6 Jul 2022

How to write a resignation letter

The latest spate of political resignations has led us to contemplate the etiquette of leaving your job, and we have been pondering how to write a good resignation letter. For most of us, resignation will not be met by political fanfare or a media outcry. But it is nevertheless important to write a clear and well-constructed letter and to ensure that your departure is not messy or emotional.

For most of us, a good resignation is all about not burning bridges. Nobody knows exactly where their career will lead, and it is sensible to avoid leaving a trail of bad feeling and recrimination. It is also possible that you will have to go back to your employer at some point for references.

You may well be leaving your job because you have reached the end of your tether, or been badly managed, or repeatedly overlooked for promotion. Unless you are a politician, who is publicly staking his or her claim for a high profile job in the future, it is best to mute your resentment. Try and translate your grievances into something that sounds reasonably positive: “I am looking forward to moving on and taking the skills I have acquired over the last five years to a new level” (I never got the promotion I deserved) or “I am sure I will be able to apply everything I have learnt about teamwork over the last two years in my new role” (our team didn’t function properly).

In most employment situations, you would discuss your resignation with your manager first. Try and prepare what you want to say beforehand and stick to the script. Even if you have been unhappy in your job, try and sound positive and work to stay on good terms with your manager. If he or she argues with your or becomes confrontational, you must try not to deviate from your original posture; reiterate your pre-prepared remarks if necessary.

Once this conversation is over, you should then send your formal resignation letter, or hand it to you manager at the end of the interview. Remember, this letter will be kept on file, so it is best to make it bland and formulaic.

If your manager comes up with a counteroffer, be very cautious. Offering more money is a common reaction to unwelcome news of a resignation, but you must question why a better salary has only been proffered under threat of your departure, not as a reward for a job well done. If you are offered a promotion, think very carefully about the circumstances that have led to this gesture – underlying problems and grievances with the company might still be bubbling under the surface and will come back to haunt you later on.

Reassure your manager that you will work your notice period and do your best to ensure that there is a seamless transition following your resignation. Your imminent departure may generate a giddy sense of freedom and irresponsibility, but you owe it to your employer to ensure that colleagues and your successor are well briefed and ready to take over.

If you really do have well-founded grievances with the company that you are burning to get off your chest, or you feel that it imperative for the well being of your former colleagues to spell out the company’s shortcomings, don’t put them in writing. Even if it is not part of your company’s formal procedures, you can always ask for an exit interview and try and convey your criticisms to your manager. Only do this if you’re confident that you won’t make intemperate remarks and can keep the conversation polite and civilised.

The Main Components of a Resignation Letter

• The letter should include the current date, company name and company address.

• The letter should be addressed to your line manager.

• It should open with a simple statement of your intention to quit: “It is with regret that I tender my resignation from my position as [job title] at [company name]” or “Please accept this letter as formal notification of my resignation from my position as [job title] aat [company name]:

• For the sake of clarity, state your notice period, and specify the date of your departure.

• Give the reason for your departure: the most common reasons cited would be a new job, new opportunities, moving elsewhere, personal reasons (you don’t need to go into detail).

• It is a gracious, but not essential, gesture to thank your employer for the opportunities they have given, and say something positive about your time at the company: “I have enjoyed being part of a great team, and feel proud of the work we did in bringing Project X to fruition”.

•Sign the letter and print your name underneath. You can use the formal sign-off ‘Yours sincerely’, but in most companies it would probably be more appropriate to use a phrase like ‘With best wishes’.


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