How to Write a Resignation Letter (With Examples)

Keep your resignation letter professional with these helpful tips and examples.

Written by Stephen Gossett
How to Write a Resignation Letter (With Examples)
Image: Shutterstock / Built In
UPDATED BY
Matthew Urwin | Aug 15, 2023

Writing a resignation letter is a crucial part of leaving a job — a process that already causes enough stress on its own. 

Coworkers are people you may spend more time with than your own family, so when you resign, “not only are you changing work, you’re affecting people that you’re used to seeing every day,”said Keith Wolf, managing director of Murray Resources, a staffing firm and resume service.

The stain of blowing off an employer without formal notice is impossible to scrub, while the benefits of a professional notice are just as long-lasting. Indeed, former coworkers can serve as valuable resources for job opportunities and recommendation letters.

To that end, we’ve rounded up tips and examples for writing a resignation letter that’ll help you maintain work relationships long after leaving a company.

 

How to Write a Letter of Resignation

The precise phrasing and details of a letter of resignation will vary by individual. That said, all letters of resignation follow a basic structure. The letter should include each of the following components, listed in order:

1. Date: You’ll be writing the letter ahead of time, so be sure to date the letter to reflect when you’ll actually submit it.

2. Contact information: Include your name, email address and phone number. It’s also common to include your home address.

3. Note of address: “Dear, [Name]” is appropriately formal. “Hello, [Name]” and “To: [Name]” are other options. Always use a person’s name, not a department.

4. Notice of resignation: State in plain language that the letter’s purpose is to inform the employer of your resignation. Include your last date of employment in this section.

5. Expression of gratitude: Thank your boss for the opportunity to gain experience, develop new skills and grow professionally. Specify individual projects or accomplishments if you like, but a general expression of thanks will suffice.

6. Note about transition: Offer to help with the transition. Don’t overpromise, but a good-faith willingness to assist with next steps will be appreciated.

7. Closing and signature: Again, directness is expected — “Best,” “Thank you,” or “Best wishes” are customary. Be sure to then sign the printed copy, or if you’re notifying remotely, drop your signature in the emailed letter of resignation PDF. You can use the Preview app for Mac or Microsoft Edge for PC to create a signature.

A few of these details are worth unpacking a bit more. Below is some additional advice on the more important facets of the letter of resignation, along with some extra guidance and a few common missteps to avoid.

 

How to write the perfect letter of resignation. | Video: Professor Heather Austin

Tips for Writing a Great Letter of Resignation

You may need to tailor your resignation letter to fit specific circumstances, but there are general tips you can follow to ensure you deliver your message with professionalism and sensitivity.
 

Include Your Contact Information

This might seem redundant, since your employer likely has all or most of your contact information on file, but it’s customary nonetheless. Contact information — name, address, phone number and email address — is often listed near the top of the letter.

 

Show Gratitude

Always be sure to thank the employer for the opportunity, and let them know you’re appreciative of their hiring you and investing in your development.

That said, don’t overdo it. Avoid being overly emotional, particularly in the letter, Julie Hochheiser Ilkovich, managing partner of Masthead Media and host of the Coffee Break With NYWICI podcast, said. The meeting with the manager is a better forum for expressing deeper sentiments.

 

Give a Date

Make it clear when your last day will be. It’s customary to give an employer at least two weeks’ notice. In rare instances, that’s not possible. In that event, make sure to acknowledge the standard and apologize for not being able to meet it. (You may want to briefly explain the short notice, or simply leave it for the meeting.)

 

Offer to Help With the Transition

When you resign, you’ll be leaving the organization a person down. So be sure to offer to help with the transition, whether that’s drafting a job listing, recommending potential replacement candidates, training a replacement, tidying up ongoing projects or whatever the organization needs to move forward successfully.

For technical roles, that likely means significant hands-on collaboration.

“You have to document the things you’ve been working on, and then meet with your managers to figure out who has the bandwidth to take them on,” Katelynn Weingart, a software engineer at LaunchPad Lab, told Built In. “Then have separate meetings with those people, and walk them through the code. Make sure they understand what you’ve been working on.”

 

Keep It Brief

A professional resignation letter is usually only a handful of sentences. When in doubt, err on the side of less.

“If you’re nervous about your writing ability and don’t want to say the wrong thing, then just keep it super short,” Wolf said.

Altogether, the letter of resignation should briefly hit a few key points and maintain a respectful, even keel. Ilkovich has a helpful lens through which to think about it: Ask yourself, “Is this something I’d be comfortable having shared around the organization?”

