how to write a resignation letter

Resigning tends to bring out anxiety in lots of us: When do you do it? What do you say? And in the second decade of the third millennium, you’re still supposed to mark this important conversation by letter? If you’re wondering how to write a resignation letter – and why – you’re not alone.

At New York Magazine today, I talk about what the deal is with resignation letters and what yours should — and shouldn’t — say. Head over there to read it.

{ 127 comments… read them below or add one }

  1. Elizabeth Proctor

    I definitely resigned from my last job via letter…whoops. I was on maternity leave and I sent an email. I should have called…

    Reply
    1. ThankYouRoman

      You were on leave, I think that you’re still clear. Unless you did it the night before you were slatted to return! I’m assuming it was a few weeks left and you decided not to return.

      Reply
    2. Midwest writer

      I kind of did something similar last month. I had three people that I needed to tell I was resigning — one locally and two in two separate towns, each two hours from here. I told the local person in person, then sent an email to the other two. As soon as I did it, I wished I had called them and told them first, but I was in a hurry — it had taken three working days and a weekend before the local person was in the office and I needed to get my resignation in. I still feel kind of bad about it and I’m sure that’s some of the reason for the cool response I got.

      Reply
    3. Dr. Doll

      I got a text message the day before my person was supposed to return from maternity leave. Sorry, not returning, childcare too expensive.

      I was expecting it, but both my boss and I rolled our eyes and wished she’d made up her mind a couple weeks earlier.

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    4. WantonSeedStitch

      Last time I resigned from a job was 12 years ago. I did it by letter–actually printed it out at work, put it in an envelope with the president’s name on it (we were a tiny company), and asked his executive assistant to put it on his desk for me. There was absolutely no way in hell I was going to resign face-to-face. He was a terrible boss who put me into such a state of anxiety that I was on the edge of a nervous breakdown when I finally decided to leave. I think this was a good move, though: he called me into his office after reading the letter, and was actually surprisingly nice about it, as though leaving the company was the only thing I could do that could possibly make him happy!

      Reply
  2. Gail Davidson-Durst

    This is really good, concrete advice. One nice thing I noticed was that saying where you’re going is NOT a requirement. When I left my job recently, my Corporate Life Mentor (a/k/a my husband, who has much more experience than I) told me it’s better not to share where you’re going. It felt weird and almost rude to me at first, but it worked out great.

    The possibility of someone in management trying to jam you up may be low, but why risk it? You never know who knows who, and whether someone might try to give a bad impression of you before you start your new job. And it also prevents colleagues from trying to jump on your employment bandwagon and want recommendations which you might not be prepared to give!

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    1. Namelesscommentator

      I know this is standard, and very sound advice, but when I pay the resigning scenario in my head I fail completely at gracefully sidestepping the question.

      As someone hopefully resigning in the next few months for a move back across the country (to home) I would LOVE advice on this part of the conversation when the time comes.

      Reply
      1. HMM

        I’ve found moving is the easiest way to leave a job gracefully. Everyone understands it. Especially if you’re moving to Hometown or where you family is – just make that the central reasoning for why you’re leaving. If they ask if you have a job already lined up, you can just say “not yet” or “I’ve found it’s easier to interview when I’m local so I haven’t started yet.”

        Alternatively, if you don’t want to say you don’t have a job yet when you do, you can say something like “yes, I just hope it’ll be as great as here!” or “yes, I was thrilled to find a place that will let me continue doing X work.” or something along those lines.

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      2. anonymous penguin

        I think a lot of times you can be vague and not come off too weird!

        “Where are you going?”
        “I’m going to be a rice sculptor in Boston! / I’m taking a teapot teaching job at somewhere closer to home! / A llama-grooming startup in Texas!”

        Then just pivot into a different topic (aka beandipping) like “I’m sure going to miss Taco Tuesdays here / It’ll be nice to be closer to family / I’m so excited about the move!”

        Reply
        1. R.D.

          I hear a lot of “I’m moving to a tech company in X Town” or “I’m going back in to banking”. It’s an answer, just not a very complete one.

          Reply
    2. samiratou

      I think it depends on your workplace. At my (very non-toxic) workplace, people always ask where you’re going and wish you the best. It would be super weird to say “I prefer not to say” or whatever and would generate a lot more hubbub than just telling people.

      If you work for or with toxic people, that’s definitely a different situation, though. I can’t imagine anyone here trying to sabotage someone who is leaving, but if you have that type of office, well, it’s a good thing you’re getting out…

      Reply
        1. Colorado

          Quick story: toxic job, my colleague left. CEO/owner called CEO of company colleague was going to. Going to very large, corporate company from small consulting company. No joke. Old boss said he’s stealing his employee cause there was some random connection that had nothing to do with him getting the job. Old boss looked like a complete idiot. I did not say where I was going when I left.

