Resigning from a job can come with a wide range of emotions from sadness and guilt, if your experience has been a positive one, to anger and resentment, if your experience has been negative.
However, a resignation letter is not the time to express all of these emotions. Resignation letters are formal, friendly and brief. Although it might momentarily feel good to pour your guts out, this simply isn’t the time. In my two decades of experience placing high-level executives in the gaming and hospitality industries, I’ve seen that moment of satisfaction have permanent repercussions.
Resignation letters become part of your employment file and may be referred back to any time a future employer calls for a reference. And, while you may no longer work with your former colleagues, they will remain a part of your professional network.
Thankfully, there’s a very simple four-part formula for how to write a resignation letter that will allow you to part terms amicably.
Facts up front
Open up by clearly stating that this letter serves as formal notice of your resignation, from what role, and state the date on which the resignation will be effective. In most industries, two weeks notice is standard for low and mid-level employees while a solid four weeks or more is expected of senior executives. Of course, it all depends on company culture. Resignations effective immediately are the norm in certain industries.
Mention why you are leaving (maybe)
If you’re leaving for a positive reason like retirement, relocating for family reasons or going back to school, feel free to mention it. It you’re going to a competitor, there’s no need to let them know. If you choose to do so, keep things general (i.e. “I’ve accepted a senior position with a technology startup”) and certainly don’t name the company.
Say thank you to your employer for the experience you’ve received. No, you don’t have to mean it, but it is absolutely the gracious and appropriate thing to do. If the letter is going to HR, a single sentence of general thanks will suffice. If the letter is going to a boss who you have worked closely with, two to three sentences with some more specific references is a nice gesture.
Don’t leave them hanging
Finish off your letter by noting how you will help facilitate the transition. That might mean interviewing replacements or delivering a final report on the status of all ongoing projects. Offer up whatever assistance is appropriate for your position. Finally, tell your employer to feel free to be in touch regarding any questions following your departure.
The entire letter should only be several sentences long. There’s no mystery to how to how to write a letter of resignation. It’s really that easy!
What have you included in your resignation letters? Share your experiences in the comments below.