When you get a new job, you’re thinking about the future: New responsibilities, a new office, a new title, new coworkers. But you also have to show a little respect to the past, even if it was miserable. That means you may have to write a resignation letter to accompany the more informal discussion you’re going to have with your manager.
HR needs to know your departure date and some forwarding information at the very least, and a professional letter is the best way to make sure they have it. Here’s what to write in this letter, and what to leave out.
What to include in a resignation letter
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There are two things your resignation letter needs, and only two: You should lead with the news that you’re leaving your position and include the date you intend to be your last. Next, according to Indeed, you should express gratitude for your time with your now-former employer.
All of this should be handled as professionally as possible, ideally using a memo template or standard business letter format. Date it, start with a formal salutation, and jump right into the specifics: “Please accept this as my formal resignation from [the company]. My last day will be [date]. I am grateful for all the opportunities I had here and the responsibilities with which you entrusted me.”
You can request a separate meeting or add something about looking forward to discussing and assisting with the transition over the next few days or weeks, but don’t apologize or be too accommodating, especially if there is no chance they could lure you back (or you wouldn’t be interested if they tried).
What not to include in a resignation letter
Your formal resignation letter is not a time for going into detail about why you’re leaving or where you’re headed, advises The Muse. In fact, don’t mention these facts at all in this letter. It’s not a time for airing grievances or getting misty-eyed about your coworkers, either; your goal is to be professional and courteous on your way out and, ideally, keep the place on the roster as a reference in the future. If you have a good relationship with your boss, you can and should tell them about your plans in a one-on-one meeting. But your resignation letter is not the place for it; think of it simply as a formal document your (former) HR department needs.
Finally, even if you’re leaving a place you truly hate, don’t think of this as your chance to burn a bridge. Keep it as plain, straightforward, and professional as possible. If you’re having a hard time keeping your emotions out of it—whether that’s regret or uninhibited joy—have a friend read over it and make some edits before you turn it in.