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Writing a resignation letter without burning a bridge

Updated on August 14, 2009

In this article you'll learn some easy steps to writing a resignation letter. When you're putting in your resignation, it's tempting to tell the company exactly why you're leaving. Whether it's a micro-managing boss, boring projects, or below-market pay, it seems only fair that you let your employer know what you're dissatisfied about.

However, this is a huge mistake. When you leave a job, it's crucial to deliver a well-written, polite, and professional resignation letter. This is not the time to air grievances or burn bridges.

A sample template
A sample template

Below you'll find some concrete steps to take to write a resignation letter.

First, find a quiet area or room. It's crucial that you have enough time and peace to compose your thoughts. Start with a template - there are several templates on the Web, including at,, and even through Microsoft at

You might feel more comfortable writing out your letter longhand before typing it into your word processing program. Do whatever makes you feel most at ease. Once you have your thoughts gathered, you're ready to compose your letter. You'll want to open your word processing software on your computer for this step - it's no longer accepted in most industries to turn in a hand-written resignation letter.

Compose your letter. Be sure to include your name and contact information at the top, along with the date. Below that you'll add a salutation, such as Dear Mr. Jones, To Whom It May Concern, etc. Next comes the body of your letter.

State right at the beginning that you are resigning from the company, and on what date your resignation is effective. Go on to express your thanks for the experiences you've had with the company, citing specific examples if possible. For instance, you could say, "I am grateful that you placed your faith in me by promoting me to manage the Payroll Department. I learned a lot about what it takes to be an effective manager, and I thank you for that."

Finish the body of the letter by expressing regrets about leaving. At this point you can say something like, "I feel it's time to move on to a new position, but I wish you and the company all the best in the future."

After the body comes the closing salutation. Oftentimes it's proper to simply use Sincerely, then leave a few spaces, and type your name. Your signature will go in the space between the closing salutation and your printed name. You can also use Regards, With Thanks, etc.

You'll want to make three copies of your letter - one for you to keep, one for your boss, and a copy for the HR department. Because of this, on your letter you'll skip a few lines after your printed name and add the following text: cc: Jane Doe (add the name of your HR supervisor here).

Then, you're done! Well, not quite. There's still one more step: proofread!

Read the entire letter from beginning to end. Check to see how it flows. Are all the words spelled correctly? Use Spell Check and Grammar Check to help you along, but don't rely solely on them - sometimes they make mistakes. Did you say anything misleading or potentially damaging? Did you offer yourself the chance to exit your position gracefully?

Once you're satisfied with the letter, have a trusted friend or colleague - someone who isn't going to run to your boss to spill the beans that you're quitting - read the letter. Take their advice seriously. They are not as emotionally-invested in this situation as you are, and they may have insight that you can't discern - the old "can't see the forest for the trees" problem. Once you've made any changes that you feel necessary, you're finally done. Really!

Here are some tips and tricks to keep in mind while you compose your letter:

  • Read several examples of resignation letters online before you write yours - there are oftentimes sample letters catered to your industry!
  • Remember to take your time - don't rush the process.
  • Search for positives in your time with this company - you never know when you're going to need to be on good terms with the company and its employees in the future.
  • Don't bash the company, your boss, or your work - it can come back to haunt you. Refrain from making angry statements, using sarcasm, or doing name-calling.
  • Remember that even if your boss behaves more like an ogre than like the kind, nurturing boss you wish he or she was, he or she is still a human with feelings. Your boss may take it personally when you quit. Be sensitive to that.
  • This letter will become a permanent part of your personnel file with this company, and may be made available to a number of entities, including future employers, government agencies, etc. Make sure your letter reflects the highest level of professionalism.

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