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        2. Gail Davidson-Durst

          I waited 2 months before updating my profile. :) And yes, I saw from my views that people were checking!

          For the record, my immediate team was not toxic at all, but my trust really thinned out when it came to a couple levels above me. Oh, and I was leaving to go with my former grandboss, who also recruited my boss, so all three of us were going to the same place – made discretion seem more important!

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          1. anonthistime

            I’m about to leave my current job to go work for my former… great-uncle boss?… at a place that works pretty closely with my current office. I am the second person he has recruited away from my current employer in a matter of a couple of months. I told everyone exactly where I’m going when I gave notice, and while it’s uncomfortable, it’s much less uncomfortable than it would be if it were some sort of weird mystery where I was going until I suddenly showed up on the other side of the table at a meeting!

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      1. The Other Dawn

        I agree. At my company, it would be really weird and kind of rude to decline to answer when someone asks. Unless someone works for a really toxic place, boss. etc. I see no reason not to answer.

        At a previous company I once had a direct report refuse to answer and she told everyone else in the office not to tell me. Turns out she went back to school. I have absolutely no idea why she wouldn’t tell me, because we’d always been on good terms and she was well-liked. And it wasn’t like I grilled her about it. It was just idle chit chat. When someone resigns, I think it’s natural to ask out of curiosity where the person is going. I suspect maybe she was mad that my manager wouldn’t give in when she demanded a change in her schedule (bank teller) and that’s why she was very secretive. She basically told him that she couldn’t and wouldn’t work X anymore and if the schedule wasn’t changed, she would leave. And it wasn’t said in a “sorry this won’t work for me” way, but rather “do this or else” way.

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      2. Akcipitrokulo

        At my place, usually people work their notice (2 months), and there’s usually chat about where they’re going… showing new office on googlemaps, etc. One guy left to go backpacking and there was much, vocal speculation about exactly which of his proposed adventures would kill him!

        It’s also the standard to have a speech from management saying we’ll miss you, gifts from colleagues and a couple of nice words from leaver, followed by a general decamping to pub.

        So here? Yeah, I’d be open!

        LastJob? F**k no. Made excuse about travel ( they were moving into city centre), worked out my month with polite nods and got the hell out of dodge.

        Reply
        1. Cobol

          I’m guessing you’re not in the US. Here we tend to give two weeks, and almost without fail you aren’t guaranteed employment. It’s not common at all, but it’s entirely possible for Toxic Boss at the company you’re leaving to reach out to a contact at the new company and say something to get them to rescind your offer.

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    3. Gail Davidson-Durst

      I felt the same way, samiratou. And I did tell my inner circle where I was going. But for other people, I said something like, “Oh I’m not sharing publicly yet!” and at first expected people to be unhappy with that. But everyone rolled with it perfectly cheerfully!

      Another one I’ve seen is “Oh, still working some details out!” which is probably true at some level (like you don’t know what time to report on your first day or what room orientation is in) but keeps things nice and vague and discourages follow ups.

      Reply
      1. Washi

        “Oh, still working some details out!” is a really great response. 99% of the time, people are asking where you’re going because they care about you, and this is a good way to sidestep while still being warm.

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    4. Artemesia

      The two people I worked with who were coy about where they were going were both people universally disliked and thought ill of — I thought it was quite wise of each of them to not risk someone poisoning the well. I would never have gone out of my way to do so, but if someone at a conference said ‘hey we just hired THE MOST BACKSTABBING colleague ever, do you know her’ and they were a good friend of mine, I might well have at least said ‘good luck with that.’

      Reply
    5. ThankYouRoman

      I’m from tiny business life, in a big major city. I would love if someone thought they were strong enough to sabotage my new job. I don’t subscribe to that fear.

      Now if it’s a niche position in a small industry….they’re going to find out anyways and still try to trash talk you if that’s the case!

      Reply
      1. Cobol

        Where are you in your career I’m from a small major US city (I mean okay it’s Portland, but thinking Kansas City, Austin, Charlotte, Pittsburgh, etc are the same), and once you’re 10 years into your career the world can still get small. I’m almost never more than a 2nd degree connection from anyone in my field.

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        1. NotAnotherManager!

          Yeah, I work in DC but can name (and in most cases know personally) the ~20 people in the city in my senior management job and a number of their underlings. It’s a very small world.

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        2. ThankYouRoman

          15+ years. Seattle. Nobody I work for even does reference checks, let alone is that plugged in. We rarely ever even work with the same vendors, except where I’ve initiated it.

          Granted I’m also not worried because I’m an accountant and business manager with a solid background with strong ties to my old bosses. The only one who sucks is now out of business, bless his heart.

          Reply
  3. Czhorat

    This is very, very sound advice.

