How to write a resignation letter | Samples and templates

Thinking of changing careers or taking a break from your current job? Learn how to write the perfect resignation letter.

How to write a resignation letter heading


Do you want to make a change in your career? Learn how to write a resignation letter you can be proud of with our practical guide, including templates and further information on courses to help.

Our guide to writing a resignation letter will give you the skills to help you leave your current employer confident that you’ve done so on the best terms. This will help you maintain beneficial industry connections that can serve your career well in the future.

We’ve also included two resignation letter templates suitable for both simple and more formal situations, so you can be sure you have the tools you need to move forward in your new career.

When to change your career

They say a change is as good as a rest, and people at all stages of their careers can find themselves looking for new opportunities for a variety of reasons, both professional and personal.

While this might be the best time for you to take the plunge, many professionals are still concerned about how to write a resignation letter and exactly what it should contain. It can be uncomfortable to confront the reality of leaving behind a familiar environment, well-respected colleagues and the security of an established role.

If you are in the process of exploring your career options, the FutureLearn Career Mapper can help you evaluate your options and set realistic goals.

Perhaps you have already invested in yourself, improved your CV through further education or upskilled by taking online qualifications or short courses. Now is the right time to step into the role you’ve been aiming for.

Or perhaps you are interested in achieving a better work-life balance by moving into a more fulfilling position? Indeed, as we know at FutureLearn, personal and professional achievement should not be mutually exclusive. Take a look at our Workplace Wellbeing: Stress and Productivity at Work course by Manchester Metropolitan University to find out more about finding the balance.

Sometimes the grass really is greener. This concept is explored in more detail in Welltodo’s ExpertTrack course: Job Opportunities in Wellness.

When do you have to hand in your resignation letter?

If you are leaving your current job to retire or for family, educational or personal reasons, you can hand in your resignation as soon as you have made the decision. Even if you’re traveling for personal reasons, it’s still a good idea not to burn any bridges. Therefore, a professional and polite termination is still just as important.

However, if you are looking to transition to new employment, it is advisable to wait until you have applied for and been offered a new position before officially resigning. If you haven’t had much experience applying for new positions, online courses are available to help sharpen your application and interview skills before you begin your search.

Check out the University of Sheffield’s business skills courses, including How to Success at: Writing Applications and CQ University Australia’s comprehensive Work Ready Skills course.

Once you have received written confirmation of a new job offer, you should submit your resignation as soon as possible. This allows your current employer to quickly begin the recruitment process for your replacement. Crucially, it also allows you to give your new employer a precise start date so you can start your new role.

What is the purpose of a resignation letter?

At its core, a resignation letter is an official document that informs your employer that you are leaving the employment of that company. The formal resignation letter may be the first time the employer is aware of your decision, or you may have already told your manager/employer and the letter is only a formality for Human Resources (HR) purposes.

It is generally considered polite to informally inform your manager of your intention to resign and then follow up with an official resignation letter.

Regardless of the precise reasons or circumstances for your decision to resign, it is considered wise to write a polite and concise resignation letter. This document may be retained and considered if your previous employer is contacted for a reference or to check the dates of your employment.

If you plan to highlight your previous employer on your resume or cover letter in future applications, you’ll want to make sure they have all the information necessary to provide you with a useful and accurate reference.

For further information on developing your CV or cover letter skills, why not look at some of the relevant courses available on FutureLearn, such as the University of Leeds essential skills course in career development or the University of Sheffield short skills course on succeeding at Interviews .

What makes a good resignation letter?

It is wise to consider what not to say in a professional resignation letter. Some things are best left unsaid. You may leave your current employment because there are aspects of the company you don’t like, or there may have been problems in your role.

Your resignation letter[3] is not the appropriate format for sending complaints. You must remember that the termination letter is an official document that is kept. If you wish to discuss any specific issues or disagreements, it is preferable to request a face-to-face meeting where you can calmly discuss any unresolved details or pass on feedback. There is often an opportunity for an ‘exit conversation’ precisely for this reason.

