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How to write a resignation letter

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We’ve all been there. For whatever reason, you feel you’re approaching the end of your time with your current employer and want to move on to pastures new. Obviously, it’s good to bow out with as much grace as you can muster and leave on a positive note. This is why your resignation letter is so important. It’s worth thinking carefully about how you word it; leaving a job is a sensitive time for employer and employee alike, and a carefully-written letter of resignation can make the experience more pleasant for everyone involved. After all, it’s always good to leave the door open for a potential return if things don’t quite work out as expected in your new role.

When you come to write a resignation letter, there’s a surprising amount to bear in mind. The team at Search are highly experienced in helping to match employees with the right employers, and supporting people from the start to the finish of their job hunt. That’s why we appreciate what a significant step it can be to leave your job, particularly if you have been in the role for a number of years. Nevertheless, it is important to do what’s right for yourself and your future career prospects.

To help you make your departure as professional and amicable as possible, we’ve assembled this list of top tips on how to write a resignation letter.

 

1. Don’t forget the basics

First things first: when you write your resignation letter, you need to make sure that it’s got all the basics in there. These will include your name, the date and the position you’re resigning from. You’ll also need to make sure that the letter is addressed to the appropriate person, such as your line manager or head of department; if you aren’t quite sure who you should address it to, it’s best to ask and clarify. You should, in addition, state the date from which your resignation will take effect.

Resignation letters are not a legal requirement in the UK, but your contract of employment might stipulate that written notice of leave is required of you. It’s a good idea in general to put your resignation and the relevant details  into writing, so that it can stand as evidence in case of any future quibbles. It’s courteous to resign officially in writing to your past employer, which means you can hopefully leave on good terms.

 

2. Explain your reasoning

When writing a resignation letter, give  a brief explanation of why you’re moving on, but try not to be too critical or harsh. It could be that you’ve become frustrated with the career opportunities (or lack of them) on offer in your current role. Alternatively, perhaps you feel ready for a new challenge and you need a new role to regain your freshness. There are any number of reasons why you might feel you have no choice but to leave your current role, and it could be useful for your past employer to become aware of these issues to prevent them reoccurring with other staff. Don’t forget that you will likely have an exit interview too, which will be another opportunity to raise any grievances or concerns.

If you feel aggrieved at the way you’ve been treated by your existing employer, it’s best not to articulate this in your resignation letter. If you have any issues that you really feel have to be raised, take them up in your exit interview,  or book a meeting with the HR department instead.

 

3. Maintain a professional and positive tone

Resignation letters should always be kept courteous, professional and to the point. You shouldn’t use your resignation letter as an opportunity to vent minimal complaints that you have with your employer. Your resignation letter is not the place to reiterate all those grievances, however justified they are.

Be as gracious and polite as you can. Thank your employer for the opportunities they’ve given you during your time in the job Remember, your resignation letter is an official document, it is not an excuse to offload.

 

4. Write a handover

Whether within the resignation letter or separately, it’s a good idea to include a brief handover and Offer your colleagues some guidance on how they can cover your role once you have left. Explain to colleagues what tasks will need picking up in your absence, and any key deadlines or dates for the future. Include information about any contacts they might need to speak to, and perhaps let those contacts know that you are moving on; providing your details of who they will be dealing with moving forwards.

Including a handover isn’t just helpful for your workmates after your departure; it’s also another way in which you can maintain the moral high ground, underlining your professionalism.

 

5. Use a resignation letter template

If you’ve never written a resignation letter before (or haven’t done so for a few years), you might be unsure of how to format it.  If you need some support, why not find a sample resignation letter or resignation letter template online. There are plenty of them , and they’ll give you a good idea of what to include. and some solid general guidelines to follow

If you’re looking for a new opportunity, read our guide on how to write a CV in a post-Covid world for more great tips to help you stand out from the crowd. At Search, our experts are always happy to help you in your job hunt - so contact us or explore our range of jobs today.