    Unless you’re going to pour a can of gasoline onto your desk and light a match on the way out, you should leave gracefully. It costs literally nothing, and can preserve goodwill.

    The last jobs I left I told my boss in person and gave him the letter for record, and was sure to personally say farewell to anyone else whose work intersected with mine. That’s really the time for gentle, “better fit for me at this time” kins of explanations unless there’s a real reason to do otherwise.

    Reply
  4. Memyselfandi

    Is resigning from the chairmanship of a committee or Board any different? I am planning to resign and thought I would include a reflection on what I had accomplished as Chair, what I wished to accomplish before my final meeting as Chair and express my willingness to continue to serve as a regular member. Members have to be appointed to this group. Too much?

    Please delete if this is off topic.

    Reply
    1. kittymommy

      Does the Chair serve a set length of time? For the committees I handle, the officers serve a 1 year term, at which point they may be re-appointed as an officer or not (depending on the by-laws). Their actual appointment to the board/committee is separate from this. We’ve had a few officers resign their office and it was just done in a regular meeting, not via letter, and time was given for them to say a few words and go into whatever detail they wanted. Resignation as a member did have to be done via written form, though that is unique to the type of organization I work for.

      Reply
      1. Memyselfandi

        No, the last Chair served for 10 years. I have been doing it for 2. It requires a fair amount of expertise and has some legal authority , so it has some heft to it. Maybe I will leave out the accomplishments (I did my job) and focus on what needs to be completed before I leave.

        Reply
        1. kittymommy

          Ahh okay. All of our committees serve at the behest of an elected body (actual elected politicians) and some of our committees are ordained by statute, but their authority is still overseen by us. I would think in that type of situation maybe a resignation letter would work. Possibly the letter can be attached to an agenda and/or read into the record?

          Reply
  5. Colorado

    Just for fun, I’ve always loved this one…
    Dear [Recipient’s name]:
    Yesterday I woke up and realized that this is the worst career experience I’ve ever had. Therefore, I’m officially notifying you of my resignation from [company name]. My last day will be today.
    This company has many problems. [insert problems here]
    On top of that, I can’t stand to work for you any longer. You, alone, have been a constant source of pain and suffering for me ever since I started this job. I can’t understand how you made it this far in the professional community.
    Today is a great day for me. I will never have to see, hear or listen to you ever again. Goodbye, and good-riddance!
    Warmest Regards,
    [Your Signature]

    Reply
    1. Les G

      I’ve said basically this and had no regrets, for the record. Exploitative bosses don’t deserve my labor or my courtesy.

      Reply
    2. Bunny Girl

      I basically word vomited this at a job I left. It was an entirely soul sucking job that basically consisted of typing the same thing over and over again for hours. The company itself was okay and tried to treat their employees nicely but it was just so mind numbing and really unnecessary. I forgot something at home one day and went in and said meant to ask if I could run home and grab them but instead I was like “I hate this job and can’t do this anymore, I’m sorry. My last day is today.”

      Reply
  6. The Other Dawn

    One of my team members resigned this morning. I told her just send me an email stating she’s resigning and when her last day will be. That’s it. Nothing complicated.

    I really hope I don’t lose any more people. This is the second one. Company was acquired and people are jumping ship left and right throughout, and they’re not being replaced. Luckily it’s pretty slow in my department nowadays.

    Reply
      1. The Other Dawn

        I didn’t say I blame them. We have a definite end date in my department that we’re working towards and there are incentives in place to stay through that date. I meant that people within the company in general, not necessarily my department, are jumping ship.

        Reply
        1. Dwight

          Just don’t be surprised. The phrasing “jumping ship” is an overly emotional phrase meant to instill images of a crew abandoning their ship, when in reality they’ll be hurt more than helped if they don’t look out for themselves, even with an incentive to stay. The smart ones get out early before the layoff notice.

          Reply
  7. Seifer

    I DO NOT recommend this, but I saw someone do a “sorry for your loss” card and me being the smart alack I am, proceeded to purchase one and write on the inside, “it’s me, my last day will be [two weeks from today]” in order to resign from a restaurant job. The issue came back to haunt me when it was brought up in a security interview, ha! I laugh now but at the time I was dying of mortification.

    Reply
    1. Bunny Girl

      That’s hilarious. It can come back to haunt you though. I left an extremely toxic job after a failed HR visit and at my next position they told the background checker that they had to speak with me several times about dress code violations. Because they hadn’t, they had no specific dates and luckily the background checker and my new employer didn’t believe them but I couldn’t believe the nerve.

      Reply
      1. ThankYouRoman

        In my case if I was told you had dress code violations, my mind would jump to “No wonder why she left. Dress codes are dumb…”

        I’ve literally had zero jobs where that’s anything anyone cares about so I find huge amounts of humor in it.

