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What is a Resignation Letter?

By Matthew F.
Updated: May 17, 2024

A resignation letter is a letter expressing the intent of an employee to resign from a company. It is delivered by an employee to a supervisor or boss, and can be sent through postal mail, e-mail, interoffice memo, or can be hand delivered. The resignation letter generally expresses the details of the resignation, and includes the date and reasons for leaving. They are often called a letter of resignation or a notice of employment termination.

Written like a typical business letter, the resignation letter includes a name, mailing address, city, state, zip code, phone number, and e-mail address. These are usually followed by a date, and then the information of the person receiving the letter, including the name, job title, company, and address of the company. The letter is then addressed as a typical business letter, usually with a Dear Mr. or Dear Ms. It may then begin with a statement of purpose, such as: “I regret to inform you that I hereby submit my resignation.”

The body of the letter should then include the effective date of resignation. Usually the letter is delivered at least two weeks prior, to allow the employer time to fill the newly vacant position, although some companies have different policies and may release an employee immediately. The letter then illustrates in detail the reasons for leaving. These reasons may range from new opportunities with different employers; a different direction for the employee in their career; limited opportunities; limited salary increases; or personal reasons for resigning, such as a pregnancy or a family emergency.

The resignation letter also should include the positive aspects of the job that is being left. Negative statements should be avoided at all costs, as many companies will keep a resignation letter on file. It may be used in a personnel file and can be given to future employers contacting a previous workplace, or for reevaluation for rehiring. The letter should serve simply as a professional statement of the reasons for leaving a company, and should not include personal attacks. If the work experience was negative, this could be outline, but in a polite and professional manner.

Typically concluding as a normal business letter with a sign-off, signature, and printed name, the resignation letter may include a “good luck” or a statement indicating a positive experience at the company. You may leave the door open for future employment with the company in a resignation letter, or can offer to help the company in interviewing or hiring for your vacated position.

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Discussion Comments
By mutsy — On May 02, 2011

@Latte31 -I know that is true. I try to write a resignation letter that lets them know that they offered me great opportunities in the past and have learned a great deal from the experience.

Just like with a rejection letter, many employers offer positive comments when they start the letter, I do the same with my resignation letter. I always include the dates of my effective resignation and I usually try to find sample resignation letters online in order to make sure that my letter sounds really professional.

It is really important that is sounds polite and professional because this is the last correspondence that the company is going to have of you and you want them to remember you in a positive light.

By latte31 — On Apr 29, 2011

I think that a polite resignation letter should always express gratitude about being employed with the company, but I disagree that you should mention details about why you are leaving. I think if you list that you found another opportunity that offered you more career growth opportunities that should be fine.

The employer can read between the lines as to what that means without you spelling it out. I think that if they should talk to you about the letter and verbally ask you why you are leaving then it would be okay to mention that they offered you a higher salary or more growth opportunities.

An employer might even give you a counter offer but that is a really difficult position to be in, so be aware that this could also happen.

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