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Blog>Guides>How to Write a Classy Resignation Letter in 7 Steps + Sample

How to Write a Classy Resignation Letter in 7 Steps + Sample

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You finally decided — you’re leaving your job, seeking new employment, but you want to be as professional as possible when you exit. What’s next? When quitting your job, you should keep these things in mind:

  • Even if you told your boss that you’re going to quit, a resignation letter should still be sent.
  • Resignation letters are a professional courtesy and not always required, but they leave an important paper trail for you as future reference.
  • Letters of resignation give you a chance to bring your time with the company to a close on a good note.

Resignation Letter: Definition and Purpose

Resignation is the act of resigning — meaning quitting a job or giving up a position. A resignation letter is a document that notifies your employer that your time with them is drawing to a close. It is best written, and then either mailed or emailed, after taking considerable time to weigh your options; it should not be the result of a hasty decision.

Movies and television often show characters furiously writing resignation letters on typewriters or by hand, then throwing them at their managers and storming out. This is bad practice and the opposite of how a courtesy resignation letter should be created and presented.

Instead, consider a classy resignation letter to be like a thank-you note. It should be formal and considerate, with a distinct structure that acknowledges the importance of the relationship.

employee-handing-over-resignation-letter

Writing a classy letter of resignation is a formal step in leaving a position, and it can occur either before you speak with your boss in person or afterward. When you write this letter in advance, it can notify your employer of your intentions and timeline, so they can meet with you in person to discuss details as needed. When you write the letter after meeting with your boss, it serves to reiterate what you have discussed, formalizes the process of your leaving, and provides a professional foundation to conclude your time at the job.

7 Keys to Writing a Classy Resignation Letter

As you start to write a resignation letter, here are some points to keep in mind:

  • Create a friendly, formal opening. The point of using an opener like Dear ____ is to remain cordial or amicable with your employer. If you are friendlier or work in a more casual environment, you could use a simple Hi or Hello. If you do not know which to use, it is always better to lean towards the side of formality.

  • State your resignation in clear language. You are writing a letter to resign from your job, so make this your very first sentence. You do not need to air grievances or explain yourself in this opening line, and you do not need to apologize for your decision. Simply state that you have decided to leave, quit, or resign.

  • Give specific notice. Two weeks' notice is the standard in the United States, but if you have spoken with your boss in person before writing the resignation letter and created a different timeline for leaving, note all of this in the second sentence. Pick a date to leave, and make sure the day, month, and year are all in the second sentence.

  • Give concise reasons for leaving, but only if appropriate. You are never required to explain your reasons for quitting a job, especially if you are uncomfortable for any reason, or you feel emotionally charged when you think about leaving. Remaining calm and professional is more important than talking about why you chose to quit.

    However, if you have some details you are comfortable sharing — for example, you received a strong offer from another company, you want to take care of your family full-time, or you are moving to another state — these can be outlined in one or two sentences in your resignation letter.

  • Offer help during your final weeks. If you have worked in a job for less than a year, you may not have specific work to train a new employee in, but you should offer to complete projects, assign work that will not be completed by your final day, and write any employment details like tasks you took on or programs you managed.

    If you have worked in a specific job for several years, it is likely that you have some seniority, specific tasks, and approaches to working that will need to transfer to a new employee. You may be asked to write or update an employee handbook. Decide if you can complete this in your remaining time and offer as much help as you can. This leaves a sense of goodwill with your former employer.

  • Thank your boss, manager, and/or employer. Regardless of why you’ve chosen to leave, it is important to express gratitude for the opportunity. You do not have to effusively expound on how wonderful the job is, especially if you do not feel this way. One sentence of thanks for the time is enough to remain courteous. Expressing thanks for the opportunity is also a good point to wrap up the letter.

  • Use a professional closing line and signature. Even in an email, it is important to have a professional sign-off. This can be Regards, Sincerely, or All the Best, then your name. If you print out the typed letter, leave a space below the closing line for your signature.