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      2. Seifer

        Oh yeah, I was marked ineligible for rehire, but I was fine with that. I didn’t even know until the security investigator brought it up. I passed the interview so it was okay in the end but uh, yeah. Not my best moment.

        Reply
        1. Close Bracket

          How bad was the job? If it was bad enough, then that was a pretty good moment.

          The security questions were bc you were ineligible for rehire, not because you were a smart alack. “Ineligible for rehire” brings up questions about integrity, like were you fired for stealing or something. That kind of thing makes you a security risk. Writing smart alacky resignation cards does not.

          Reply
  8. Sleepytime Tea

    I like the fluff, because if you’re leaving a company that you might want to come back to (I left a job because our new management in that department was terrible, but I would have been willing to work in another department at some point) then it looks good when someone reviews your file in the future. But my resignation letters have been something like that.

    Reply
    1. Chocoholic

      I don’t think it matters too much – to me, anyway, an email would be printed and placed in the employee’s file for documentation.

      Reply
      1. The Other Dawn

        I agree. Someone resigned this morning and I had her send an email, because I have to forward it on to people who aren’t in this building. Much easier than a printed copy that I have to scan and email. Not a hardship, but faster with email.

        Reply
    2. NotAnotherManager!

      I personally prefer email because I can send it directly to HR rather than having to scan it and send it to them. Really, all they need is written documentation of the last day for the file.

      Reply
    3. epi

      I think it may depend on your office– whether they even want the letter and what they want it for. Since you would be sending it after talking to your boss to confirm your last day, I would just ask them what they prefer at that time.

      Reply
    4. Marion Ravenwood

      I’ve just handed in my notice at my current job. I wrote the resignation letter in a Word document (following Alison’s previous advice on this issue) and then emailed my manager and HR with the letter as an attachment. I figured that was the best of both worlds – they’re getting the information straight away, but have a more ‘formal’ letter to print and file if needed. (I should also add the email said ‘please find attached my letter of resignation’ and I’d told my boss in person beforehand, so it wasn’t a complete shock!)

      Reply
  9. Washi

    Is this common? I’ve never had to write a letter when leaving a job. I just thought it was one of those silly things you see in movies!

    Reply
    1. Not a Real Giraffe

      Yes, I’ve had to follow up with a letter of resignation for my personnel file at 95% of the jobs I’ve had.

      Reply
    2. fposte

      Yeah, my employer has started to require it. I actually had a tussle with HR over their request that an employee who left fill out paperwork (this was an oops hourly hire who backed out just after starting, so it wasn’t like retirement stuff had to be handled). I pointed out that if she didn’t want to work for us for pay, she certainly wasn’t going to do paperwork for us for free.

      Reply
    3. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone

      It’s common enough that as a manager I groan* internally anytime an employee walks in my office holding a file folder. You know what’s inside that folder and you know what’s coming.

      *Ultimately I’m usually happy for the employee that they found a better for them opportunity (or they are not the greatest loss IYKWIM) But I do know I’m going to have some interviewing, hiring, and training in my future.

      Reply
      1. NotAnotherManager!

        Yep – this is a running joke between me and my HR recruiter. Anyone who calls out of the blue to request an immediate meeting is probably quitting, the folder just confirms it. (I also work with a lot of entry-level people where the expected stay in the job is about 18-24 months, so I get a lot more resignations than other people do.)

        Reply
    4. Bagpuss

      I’m in the UK , and it’s normal here.
      Partly, I think, because it is normal to have contractual notice periods, and there are laws about when and how someone can be dismissed, so it’s important to have confirmation that someone has resigned, and to confirm the final dates – normally there will be things like working out any remaining holiday pay etc.

      It’s usually pretty much like Alison has said – a couple of lines, saying that you’re leaving, when your last day will be etc.

      Reply
    5. WoolAnon

      It wasn’t required, but my brother used one while escaping an toxic job – it gave him something for him to just hand off, as well as some things to say (he can be a bit socially awkward, so having written down something helped).

      Reply
  10. Beatrix

    How timely – I just submitted a resignation letter this morning! My letter was full of fluff, but I was feeling extra sentimental.

    Reply
    1. feministbookworm

      Congratulations!! I gave verbal notice last week, but still need to pull together my resignation letter. Good to hear I’m not the only one feeling sentimental/bittersweet about the whole process.

      Reply
      1. Marion Ravenwood

        Yeah, totally get that. The job I just resigned from was my first permanent job and I’ve been there half my working life, so whilst it was time to move on it’s still sad to be leaving.

        (And congratulations to you and to Beatrix BTW!)

        Reply
  11. A Teacher

    So my first major job out of grad school, I was there 3.5 years and in that time it went from eh to super toxic. I ended up emailing my boss my letter of resignation and not calling or talking in person. The last three employees that had resigned he berated and then proceeded to talk about them in every one-on-one and group meeting for the next two months. I gave 5 days notice (switched to teaching, had to wait for school board approval). He called me on the phone and told me I was disgraceful and I’d never work as an athletic trainer again as his brother was a doctor in the area I moved to. I nuked a bridge but it was the one time it was worth it.

