What Every Resignation Letter Should Include

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When an employee notifies you of the desire to terminate employment with your company, ask for a letter of resignation. You need the resignation letter as an official document for the employee’s personnel file that demonstrates the employment ending was employee-initiated. You need this documentation even if the employee has announced verbally the decision to leave your company.

Contents of a Resignation Letter

Don't ask the employee to document in the resignation letter the reasons he is leaving. In fact, smart employees won’t put anything in a resignation letter that a reader might misconstrue or take personally at a later date. The current reader of the resignation letter, who understands why the person quit, may not be the person relying on the contents of the personnel file to provide a reference sometime down the road.

With easy background checking, smart employees write nothing in a resignation letter that could potentially burn any bridges when they move on to a new job—even if they have bad feelings for the company they are leaving or want to air grievances. Keeping each former employer as a potential job reference is much more important than the momentary feeling of playing “gotcha” with their current employer.

The resignation letter, in its simplest form, states that the employee is resigning and gives the final date of employment. Generally, an employee states in the letter that he is providing the current employer with two weeks' notice; for a positive employment reference in the future, two weeks' notice is essential. A slightly more in-depth resignation letter provides details about why the employee is leaving, such as the opportunities available in the new position.

Handling the Two-Week Notice

Assuming that the employee is valued and leaving your company in a positive manner, most employers are happy to have the employee finish working their two weeks after turning in the resignation letter.

However, if you are concerned about an exiting employee’s access to confidential information or computer equipment, or the impact of the resignation on co-worker morale, it is best to walk the employee out of the company upon receiving the resignation letter.

Some employers ask the employee to complete an exit interview before the two weeks are done. It can be a good opportunity to get feedback on your organization, practices, compensation, and culture.

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