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How do I resign from my job and write a resignation letter?

Updated on October 24, 2012

Nervous about resigning?

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Resign from my job!

In an entire lifetime the average person has only 7 different jobs! No wonder most people find resigning a nervous and awkward experience, especially if you have been at your employment for a long time.

To date (aged 25) I have had at least 7 jobs from the age of sixteen and I can only think of one previous employer who I left on good terms with a good reference in the bag (6 of these jobs weren't exactly career moves, more summer or part time jobs to fund college or university).

Now I am a recruitment consultant and I see people resigning from their jobs everyday, in fact I coach them all through that process.I don't think there hasn't been one of them that hasn't been grateful of the advice no matter how senior.

The aim of this article is to ensure a professional and positive resignation that will ultimately guarantee you a good reference in the future, and if possible keeping bridges open in case things don't work out.

I will briefly guide you through what to expect and how to handle the following:

  • Resignation Meeting
  • Resignation Letter
  • Leaving on Good Terms

Resignation Meeting

It all depends upon your work environment. In most cases however a resignation meeting should be called. You don't want to surprise your boss in the middle of the office or when they are on their lunch break. So arrange to have a quick chat with them just for five minutes. Remember the following:

  • At this stage you should have accepted a new position with a new employer. You should be happy with your decision and new career move but how do your think your manager will respond?
  • Remain confident! Difficult as it may sound this is the key to your success.
  • Inevitably the general response from management will be one of disappointment, regret and maybe even shock. They are about to lose a valuable member of their team so don’t be surprised if they are visibly shaken.
  • To allow you to work through this difficult reaction try to remain positive at all times and disclose as little detail about your new role as possible.
  • Remember that 80% of individuals who accept a counter-offer do not stay for more than 1-year, as the company is less likely to re-invest in someone who has attempted to resign.

Resignation Letter or Notice

You will hand your resignation letter to your boss during your Resignation Meeting. There is a lot of bad advice out there and template after template. You don't need a long resignation letter template! Just do the following:

  • As this is an official letter it needs to be two sentences only and should run something like this:

“This is to inform you of my intention to resign, effective [state your notice period here and date you will be leaving]. Thank you very much for the opportunity of working here.”

This doesn't leave them reading an essay and allows you to say anything else you feel you have to say verbally, as dealt with in the section above.

  • There is a temptation to include a middle paragraph explaining your reasons for leaving. This is unnecessary and could be damaging by causing the company to mark you as someone who is unsuitable for re-hire (remember that a good reference is crucial and your ultimate goal).
  • Remember: The letter is for the attention of one person only…your immediate boss. It should be typed and handed in-person to your boss during the resignation meeting.

Leave your employer on the very best of terms by preparing a Report!

  • To increase your chances of coming across as a confident, positive and professional individual you could (if you are a the go the extra mile type) prepare a short report detailing the work you will complete before the date of your departure.
  • This report is a 'most important list' and should be as detailed as possible even down to including who would be best suited to complete your work once you leave and the amount of outstanding work upon that date.
  • This is a useful tool as it indicates to your boss that you have ultimately made the decision to leave. It also helps you complete your resignation meeting positively and professionally.

Finally... Good Luck!

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    • profile image

      Janhorner 

      5 years ago

      Hi Matthew,

      I have admi experience and good people skills. I use to be an audio typist years ago. The job that has just been made redundant was that of a senior cleaning supervisor in a hospital. It was a stressful job because there are targets to be met by the client, the Trust. I had around 14 areas and staff to look after. I was lucky and never got a penalty because I did not mind rolling my sleeves up and working with my staff; whom I have the most highest regard for. If you hear of anyone who wants someone to work from home typing etc I'm here! Fancy the virtual assistant type job!

      Thanks for asking,

      Jan

    • Matthew Kirk profile imageAUTHOR

      Matthew Kirk 

      5 years ago from Liverpool

      Thanks Jan, what is it you do? I recruit in London.

    • profile image

      Janhorner 

      5 years ago

      Hi,

      I can certainly relate to your hub, because after five years with my company I was told last Thursday I'm redundant; not good at the age of 61! However, I am hopeful that I will be able to find a job to keep me in the employment stream until I am 65. It was a shock and upset me deeply, because I will miss all the people I worked with (well most of!). Way back in the 60's and 70's you could walk in and out of jobs like no tomorrow and you didn't need all those certificates!

      It is very hard for everyone these days; even the graduate!

      Good hub enjoyed the read and voted up,

      Jan

    • Insane Mundane profile image

      Insane Mundane 

      6 years ago from Earth

      It simply boils down to two things: If ya respect your employer, you give them a notice, preferably 2 weeks or whatever (yada-yada!). If you could care less and/or hate your boss or job, you tell them to stick it where the sun doesn't shine, and get the hell out; done deal! ...Simple as that; cheers!

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 

      6 years ago from USA

      This is great advice. When I quit, I wrote a simple resignation letter as you mentioned, and presented it during a meeting, as you suggested. I hadn't heard of and didn't think about leaving a report though. I tried to get as much done as possible, but I wouldn't have wanted to promise more than I could deliver, not knowing what else they would ask me to do (train the new person, etc.)

      It turns out they did not hire my replacement in time, so I sat down with my co-workers and tell them about my duties so they could carry them forward until the replacement was found.

      I would add that you should generally try to give at least two week notice so that they have time to find someone else. This will also earn you a good reference. Anything less than two weeks is often looked at as leaving them in a lurch.

    • profile image

      Flora Breen Robison 

      6 years ago

      Great advice. I recently read some comments you made on another hub and had to check you out. I wish I had read this before I left my last job.

    • Matthew Kirk profile imageAUTHOR

      Matthew Kirk 

      6 years ago from Liverpool

      Thank you for commenting blaeberry, CZ & Laura. Glad you found it useful :)

    • CZCZCZ profile image

      CZCZCZ 

      6 years ago from Oregon

      Great hub about resigning properly. Great ideas for making the letter straight and to the point. Resiging from a company you have worked for is never easy and this is good advice for anyone considering doing so.

    • Laura in Denver profile image

      Laura Deibel 

      6 years ago from Aurora

      Well said, the less asid the better. There is no way you can comprehend how a future hiring manager at the company wil respond to amnything but a blank slate and wishing the company well with adequate notice (2 weeks).

      Recall that you will likely get a much less sufficient 2 week notice if you are laid off from the company upon their multiple "restructurings"!

    • blaeberry profile image

      blaeberry 

      6 years ago from Scotland

      Useful information. Resigning is not easy and this hub gives good advice on how to do it the right way.

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