    Reply
  12. Akcipitrokulo

    Long time ago, I resigned because upper management gave my manager grief about letting me rearrange hours to get a day off for dental work, made him promise not to do it again and told him to remind me that they are not a flexi-time employer.

    So I thought it over, and along with a few other things that bothered me there, decided enough was enough and spoke to manager after weekend to hand in notice.

    He asked for it in writing to confirm… fair enough… but seemed put out at the letter. It was something like “Dear manager, further to our earliet conversation, I am writing to confirm my resignation as of (date) ”

    I think he thought it was too brusque or something? I dunno. But anyway, I think was ok as it he’d basically said just give me something for records.

    Reply
    1. RabbitRabbit

      I’ve always recommended the Richard Nixon resignation letter format: date, greeting, “”I hereby resign the Office of President of the United States [or, you know, whatever job title].” signature.

      Reply
    2. NotAnotherManager!

      Really what you wrote is all that most HR departments need for the file. I’m resigning and my last day is X. Done. Very few people write much more, actually. The most common one I get is, “Dear NAM!, Per our conversation, I am resigning my role as X. My last day will be Y. I am grateful for the opportunity/wonderful people I’ve worked with/etc. Please let me know how I should prepare for my departure. Sincerely, Employee.” A few are shorter, even fewer are longer.

      Reply
      1. fposte

        And a lot of the time they’re only skimmed for confirmation anyway. It’s unusual for the manager to be all “Ooh, what did she say?”

        Reply
  13. RabbitRabbit

    When I was transferring to a new department (and it was a surprise to my old manager) at the same institution, my new manager urged me to not give the old one a resignation letter. I wasn’t resigning, after all, I was transferring, and our institution and especially HR took the distinction very seriously. Plus my old manager loved to do things like mark people who were resigning as “ineligible for rehire” at the institution even if they’d had good performance reviews, just because she was petty about the high turnover rate.

    After insistence from the old manager, I gave her a letter explicitly worded to state that I was notifying her of my internal transfer.

    Reply
    1. CAA

      Requiring a letter before letting you transfer is odd (though getting to the point where you have a job offer from another department and your current manager has not been informed is also a bit odd). There is a huge distinction between resigning and transferring internally, and you and HR were right to hold on to that.

      Reply
      1. RabbitRabbit

        I’ve had a very civil transfer since where my then-direct manager actually informed me of the opening, since she knew I really was into that particular area. But the previous manager was so actively hostile towards anyone leaving for internal or external positions that my new manager and her upper management decided to go with the ‘stealth’ route. (This included the new manager’s AVP suggesting that she have a phone discussion with my old manager about the whole transfer, etc.) I absolutely would not put it past that old manager of mine getting a ‘resignation’ letter from me and sending it swiftly off to HR to disrupt the transfer, while acting innocent.

        Reply
  14. Ali G

    My last resignation letter was a 6-page “separation agreement” that involved the head of HR, the CFO, myself and a lawyer. Good times!

    Reply
  15. jekyllandjavert

    My first job was at a dollar store, where I worked for 5 years while I was in college. When I graduated and got a full time job I resigned by handing my boss a very formal resignation letter. Not overly long, but more fluffy than it needed to be and padded out with phrases like “I have enjoyed my time at Dollar Store and appreciate how it has enabled me to learn and grow as a professional”. I still cringe when I think about it.

    Reply
    1. Marshmallow

      You worked there for 5 years! That’s probably longer than most people and a little fluff didn’t hurt anyone! I’m sure you really did learn a lot at Dollar Store and your boss probably appreciated your professionalism.

      Reply
    2. Basia, also a fed

      I don’t think that’s cringeworthy! I worked at a grocery store in high school and college and learned a lot and grew as a professional! I think it’s great that you took that job seriously and didn’t treat it as “just retail.”

      Reply
  16. Cat wrangler

    I resigned my previous job in June,.so I requested a quick chat with my manager, gave my reasons and the date I wanted to leave on. He requested that I put this in an email which I duly did and he then ‘accepted’ my resignation by return. Had I not been reading AAM for a while, I would have thought it was normal for an employer to ‘accept’ a resignation and that iy formed part of the process. Now I simply laughed inside and wondered what he thought I would do in the event of him refusing to ‘accept’ it.

    Reply
    1. CAA

      In this context, I think “I accept” is more like “I acknowledge I received this”. I don’t use the word accept, but I do reply to resignation emails that I’ve asked people to send, just so we both have written verification. Not that I’ve ever needed to go back and look at the dates, or that I’ve forgotten someone resigned, but it just seems like the right thing to do.

