How to write a resignation letter

Gone are the days when workers kept the same job until they were ready to retire. These days, it’s not uncommon for a given employee to work for five, eight, or even ten different companies throughout their career. But moving on isn’t just a matter of applying for a new role and landing a series of interviews; it’s also about severing ties with your current employer.

Quitting a job isn’t always easy, especially if you have a manager you like. If you don’t know how to handle your resignation letter, here are some tips to keep in mind.

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1. Be respectful

Even if your future former boss is a jerk, it’s important to be polite and respectful when writing your resignation letter. As tempting as it may be to speak out against this pompous job, when it comes to your career, you never want to burn bridges – because you never know when you might need a referral or, worse yet, you beg to get your old job back. And if you move on to another job in the same field, the connections you made from your old job come in handy in all kinds of unexpected ways.

You don’t need to sing your boss’s praises when writing your letter, but don’t use it as an opportunity to criticize your business or voice your grievances. Instead, keep your language professional and be clear about your intentions.

2. Give plenty of notice

Being ready to move on is something your boss will have to come to terms with, but you can make it easier – and do the right thing – by offering reasonable notice before you leave the ship. At a minimum, be prepared to offer your employer two weeks’ full notice. If you have the option of delaying the start of your new job and giving your current manager a little more time, it’s worth doing. This is especially true if your role is such that no one else in your business is currently qualified to pick up the pieces in your absence.

For example, if you are the only in-house accountant at a small publishing house and no one else in your office has a clue how to manage books, your business will undoubtedly have to scramble to find a replacement. Offering three weeks’ notice instead of two could earn you some serious points with your ex-boss, and as we just learned, you never know when that might come in handy.

3. Offer your transition assistance

It takes time to list a vacancy, veterinarian resumes, and schedule interviews with potential employees. So it stands to reason that even if you are able to give more than two weeks’ notice, your company might not be able to hire someone in time for you to oversee their training. If this is the case, and you are required to start your new role before your replacement is found, you will take your business a big step forward by offering to assist you in the transition.

It might mean coming in on a random evening to sit down with that new recruit and explain your old processes to them. Or it could mean making a commitment to make yourself available for calls, emails, or questions. Either way, if you’re looking to show your old company a degree of gratitude with a side of goodwill, indicate your willingness to step up even after you’re no longer employed.

4. Thank your employer for the opportunity

While you don’t have to be poetic about your former employer’s virtues, when writing a resignation letter, it never hurts to throw a heartfelt little “thank you” into the mix. If your manager has served as a mentor in some way and helped you advance your career, be sure to recognize it. You might even cite one or two examples where he or she went above and beyond. Remember, losing a good employee isn’t easy, so if you’re kind in your notice it will help soften the blow.

Whatever the reasons you are quitting your current job, there is no excuse do not to end things on a professional note. Nailing your resignation letter will allow you to move on without harming your name or reputation in the process. And you never know how it might serve you in the future.


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