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Writing a Resignation Letter: A How-To Guide

Resigning from your job is something that most everyone will encounter at one point or another in their lives. But did you know that there is a specific type of etiquette that you need to follow when resigning? Whatever your reason is for resignation, you want to make sure you do it the right way. Whether you are handing in a two weeks notice, or a formal resignation letter, here are a couple of tips of what to include and how to compose your letter before you say goodbye for good.

Is It Necessary?

There is a slight difference between a two weeks notice and a resignation letter. Not all jobs require a resignation letter, but most if not all jobs will require a two weeks notice. Simply put, your two weeks notice is an advanced notice letting your employer know that you are leaving. For most jobs, especially professional jobs, you give your two weeks notice by way of a resignation letter. If you are unsure whether or not your job requires a resignation letter, you can generally find out from your worker’s handbook. Generally speaking; however, it is best to err on the side of caution and write a resignation letter regardless. Keep in mind, depending on your position; you can expect your resignation letter to end up in your employee file. If you need to use your job as a reference in the future, you can expect your employer to refer to your resignation letter when giving a recommendation.

The Basic Parts Of A Resignation Letter

A standard resignation letter will have three parts to it. There are different templates available when writing a resignation letter, but the basics of a resignation letter remain the same.

Your Opening: You will want to open your letter by introducing yourself and stating the position you held in the company. You do not have to go into the specific details of your position, but you do want to make it clear what you did for the company

The Body: The body of your resignation is where you will state your reason for wanting to leave. For this part of the letter, you want to keep your explanation short and sweet. Again, you don’t want to go into specific detail. Keep it simple. If you are leaving on a not so good note, avoid stating that in your letter. Instead, find a positive spin on your reason for leaving and say that instead. Be sure also to include specific dates of when your last day of work will be.

The Thank You Conclusion: Your reference letter should always end with a thank you. Whether you mean the thank you or not is beside the point. You never know whether or not you will need to use your employer as a reference or whether or not your paths will cross in the future. Err on the side of caution and show some thankfulness for the opportunities your job has provided. Even if those opportunities may have been far and few in between.

Keep It Short And Focused

When you are ready to give your two weeks notice, you want to make sure and keep your resignation letter short and sweet. A general length is typically no more than a paragraph. Your resignation letter is not a place to vent or express any rash criticism about your job. To keep your focus while writing the letter, less is always more. The point of your resignation letter is to formally let your employer know that you are leaving the position. You don’t need to go into the details or specifics of why you are leaving. Rather, keep it specific, short, with just enough detail that you get your point across.

Keep it Positive

The more professional the position, the more critical it becomes to keep your resignation letter on a positive note. Even if your job was the worst possible job in the world, you don’t want your resignation letter to reflect this. There is a time a place for discussing and criticizing your position at your job with your boss. Typically that time and place are in person during a one on one meeting. Your resignation letter is not the place to vent. Remember, your future employer might get sight of your resignation letter for your previous employer. You don’t want to include anything in your resignation letter that might jeopardize your chances of getting a new job.

Tie Up Loose Ends

In the body of your resignation letter, it’s a good idea to talk about your final days. Let your employer know how you plan to make your transition as smooth as possible. For example, if you have clients or duties that need to be wrapped up, make a note of that. If a new replacement is taking over your position, you may want to include that you will help them ease into their new role. By including this in your letter, you are letting your employer know your plans. Not only that, but you are letting your employer know that you are committed until the end. Including this in your reference letter can be an excellent service to you if you do choose to use your employer as a reference.

Hard Copy Not Soft Copy

The timing of turning in your resignation letter is important. A good rule of thumb to follow is to go by your pay period. If you get paid every two weeks, then hand in your letter two weeks before your last day of work. If it’s a month, then turn it in a month in advanced. When you do hand in your letter, be sure to hand it in person. For an added touch of personalization, it’s best to walk into your boss’s office and hand in your letter personally.

Final Thoughts

There are many reasons you may have for wanting to leave your job. Whatever your reason, it frankly doesn’t matter. What does matter, however, is how you choose to leave your job. Writing a professional and positive resignation letter is a valuable thing to consider when it’s time to put in your two weeks notice. Be sure to use the tips listed above if you find yourself needing to write a resignation letter. Good luck!

Related Article: 6 Ways to Make Yourself More Marketable to Employers

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