      Reply
      1. Cat wrangler

        Yes, probably just not quite the right word to use but a polite acknowledgement of my email. I was very happy there but my circumstances changed, so I had to leave.

        Reply
  17. Pegasus

    I agree with everything that Alison wrote, but I’m in a weird situation with the job I am currently quitting and wonder what others think.
    I was asked to include the reason why I am quitting (my coworker’s behavior has become intolerable…I did write it more nicely/professionally than that) in my resignation letter by my supervisor, who got this instruction from one of the big bosses. I think the big bosses maybe want ammo to use to dismiss Intolerable Coworker (academia, tenure, difficult but doable, just not in a timeframe I am willing to subject myself to)? Other thoughts? I thought the request was weird, but I did as asked.

    Reply
    1. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone

      It’s a little odd, but I agree with your assessment. It’s likely the case that they are trying to build a paper trail.

      Reply
    2. Beth Jacobs

      Yup, it definitely sounds like they want documentation to fire Coworker – in government, academia or union jobs you’ll want a solid paper trail of documented problems before firing. I think a more common way to do this is by having some sort of record of exit interviews, but this works just as well.

      Reply
  18. Bar Manager

    What are folks thoughts on places where it seems that the culture involves written resignation letters rather than face to face conversations? In the time I’ve been there, every employee in any level below me has resigned via email, with that being the first conversation about it, including employees who had been there for nearly two decades. There was one person at my equivalent level and I am not sure how she notified them. I’m not scared to have the face to face convo, but initially I had planned to just email as that seems to the culture of the place, but now I am wondering if that would seem off as I am higher in the hierarchy than the other folks were. Any thoughts? The owners and I have a warm relationship, so I had planned to have a face to face with them but email my direct supervisor.

    Reply
    1. CAA

      Have a face-to-face conversation with your direct supervisor before you talk to the owners, then follow up with an email. It doesn’t really matter what everyone else has done, especially if they’re lower level employees, this is still the most professional way to handle it.

      Reply
    2. Close Bracket

      > In the time I’ve been there, every employee in any level below me has resigned via email, with that being the first conversation about it, including employees who had been there for nearly two decades.

      I’m not seeing a culture where people resign over email. I’m seeing a culture where people don’t mention that they are thinking about leaving until they do so. Solve that question, and the question of whether you need to write an email or have a face to face will solve itself.

      Reply
    1. CAA

      Probably yes, but check with HR or your manager. It can be the same as a resignation letter, or you can say “I will be retiring and my last day will be…”

      Reply
    2. JanetM

      What Beth Jacobs said — my university requires one; essentially the same format as Allison recommends for resignation, just substituted retirement for resignation.

      Also, depending on your company, resignations may be declared earlier than the typical (in the USA) two weeks for a resignation. Again at my university, I’ve seen as long as an academic year (because it takes that long to hire a faculty member!) ranging down to about three months for non-academic staff. I’ve also seen one that was only two weeks, but the impetus for that person’s retirement was a family emergency.

      Reply
  19. bookends

    I appreciate this! It’s always good to be reminded that resignation letters should really be short. When I had to write my first one and was doing some internet research, I found Nixon’s resignation letter, and figured that if a short letter is fine for quitting as the president, it’s definitely fine for quitting from a grocery store. It always makes me laugh, for some reason.

    “August 9, 1974
    Dear Mr. Secretary:
    I hereby resign the Office of President of the United States.
    Sincerely,
    [Richard Nixon’s signature]”

    Reply
  20. a funny story

    Years ago, one of my best friends called me, made some idle chit chat and then asked “Have you ever written a letter to quit a job?” I couldn’t stop laughing. He said that he just went into his boss’s office, told the guy that he was quitting the job and the boss said “OK, I need that in writing.” In his defense, this was his first “real” job out of school so maybe he wasn’t aware that resignations have to be documented. I wrote him something similar to what Alison had written in the article and emailed it to him with instructions like “Dear [What is the guy’s name?], Thank you for the opportunity to work at [Company]. I am writing to inform you of my resignation. My last day will be [when?!]. I wish you and [Company] success. Sincerely, [Friend’s Name].”

    Reply
    1. NotAnotherManager!

      I have a lot of entry-level employees and do a lot of coaching through the resignation process. This is not uncommon. When they come to see me, I walk them through what is seen as a best practice here (notify direct supervisors, notify people with whom you work regularly, send an email with the basics of your departure for HR, use the departure checklist to prepare to turn your work over).

      I had someone resign recently who couldn’t figure out why he had to tell me (his direct supervisor) or the attorney for whom he was working on several projects – he felt that he should just notify HR and that HR should notify everyone else for him.

      Reply
  21. Nox

    My resignation was a bit sloppy. I had provided them for weeks notice and despite that they still failed to inform all of my clients that I was leaving.

