When most people resign from a job, they’re often eager to move on to the next exciting step in their careers. Some might be tempted to hop from one place to the next without much attention to what lies between, or how to properly close the door on a current position in an amicable way. But there is a right way and a wrong way to resign. And the right way starts with a well-crafted resignation letter.
Since the choices you make here could affect your career in the future, let’s look at the most common questions employees ask about writing a resignation letter.
What is a resignation letter?
A common misperception that some employees have is that the resignation letter is the first step in quitting a job. It’s not. (Or it shouldn’t be.) Before submitting your letter, sit down with your boss privately and let him or her know that you’re planning to leave and when.
The resignation letter is a formal document that you submit to your boss and HR, officially resigning from your position.
Why do I need to send a resignation letter?
The reason this letter is so important is because it creates an official record. The date on the letter shows exactly how much notice you gave your employer. If you have a contractual obligation to give notice, this letter will serve as your proof that you met that obligation.
How many days prior to my leaving do I send a resignation letter?
Contrary to popular belief, there is no federal or state law that requires employees to give two weeks notice before resigning. However, some employers may have a company policy that does. Some employers may even ask for more notice. One of my previous employers required 30 days notice. So check your employee handbook or your employment contract to see if your company has a policy before you give notice.
What should I be asking HR before departure?
Hopefully, your HR representative will conduct an exit interview. Here are a few questions to ask during that meeting:
- Will my responses be anonymous? It’s important to know whether your answers will get back to your supervisor or future employers.
- When will I get my last paycheck? It might not be on your regular pay schedule.
- How long will my benefits remain in tact?
- Can you provide me with a reference letter?
What should I include in my resignation letter?
This letter doesn’t have to be long or complicated. In fact, the simpler the better. There are four components to a good resignation letter:
- The date when you are submitting the letter to HR. This goes at the top of the page.
- A clear, direct statement of your intention to resign your position. This should be the first sentence of paragraph one.
- The date you are planning to leave. Ideally, this will be two weeks from the date at the top.
- A thank you. Regardless of your reasons for leaving or your feelings toward your employer, it’s important to thank them for the opportunity. Use this space to describe a few things you learned in your time with the company or a couple of things you enjoyed about working there. Yes, even if you hated the job. Remember, you will probably need a reference from this employer at some point.
What should I avoid in my resignation letter?
There are a number of common mistakes that employees often make in drafting resignation letters. We’ve boiled it down to the two most harmful. Whatever you do, don’t write the following:
- A long, detailed explanation for your resignation. Not only is this unnecessary, but it risks clouding up the purpose of the letter and burying the lede. Namely, your intent to resign. If you write out a long-winded story of your reasons for leaving instead of getting right to the point, your boss may have to wade through the noise to figure out what it is you’re trying to say. Besides, nobody likes to listen to those stories. It’s awkward and unhelpful. Just state simply that you plan to resign, and don’t include any unnecessary information.
- Your grievances with the company. This is the biggie. Some people choose to document every displeasure and injustice they experienced at a job in their resignation letter. This is a mistake. Most employers will file your resignation letter in your employee record, and HR will keep that for many years. And as we mentioned above, you may need a reference from this employer at some point in the future. When some future potential employer calls to ask about your time there, HR will pull out your employee record and read this letter. If it includes a list of grievances about the company, they might not feel compelled to say anything good about you.
Two Weeks Letter Template
If you are still having trouble composing your letter, feel free to copy this sample.
Dear (Employer’s Name),
am writing to inform you of my resignation from my position at (Name of Company). My official last day will be (date).
I want to thank you for the opportunity to work for (Name of Company). In my time here, I have learned valuable skills and gained (length of time) experience in (name of your industry). I particularly appreciate (name at least one thing you enjoyed about working at this company). I will always remember my time here, and I wish you and the company well.
There is a right way and a wrong way to resign from a job. A well-crafted resignation letter will have you on your way to an amicable parting from your employer so that you can start your next project without any unneeded baggage.