Over the past year and a half, we've all had a lot of time to consider what we want from our current jobs, and many people have realized it's time to move on to the next opportunity. In fact, this moment in history has even been dubbed "The Great Resignation"—in April 2021 a whopping 4 million people quit their jobs, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
Whatever your reasons—whether you're leaving for a higher salary, a better commute, the chance to remain remote, or need work that aligns with your values—you've decided to quit your job. Now what?
Tell Your Manager Personally
If possible, tell your boss that you're resigning in person (or via Zoom) first. However, no matter how casual your work culture is, you must write a formal email to your boss stating your intention to leave—this is your letter of resignation. Before your hands start to sweat, keep reading for steps on how to write a resignation letter and an easy template to follow should you need it.
Write a Rough Draft
While you may have heard about the strategy of writing (but not sending) an angry first draft or email, try applying a similar concept to your letter of resignation. "Write an unedited resignation letter that no one will see to serve as a wake-up call for all the reasons you're leaving," Maggie Mistal, career coach, says. This practice is almost therapeutic and will help you find the right words for your final draft or when communicating you're leaving to coworkers. Remember, your resignation letter is not the place to air your grievances, so get that out of your system in this fake letter.
Keep It Simple and High Level
Once you've written out your feelings and come to terms with your decision to leave, cut out anything and everything unnecessary. "You don't have to share all of your details, but you should get your point across," Mistal says.
It's completely valid if you'd rather keep the reasons you're leaving to yourself. Keep it high level with your intent to leave, your last day of employment, and personal contact details in case they need to reach you after you leave.
Offer to Help With the Transition (and State for How Long)
Traditionally, you don't owe your company more than two weeks' notice, but if you're willing to stay for longer than the typical two weeks while they recruit your replacement or finish up an ongoing project, it can go a long way in gaining closure and be much appreciated by your team. While they may not take you up on the offer, it allows you to leave on a positive note, which will come in handy if you need an employer reference for a future career move (it's also just the good-person thing to do). However, if you're leaving due to personal reasons, Donna Fowler, an executive leadership coach, says only to do as much as you feel comfortable doing. "Your well-being is your primary concern," she says.
Say Thank You in the Letter
While this isn't your formal thank-you note (which you should send on your last day), it can go a long way to show gratitude for your time working with your manager and the company. If you're leaving due to a toxic work environment, it's perfectly fine to keep it short with "I'm thankful for the personal and professional growth opportunities I had while at the company."
Letter of Resignation Email Template
Email Subject Ideas:
● "Resignation Notice as of [Date] — Your Name"
● "Notice of Resignation"
● Your supervisor
● CC your HR business partner
● BCC your personal email so you have a copy
Sample Resignation Letter Wording
Hello [Manager's Name],
I am writing to let you know that I am officially resigning from my position as [insert role], effective [insert last day of employment (typically two weeks after you send this notice]. I have accepted a position as [insert the reason you are leaving if you're comfortable sharing].
I'd like to offer my help with the transition and potentially recruit and train my successor. [optional: Remove if this is untrue for you.]
Thank you so much for the opportunities you and the company have provided me during the past [months/years]. I'll always appreciate [list specific growth opportunities if you can]. You can always reach me at [insert phone number] or [insert email]. I wish you and the company continued success.
[Insert your name]
Bonus Tip: Write a Goodbye/Thank-You Letter to Your Coworkers
After you've gotten the formal letter of resignation out of the way and discussed it with your manager, give your coworkers a fair warning of your departure. It's kind to provide your immediate team as much time as possible so they can prepare for the transition themselves.
For colleagues you don't work directly with, you can include them in a farewell email on your last day. Make sure to copy your personal email so you receive any replies once you're signed out of your work email.