What to Include in a Resignation Letter to Quit a Job

Letter of resignation
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Once you have decided to quit your job, the professional thing to do is submit a letter of resignation. Your resignation letter will ease the transition over the next two weeks at the job, and will also help you maintain a positive relationship with your employer even after you are no longer with the company. 

Keep it Short and Simple

When writing a resignation letter, it's important to keep it as simple, brief, and focused as possible. The letter should also be positive. If you have made the decision to move on, there's no point in criticizing your employer or your job.

Your letter of resignation should include information on when you are leaving. You can also let the employer know you appreciate your time with the company. If you're not sure what to write, review resignation letter samples to get ideas for how to structure and word your letter.

What to Include in Your Resignation Letter

  • The fact that you are leaving and date when your resignation is effective.
  • A thank you to your employer for the opportunities you have had during your employment.

It's usually better to resign in person, and then follow up with a formal resignation letter. However, if you need to send a resignation email, write it as professionally as you would a resignation letter on paper. Here's how to send an email resignation message.

Regardless of why you are resigning or how you feel about it, if you mention the reason you are leaving, make sure that you do not include anything negative or disparaging about the company, your supervisor, your co-workers, or your subordinates.

This letter will be included in your employment file and could be shared with potential future employers; therefore, it should be professional and polite.

Resignation Letter Writing Tips

Although under some circumstances, such as a cross-country move or a decision to focus on parenting, it may make sense to disclose the reason for your resignation, in many cases sharing the details about why you are resigning is not necessary.

In general, keeping your resignation letter brief and to the point is advantageous. While it's not required, offering to help during the transitional period and weeks following is generally appreciated.

To make sure your resignation letter contains all the right details, and none of the wrong information, review these resignation letter writing tips before you submit your resignation.

Guidelines for Writing and Formatting Your Letter

 Kelly Miller. © The Balance 2018

Resignation Letter Length: Keep your letter of resignation concise; you do not want to write pages and pages about your new job or why you dislike your current one. Most resignation letters are no more than one typed page.

Font and Size: Use a traditional font such as Times New Roman, Arial, or Calibri. Your font size should be between 10 and 12 points.

Format: A resignation letter should be single-spaced with a space between each paragraph. Use about 1" margins and align your text to the left (the alignment for most business documents).

Accuracy: Be sure to edit your resignation letter before mailing it. Show your resignation letter to a career counselor or ask a friend to review it if you want someone else to check it over for you.

Email or Mail?: It is always best to resign in person, and then follow up by sending a letter of resignation. However, if circumstances do not allow you to speak to your manager in person and you need to let them know right away, you can send a resignation email. This email should follow the same guidelines as a formal resignation letter.

How to Organize a Resignation Letter

Header: A resignation letter should begin with both you and the employer's contact information (name, title, company name, address, phone number, email) followed by the date. If this is an email rather than an actual letter, include your contact information at the end of the letter, after your signature.

Salutation: Address the resignation letter to your manager. Use his or her formal title ("Dear Mr./Mrs./Dr. XYZ)

Paragraph 1: State that you are resigning and include the date on which your resignation will be effective. Check your contract to see how much notice you are required to give your manager.

Paragraph 2: (Optional) If you want, you can say why you are leaving (i.e. you are beginning another job, you are going back to school, you are taking time off), but this is not necessary. If you do choose to say why you are leaving, be positive - focus on where you are going next, not on what you disliked about your current job.

Paragraph 3: (Optional) Unless you know you will be completely unavailable, say that you are willing to help with the transition that your leaving will cause.

Paragraph 5: (Optional) If you would like a letter of reference from your manager, you can ask for it here.

Paragraph 4: (Optional) Thank your manager for the opportunity to work for the company. If you had a particularly good experience, you can go into a bit more detail about what you appreciate about the job (the people you worked with, the projects you worked on, etc).

Close: Use a kind but formal signoff, such as "Sincerely" or "Yours Sincerely."

Signature: End with your signature, handwritten, followed by your typed name. If this is an email, simply include your typed name, followed by your contact information.

Resignation Letter Example

This is a resignation letter example. Download the resignation letter template (compatible with Google Docs and Word Online) or see below for more examples.

Screenshot of a resignation letter example
©TheBalance 2018
Download the Word Template

Resignation Letter Example (Text Version)

Steve Lau
123 Main Street
Anytown, CA 12345
555-555-5555
steve.lau@email.com

September 1, 2018

Ginger Lee
Manager
Watson and Smith
123 Business Rd.
Business City, NY 54321

Dear Ms. Lee:

I’m writing today to notify you that I will be resigning my position as receptionist effective two weeks from today. I have enjoyed my time here at Watson and Smith, and I thank you for the opportunity and training you have provided over the past five years.

Please contact me with any questions, and I will be happy to help with any preparations you need to bring in a new receptionist. My email is steve.lau@email.com, and my cell phone is 555-555-5555.

Sincerely,

Steve Lau (signature hard copy letter)

Steve Lau

What Not to Include in Your Letter

If you disliked the job, there is no need to say so in your letter. You do not want to make any enemies - after all, you may need to ask your manager for a recommendation.

If you plan on making any sort of legal claim against your employer for wrongful treatment, etc., it may be in your best interest to leave out this section. Here's a list of what not to include in a resignation letter.