to formalise your resignation set out clearly and concisely. Your resignation letter should include:

  • A header with the contact information of both you and the employer, including name, title, company name, address, phone number and email address.
  • The date you’re writing and handing in your notice.
  • A salutation using the person’s formal title, such as Dear Mr. Smith.
  • An opening paragraph clearly stating that you’re resigning and your final date of employment.
  • A body paragraph to include information about why you’re leaving (optional) or any positive notes about your future or your past with the company.
  • A closing paragraph with well wishes for the person and company, as well as an offer to help train your replacement.
  • Your signature and contact information.

Your resignation letter should be no longer than one page, and kept as positive and professional as possible. 

What to write in a resignation letter

What to say in a resignation letter can depend on your reason for resignation. One of the hardest parts of giving your notice is knowing how to start and how to end a resignation letter. Here are a few things to keep in mind when writing your resignation letter

How to start a resignation letter

The start of your resignation letter should be a clear statement that you are resigning and the date this comes into effect. This would look something like:

Dear Mr Smith,

Please accept this letter as a formal notice of my resignation from my position as [job title] at [company name]. My last day of employment will be [day, date]. 

You may want to follow this statement with your reason for resigning, but it’s not required. If the reason for your resignation isn’t positive, then you may be better off moving on to expressing your gratitude for the opportunity to work for the company.

How to fill out your resignation letter

Once you’ve put your first few sentences together, now you can add any details you want to include, such as the reason for your resignation or any well wishes, gratitude or thanks. This may sound like:

I will soon be relocating across the country and looking for new opportunities there. I am grateful for the opportunities and experiences I have had here at [company name]. I have learned so much and developed many new skills I look forward to using in the future. 

How to end a resignation letter

Before ending your resignation letter, you should offer to assist with the transition, to make it as smooth as possible. This may include informing clients or preparing handover materials, training a replacement, creating procedure documents or whatever else is relevant for your job. You could offer to help your employer find your replacement or assist with interviews to find the best fit before ending the letter. 

An example of this would be: 

Please let me know if you need any assistance during this transition period, including handing over my responsibilities and training other team members. 

Sincerely,
[Your name]

Resignation letter templates

Using a resignation letter example or template can guide you in how to write a resignation letter professionally. Keep in mind, every resignation letter should be kept positive and professional, regardless of why you’re leaving the company. If you do use a template, you should personalise it to your reason for leaving, depending on how comfortable you are sharing this information. 

Standard resignation letter example

Dear [name],

I am writing to advise of my resignation from my role of [job title] at [company name], effective two weeks from today on [date]. 

It has been a pleasure working with you and the team for the past [length of employment], and I wish you every success for the future. I’m committed to ensuring a smooth transition during the notice period, and am here to assist in any way to make the process seamless. 

Thank you for the support and opportunity provided during my time with [company name]. I look forward to staying in touch.

Kind regards,

[Your name]

Relocation resignation letter example

Dear [supervisor's name],

I am writing to inform you I will be resigning from my position as [job title] at [company name] due to relocation. My last working day will be [date of final day]. 

I am grateful for the opportunities and experiences I've gained during my time at [company name]. If there is anything you need to make this a smooth transition, please do not hesitate to let me know. 

Thank you for your understanding, and I hope our paths cross again in the future.

Sincerely,

[Your name]

Maternity/paternity resignation letter example

Dear [supervisor's name],

I am writing to formally notify you of my resignation from my position of [job title] at [company name]. After much consideration of the options discussed regarding parental leave, I have decided to take a break from work following the birth of my child. My final day of employment will be [date].

It has been a pleasure to work with you and be part of [company name]. I am here to help in any way I can to ensure a smooth transition, including any training or hiring you may need assistance with. 

Again, I am grateful for my time with [company name], and hope you keep me in mind if there is a suitable opening in the team in a few years down the line. I wish you and the business all the success in the future.

Sincerely,

[Your name]

Common mistakes to avoid in a resignation letter

As you set out on the important task of writing your resignation letter, steer clear of these common mistakes to ensure a professional and positive departure:

  • Grammatical errors. Make sure to give your resignation letter a proofread before hitting print or send.
  • Being too vague or too specific. Your resignation letter should include your last day and touch on why you’re resigning, with a short expression of gratitude. There’s no need for more.
  • Burning bridges. You never know when you may work with your teammates again or how important they may be to your career path in the future. Keep your resignation letter and the interactions in your notice period positive and professional.