“In the moment of writing, you may feel like, ‘Oh, this is just for my boss,’” she said. “But it’s something that could be passed along, or your company may document it in some way.

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What Not to Include on a Resignation Letter

Knowing what not to say is just as important as saying the right thing when deciding how to write a resignation letter. Keep these tips in mind to avoid any misunderstandings and leave your company on a high note.

 

Complaints About Your Manager

Even if you had a bad experience at your company because of poor management, a resignation letter is not the time to vent about your manager. Doing so will only alienate company leaders, making your transition process messier than it needs to be. 

You also never know when you’ll need a reference, and former managers are often the go-to connections that hiring teams are interested in hearing from. Burning bridges with your current manager may cost you a vital reference later on.

 

Gossip About Coworkers 

Sometimes coworkers can be difficult to work with, but this doesn’t make it okay to complain about them in your resignation letter. In fact, spreading negative comments or gossip about coworkers can damage your professional image and make it seem like you’re not a good teammate — something that future recruiters may look into. 

Coworkers can serve as lifelines as well, sharing possible job opportunities and sending references. If you damage your relationships with coworkers, you may fracture your professional network and forgo chances to learn about other jobs and resources through these connections.     

 

Inappropriate Language

Even if your tone is positive, slipping in inappropriate language makes you seem less professional and can distract from the actual letter. Resisting the urge to use colorful language ensures your resignation letter won’t come across the wrong way or elicit strong reactions from your manager and coworkers. 

 

Detailed Reasons for Why You’re Leaving 

Like a job-interview follow-up email, the letter of resignation itself should be something of a formality. You can explain the reasons behind your departure during the resignation meeting and again at the exit interview. Despite what some advise, the actual letter isn’t really the arena to get into finer details.

If you do feel strongly about including reasons in your letter, keep the terms simple. Mention that you’ve accepted a new position, decided to make a career change or are leaving for personal reasons, as the case may be. But there’s no need to name your new employer, cite the new sector or explain personal issues in the letter.

 

An Overly Positive or Negative Tone

Choose a more neutral tone instead. This way, your message won’t make you appear eager to leave the company and you can stay on good terms with your manager and coworkers during and after your departure.  

 

Delivering the Letter of Resignation

Schedule a Face-to-Face Meeting

It may be obvious, but it’s worth stressing: Request in-person time with your manager, print a hard copy of the resignation letter and deliver the news face to face. No out-of-the-blue emails, no surreptitious letter drop-offs and certainly no ghosting.

“Setting aside time to get [the manager’s] full attention — meeting to make sure you’re actually talking to them, not just kind of doing it in passing — are both really important,” Ilkovich said.

Resigning directly and professionally is partially self-serving — why burn network contacts or potential references? — but it’s also just the courteous thing to do. Wolf recalled the justifiable blowback some companies faced after holding mass terminations via video calls during the pandemic. Any departure — whether voluntary or involuntary — is sensitive, and should be treated as such by whoever is delivering the news.

“Give the employer the same courtesy you would want,” Wolf said.

 

Resign Professionally Even If You Work Remotely

Remote work doesn’t have to complicate the process. The etiquette still stands, just digitally.

Again, schedule a meeting time with your manager, block your calendars and deliver the news face-to-face on whichever video-conferencing app is the company’s default. Even if you’re anxious about meeting, don’t disable the video. Then, send the letter of resignation via email after delivering the news. In short, even in the “new normal,” regular expectations apply.

 

Make Sure Your Boss Is First to Know

Inform your manager first, not your work friends. Otherwise, the news can spread, potentially sowing resentment.

“It’s important to let the company lead the process of how they want your resignation announced,” Wolf said. “I’ve seen that botched before.”

Sharing news online about a new job opportunity before telling anyone at your company not only hurts your relationship with your manager, but it may also damage your standing in the eyes of your future company.  

“Make sure all the key people know what’s happening within your organization before talking about it online,” Ilkovich said. “Also, understand what your new employer is comfortable with you saying. Yes, it’s your news, but you do want to be conscious that there may be some guidelines.”

 

Know Before You Go

Before handing over the letter, be certain you haven’t forgotten about any contractual agreements that might preclude your next employment options. That includes agreements like non-compete and non-solicitation clauses — “things that you may not have thought about for years and years, because you haven’t read it since you started,” Ilkovich said.

 

Letter of Resignation Examples and Templates

Boilerplate language won’t capture the individual nuance you’ll want to bring to your letter of resignation. For example, you might want to further emphasize your sense of gratitude or acknowledge the depth of personal relationships you’ve built, especially if resigning from a longtime employer, in a way that non-personalized templates won’t do justice. But the five examples below should nonetheless help you get started.
 

