Whether you've decided to quit your job because you've outgrown your role or because you've finally mustered up the courage to make a big career change, the task of writing a resignation letter is anxiety-inducing no matter your reason for leaving your position. How do you honestly and tactfully tell your boss why you're giving up your desk chair without undoing years of hard work?
To make the process of formally giving your two-weeks notice as stress-free as possible, we asked Rose Keating, a career consultant with years of experience helping women land their dream jobs, to talk us through the basics. From how to format your letter to how to hand it over to your manager, here's what you need to know to make your exit swiftly, professionally, and simply.
Ahead a career coach explains everything you need to know about how to write a resignation letter—and why you shouldn't spend more than 15 minutes doing it.
On Proper Formatting
MYDOMAINE: Is there a basic structure to follow when writing a resignation letter?
ROSE KEATING: For some companies, an informal email indicating you are resigning will suffice, and other companies will request a more formal document. If you write it in a document, include the date on the top left and use "dear [manager's name]" as your greeting and "sincerely" as your signature.
MD: Generally speaking, how long should a resignation letter be?
RK: Resignation letters do not need to be long. A few sentences indicating that you are resigning and when your last day of work will be will suffice. If you had a great experience at the company, it is appropriate to express gratitude for your tenure at the organization.
MD: How honest should you be about your reasons for resigning when you put pen to paper?
RK: I recommend leaving your reasons for resigning off your letter and saving them for your exit interview or another in-person conversation.
On The #1 Mistake to Avoid
MD: What would you say is the number one mistake to avoid when writing a resignation letter?
RK: Resignation letters are straightforward. There is no need to overthink them or spend more than 15 minutes writing one. The most important part of leaving a company is what you say in the conversation with your manager and that you maintain a positive relationship with them and your colleagues throughout your exit process. The resignation letter itself is usually more of an HR process than a critical component of exiting a company.
On The Handover
MD: Should you hand over your resignation letter in person? Or will an email suffice?
RK: What is most important is that you tell your manager in person that you are leaving the organization. This is not a message that should be delivered via email unless they are out of the country or circumstances do not allow you to meet or talk on the phone. Once you have given your manager the news in person, it is okay either to hand them your letter or to follow up with it via email.
MD: When should you hand in your resignation?
RK: Professional standard for notice when resigning in the United States is minimum two weeks. It is best to avoid submitting a resignation later with an end date that is less than two weeks from the day you give notice you are leaving the organization.
If you are not sure what your last day of work will be, you can talk to your manager in person first and then later submit your formal resignation letter after you have both agreed on an end date. If you know you are only willing to give two weeks' notice, then you can type up your resignation letter and hand it to your manager when you sit down to let them know you are leaving the company.