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How to write a resignation letter

15th April 2020

Typing on Laptop

Whether you are leaving to pursue your dream and enter one of the many legal jobs available, or you simply have found the role you are in is no longer what you want it to be, writing a resignation letter can be tough.

Although a simple task, being able to craft a resignation letter that is professional yet sincere is not easy. If you are currently in the process of resigning or thinking about it and want to know more about the method, this article can help you pen the resignation letter you need to move on.

What does a resignation letter need to contain?

  • A clear statement that you will be leaving the role.
  • Your intended final working day, and preferably the length of your notice period also.
  • A note as to why you’ll be leaving the role.
  • Your full name, and the date that you hand the letter in.

It is always preferable to hand-deliver your resignation letter if possible, however, in modern times when many people work remotely, some may find that an email is more appropriate. In these situations, we would still advise forwarding a physical copy of your resignation to your employer for them to keep on file.

Although a resignation letter should contain the above, there are extra things you also may like to add. Read on to find out more.

Tips on writing a resignation letter

Letter in Envelope

Don’t burn your bridges

Even if you are leaving a role you are sure you wouldn’t want to take up again, do not burn your bridges. When leaving employment on bad terms, it can be tempting to feel as though you want to use your resignation letter to speak your mind, however, ensuring you leave in the best position possible is imperative.

It’s often been said that the world is a small place, and you never know the significance that a past employer may have in your future. Whether just the difference between a placeholder reference and a personalised one, or even the chance they have a connection with a future employer of yours, not burning your bridges pays off in the long run.

Cultivation Culture has this to say on the matter: “You never know when a former colleague will turn out to be a future interviewer or a potential referral at your dream job.

“Your resignation letter should serve as more of a “goodbye for now” rather than an end to your working story with your colleagues.

“You definitely want to be honest and clear about your resignation plans, but you should make an effort to ensure that your letter mentions the possibility of working together again.

“This is where the tone of your letter plays a critical role. If you focus on the positives, express gratitude for your growth, and make it clear that you’re happy to put in the work to ensure a smooth transition, you should be in a great place to pick up the relationship in the future.”

Be honest

Although you shouldn’t burn your bridges, you should be honest. If you are leaving a company due to a certain issue, this is the time to discuss that. By bringing it up, you’ll be able to help others who it is potentially affecting in a negative way. When discussing it, be as formal and unbiased as possible. Make sure you are voicing it so the company can set the course right for the future, and not as a way to spite them.

Juanita from Half Full not Empty explains: “When writing a resignation letter, it's important that you are clear with your reasons for resigning as this will help your employer address any employee wellbeing issues which other colleagues may be experiencing in silence.”

Thank the employer

Antonette from She Owns Success told us: “Express gratitude for the opportunity. Even if things didn't work out as planned, try to find something you're thankful for. Maybe you've had the chance to learn a new skill, learn something about yourself or you've simply met and worked with some good colleagues.”

Juanita agreed: “Make sure to end the contract on the best terms as possible with your employer. Do so by either complimenting something you enjoyed at the company and/or thank them for their time and the ability to develop your expertise whilst working for them.”

Be brief and focused

Meeting with boss

A resignation does not need to be an essay. Some can feel that having a short letter may feel disingenuous or insincere, however, as an official document, there is no reason it needs to be lengthy. Remember, anything that doesn’t need to be written down can still be discussed in person whilst resigning. Your resignation letter is for your permanent file, so everything that is in it is, to an extent, ‘public’, make sure you are comfortable with it being so.

Ogugua from My Job Mag told us: “When writing a resignation letter, it is important to keep it as simple, brief and focused as possible. Remember to be politely formal rather than being over-friendly or rude. And remember to always thank the company for the opportunity to serve.”

Discuss your handover plans

Although there may be a lot on your mind whilst resigning, the main thing that will be on your employer’s mind is how they might fill the gap you leave until the next person is employed.

This is why if you are able to outline a handover plan this can be a great help. Especially in office jobs where you have processes to follow and a lot on at once, creating a transition document can be a great help to your employer. If you have leeway with the date on which you leave as well, offering to train your replacement can go a long way.

This way, you know you’ll be leaving the role in safe hands, and you’ll also leave the company on a good note, with the last memory of you being all of the help you offered during the transition period.

Tips for writing a resignation letter:

  • Don’t burn your bridges
  • Be honest
  • Thank the employer
  • Be brief and focused
  • Discuss your handover plans

These tips may be small but can go a long way towards making sure your resignation is the best it can be. Whether you are taking up a dream job in law, or simply moving on for personal reasons, your resignation letter is a good time to show the best side of yourself.