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How to write a resignation letter competently

If you are in the process of resigning from your job, you need to know how to write a resignation letter. In the first instance, you may imagine that this is the easiest step in the world because, basically, all you have to say is that you’re leaving but, unfortunately, there is a lot more to writing a resignation letter than that.

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  • Even though you are thrilled to be getting away from your boss who may be a bully, never be tempted to write a resignation letter that vents your feelings at them. The reason for this is that your dreadful boss may have to supply a reference for you. Telling them a few home truths will not help you to get a great reference. Additionally, your resignation letter will be sitting in the company files for a long time. You don’t want other people to see it. Furthermore, satisfying as your sarcasm might be whilst your boss’s treatment of you is hot, that feeling won’t last and you could find your own letter embarrassing. A great way to get over this is to write a resignation letter that allows you to let rip and then destroy it and move forward to producing a professional one.
  • Don’t compare your old company in derogatory terms against the new company that you are going to work for, no matter how tempting it is. In essence, you never know when you want to return to the company that you are leaving.
  • Don’t send out a few hastily typed words thinking that it no longer matters what they think of you. Basically, it is always better to leave in a positive way than one that smells like sour milk.

There are many different types of resignation letters. Below are just a few examples why an employee might write a resignation letter. It would be impossible to list everything in an article of this size.

  • Basic letter
  • Short notice letter
  • Retirement letter
  • Personal reasons letter
  • Career change letter
  • Maternity leave letter

Although your letter is the end of your time with the company, don’t be tempted to let standards drop.

  • Always make sure that you have written your name and address in the top left hand corner of the page.
  • It is also essential that you miss a space and put the date of your letter directly underneath your name and address. This is particularly important in a resignation letter as Human Resources will need to know when it was sent.
  • Leave a gap and on the right hand side type the name and address of the person you are sending it to. In this instance, the address will be that of the company at which you are employed.
  • Leave another line space and then write your greetings – this should be started with Dear and then followed by the name of the person that you are addressing. Under no circumstances should you be tempted to put Dear Sir or Madam because you already work for the company and should whom you are addressing.

Use the first sentence to make your intentions clear. It is no use being flowery so that your boss or HR have not got the faintest idea what you are talking about until they get to the bottom of the page. You should inform the reader of the position that you wish to leave and the date that you intend to leave. In some cases, two weeks’ notice is the official requirement and in some it is one working month. You should check your contract before you write your resignation letter. For instance:

Dear Mr Peters

I am writing to inform you formally that I am resigning from my position as Head of English at the Bronte College of Literature. My final day will be April 24th 2018.

In the next paragraph, it is a good idea to demonstrate how thankful you are to have worked in the position. If at this point, you read that and your jaw drops because the job has been less than desirable, remember what was mentioned earlier – references or maybe even returning to the company. It useful to mention specifically some of the duties that you have enjoyed doing or even anything that has been a useful learning experience for you. This will make your letter appear more genuine. For instance,

“I wish to thank you for the wonderful opportunity that you gave me when employing me as Head of English at your college. I have enjoyed many wonderful experiences coordinating the college Shakespeare Festival and have learned so much whilst editing the college magazine. All of these skills and experiences will help me in my future career.”

In the next paragraph, you need to make it clear that your heart will be in the job up until the very last moment. In other words, you will ensure that all the paperwork is up to date where possible and it will be easy for anyone taking over your job to step into your position because everything will be tidy and organised. Incidentally, don’t make any rash promises that you cannot keep. This will make you stressed and also leave you looking like you don’t keep your word. For instance,

“During my final month at the college, I will make sure that I leave all my records clear and organized and I will do everything possible to help with a smooth transition. If you wish to discuss any particular requirements that you may have, please let me know.”

After that, you should wish the company success in the future and also indicate that you will still keep in contact with them. Even though you may not feel like saying this, it brings about a positive closure and will leave you in an encouraging light.

“The college has proved such an inspirational place to me and so I hope it continues with every success in the future. It does not need to be said that I will stay in contact and also follow the college’s progress with enthusiasm.”

You should end your letter with ‘yours sincerely’. Do not use ‘yours faithfully’ as this only applicable if you don’t know the name of the person that you are addressing. In other words, if you began your letter Dear Sir or Madam. Also, even if you know the person that you’ve written the letter to quite well, it is better to avoid ‘kind regards’ or ‘best wishes’ in this instance. The reason being that the letter is a formal one and therefore traditional closure should be adhered to.

We have now covered how to write a resignation letter in the blanket sense. If you have other circumstances; you can work these into the basic letter.

  • Short notice letter - if you can’t work the required notice, you should apologise and explain why. You don’t have to go into great personal detail, a couple of sentences will suffice. For instance, “I apologize for the short notice but due to health reasons I cannot work the required two weeks.”
  • Retirement letter - You can use the basic letter mostly and simply explain that you are retiring. If you are a particularly active person that loves their job, you may wish to offer your services as a freelance on a part time basis or as a consultant. “After spending many successful years with the company, although I am retiring, I am happy to offer my services on a limited basis as a consultant. If you would like to discuss this, please contact me. “
  • Personal reasons letter – In this case you would follow the basic letter but offer your regret at leaving and briefly explain, for instance, that your husband is ill and you need to look after him full time. “It is with the greatest regret that I need to leave my job but feel that I have no other choice as my husband’s illness requires full time care.”
  • Career change letter – in this type of missive, you would explain that although you have greatly enjoyed and benefitted from your current position, you have always been interested in the other field e.g. teaching children with special needs and now feel that the time has come to explore that. “It is with the greatest sadness that I have to resign from my administration post with you but I have always been interested in teaching children with special needs. As I have recently qualified from the distance course I have been studying and an opportunity has arisen in this field, I now feel that this is the time to make the career change.”
  • Maternity leave letter – If you are leaving your position because you wish to stay at home looking after your baby for a period of time, you can use the basic letter but simply announce that you hope for quality time with your newly born child. “Working for the company has brought me experience, inspiration and joy. I now feel, however, that the time has come to get that from my latest project – my child. Spending time with my baby is something that I can never get back if I miss out on it. I, therefore, regret to announce that I will not be returning to work after the birth of my child for the foreseeable future.”

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