Example 1: Resignation Letter With Two Weeks’ Notice

[Date]
[Your Name]
[Your Phone Number]
[Your Email]

Dear [Name],

I’m writing to inform you that I have decided to resign from my position as [role]. My last day will be [two weeks from day of notice].

This was not a decision I made lightly. My time at [company] has been professionally and personally fulfilling. The support and encouragement I’ve received from you, our team and the company as a whole has been extraordinarily valuable. Please know that I am grateful for the opportunity you provided and the chance to gain experience and hone new skills under your direction.

I will, of course, use my remaining time to help with the transition as best I can. I will document and share the status of my projects and, if desired, assist in the search for a replacement.

Best,

[Signature here]
[Name]

 

Example 2: Resignation Letter With Fewer Than Two Weeks’ Notice 

[Date]
[Your Name]
[Your Phone Number]
[Your Email]

Hello [Name],

Please accept this letter as notice of my resignation. My last day of employment will be [date].

I know it is customary to provide two weeks’ notice, and I sincerely apologize for any problems that my short notice might cause. Know that if there were any way I could have avoided it, I would have done so. Unfortunately, my new employer needs me to begin right away, and I could not negotiate a different start date. [If you have a different reason for the short notice, explain.]

I will always appreciate my time here, and I am truly grateful for the professional guidance you provided. I gained invaluable experience and grew much as a [role/position] during my time at [company]. Thank you so much for the opportunity.

Since my time remaining is short, I know that the transition may be more difficult than usual. Know that I will do all I can to thoroughly document the status of ongoing projects and help tie up any other loose ends.

Thank you,

[Signature here]
[Name]

 

Example 3: Short Resignation Letter Template

[Date]
[Your Name]
[Your Phone Number]
[Your Email]

Dear [Name],

This letter is to notify you that I am resigning from my position as [title] at [company]. My last day will be [two weeks from date of letter].

It has been a pleasure working with and learning from you over the past [X years or months]. I wish you and [company] all the best going forward. Thank you so much for the opportunity.

In my time remaining, I’ll be happy to help with the transition in any way that I can.

Thanks again,

[Signature here]
[Name]

 

Example 4: Resignation Letter With Reason for Leaving

[Date]
[Your Name]
[Your Phone Number]
[Your Email]

Hello [Name],

I’m writing to let you know that I’ve chosen to resign from my position as [position]. My last day at [company] will be [date].

I am resigning because I have decided to accept a new position. I believe the new role provides an excellent path for how I’d most like to steer my professional growth. [OR I have decided to pursue a career change and am applying for jobs in the X industry/going to school for Y field of study. OR I have decided to resign from my current role due to personal reasons.]

This was a difficult decision. I very much enjoyed my time here and am grateful for all I learned. The experience and knowledge I’ve accrued has been invaluable. Thank you so much for the opportunity.

I will of course do all I can to facilitate a smooth transition. Please do not hesitate to let me know how I can best assist with next steps.

All the best,

[Signature here]
[Name]

 

Example 5: Resignation Letter Acknowledging Non-Compete Clauses

[Date]
[Your Name]
[Your Phone Number]
[Your Email]

Dear, [Name],

Please accept this letter as notice of my resignation. My last day of employment will be [date].

Of course, I don’t make this decision lightly. I have treasured my time at [company name], gained great experience in [field/role] and was allowed to grow and develop professionally. Thank you sincerely for what has been a wonderful opportunity.

As I write the next chapter in my career, I have been careful to honor the terms of my non-compete clause. Know that I have and will continue to abide by the details of our contract.

I will be happy to use my remaining time to help facilitate a smooth transition. I can document the status of all my projects and, if you like, assist in the search for new candidates and help train a replacement — whatever I can do to help with the transition.

Best,

[Signature]
[Name]​

 

Frequently Asked Questions

A simple resignation letter should include the date, your contact info, note of address, a notice of resignation, an expression of gratitude, a note about the transition and a closing and signature.

In a resignation letter, it’s best practice to thank your manager for your time at the company, provide a date for your last day and offer to aid in making your transition as smooth as possible. Depending on how close your work relationships are, you may also leave your personal contact information for your manager and coworkers to reach you.

Resigning effective immediately is only acceptable in situations where the employee has no other choice (i.e., an employee’s future company demands an immediate start date). In such cases, employees can apologize for the short notice and offer a brief explanation. Otherwise, the expectation is that an employee gives at least a two weeks’ notice prior to leaving.

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