Writing a Letter of Resignation

Submitting a letter of resignation to an employer is the first step in a very important commitment.  Once the letter is delivered or sent, it's nearly impossible to pull back.   Before making that commitment, take the time to run through some pre-planning steps.

In this article, we're going to provide some examples of a well-written letter of resignation.  The examples will include both a generic letter, as well as one that provides an employer with the standard two weeks of notice.  Before getting to those examples, we're first going to talk about some of the factors to think through before resigning.  Then we'll finish up this topic with an outline of some follow up items to take care of before leaving the company.

Letters of Resignation

Leaving a company is something that needs to be taken very seriously.  Submitting a letter of resignation is a very formal announcement.  When people resign, the news spreads quickly among employees, and managers often start looking for a replacement almost immediately.

Before rendering a written letter of resignation, it's important to review the existing employer's policies.  For example:

  • Non-Compete Agreements:  at some point during the hiring process, employers often ask new employees to sign a non-compete agreement.  These can also go by the terms non-compete clause and covenant not-to-compete.  While enforceability may vary by state, it's important to understand this agreement, especially when leaving to join what might be considered a potential competitor.
  • Vacation Days:  determine the company's policy with respect to unused vacation days.  Research the company's policy to see if it is a "use or lose" rule when resigning.
  • Final Pay Adjustments:  make sure the impacts on a final paycheck are completely understood.  Departing employees may be entitled to additional pay from incentive compensation plans or bonuses, or the lowering of a paycheck for advances on healthcare accounts and vacation days.
  • Benefits:  if there is a time lapse between the old and new employer healthcare plans, it may be appropriate to explore the company's COBRA policy, which provides for the temporary extension of group healthcare plans.
  • Pension Plans / 401(k) Accounts:  not only is it important to understand the company's policy on retirement benefits, but it's equally important to understand the tax implications of taking possession of these accounts.

Always maintain a positive outlook towards the existing employer. It serves no useful purpose to complain about the company or boast about a new job.

Some companies will ask employees to leave immediately upon receiving a letter of resignation.  They do this for a variety of reasons, including preventing the theft of intellectual property.  Be prepared to have an existing workstation or laptop computer immediately taken, and LAN / network IDs disabled.  If personal files are stored on a business computer and they are of value, make sure they're copied and stored in a safe place before making any announcements.

Examples:  Letters of Resignation

Now that the upfront work is completed, it's time to start writing the letter of resignation.  Providing this letter to an employer will serve to formally put the company on notice.  Unless it's necessary due to distance or access, do not email the letter.

Tendering a professionally-written letter provides the employer with the essential facts.  Make sure the document is signed and dated.  Unless otherwise stated by company policy, the first person to get a copy of the letter is an immediate supervisor or manager.  It's a good idea to provide a copy to the human resources department too.   The letter only needs to provide the employer with three elements:

  • A decision has been made to leave the company
  • The effective date of the resignation
  • A thank you to the former employer

The two samples provided below demonstrate these points.

Generic Example

Date Here
Mr. Tough Manager
Director - Operations
XYZ Company

I hereby give you notice of my intention to leave my position as Manager of Operations at the XYZ Company on Friday, August 5.

I wish both you personally, and the XYZ Company, much success in the future.  I would also like to thank you for providing me with the opportunity to be part of the Operating team for the past four years.

Sincerely,

Your Signature

Two Weeks Notice Example

Date Here
Mr. Tough Manager
Director - Operations
XYZ Company

I hereby give you two weeks' notice of my intention to leave my position as Manager of Operations at the XYZ Company on Friday, August 5.

I wish both you personally, and the XYZ Company, much success in the future.  I would also like to thank you for providing me with the opportunity to be part of the Operating team for the past four years.

Sincerely,

Your Signature

Once again, print and sign each copy of the letter.  A total of three copies are needed:  one for an immediate supervisor, one for the human resources department, and the employee should retain a copy for their records too.

Be prepared for a possible counteroffer.  Even if the counteroffer never materializes, think through what to say or do if presented with such an offer.  Leaving a job is an important decision, accepting a counteroffer needs thoughtful processing too.

Post-Letter Follow Up

Once a formal announcement has been made, there are some follow up items to attend to.  Don't let the resignation be a distraction to the workgroup, remain a productive contributor to the team.  Transitioning work needs to be as smooth as possible, so set aside some time to document the status of unfinished assignments.

Make a list of all coworkers to touch base with before leaving.  Don't put off saying goodbye until the last minute.  Return company equipment at home back to the employer.  Document the return of the equipment, including dates, names, and asset tags or serial numbers.  Finally, don't forget to change voicemail boxes and email messages to reflect the new point of contact after leaving.


About the Author - Writing a Letter of Resignation - (Last Reviewed on March 16, 2016)