At some point, you’re going to need to write a resignation letter. Maybe you have to quit because this toxic job is driving you insane, and you’re leaving to teach yoga in Antarctica. Maybe you got a great new job—yay! Or maybe your political scandal is about to hit TMZ, and you need to find a way to say you’re sorry and leaving to spend more time with your family. Whatever the circumstances, a good resignation letter is pretty similar across the board.
Here are six basic steps to follow when it’s time to say goodbye so you can make sure you’re quiting your job with style and class.
1. Be positive that this is what you want.
If you have a new gig lined up, that’s pretty definitive. But if you don’t, make sure you’re not doing this as a passing whim. There are no backsies once you put something in writing. And even if you manage to say “just kidding” and rescind your resignation, that’s not going to create much trust or goodwill among the powers that be.
2. If possible, give your boss a heads up.
A quick meeting to let him or her know that you’re leaving is a nice courtesy. It can help ease the cold, hard facts in the email or letter to follow. It can also make your transition out easier, if he or she feels looped in and not blindsided by the news. After all, this person is one of the people most likely to be directly impacted by your leaving.
3. Pick your format.
Some companies might require a formal paper letter. Others might not have any specific rules—in which case an email to your boss is probably fine. Do a little due diligence with HR before you drop the official note.
4. Hit all the necessary paper trail points.
Your resignation letter should include a statement of the facts surrounding your departure, but only the ones that pertain directly to your job ending.
- I’m leaving the company. (The reason is not necessary to include.)
- I will be leaving on X date. (Check your company’s policy to see if there’s minimum notice you need to give.)
- I will be available to help with the transition until that date.
5. Check to make sure the tone is neutral.
Don’t talk about how excited you are about your new job, or how much you hated your current job by the end. This letter is not a place for venting, bus-throwing, or grudge-ing. It wouldn’t hurt to show mild regret that you’re leaving, even if that part is ever so slightly disingenuous.
6. Proofread it.
This is going to be part of your official record with the company, so make sure the information is accurate, especially the end date.
7. Thank your boss for the opportunity you’ve had.
If you’re unhappy, squash the urge to be snarky. Once upon a time, this job WAS an exciting opportunity, and regardless of why you’re moving on, you did get experience and knowledge along the way.
At this point, you’re ready to send it and start your goodbye tour with a clear conscience.
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