how to write a resignation letter

For all the anxieties that land in my inbox, anxiety over quitting is probably the biggest. Even when they’re glad to be leaving, a lot of people get really stressed out about the mechanics of actually quitting: How do you tell your boss? What do you write in your resignation letter? And for that matter, why are we still having this important conversation by letter in the year 2023?

At New York Magazine today, I have a guide to everything you need to know about resignation letters.

{ 83 comments… read them below }

  1. CPA Spouse*

    I literally just came to your site last week to see how best to draft my resignation letter. Stressful, but once it’s submitted it is SO FREEING! Congrats to everyone else who has recently written resignation letters, too!

    1. BellyButton*

      When you feel that much relief to giving notice, you know you made the right decision. Good luck!

  2. kris*

    I did this too! Handed it in on Friday. Instant feeling of relief. The next day I got chinese food and my fortune cookie said “you will take a gamble and win” so hopefully that’s a sign that my plan will work out in my favor in the long run, because I’ll be taking a pay cut for a while.

    1. SansaStark*

      I did that several years ago, too, and had it validated in every way possible about a year ago. I wish you all the same success!

      1. Mollie*

        I have also taken a pay cut (years ago) for a scenario that was much better aligned with where I wanted to go, and I have no regrets. I think the relief that you felt is a good sign. Best of luck to you.

  3. cabbagepants*

    I followed this great advice when I resigned in 2021. Short and sweet! It’s a bureaucratic formality, NOT a “Dear John” letter.

    1. NotAnotherManager!*

      This is spot-on. I have a lot of people in their first professional jobs, so we coach them through the resignation process. The formal notice of resignation is a brief email authorizing HR to start your offboarding process – all we need to know is that X will be their last day. The rest is window dressing. (And please, no paper letters! Then I have to scan them and send to HR – an email is ideal, once we’ve chatted.)

    2. londonedit*

      Yeah, I think a lot of people (especially earlier on in their career) have this idea of a resignation letter as being this big thing like you see in TV dramas and films – walking into the boss’s office and saying ‘This is my Letter of Resignation!!!’ When in fact the way it actually works most of the time is that you have a quiet chat with your immediate supervisor to let them know that you’re handing in your notice, then you follow up with a brief email just giving the details of the last day that you’ve agreed and (most likely, unless you despise your boss) a quick line about ‘thank you for the opportunities over the last three years and I wish you all the best for the future’ or whatever.

  4. Corrigan*

    The last two times I had to do it I was totally ready with the content of what I wanted to say, but I couldn’t physically locate a manager to do it. I only had to also submit in writing for one of those.

    Now that remote work environments are more typical, if we can’t do a Zoom, you’re getting an email.

  5. BellyButton*

    Can we have an OT for people to post their resignation stories? I would love to hear about people’s mic drop/baller moments, bananapants reactions to a resignation, or the jaw-dropping resignations they have seen.

      1. Chocoholic*

        This is the story I always think of when I think of spectacular quitting stories.

    1. DJ Hymnotic*

      The employee who resigned on the spot after her manager denied her time off request for her college graduation is the gold standard against which I now judge all resignation stories. Partly because the manager was the one emailed in the story and was absolutely convinced that they were in the right, and partly because years later the employee in question found this website and wrote in to say, yeah, the manager really was that bad and I (the employee) am doing great now.

      1. Reluctant Mezzo*

        That was the letter whose clickbait brought me here and got me to subscribe.

  6. Charlotte Lucas*

    Funny story: At my last job, I wrote a resignation email, because multiple people had to be told at the same time (pre Zoom). Within a minute of my hitting Send, my phone rang once. It was my terrible grandboss whose inability to protect my department from some awful, career-wrecking changes had been the catalyst for my intense job search.

    She apparently thought better of the call & hung up before I had the chance to answer. To this day, I wonder what she was going to say. (My leaving screwed the company but led to more appreciation for the coworker I left behind.)

    1. Unkempt Flatware*

      Hahahahha I would have loved to hear you say you called her right back and said, “oh hey! I saw I just missed you. Were you calling to wish me luck?”

