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How to Write a Great Resignation Letter that Helps Your Career

Updated on August 14, 2016
Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Ms. Inglish is an award-winning Employment & Training pro with regional records and tens of thousands placed into gainful employment.

Quitting a job is part of the life cycle of work.
Quitting a job is part of the life cycle of work. | Source

Why Write a Resignation Letter? Jobs Have a Life Cycle.

Working in a job as a competent, dependable, professional worker has a life cycle with a formal beginning and an ending.

You usually don't walk into a place of business and start working without being hired and you usually should not walk off a job without a clear, written resignation.

A resignation letter states

  • A worker's clear intentions to leave employment.
  • A timeline for the departure, usually from one week to 30 days.
  • The salient reasons for leaving.

...Quitting is letting go of things (or people) that are sucking the life out of you so you can do more things that will bring you strength.

— Osayi Emokpae Lasisi, "Impossible Is Stupid"

When A New Job is Not For You

If you work one day at a new job and find that it really does not suit you or it is extremely unlikable, then tell your supervisor at once - front line supervisors in a variety of industries handle this situation more often than we might know.

Supervisors or your manager may be able to place you into a better work arrangement or if not, will appreciate your forthrightness in saying you cannot stay in this position.

A supervisor that starts into a meltdown when you say you cannot stay in this job likely reflects a company that you need to leave, anyway.

Unless a work situation or one's superiors are endangering one's life, then a resignation letter and one or two week's notice to quit are in order. Executives and middle managers often provide a 30 days' notice when leaving a company.

In the 21st century, most workers will serve in two or three different careers among a number of jobs.

The Life Cycle Of a Job

A Simple Life Cycle of Work

Search for jobs.
Find a job you may like and can do well.
Apply for the job.
Complete a job application or submit a resume and cover letter.
Receive notification of a job interview.
Prepare for the interview.
Interview with one or more persons.
Wait for a call-back and possibly submit work references.
Experience one or more call-back interviews and accept a job offer/pay package.
Begin working. Accept training and look into ongoing professional development. Start a work portfolio that documents your training, your work reviews, questions to ask superiors, your productivity, and job achievements.
Receive work reviews, improve your skills and productivity, recevie raises and promotions.
Continue working within the company toward a progressively advancing career.
Advance in your career or discover better work opportunities and accept employment elsewhere.
Retire at the end of your career or notify your supervisor of your plans to quit.
Retire or write an effective resignation letter and move on to the next phase of your life.

Fight the Urge To Walk Out

In a society where connected-ness, contacts, cooperation among professionals, and growing a network of referrals are important to one's career, the best action to take when changing jobs is not the one in which you walk off a job or give a terse, information-barren verbal resignation with short notice.

If you do this, you will not be seen as professional if you wait until after receiving your week's pay on a Friday afternoon and saying, "I quit" - or just disappearing.

Take This Job and Shove It should probably not become your theme song.

What's your experience in quitting?

How many times have you walked off a job?

See results

Build an Effective Resignation Letter

Build your letter of resignation with the same thoughtfulness and care that you have used previously in constructing your resume and cover letters. It is at least as important as any of these precious documents. A resignation letter full of anger and written too quickly can deflate your good reputation.

You may think that you do not need former employers, so the resignation does not matter. A string of “bad quits” will catch up with you eventually and you may become unemployable. If you cannot start and maintain your own business successfully, then you have a problem.

This is not to say that one must kowtow to employers on one’s way out the door. Presenting a professional resignation is showing respect for oneself as much as it indicates respect for the employer and the world of work in general.

Offering a profession letter to end your employment will make your employer a strong link in a chain of contacts you will appreciate in the future.

— P. Inglish

Leave a Positive Impression

As far as you are able, leave your company with a positive aftertaste. Leave on good terms with your supervisors in order to build a positive reputation within your personal brand.

What if you’re leaving under negative circumstances?

