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You’re moving on. And whether your reasons are professional or personal, you have to make your departure official. Although resignation letters may seem outdated, even in 2020 one is often necessary when announcing your intention to leave your current post. A good resignation letter template can be of great help here – and you’ll find one below.
Before I give you the template, however, I want to familiarise you with a few rules that surround job resignations.
While writing a letter of resignation isn’t brain surgery, it can be stressful both to compose and to deliver.
The more familiar you are with “dos” and “don’ts” of resignation, the quicker and smoother the process will be. So, there are some rules of the road I want you to consider.
As a sidenote, if you’re about to submit your resignation letter, chances are, you either have your next job already lined up or – more likely – you’ve just started to actively search for one.
If you’re in the latter category, keep in mind that your success in the job market depends, to a large extent, on the quality of your resume.
I suggest you consider using my resume writing services for mid-career professionals or my bespoke branding services for senior business leaders) – we’ve helped hundreds of candidates land superb roles in Sydney, Melbourne and beyond).
Do This Before You Submit Your Resignation Letter.
Before you compose your resignation letter, it’s wise to have “that” conversation with your boss. You know … the one where you say you’re quitting, which isn’t always a comfortable conversation to have.
The reason you want to speak with your boss first is so that you can hammer out the details in advance. This will save you from having to edit your letter of resignation for resubmission.
There are three details you want to cover off on during your discussion with your boss:
- Discuss your last day. Unless your date is firm, there may be some give and take here. If you’re unsure what the protocol is at your company around how much notice you need to give, ask someone in HR ahead of time. (Exception: If you suspect you will be “walked” as soon as you give notice, adjust your timeline accordingly. This could mean that you don’t give notice until your intended last day and that you’ll have to present your resignation letter during the discussion with your boss).
- Disuss the work handover. Who is going to take over what, and how will you transfer that knowledge to them? Finalise this with your boss and then reference the transition plan in your resignation letter at the highest level possible (see example in the resignation letter template below).
- Discuss anything else you want your boss to know about your reasons for leaving, but don’t want to go “on record” with. More about what doesn’t belong in your resignation letter is up next.
What A Resignation Letter Is Not.
Thematically, avoid having your letter of resignation fall into one of these categories:
- The “light this job on fire” letter. Even if your experience left a lot to be desired, take the high road and don’t vent in your resignation letter. Let’s face it, you will need reference letters in the future, so why go out of your way to burn bridges?
- The “here’s why I’m history” letter. As mentioned earlier, regardless of your circumstances, a resignation letter is not the place to emphasize your reasons for leaving. This should be communicated in person to your boss—before you send the letter.
- The “nearly nonexistent” letter. Yes, you should be brief but not to the point of being rude. If you send a one-sentence letter that reads, “I’m resigning and my last day is next Friday,” you’re basically saying, “I don’t care what you think.”
Here’s how it breaks down in practical terms.
8 Things To Leave Out Of Your Resignation Letter.
Here’s a list of definite no-go areas:
- Where you’re going. It doesn’t matter if you’re going to a competitor, or to care for an elderly parent. It’s none of their business and doesn’t need to be documented.
- Emotional or critical commentary about the role you’re exiting, your boss or the company. Unless you’re prepared to write an Op-Ed for the New York Times, of course.
- Details about other HR-related aspects of your employment such as your final check, when your insurance ends, etc. Handle these in a separate communication.
- Your thoughts on who should replace you. You’re out of there, right? Let it go.
- Suggestions for the role, your boss or the company on how things could have been better. Save this for your exit interview with HR.
- A request for a reference or any other type of professional favour. Ask in person, or send an email.
- Promises to help after you’ve started your new role, or any other promises to your boss. Don’t let them guilt you. Instead, focus on landing your next job.
- Anything personal. Even if you have something heartfelt to say, it’s best to say it in person versus writing it down for posterity.
Fortunately, what you SHOULD include is much more straightforward than what to avoid.
9 Things To Include In Your Resignation Letter.
I strongly recommend that you stick to the bare facts:
- The date.
- Your supervisor’s full name and title.
- Your intention to resign.
- Your job title.
- Your last day.
- Your transition plan.
- Your positive impressions of your time there (optional).
- Your “thank you.”
- Your contact information.
Resignation Letter Template.
Here’s an example that you could use as a resignation letter template:
To: David Crosby, Sr. Director of Sales and Marketing, XYZ Pty Ltd.
From: Jane Mansfield, firstname.lastname@example.org; mobile: 0422 000 111
May 13th, 2020
Effective March 1, 2020, I will be resigning from my post as Senior Manager of Sales and Marketing at XYZ. As per our conversation, I will spend the next two weeks transitioning my projects to Margaret and my list of client leads to Peter.
During my tenure here, I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to grow this department and influence its processes. No doubt, I will use the skills I’ve gained here throughout my career. Thank you.
All the best to you, the team and the company in the future.
Although the letter above communicates a positive highlight of Jane’s work experience, doing so is optional. If you don’t have anything positive to say, don’t say anything at all.
Delivering Your Resignation Letter.
Ask your boss or your HR person what the preferred method of delivery is. This doesn’t mean you have to follow their lead. You may feel called to deliver your letter differently.
- Hand-delivering your letter.
- Snail mailing your letter.
Either way, make sure you sign it.
You can also email your letter (attach it as a PDF) to your human resources department, copying your boss. To keep your resignation letter secure, don’t send a word document or any other format that can be edited by someone else, hence the suggestion for a PDF.
If, for some reason, you’re not able to meet with your boss in advance of writing your letter of resignation, make a simple offer to help with the transition either in person or via email.
Your Resignation Letter Should Not Be Emotional.
Don’t write your resignation letter when you’re angry or upset. Get centred and calm. Even if you’re leaving a negative situation, feel good about where you’re headed, as well as the lessons you’ve learned along the way.
If you’re tempted to burn a bridge, sleep on it. If you’re pressed for time, at least take a few deep breaths or go outside for a short walk before you put pen to paper, so to speak.
My best advice is to keep your resignation letter succinct and professional. After all, you never know when you might cross paths with a past boss or colleague in your professional life again.
Remember that it takes years to build a reputation, but it can be ruined in moments. Take the longer-term view and keep your personal brand in mind.
Need further guidance, or want to talk through your individual circumstances or unique value proposition? Don’t hesitate to reach out.
And finally, congratulations on this milestone in your career journey. Continue to be true to yourself. Because, as William Arthur Ward once said:
Happiness is an inside job.