  7. LadyAmalthea*

    The timeline for my last job was pretty extreme. The general manager (I was assistant manager at that point) saw I had come back from a vacation in February with an engagement ring and knew my boyfriend/fiance lived in another country and it would make more sense for me to move than him based on US immigration law and asked me about my timeline for moving, which wasn’t going to be until August when the annual lease on my rent stabilised apartment was up (ah, NYC).

    6 months notice is a bit insane for retail but it did garner a ton of good will, even if the owner spent my last 3 months telling me how shocked he was I was leaving every time he saw me 3 days a week.

  8. Be Gneiss*

    At ExJob I had 5 bosses. I reported to all of them for different things (sort of) and worked at 2 locations, and had no over-arching most-bossy-boss to give direction or prioritize conflicting goals. They all got copied on 1 email, and I don’t regret it, because it was a complete dumpster fire. Honestly, if I had read the “resigned in cod” story before I left there, I would have considered that a solid move.

    But on a serious note, if you do have an unenviable position where you report to 2 people, do you have the conversation with whoever is most senior? Whoever makes the conversation seem less terrifying (because it’s not necessarily and easy conversation)?

    1. GreenShoes*

      I think in this case you just pick one by whatever means makes most sense. Is there a reason it can’t be both at the same time? I think typically one would be more of the admin manager than the other, but not always.

      At the end of the day I don’t think it matters. Just tell one and be done with it. Again, it’s not a break up, it’s a resignation :) It shouldn’t be terrifying, but if it is then having both would make more sense.

    2. Sweet Clementine*

      I recently resigned from a position where I had such a setup. I had a new boss who had just joined the team, ex-boss who was still managing us in principal, and a senior Lead with whom I worked the most closely and for the longest time. They all share the same grandboss.

      After much consideration, I gave my resignation to new boss. He immediately looped in grandboss, who asked me to keep the news under wraps as he tried to figure out if there was a way to retain me. Once he realized there wasn’t, I asked for some time to break it to my two other managers, and then the news was broken. Senior Lead was not too happy to be kept out of the loop (he had hired me), but I told him grandboss had asked me to keep it under wraps.

    3. Nea*

      I wouldn’t have a conversation with either one – just send one resignation email with both of them on the TO line.

    4. Michelle Smith*

      I had three bosses at my last job that I reported to to various degrees, not including our agency’s equivalent of a CEO. One of the bosses (Boss 1) was relatively new to the team and I hated her with every fiber of my being. One of the bosses (Boss 2) joined the team 2 weeks after I had and got promoted to being my boss after I begged and begged him to apply for the position (so we wouldn’t end up with an unknown). Boss 1 was technically junior to Boss 2, but she didn’t report to him. One of the bosses (Boss 3) was basically a grandboss, who the other two bosses reported to as well. She was part of the team that interviewed me for the job.

      I gave my notice over the phone to Boss 2, since I was a remote employee. I then sent a resignation letter via email to a bunch of people, including Bosses 1-3, HR, and various executives including CEO Equivalent. I gave plenty of notice (I think 2.5 weeks?) and they still didn’t have my payroll figured out by my last day, but that wasn’t on me.

  9. Rocky Mountain (Not) High*

    Very timely post! I just accepted a new job today, and plan to give notice on Friday. I left my last few jobs due to lay offs, so this is the first time in a long time I’m leaving on my own terms from a job that I’m not actively unhappy at–I was recruited to an opportunity that’s just better. It makes the resignation weirdly fraught when I genuinely like my boss and my team, even though I am firmly in the business-is-business camp.

    1. Sleeping Sun*

      Exactly this, I’m in the last week of my notice and it was difficult in the sente that I really like the people I work with and the company, but the opportunity was just too good to pass. On the other hand I didn’t have to write a letter, the HR system has an option to submit your resignation which is what I did after having the conversation with my boss.

  10. Delta Delta*

    These are great letters. This letter also makes me think of I QUIT spelled out on cod, which is similarly short and effective, but perhaps not appropriate in all settings.

