Resignation letter template and guide

Learn the steps you can take to make handing in your resignation as painless as possible.

It’s never like in the movies. The days of declaring “I quit!” and flouncing out of the office are long gone – in the UK anyway! In a world of LinkedIn recommendations, exit interviews and counter offers – not to mention word of mouth – resigning is yet another part of changing jobs that needs thought and preparation. We address your top questions:

How to have the initial resignation conversation?

From your initial thoughts about leaving, to making the final decision and accepting a new position, you’ll have gone through all the positive and negative scenarios before actually handing in your resignation.

Independent recruitment expert Alex McKenzie says, “The actual process of submitting a formal resignation letter is quite traditional.  These days, it’s more common to send an email or IM to request a catch up, wherein you announce your resignation. It’s here where you can talk through how you came to this decision.”

Depending on your situation, such a chat could range from calm and professional to heated and emotional. Keep your cool and talk through your reasoning, agreeing by the end on the formal next steps.

What to include in a resignation letter?

While you may issue a verbal resignation, it is still good practice to write a formal letter of resignation, and some employers will still require one for their records. Think of them in two parts:

Part 1: Formal – This is the business end of a resignation letter. You must include:

  • Date
  • Position you are resigning from
  • Your last day
  • Signature

Download our resignation letter template here.

Part 2: Reasoning – This is not an obligatory part of the standard resignation letter, but many employees feel the need to include some justification for their decision. You shouldn’t however, use your resignation letter as an opportunity to direct a monologue of grievances towards your employee regarding topics like pay and progression – stay objective. Remember that in most professions news travels fast, and you don’t want to be sitting down opposite someone in a future interview that you had a disagreement with leaving a previous employer. Acceptable phrases include:

“I am seeking a new challenge”

“Thank you for the opportunity”

“There are limited opportunities for progression”

“I am taking some time out from the profession”

“I wish the company all the best for the future”

Who do you address a letter of resignation to?

There is often a protocol at companies on who this should be addressed to, whether it be the CEO, the head of the department you worked in or the head of human resources (you may also use this opportunity to discuss organising an exit interview). In other companies, the person you address your formal resignation letter is left to your own discretion. Many want to address it to the person they feel the most affinity to, such as a trusted manager or mentor. Check your company policy and act accordingly.

How to write a resignation letter with template

Is resigning different if I am retiring?

In principle offering your resignation when you retire, is no different to the usual process, but there are some nuances that you may want to apply. First of all, you may want to give your company more notice than what is stated in your contract as a curtesy, as well as offering your support and assistance during this period. It may be that you have worked at your company for a long period of time and your departure may be big impact for the wider team. Passing on some future contact details and thanks for your employment is also customary – something that is best practise for leaving a position at any stage of your career.

What happens once I’ve handed in my resignation?

Let’s face it, we’ve all been there: resignation letter in, timekeeping out. But flaunting your notice period is not the way to do it.

“Lots of people resign and then flaunt their notice period. Don’t do it. Leave in the appropriate way by working hard throughout your notice period – be the same person that you were before, be professional to the last minute,” warns Alex.

Depending on whether you are put on gardening leave, your notice period can be a good time to tie off any loose ends or set up processes for the team that you have been meaning to do for a while. It’s likely that you won’t get put on any new projects, so making sure current one’s wind down successfully, will endear you to managers and colleagues.

What if my employer prepares a counter offer?

When deciding to hand in your notice, you are likely to run through the potential scenario about receiving a counter offer from your employer when doing so. Maybe it’s more money or a promotion that would have convinced you to stay? It’s worth considering why you are handing in your notice in the first place. If you simply want a change of scene and a new challenge – don’t be swayed. If you don’t want to leave, but you feel there are some factors to be worked out – stop and listen. Top tip: If you are resigning in order to leverage your current position, you must be prepared to leave if these don’t materialise, otherwise you will be damaging your future credibility at the firm.

If you’ve got a new job and you’re ready to write your resignation letter: congratulations! If you still need to find that job to move to, register with us and see what we have that might attract you.

Download our resignation letter template here.

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