    I went from a small org which was relatively toxic to a larger org where so far everything is nice and structured. I didn’t tell them because I felt that from prior experiences with other employees leaving they were going to try to harass my new boss and new coworkers to try to pitch their services to them. So my primary client was notified of my departure and they decided to not continue business with company. And from my other client they had told me that they had told that client that I was leaving and not to say anything about it to them as it will upset them.

    I did what I was told and when I left on Halloween I had taken a cute picture in front of the building with my Halloween costume so I could put it up on my LinkedIn. I had posted the picture on LinkedIn wishing everybody that had worked with good luck and that I’ll miss them. I also announced where I was going. I figured at that point I was a free agent and I could announce my news and say whatever the hell I wanted to but I had ended up finding out from my husband who is still at the company that my client was never told that I was leaving and so they unfortunately found out about my departure from LinkedIn.

    Naturally my old company was very angry with me because they had an expectation that I would never say anything. I get to deal with these buffoons next week during the holiday party.

    Reply
    1. Tysons in NE

      This mystifies me. Just how did old company think that it would explain your absence long term? At some point, the client would probably notice that you were no longer there.
      Similar to a position when I gave notice. My tasks were to be divided to other current employees but no direction on what to whom. Second to last day when I asked who would be taking over the onboarding, this would be a great time to work with the new person, I was told “oh let’s just handle this as business as usual.” Second to last day.

      Reply
    2. Anon for this

      Now I’m relieved when I resigned from LastJob that I contacted my clients separately to inform them of my resignation. LastJob was a bit toxic and I started getting the sense they were leading people to believe I left on bad terms, when in fact, I left for an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. I’m just glad I gave my own message to my clients so I could preserve those relationships.

      Reply
      1. Nox

        That’s one of my regrets was not being allowed to contact them to inform them of where I was going. Because now it just looks like I burned a bridge when in reality I was never permitted to say anything.

        The old company went as far as supervising my emails and calls with them to ensure I didn’t say anything.

        Reply
  22. dreading resigning

    I’m planning to resign from my job in about a month… and I am dreading it. Over the years, the owners have come to feel almost like family. They’re very fond of me (and me of them!), and they’ve given me a great deal of trust and support. I know this is the right decision for me, and I’m so excited about my next steps in life — I just feel sick to my stomach at the thought of surprising and disappointing them like this. I don’t think they see it coming.

    Has anyone here ever been in such a situation? Any advice/moral support you might be able to offer would be so appreciated.

    Reply
    1. NotAnotherManager!

      If your current employers are good people and like family, they will be sorry to see you go but excited for your opportunity. Most people get that the feeling of being upset at losing a good employee is selfish and try to contain that side of it.

      This is a case where spending the time to talk about how grateful you are for the opportunity, trust, and support they’ve shown you might soften the blow (again, for reasonable people), as would doing whatever you can to make the transition as seamless for them as you can (within reason).

      Good luck!

      Reply
    2. anonthistime

      I haven’t been at my current job as long as it sounds like you have, but I felt similarly fond of my boss and the vast majority of my coworkers at the place I just gave notice. Management has been very supportive of me, and I felt super guilty telling one boss in particular. He was completely surprised, but took it graciously in the moment. He’s been a bit grumpy since then, less with me and more at the former colleague who recruited me, but if your work environment is generally high functioning, they will handle it professionally.

      If you can, try to set aside a couple of minutes of privacy after you break your news the first time. I totally kept it together when I was telling the news to the boss I felt most guilty about telling, but then got very teary a few minutes later in my coworker’s office after the initial adrenaline wore off.

      Reply
  23. Tysons in NE

    I did leave a temp assignment with no notice. Not professional I know, but the new temp assignment was exactly what I wanted at the pay I wanted vs. previous assignment no where close to either. But at least was a nice group of people to work with.
    So, I am sure that I burned that bridge with the agency. However there are at least two dozen others in my city.
    Right before getting the new assignment, I had a long talk with the recruiter who placed me and said why I knew that previous role was not going to be a good long term fit and why I was actually asking about a direct hire that her agency had.
    She truly seemed surprised that I was interested in a position which would probably offer benefits could potentially be in my desired salary range vs. an hourly rate below what I want and an on-going assignment in a position which was not a good long term fit with no benefits at all.
    After sending off my resignation email, she wanted to hop on a call to discuss the new position. My response was polite outlining why I thought it a better fit: the usual suspect and true in this case: commute, money and job content. She kept wanting to hop on a call. Basically I said that if she had a specific question ask vs. email however I have already outlined TWICE why I have chosen to move on.
    I feel a little bad about not working out a week to wrap a few things up at old place, but this place is better.
    Yes, I do know that a temp agency can dump one in a heartbeat.