  11. The Crowening*

    At my last job I had so many bad days that I eventually drafted a resignation letter. I had an electronic copy ready to roll on my computer and even had a printed copy that needed only the date written in (“effective two weeks from the date above” was what I wrote in the body of the letter, which was polite but short). Having it ready to use was both good and bad – good because I felt a little more prepared if I had to just give up and walk away for my own health/sanity, but bad because I was SO TEMPTED to trot that sucker out immediately after yet another instance of condescension or dismissiveness from my manager. It would have felt great to plop that paper into his hand 30 seconds later. But I resisted. Then eventually a new opportunity came out of nowhere and I was able to use the letter I’d had prepared. All worked out fine.

    1. Bridge Burner*

      At toxic ex-job (many jobs ago), I decided in the spring I was going to leave at the end of the summer. I typed up my resignation letter, put it in an envelope and kept it in my desk. Whenever I would come back from a meeting with my horrible boss and sit at my desk with silent tears in my eyes, I would open the desk drawer and look at the letter, knowing I would have the last laugh.

      When I quit, I did exactly what Alison said not too, I slid it under my boss’s door so she’d have to bend over to pick it up off the floor, and it contained a very pointedly written paragraph about exactly why I was leaving.

      Yes, I burned the bridge. That supervisor was still one of the worst people I’ve ever worked for; she and that job made me physically ill from stress.

      1. I should really pick a name*

        Just make sure you don’t work with people who snoop in drawers.

        1. The Crowening*

          Yeah, I once noticed the printed letter was missing. I had a mild heart attack wondering who went in there in the first place and what they would do with it. But then I found it, it had gotten pushed over the back of the drawer. Honestly, at that time, if someone had found it and done something crummy with it (like try to force me out) I could have fought it through my union, esp since it was undated and unsigned. Still, who wants to mess with all that.

    2. Rick Tq*

      Sounds like some retirement plans I’ve heard about.
      “Hey Charlie, when are you going to retire?”
      “TBD, Ralph, TBD”
      “TBD? To be Determined”
      “No. Three. Bad. Days”…..

  12. The OG Sleepless*

    I gave my resignation once by phone call, on the way home from signing a contract with the new job. I couldn’t bear to do it in person. The only remarkable thing about that was that my boss was notoriously hard to pin down to talk, but somehow she had a sixth sense about when something was really amiss. She answered my call on the first ring. I’ve always been intrigued by that…was her spidey sense tingling?

    1. Bruce*

      I just had a dotted line employee resign, and I’ll admit that my spidey-senses were tingling when she texted me to ask if we could talk. No hard feelings, she got recruited to a job that is more exciting and a step up, though I’m disappointed she didn’t stay longer.

    2. GreenShoes*

      I don’t think I’ve ever been completely surprised by a resignation. Typically there’s a moment of “huh… I guess that all makes sense now”. The uptick in dentist appointments, the sudden interest in updating documentation, a general feeling of discontentment, lowered patience/higher level of snark, a bit of ‘we should really train Wakeen in this thing I do’, etc.

      I do feel bad for the ones that seem to be really nervous to tell me. Hand on heart I’ve never not been supportive to an exiting employee and routinely tell my team at the end of the day they have to do what is right for them.

      1. PNWorker*

        That’s certainly nice of you. I read some of the crazy stuff managers do on this site to people leaving and it’s no wonder people want to leave! But sometimes people just find a better opportunity too.

        Course, whether I want to leave, or found something better, I never feel comfortable sharing that. Either I don’t want to tip my manager (like when I was in a bad situation in a previous gig) or I feel guilty for leaving, even if my manager would understand.

      2. NotAnotherManager!*

        This has been my experience as well. I’m rarely shocked by a departure, and I feel so bad at how nervous some people are. We always miss good people, but we also have a process to transition their work and don’t expect anyone to stay forever. We also have an eligible-for-rehire option, in case their move doesn’t end up being the right fit and we have a position that is.

      3. Lily Rowan*

        Honestly, I’ve been surprised at how nervous I’ve been, even well into my career! If I don’t hate the job/my boss, I do feel bad about leaving.

        As the boss, I have had things fall into place for the first time a couple of times when the person knocks on my door and asks if I have a minute, all nervous. I usually know it’s coming before that, though.

  13. a maker of webbed sites*

    I still think the best answer to “how to write a resignation letter” is “via cod fillets.”