Even if your resignation letter is about you leaving your employment, it can still be an effective tool that reflects well on you as an individual and leaves an indelible record of your time with the company. Therefore, it is wise to do it right and use it as part of your overall career development.

If you are interested in how you can use opportunities to develop your career, Goldsmiths University, London, discuss this on their course — Prepare for Career Success.

Resignation letter templates

Below are a few ideas of what to include in your resignation letter and some helpful templates. With our guide, you shouldn’t have any problems when it comes to writing your own.

Simple/informal

If you have only worked for the company for a short period of time, or if your position is a junior or part-time position, you may not feel the need to write a long or elaborate formal resignation letter. If you are in a junior position and you want to move to a position with more responsibility, take a look at this ‘next step’ guide called — ‘How to’ to get your dream job.

If you believe that only an informal or straightforward resignation letter is required, use the following simple format either via email or hard copy:

  • Name and date
  • Notice of your intention to resign
  • Date you are leaving
  • Short expression of gratitude for the opportunity to work in the company
  • Your signature

Example of a simple resignation letter

Mrs. Smith
32 Bachelor gardens
York
YO32 657
2 July 2022

Dear Mr Jones,

Please accept this letter as notification that I will be leaving my position with X Company on August 2nd. I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for the opportunity to work at X Company.

Yours sincerely,

Mrs. Smith

Formal and professional

For roles that function in a more professional capacity, offer your formal resignation letter in a way that conveys the seniority of your position and your intention to leave the company professionally and graciously.

If you’re unsure about structuring a formal letter, courses are available to guide you, including the University of Michigan’s writing and editing courses in structure and organization, and word choice and word order.

The following points outline the essential elements of a professional resignation letter:

  • Use formal letterhead or your company email address
  • Name and date
  • Specify who the letter is addressed to – you may need to notify more than one person/department
  • Notice of your clear intention to resign
  • The date you want to leave – acknowledges any contractual obligations
  • Next steps – including transition, security policies and any outstanding projects
  • Express gratitude for your time with the company and any career development opportunities
  • Your signature

Example of professional resignation letter

Mrs. Smith
32 Bachelor gardens
York
YO32 657
2 July 2022

Dear Mr Jones,

Please accept this letter as my official intention to resign my position as XXX at XXX [company]. In accordance with the notice period in my contract, my last day will be XXX [date of last day including the name of the weekday].

I would like to thank you for the opportunity to have worked in the position/sector previously [number of months/years at the company]. I have learned a lot during my time at XXX [company] and have enjoyed working with my team. While I’m excited for my next move, I’m sad to leave my team and I’m proud of our work. I will look back on my time here as a valuable period in my career.

During the transition period, I will do everything I can to make the transfer of my projects as easy as possible. I will support the team as best I can to hand over my excellent work effectively to colleagues or my replacement. Please let me know if there is anything more I can do to help the process or if you would like to discuss anything further.

Once again I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for my time at XXX and I wish you and the team all the best.

Yours sincerely

Mrs. Smith

Drafting your own resignation letter

Use the templates above to create your own unique resignation letter that takes into account the sector you work in, your position, the person receiving the letter and whether they require any industry-specific information.

Once you’ve written your formal termination letter, print a copy for your records or email it to your personal account. If you are working with a notice period, you should not be treated differently by your colleagues, although you may find that new work and projects are diverted to other team members. It is important to remain professional at all times while working your notice period.

Final thoughts

A well-crafted, polite and professional resignation letter can help you leave your current role on a positive note. It will also set the tone for a possible mutually supportive role with the company and your former colleagues in the future – you never know when your paths may cross again.

Resigning from a role that you’ve outgrown or that isn’t right for you can be a positive step forward in your chosen career path. FutureLearn offers short courses, online degrees, micro-credentials and ExpertTracks to enable users to master specialist skills.

If you’re looking to make a career change and leave your current role, check out FutureLearn’s range of articles and online courses for inspiration and next steps, including How to change careers and 7 skills employers of the future will be looking for.

William

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