Thinking of changing careers or taking a break from your current job? Learn how to write the perfect letter of resignation.
Are you looking to make a change in your career? Learn how to write a resignation letter to be proud of with our handy guide, including templates and further information on courses that can help.
Our guide to writing a resignation letter will provide you with the skills to help you leave your current employer, confident in the knowledge that you have done so on the best terms. This will help you maintain beneficial industry connections that may serve your career well in the future.
We have also included two resignation letter templates, suitable for both simple and more formal situations, so you can be assured you have the necessary tools to move forward in your new career.
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When to change your career
They say a change is as good as a rest, and people at all stages of their careers may find themselves looking for new opportunities for a variety of reasons, both professional and personal.
Even though it may be the best time for you to make the leap, many professionals still feel apprehensive about how to write a resignation letter and precisely what it should include. 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 been investing in yourself, improving your CV through further education, or upskilling by taking online qualifications or short courses. Now is the right time to move into the role you have 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 should you hand in your resignation letter?
If you are going to leave your current employment to take retirement or for family, educational, or personal reasons, you can hand in your resignation as soon as you make the decision. Even if you are leaving for personal reasons, it is still a good idea not to burn any bridges. Hence, a professional and courteous resignation is still just as important.
However, if you are looking to move to new employment, it is advisable to wait until you have applied and been offered a new role before resigning officially. If you have not had much experience applying for new positions, online courses are available to help sharpen your application and interview skills before you begin your search.
Once you have received written confirmation of a new job offer, you should tender your resignation as soon as possible. This allows your current employer to begin the recruitment process for your replacement quickly. Crucially, it also enables you to give your new employer a precise start date so you can start your new role.
What is the purpose of a letter of resignation?
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 commonly considered polite to informally advise your manager of your intention to resign and then follow up with an official letter of resignation.
Whatever the exact reasons or circumstances for your decision to resign, it is considered prudent to write a polite and concise resignation letter. This document may be kept on file and considered if your previous employer is approached for a reference or to check the dates of your employment.
If you plan to feature your previous employer on your CV or cover letter in future applications, you will want to ensure they have all the necessary information to provide you with a helpful and accurate reference.
For further information about developing your CV or cover letter skills, why not look into 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’s short skills course on how to Succeed at Interviews.
What makes a good resignation letter?
It is wise to consider what you shouldn’t say in the context of a professional resignation letter. Some things are best left unsaid. You may be leaving your current employment because there are aspects of the company you don’t like, or there may have been problems within your role.
Your letter of resignation is not the appropriate format to air grievances. You must remember that the resignation letter is an official document that will be kept on file. If you want to discuss any specific issues or matters of disagreement, it is preferable to ask for a face-to-face meeting, where you can calmly discuss any unresolved details or pass on feedback. There is often the opportunity for an ‘exit interview’ for this very reason.
Although 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 at the company. Therefore, it is wise to get it right and use it as part of your overall career development.
If you’re interested in how to use opportunities to develop your career, Goldsmiths University, London, discuss this in their course — Prepare for Career Success.
Resignation letter templates
Below are a few ideas of what to include in your resignation letter and some useful templates. With our guidance, you should have no problems when it comes to writing your own.
If you have only worked at the company for a short period, or if your position is a junior or part-time position, you may not feel it is necessary to write a long or in-depth formal resignation letter. If you are in a junior position and you’re looking to move to a position with more responsibility, take a look at this ‘next steps’ guide called — The ‘how’ of landing your dream job.
If you are satisfied that only an informal or straightforward resignation letter is required, then use the following simple format either by email or hardcopy:
- Name and date
- Notice of your intention to resign
- Date you will be leaving
- Brief expression of gratitude for the opportunity of working at the company
- Your signature
Example simple resignation letter
32 Bachelor Gardens
July 2, 2022
Dear Mr Jones,
Please accept this letter as notification that I am leaving my position with X Company on August 2nd. I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for the opportunity to have worked at X Company.
Formal and professional
For roles that operate in a more professional capacity, you need to 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 have any doubts about structuring a formal letter, courses are available to guide you, including The University of Michigan’s writing and editing skills 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 business email address
- Name and date
- State who the letter addresses — you may need to notify more than one person/department
- Notice of your clear intention to resign
- Date you will be leaving — recognising any contractual obligations
- Next steps — including transition, security policies, and any outstanding projects
- Expression of gratitude for your time at the company and any career development opportunities
- Your signature
Example professional resignation letter
32 Bachelor Gardens
July 2, 2022
Dear Mr Jones,
Please accept this letter as my official intention to resign from my position as XXX with XXX [company]. In accordance with the notice period set out in my contract, my final 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 for the past [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. Although I am excited about my next move, I am sad to be leaving 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 what I can to make the handover of my projects as easy as possible. I’ll support the team however I can to hand over my outstanding work effectively to colleagues or my replacement. Please let me know if there is anything more I can do to assist the process or if you would like to discuss anything further.
Once again, I would like to take the opportunity to thank you for my time at XXX, and I wish you, and the team, all the best.
Crafting your own letter of resignation
Using the templates above, craft 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 have written your formal letter of resignation, you should print off a copy for your records or email it to your personal account. If you are working a notice period, you should not be treated any differently by your colleagues, though you may find new work and projects are diverted to other team members. It is essential to remain professional at all times as you work your notice period.
A well-crafted, polite, and professional resignation letter can help you exit your current role positively. It will also set the tone for a possible mutually supportive role with the company and your previous colleagues in the future — after all, you never know when your paths may cross again.
Resigning from a role that you have outgrown or that is not the right fit for you can be a positive step forward on your chosen career path. FutureLearn offers short courses, online degrees, microcredentials and ExpertTracks to enable users to master specialist skills.
If you are looking to make a career change and resign from 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.