For a long time, resignation letters were physical pieces of paper. Even if you wrote them on a computer, it was considered unprofessional and informal to send a letter of resignation by email. In 2022, sending an email is much more common than printing out a letter on paper and signing it.

As long as you stick to specific formatting rules, remain calm and professional, and focus on courtesy in your final weeks at the job, there is nothing wrong with emailing your notice. Be prepared for your boss or human resources department to ask you to print out a paper copy, which will go in a formal file. Otherwise, emailing the letter is standard practice.

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Classic Mistakes to Avoid

It's important to remember that your courtesy resignation letter is not the place to air grievances or report problems. Here are some points to avoid in your resignation letter:

  • Do not discuss the job you are moving to or the company you will be working for instead.
  • Do not discuss personal feelings about your job, coworkers, manager or boss, work environment, or company.
  • Do not get into details about why you are leaving, especially if these are deeply personal or bring up negative emotions.
  • Do not place blame or accuse anyone even if your decision to leave was caused by a specific person.
  • Do not complain about your former position or the company.
  • Do not make promises you cannot keep, like staying in touch.
  • Do not make direct requests regarding the job you’re leaving, your timeline, or other details.
  • Do not make any other personal disclosures, especially if you have not spoken with your manager yet.

Do not write hyperbolic phrases that are either positive or negative — just stick with professional courtesy and be respectful.

Sample Resignation Letter

When writing a classy resignation letter, there is a specific template to follow to help you. Following this formula will keep you on track.

sample-resignation-letter

How to Write a Resignation Letter for a Job You Just Started

Have you recently started a new position that isn't working out for you? Perhaps it's not what you thought it would be or you got a better offer. The first thing you need to understand is not to feel guilty, these things happen all the time in professional settings.

While all the above advice in this article holds true, when crafting a resignation letter for a job you recently started, it's better to be upfront with your employer about your reasons for seeking new employment so soon. Though each situation will be different, it's worthwhile to consider these prompts and potential solutions before you make such a monumental decision.

  • Is the workload too stressful? If that's the case, it might be better to communicate those feelings to your manager first and see if he or she can modify your responsibilities or your schedule. You could also stick it out for a little while longer to see if things change.
  • Are personal circumstances requiring you to resign? It's a good idea to consult the employee handbook to see what your company's policy is in relation to mental health breaks, parental leave, and paid time off. If you've already established a good relationship with your manager, feel free to be transparent about your unmet needs in this area. Or, consider scheduling a meeting with a human resources contact; someone who can provide more information on ways to satisfy your situation without resigning.

If you've already considered both of these — or they don't apply to you — then it's time to write the resignation letter. A well-written one will contain an apology for working for such a short duration before quitting. Even though you haven't been on the job long, and outside factors are making this resignation abrupt, you should try and give the standard two weeks' notice.

As you start to write a resignation for a job you just started, here are some additional points to keep in mind:

  • Keep it short. While it's a good idea to explain why you are resigning, you do not have to go into unnecessary detail. In the first paragraph, state the specific date you will be resigning. Try to give as much notice as possible — ideally two weeks.
  • Make sure the overall tone is positive. If you aren't leaving on the best of terms, you might feel compelled to say something negative about the company in your letter. Instead, thank them for the opportunity and keep the door open. You never know if things will change down the road.

Schedule a time to speak with your boss in person, if possible, about your decision to resign. Be ready to explain your reason for moving on. You'll want to bring this letter with you, or you can email it to him or her after.

Resignation Letter for a Job You Just Started

Though it shares some similarities to the boilerplate template above, use this formula when you're leaving a position you just recently started — anywhere from two weeks to two months in.

sample-resignation-letter-for-recent-job

What's Next?

Have you recently resigned and are looking for your next career move? Joblist can help! Using our job search platform can take the stress out of landing your next dream role.

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