Before you submit: What to say in a resignation letter

Now that we have covered what to say in a resignation letter – and what not to say – here’s a checklist of the main elements to include.:

  • Your employer’s name and contact details
  • A statement with your intention to resign
  • The date of your resignation and final day
  • Optional: the general reason you’re resigning
  • A positive statement about working for the company
  • Offer to help with the transition of your replacement

If you have that information, you’re good to go.

Tips for handing in a resignation letter

Knowing what to say in a resignation letter is just one part of the resignation process. Next, you’ll need to actually hand in your resignation while maintaining a professional and positive relationship. These tips will help you do just that.

Give as much notice as possible

Before you hand in your resignation, check your employment contract for any required notice periods. Most standard employment agreements require two weeks’ notice, but you may be required to give more, less or none at all depending on your job. 

Hand in your resignation in person (where possible)

If you can, give your resignation in person. Whether you’re on site or remote, set a time to meet with your manager one on one, to privately tell them your intention to leave. After your meeting, you should also send them a copy of your resignation letter via email for official documentation of your notice.

Get into a positive mindset

Mentally preparing to hand in your resignation can help you feel more confident in a potentially uncomfortable situation. If you’re feeling stressed or anxious, keep your mind on the exciting road ahead and stay in that positive mindset during the meeting.

Handle any negative reactions with grace

While you would expect a professional response from a manager, this is not always the case. A resignation can come as a shock to an employer, especially if there has been minimal communication up to this point. If their reaction isn’t positive or they try to convince you to stay, hold your ground. Try to bring the conversation back around to a positive note, offering to assist with making the transition as easy as possible. If they continue to be negative, thank them for their time and excuse yourself from the conversation. 

What to do once you hand in your resignation

Resignation letter sent and HR informed? It’s time to let your team or colleagues know. This can often be the hardest part of resigning. But over the ensuing weeks, remember to keep it professional. You should continue performing your regular duties, and give your team all the information they need to perform your role after you’re gone.

You may also have a farewell morning tea, lunch or after work get-together. Try to avoid any negative talk about your now former workplace or employers, and focus on the positives, whether that’s a new job, a break or moving to a new city. 

Resignations are a common part of professional life. Whether you’re moving onto another opportunity or simply not aligned with your current employer’s vision, it pays to keep the tone positive when you’re writing your resignation letter. Armed with this guide, you're ready to start drafting a professional resignation letter that keeps all your working relationships intact.

FAQs

Is it necessary to write a resignation letter?

Yes, it's essential to write and submit a resignation letter. A well-crafted resignation letter formalises your departure, maintains professionalism and is a record of your departure timeline. 

How much notice should I give before resigning?

The standard notice period is two weeks, but it’s best to consult your employment contract for any specific notice periods for your job. Depending on the time you’ve been in the role and job you perform, you may be required to give two, three or four weeks’ notice. Senior leadership roles can require 90 days’ notice. 

Can I resign via email?

While it's generally more professional to resign in person or through a formal, printed-out letter, resigning via email is acceptable in certain situations, such as if you work from home. If circumstances prevent an in-person meeting or letter submission, ensure the email is well-crafted and includes all the information outlined below. 

What should I include in my resignation letter?

Your resignation letter should include:

  • The date you’re advising of your resignation
  • Your company’s name
  • The name of the recipient/your manager
  • A clear explanation of your intent to resign
  • The date of your last day
  • An offer to retrain your replacement
  • A thank you for your time with the company
  • A sign-off with your full name
  • Your signature

How do I handle negative reactions to my resignation?

Handle negative reactions to your resignation by remaining calm and professional. Make sure to express understanding and empathy. Offer assistance for a seamless transition while maintaining professionalism, and try to redirect the conversation to something more positive. 

Can I retract my resignation letter?

Retracting a resignation is possible in certain situations, but it depends on your employer's policies and your specific circumstances. Your best option is to speak with the appropriate person (like human resources or your manager) as quickly as possible about your options. 

How do I maintain a good relationship with my employer after resigning?

After resigning, you should remain as professional as possible, helping with the transition and preparing your replacement to step into your role. Stay on good terms with your employer by performing your job role to your usual high standards and assisting with handover wherever you can. 

Should I mention my new job in my resignation letter?

It's generally not necessary to mention specific details about your new job in a resignation letter. If you feel it's appropriate, you can mention your excitement about future opportunities without specifying the new job. 

How do I handle the transition period after resigning?

After you resign, you should handle your transition period professionally. This includes maintaining a positive attitude and completing all your regular tasks, as well as training your replacement.

Can I negotiate my resignation terms?

While resignation terms are typically straightforward, there may be room for negotiation in certain situations. Factors such as the notice period, transition timeline, leave payouts, or specific arrangements can be discussed with your employer. Approach the negotiation respectfully and be clear about your requests.

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