  14. Landsing*

    At my job people only write a letter after resigning simply for legal reasons – and actually it’s usually an email saying, I am resigning effective “date.” thats it.

    1. Sloanicota*

      Yeah I actually think the biggest reason *for me* as the employee to write a resignation is that it proves I left voluntarily on good terms and was not fired for cause (in addition to the point made that it shows you did give two weeks notice). Who knows, by the time I need a reference from this job it could be five years down the road, and if there’s been enough turnover that people may not remember perfectly, so they can at least look it up and see the letter on file. As the article states, I think the reason employers want it is in case you later try to apply for unemployment.

  15. cheap-ass bananapants*

    I remember the time my Mom quit her job. She wrote two resignation letters. One was standard boilerplate I am leaving 2 weeks from x date and the other read “I resign. F**k you. May you burn like pigs in hell.” Knowing my Mom, it’s hard to say which one made it to HR.

    1. Silver Robin*

      Cheers to your mom! XD

      I do think having the “true feelings” version of important communications is helpful. They can ceremonially burned. Filed away. Cathartically ripped to shreds. Victoriously delivered. So many options.

      1. cheap-ass bananapants*

        Exactly! Just… make sure you send the letter you want, that’s how the plot of Atonement got set into motion. >.>

  16. CreepyPaper*

    I handed mine in today! Kept it short but sweet and my boss was very much saddened that I am leaving. Standard notice here is a calendar month so come end of June, I’m out and someone else can bear the brunt of the crap I get. It’s very liberating though!

  17. Festively Dressed Earl*

    Buy a sympathy card that says “Sorry For Your Loss” and include a note stating your last day.

  18. NeedRain47*

    When I told my boss at my last job that I was leaving, he thought I was kidding. I was like “no, yeah, I quit for real.” I had worked at that organization for 16 years, so I guess me leaving wasn’t on his radar.

    Then he got irritated that grandboss already knew, b/c accusing me of going over his head was one of his favorite things. (I hadn’t actually told her I was leaving, but she was one of my references so she had an idea.)

    1. Charlotte Lucas*

      It always gets me how surprised bad managers are when good employees quit.

      1. The OG Sleepless*

        The scene when Peggy gave Don her resignation in Mad Men, to me, perfectly captures the emotions that happen when a talented employee leaves a toxic job. It was so similar to my first professional resignation that it gave me the heebies.

  19. HailRobonia*

    This Is Just To Say

    I have taken
    a job
    that is in
    another company

    and while
    you were probably
    me to stay

    Forgive me
    the new pay is delicious
    and benefits
    far better.

    By Hailrobonia Carlos Hailrobonia

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      This! You win one free internet, redeemable whenever and wherever you wish!

  20. WantonSeedStitch*

    I’ve only written one resignation letter in my life, and it was pretty much exactly like this even though I don’t think AAM even existed yet. I think I kept it short and neutral mostly because 1) my background in journalism restrains me from being overly flowery in professional communication, and 2) I just wanted that s#!t over with. The company “asked” for three weeks notice. I gave two. I lied and said I’d appreciated all the opportunities I’d had working for the company. I didn’t even have another job lined up, but temping for a while was better than continuing to slide further into anxiety while working there.

  21. AnonNow*

    My resignation letters are the briefest, blandest letters imaginable. I say everything else (like thanks) verbally.

    1. Charlotte Lucas*

      I’m an English major, & mine are, too! (Raised by someone trained as a secretary who eventually became an editor. No superfluous words allowed.)

  22. GreenShoes*

    I did have someone that basically sent a manifesto letter as his resignation. I mean I understood where he was coming from and joked about a few of the things he mentioned as well. But it was not a great look on him and more or less ended his time with us on a bad note.

    I hope he at least felt good to get it off his chest, but at the end of the day he was not happy with the executive leadership change, a reduction in force, and new policies (coming from the new executive leadership). The people who read his letter, myself included, didn’t have any control over those things so it’s not that it was going to affect any change.

    I am glad he found a place he was happier with and from what I’ve seen has been successful. But yeah, reading that letter made me think a bit differently about him and not in a great way.

