How to write a resignation letter
Career advice 30 January 2014
“That’s it. I’m out of here.” Have you ever been tempted to say that in a resignation letter?
Don’t. It’s always best to leave any job on a positive note, says Russell Fairbanks of Chandler Macleod.
You’ll be remembered for the beginning of your employment and the end, says Fairbanks. So make sure you behave impeccably when it’s time to move on and that the memory of you is worthy of someone with a long and successful career ahead.
Include the basics. All resignation letters need to be addressed to the correct person, who may be your manager or the HR department. They should include the name of the position you are resigning from and the date that you will leave.
Always speak positively. Reflect on the good times at the organisation and how you have benefited personally and professionally. It’s always possible to find positives if you think long and hard. “Reflect on the fond memories and your achievements,” says Fairbanks. “Ask yourself ‘what did I take away from this job’?” You want to be remembered as the courteous employee, not the person who threw grenades as he or she walked out the door, he adds.
Don’t download. The resignation letter is not the place to comment on the less happy memories. Spelling out your boss’s or organisation’s failings should be avoided at all costs. After a few months or years you may regret what you said in the heat of the moment. But resignation letters remain on record. “If it’s in writing, you can’t take it back,” says Fairbanks. If you really need to make your less than happy feelings known then seek a verbal exit interview with HR or your manager/manager’s manager.
Thank your employer. Your employer has been paying your wages and supporting your lifestyle for however long you’ve been employed. Chances are that you’ve picked up some useful skills and your CV looks more impressive than when you started. It’s the gracious thing to do to acknowledge your employer and say thanks – even if you’d rather eat cockroaches than do that. It’s your chance to reset the clock.
Build relationships. Never burn your bridges, says Fairbanks. You may want a reference from former managers or colleagues in the future and you want to be remembered for acting professionally. Your resignation letter might be read by senior managers and HR staff who will inevitably end up elsewhere in the industry eventually. It’s always a good idea to keep all networks alive. You never know when a former colleague might be a useful ally in your career.
- Use a standard template. The best way to include all of the necessary information in a resignation letter is to use a standard template such as this one from SEEK. Standard letters include all of the formal elements that you need to include in a professional resignation letter.
Finally, good luck in your new role. Leaving on a happy note will allow you to focus on making a success of your new position.