How to write the perfect resignation letter

While most of our advice on here covers how to get a job, there comes a time in most of our lives when we’d much rather get out of one. But what’s the best way to do it?

It can take a while for it to dawn on us that a job isn’t right for us anymore, and even longer sometimes to gather the courage to do something about it. But staying in a job you have outgrown or in a company that no longer fits your ideals isn’t good for your career or emotional health.

In the short term you’ll be frustrated, unhappy and less motivated, and long term you could start to stagnate and lose the confidence and courage to go for something that stretches your talents and meets more of your needs.

So how do you resign? What makes a good resignation letter – one that politely removes you from your current position, without burning any bridges or damaging relationships?

How to write the perfect resignation letter

When writing the perfect resignation letter, keep the style professional and impersonal:

  • Make it simple and polite – if you have a personal axe to grind, this isn’t the place to do it.
  • Be brief – as much as you may want to explain at length exactly why your position is no longer a good fit for your life, or where the organisation is going wrong, it’s not necessary.
  • Be positive – again, you may have very good reason for wanting out, but listing all the company (or your boss’) faults isn’t going to help you now.

What to include in your resignation letter

It’s also important to include the right contents:

  • Get straight to the point – being your letter by stating that you wish to resign.
  • Give a reason – explain why you’re resigning. If you need to, you can give a general reason such as moving onto new opportunities or needing a better work-life balance.
  • Give a date – check your contract for your notice period and then state the date you want to leave.
  • Be grateful – thank your manager or company for giving you the opportunity, stating any specific occasions or opportunities if you can think of any.
  • List what you’ve accomplished – remind your employer how much you have contributed to the company by listing some of your achievements.
  • Tidy loose ends – explain how you will finish up current jobs or hand them over to your successor, if relevant.
  • Leave the door open – if there is a chance you may want to return to the company in the future, say you’ll be happy to return given the opportunity.
  • Finish on a positive note – re-emphasise a positive point when ending the letter, such as how much you have enjoyed working there, or will miss your colleagues.

Leave on good terms

Hopefully you’re leaving your current job because you’ve been offered a better opportunity elsewhere, and are parting on good terms with your company. But even if you’re leaving because you’re angry or upset about some aspect of you job or the way you’ve been treated, try to leave on good terms

You never know when you may need a good reference from, or come into contact with, your old colleagues or boss again. And swallowing any pride and anger (or even justified outrage) you may feel now, may well reveal itself to a be a wise move in future. (If you have genuine reasons for feeling mistreated or discriminated against, you can get advice from ACAS.)