  23. HailRobonia*

    This reminds me of the advice my best manager ever gave me. When I used to call in sick I would email “I can’t come in today, I’ve got a really bad cold and had a horrible night sleep and….”

    She told me “you just need to send me a simple ‘I will be taking a sick day today’ and if you think you might be out longer than a day that would be nice to know but not required.”

  24. Phony Genius*

    Regarding Alison’s comment in the article that Hollywood “appears to be populated by people who have not worked in many non-Hollywood office jobs,” it is quite rare for somebody to go from a stable job situation to Hollywood. So it stands to reason that screenwriters would have little-to-no experience in how these types of jobs really work. And if they did, the resulting scripts would be boring. (Unless they were based on many of the letters published on this site.)

    1. Rainy Cumbria*

      I always kind of assumed that trope was to future-proof it, rather than because Hollywood folks don’t understand the real world. So when someone is watching the movie in 2050 they won’t think “$60,000? Is that good or bad?”

  25. Michelle Smith*

    I write longer resignation letters. If I really enjoyed the work, I take the time to lay it on a bit thick about how much I appreciated the opportunity and I specifically name people who still work there whose support and mentorship really helped me develop as a professional. I have no idea if the kind words help or not, but it feels good to me to make sure the higher ups know I’m not leaving because John the direct manager was a jerk.

    It works both ways though. When I left my last job, I very deliberately left one of my direct supervisors off the list of people I thanked. It helped me feel better without being unprofessional or airing my legitimate grievances to deaf ears.

  26. Database Developer Dude*

    Dear Boss,

    This is to inform you that I am resigning from employment with , with an effective date of . My last workday will be .


    Why in the world would you need anything else??

  27. Citizen August*

    Contrary to AAM, my first real job out of college was with a newspaper, and we DID negotiate salary by sliding a paper back and forth! I had no idea what was going on, and when the managing editor slid the paper across the table the first time, I was agog at the salary listed. It wasn’t a lot at all, but more money than I thought possible as a poor college student! Looking back, I should have played it cool and asked for even a little more, but I had zero knowledge of the way the world worked. This was in the early 90s, pre-internet! If I knew then what I know now …

  28. Ellen*

    “boss, grandboss, and hr,

    please consider this the beginning of my two week’s notice. today is x, my last day will be x+14.

    thank you

    pretty much exactly what I emailed to all the mentioned people as well as printed copies on everyone’s desk, signed and photographed as proof that full notice was given. three days in, my boss informed me they had no record of me working 3 days the prior week. I pointed out that there were cameras to prove I was there. magically, they found the time punches. then, they were not sure how much pto they would owe me. I showed them the printed receipts. then the switched me to per diem “for my protection” on my last day. I informed them that I quit and cc’d hr. im getting my accrued time off and am not per diem. they said it might take 8 to 10 weeks for me to get that money. state law gives them 14 days. I photocopied the section and also emailed pictures of it. I got a signed receipt for my badge and work uniforms.

    go ahead, ask me why I started looking for a new job.

  29. Halfgrownkids*

    So funny that this came up tonight. I did not read through the comments, but my 16yo daughter asked if she could give her two weeks over text. I thought, no. But my almost 18 yo son, said absolutely. She only gets a few hours a week or so. She isn’t worried about a reference or burning a bridge. With that in mind I said probably, just thank them for
    The opportunity and say you are looking for something with more hours. I’m so out of touch with part time work at that age, lol.

  30. Rainy Cumbria*

    If you’re unsure, when you have the conversation with your manager, there’s no harm in asking what they expect from the resignation letter/email.

  31. asterisk*

    I recently read a resignation letter from a well-loved director that was retiring after decades of service. It was a lovely letter, talking about the things she had accomplished for the organization and the community over the years and how much the job had meant to her.

    Turns out she’d used ChatGPT to write the first draft and then just made adjustments to make it more human! She said, “I just couldn’t figure out what to put in my letter and stewed over how to start it for weeks.”

  32. Beez*

    Is this a physical letter on real paper? Is that why it needs a date? Or can I do this via email, which has the date already attached? Do I put the date in the body of the email?

    The rest is so straightforward and simple, I need to make it more complicated and confusing please.

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