    Reply
  24. anonkyins

    I used Alison’s advice when resigning from my last job, since I was *actually* under contract and required to give 90 days’ notice. My boss was still a little surprised I handed in a formal letter, but I wanted to cover my butt!

    Reply
  25. LovelyLadyLu

    Definitely put in resignation via email from Last Job. I hadn’t seen my manager in several months, so I felt it was my only route. Funny thing was, she came in the next morning especially to meet with me and said she’d been meaning to “check in with me for a while to see if I was happy at work”. Lol, nope. Gotta go, this place broke me!

    Reply
  26. FuzzFrogs

    Related question: how would you gracefully laterally transfer? Some coworkers at other locations did some shuffling around, opening up a position that, frankly, would make me very happy and work much better for my work/life situation. I initially decided not to go for it–aaaaaand told my supervisor I wasn’t going for it. But I changed my mind.

    Obviously sticky, but it gets stickier–my direct supervisor is currently on vacation, so I can’t tell her that I decided to put my hat in the ring, as a warning, and the way my org works I could literally be moved into the other position before she makes it back into work. It also feels shitty to go to FB Messenger and go “oh hey you won’t have an employee on Monday.” IDK. If anyone’s reading to the bottom of this and has advice I’d appreciate it.

    Reply
    1. Close Bracket

      Send her an email. It’s unfortunate that things could work out so that she reads your email and finds out you transferred both on the day she returns, but sometimes timing is unfortunate. Since it’s awkward, go ahead and put the awkwardness out there. Acknowledge the timing isn’t very good and that you wish she had been present so you could tell her in person that you decided to go for it after all. And go see her the day she returns.

      Reply
  27. Flash Bristow

    I resigned by going into my boss’s office, hand outstretched with an envelope, saying “um… you ought to read this…”

    The context is that a few of our small team had left for Company A, and then my ex-boss called me and invited me to visit, offering me a few grand more than I asked for! I visited – and was told “well, you’ve got the job if you want it. What shall we talk about?”

    So I accepted. Back to resigning, from a job I’d really enjoyed – for various reasons I wanted to spread my wings…

    Him: is this what I think it is?
    Me: yes – sorry!
    Him: where are you going… Oh, not company A?
    Me: um, yes…
    Him: damn! Well, OK…
    Me: I’ll make sure everything is documented and train up my underling.
    Him: fair enough – good luck!

    Then after leaving his office, I promptly delivered a copy of the letter to HR. It was as basic as Alison’s, so I wanted to tell my boss (with whom I had a good rapport) in person – and to deal with the admin (notifying HR) as a matter of routine.

    Reply
    1. Basia, also a fed

      I would be annoyed if one of my employees resigned this way. I was always happy if they were leaving for better opportunities, even when they were amazing contributors to my group. And I don’t even have a problem with them bringing the letter with them when they told me. But the cutesy game playing would feel like disrespectful. If someone said to me “you should read this,” I would be likely to say “please be professional and tell me what it says.”

      Reply
  28. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2

    Only once did I ever make a somewhat distasteful resignation letter – basically, I was leaving a long-time gig over money – but also indicated that I had attempted to negotiate but finally gave up and had to move forward.

    When an environment was unstable (read = I was jumping off a sinking ship) I did say I was leaving for a more stable position, given the uncertainty of things at that site (and that was a place, where my layoff date had been determined to be nine months out… weird) …

    My last job – that was 23 years ago – the office was relocating, but it had nothing to do with my leaving – I did say “it was a factor” – it might have helped them sweeten the pot to keep others in the fold. But that wasn’t a nasty, it was a favor for my friends who were left behind.

    Reply
  29. Grand Mouse

    I’m wondering if this is done in blue collar jobs? My parents are white collar and advice I’ve taken from them and here I’ve actually been warned against doing since it comes across as weird. I always thought doing it more professionally was better? Oh well.

    Reply
  30. Writer

    Thank you very much for your recommendations. Of course, you need to respect this kind of paper, is not it?:) I’ve read a lot of guidelines and stick to the three rules that are best suited to a letter of resignation:
    – Never insult or complain about your employer. (Even if he’s still that pig)
    – Let the paper look official. In many companies, a letter of resignation is an official document that confirms your intention to leave the company. Stick to all the rules of writing.
    – Thank your management, let them know that you are grateful that they gave you a chance to work with them, be polite:))

    Reply
  31. Melewen

    I work in a European international school and recently started at a new school in the same city. International school contracts tend to be August-July, even though the school year ends in June. The main reason I wrote a letter for my old (semi-toxic) school was to establish that I was not actually resigning until the end of my contract year. I wanted to make certain that my salary, insurance, and state pension contributions continued uninterrupted.

    Reply
  32. Claire

    Well, this post came at exactly the right time for me. I just sent off my resignation to my manager using your most excellent template. Thank you, Alison!

    Reply

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