If you are resigning from your job, it’s always best practice to provide your existing employer with a resignation letter.

Why? It’s your formal notice to show employee intention to end the employment relationship – it covers you from a HR perspective, where it will go into your records. From a purely professional stance, it sets the tone for your departure.

But before you even begin writing your resignation letter, you need to make sure you can fulfil the required notice period before leaving. Even more importantly, you should speak to your manager to give them verbal notice about your decision to leave. After all, it’s common courtesy to break the news either in person or through a video call rather than surprise them in a letter, and it also gives them an opportunity to discuss and better understand your reason for leaving.

By acting professionally and providing a formal letter of resignation, you will likely have a good continuing relationship with that employer, even though you are parting ways.

When it comes to the actual concept of “handing in your resignation”, printing out a hard copy letter for your existing employer is probably not going to be required of you in the digital age. Instead, you could send an email and attach the Word document or PDF file so that your employer will have a soft copy on file. If in doubt, ask your manager what they would prefer.

What should I write in my resignation letter?

Your resignation letter is a functional document but should still reflect well on you, as it will be an enduring record of your departure from the company. You don’t have to go into a huge amount of detail but there are some key things you need to cover.

The letter of resignation should be formatted formally and should be named, addressed and dated. You should clearly state your intention to resign and give your preferred final day based on your notice period. It is also courteous to thank your current employer and state your intention to do what you can to make the transition as smooth as possible. See our template below.

What should I leave out of my resignation letter?

Some things are best discussed face-to-face with your manager, while other opinions are best left unsaid altogether. The specifics of why you are leaving do not need to be included in your resignation letter, particularly if you are not leaving on good terms or have personal reasons for leaving that you would like to remain private. You may just want to share that you have been approached with a new job opportunity. 

Furthermore, if you have any grievances with your existing company, manager, boss or colleagues, they should most certainly be left out of your resignation letter. This is not the place to get things off your chest or to raise issues. You may need to attend an exit interview, which is a more appropriate setting to share your thoughts, however, it’s still best to keep this as professional as possible.

Why? You may want your manager or colleagues to act as a reference for any future roles, and secondly, you may end up returning to work for the same company at some point in your career. Burning bridges during the resignation stage will most definitely ruin any chances for the two key opportunities above.

Free resignation letter template

Here is an example of a resignation letter, which you should tailor based on your circumstances:

Dear [Manager’s Name],

Please accept this letter as formal notification of my intention to resign from my position as [job title] with [company name]. In accordance with my notice period, my final day will be [date of last day].

I would like to take this chance to thank you for the opportunity to have worked in the position for the past [time in employment]. I have learned a great deal during my time here and have enjoyed collaborating with my colleagues. I will take a lot of what I have learned with me in my career and will look back at my time here as a valuable period of my professional life.

During the next [notice period in weeks], I will do what I can to make the transition as smooth as possible and will support the business in whatever way I can to hand over my duties to colleagues or to my replacement. Please let me know if there is anything further I can do to assist in this process.

[Your Name]

A well-handled resignation will ensure an enduring relationship with your existing employer, manager and colleagues and the resignation letter is an integral part of that.

With this out of the way you, can focus on preparing for your next role and the next chapter in your career.

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