Thank about the possibility that a potential new employer could call your old employer for a reference. Be thoughtful, but reflect legitimate concerns in your resignation letter. For example, if you were bullied, consider this statement:

As you already may be aware, certain members of your management staff do not adhere to company policy and/or EEO regulations. Because no solution is forthcoming in the near future, I must regretfully submit my resignation from a job that I have loved.

If you have not had unhappy, even abusive experiences on the job you are leaving, then you can usually use the sample resignation letter I have provided below.

You can add specifics to the letter, such as some of the exact benefits you appreciated: a free class provided by the company, payment of college tuition offered by the firm, a well-managed daycare center for your child at work, and any number of other positive offerings and perks.

Offering a profession letter to end your employment will make your employer a strong link in a chain of contacts you will appreciate in the future.

Sample Resignation Letter

Skeleton Of a Resignation Letter

[First Name, Last Name]
100 Google Street | Anywhere CA 11111 | Phone: 555-555-5555 |

[Company Name}
[Company Address]

Dear [Supervisor Name],

Please accept this formal resignation from my position as [Job Title] at [Company Name].

My resignation will take effect in two weeks and my last day of employment will be [date].

Thank you for the enriching work experience you have given me and the opportunities for professional development and personal growth I have received here. During my tenure. I have enjoyed working for the company and my supervisors and have appreciated the support I received.

Please retain me as a professional contact for the future and if I can help you and the company in any way of service, please call on me. I wish you every success. Thank you.


________________________ [Your Signature]

[Your Typed Name]

CC: Human Resources Department

© 2016 Patty Inglish


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    • mckbirdbks profile image

      mckbirdbks 13 months ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

      Hi Patty, on the flip side of my comment, I did not have very many jobs. Most lasted ten to twelve years, then I had had my fill.

      I am sure your articles help people. They are rich with information and give hope and guidance.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 13 months ago from North America

      Mike - You quit every job? Amazing. I've had a couple of lay offs when companies closed down and I admit that I flat-out walked out of one job. I surely hope the info I provide helps somebody.

    • mckbirdbks profile image

      mckbirdbks 13 months ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

      Hello Patty, I more or less quit every job. I did not leave any on 'good terms' - Just part of my sorted history. haha

      I very much like that you are always giving good advice, to young readers. And that you point in the direction of job opportunities in various regions. That is so positive.

    • profile image

      Rolly Chabot 14 months ago

      Hi Patty:

      Over the years I learned it was far better to leave a job on a good note rather than the alternative. One can never tell when you may have to go back... excellent hub.

      Hugs from Canada

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 14 months ago from North America

      @BlossomSB - That's right! =-- Volunteer positions are every bit as important as work positions. Thanks for reminding us!

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 14 months ago from North America

      @vocalcoach and teaches12345 - We needed all this information many years ago, but it was not available. The transition from school to work and from job to job are important and need some training in order to be smooth and productive. I hope this information helps people today.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 14 months ago from North America

      @Nell Rose - I've been made redundant a couple of times as well and it was a surprise to workers both times! I suppose we could have written thank you letters for the job.

    • profile image

      teaches12345 14 months ago

      Oh where was this information when I needed way back when? When a person finally decides it is best to leave a job the urge to not walk out is a must. Great tips here on writing a resignation letter.

    • BlossomSB profile image

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 14 months ago from Victoria, Australia

      Great advice, even if it's resigning from a volunteer position.

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 14 months ago from Nashville Tn.

      A great topic that needed addressing (no pun intended.) Anyone holding down a job would do well to read this hub. Sharing with other in the hope that the right folks will read and benefit from all you've covered. Leaving any job with a good impression is always best. As we say in the entertainment industry, "Be good to those you meet on the way up - you may need them on the way down."

      Thanks Patty.


    • Mary Ann Behling profile image

      Mary Ann Behling 14 months ago from HEMET

      Thank you for your writings. This is great stuff.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 14 months ago from England

      Great advice, and something I am sure many people will find really helpful. I have never resigned, been made redundant a couple of times, but if I had then this would have been perfect, nell