How to Write a Resignation Email (Examples Included)
By Mike Simpson
Deciding to leave a job is usually equal parts exciting and nerve-racking. In most cases, you’re probably moving on to bigger, better things, like a new job. Or maybe you’re simply trying to get away from something that’s making you miserable.
Did you know that millions of people leave their jobs each month? It’s true. In November 2020 alone, nearly 3.16 million people took that leap, even with the pandemic hanging over most people’s heads. So, if you’ve got your eyes on the exit, you’re not alone.
But once you know that you’re going to ride off into the sunset, you have to tackle something that can be incredibly uncomfortable: officially resigning. After all, ghosting your employer is never a smart move; it can literally come back to haunt you.
So, what do you need to do to handle the situation? While your exact approach may vary, writing a resignation email is commonly part of the process. If you aren’t sure where to begin, here’s what you need to know about sending a resignation letter email.
What to Do When You’ve Decided to Resign
Okay, before we dig into how to write a resignation email, let’s pause for a quick second and talk a little more about what resigning involves.
When you resign, you’re formally announcing your intention to leave a company. Isn’t that just like quitting? Well, it certainly can be.
The thing is, when people say they quit a job, it can also mean walking away without any notice or without following an official process. The word “quit” also has a more dramatic connotation. It can seem brash or even a tad bit rebellious.
When you resign, you’re taking a more structured route. Along with announcing your intention to leave, you’ll commonly give at least two weeks’ notice in writing and take part in any company exit procedures. The whole thing seems formal, and maybe with a dash of somberness.
Ultimately, resigning is about process. You’ll need to do a little prep work before you even say a word about your intention to exit. Even if you write your resignation email in advance, don’t hit that send button right away.
Instead, create a transition plan, too. Consider it a parting gift for your manager; a little bit of extra help to make sure your exit goes smoothly.
After that, schedule a meeting with your boss. Telling your manager in person – or, if you work remotely, over the phone – that you’re resigning is the polite thing to do.
Additionally, you want to make sure that your boss is the first one you tell. This isn’t something your manager should hear through the grapevine.
Once that meeting is over, you can send them a copy of your transition plan and your resignation email. That creates an official record.
Resignation Email vs. Resignation Letter
There’s a good chance you’re wondering, “Are a resignation email and a resignation letter the same thing?” Well, yes and no.
Typically, the content of a resignation email and resignation letter is a lot alike. In reality, the main difference when you write a resignation letter is that you’re going to print it out when you’re done and hand over a paper copy to your manager or HR or attach it as a separate document to an email. With an email alone, everything is the body of the message and completely digital.
At times, a resignation letter may up the formalness up a notch. But that doesn’t mean an email isn’t a suitably professional option. Unless company policy explicitly requests a printed letter, going digital is likely fine. In fact, some companies require the letter to be an email.
MIKE’S TIP: If you aren’t sure whether to use a resignation email or letter, review the employee handbook for official policies. Use those as a guide, as following the instructions will make your exit smoother. If there isn’t any information, create two versions of your resignation letter, one that you can print and one that you can email. That way, you have both bases covered.
Common Resignation Email Mistakes
If you’re planning on leaving a job, you might be thinking, “Do mistakes in resignation emails matter? I’m going to be heading out of the door anyway; do I even need to care?”
While it may seem like mistakes in a resignation email don’t matter, that isn’t the case. In the end, you want to make a good impression when you exit any company. How you leave impacts your reputation. That’s why mistakes can matter.
So, what are some resignation email missteps that you want to avoid?
Well, the biggest is not sending one at the right time. You want to provide either two weeks notice or the minimum amount of time listed in the employee handbook. If you don’t, you’re putting your employer in more of a bind than you should, and that can hurt your reputation.
Also, don’t talk to anyone else before you have a sit-down with your manager. Again, this isn’t something your boss should overhear at a watercooler. Talk to your manager first, no matter what.
Once your boss knows, you might assume that word will travel, and you don’t need to talk to anyone else. While the news will probably get out, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t talk to your coworkers, customers, or others you work with. It’s smart to take the time to say your goodbyes to everyone. That way, you can keep those connections (and your professional network) strong.
Additionally, while you can give your soon-to-be-ex employer some insights about why you’re leaving, complete transparency isn’t always a great idea. For example, if you’re one of the 79 percent of people who ditch a job because they don’t feel appreciated, that doesn’t mean you should talk about being undervalued in a resignation email.
Sometimes, it’s better to sugarcoat your exit instead. Focus on the positive and don’t badmouth the company, your boss, your colleagues, or the work. Even if your complaints are perfectly understandable, this isn’t a time to air them out.
How to Write a Resignation Email
If you’re ready to write your resignation email, here’s a step-by-step process on how you do it.
1. Create a Clear Resignation Email Subject Line
The subject line for a resignation email should be excessively straightforward and as simple as possible. Something like “[Your Name]’s Resignation” or “Resignation – [Your Name]” can usually do the trick.
If you work for a large enterprise or someone else in the company has a name similar to yours, you might want to add a little more detail. Instead, using “Resignation – [Job Title] [Your Name] – [Department]” might be a better bet, ensuring the email recipient knows exactly who is leaving.
2. Restate Who You Are and Add Contact Info
At the top of your resignation email, list your name, job title, and department. After that, add your contact information, including the address, phone number, and personal email you have on file with your employer.
Again, this step is all about clarifying who’s resigning.
3. Add a Greeting
Yes, even a resignation letter email needs a greeting. In most cases, “Dear Mr./Mrs./Ms./Dr. [Your Manager’s Name]” is enough.
4. Start Off Definitively
Now that you’re in the body of the email, you want to make it abundantly clear that you’re resigning. Let the reader know that this is an official notice of your intent to resign, rehash your position details again, and list your effectiveness date (the last day you plan on coming to work).
Ambiguity isn’t your friend. Avoid language that isn’t definitive, like “maybe,” “hope to,” “would like to,” or anything else. That makes it seem like you’re uncertain or like there’s room to negotiate.
Instead, be blunt and blatant about your intentions. That way, there’s no room for a misunderstanding.
5. Give Them a Reason [Optional]
If you’d like, you can add a tidbit about why you’re exiting. This isn’t strictly necessary, however. If you aren’t comfortable with sharing, you don’t have to. But, if you’d like to give them some insights, that is an option.
Just make sure that if you touch on a reason, that you keep it brief and a little vague.
6. Say Something Nice
If you’re resigning from a job you enjoyed, this part is pretty easy. Just add a quick sentence or two talking about what you liked, such as the connections you made, the skills you honed, or anything in that vein.
Even if you despise everything about the job, don’t mention that here. Instead, do try to say something nice.
There are quite a few ways to approach this that don’t require you to be disingenuous. For example, you don’t have to say that you enjoyed anything. Instead, talk about how it was a “valuable experience.” After all, at a minimum, you learned about what you don’t want in a job, and that is a valuable lesson.
7. Mention Your Willingness to Help
It doesn’t hurt to say that you’re willing to help with the transition. Again, it’s all about keeping things positive, and this shows that you’re open to assisting in any way possible.
8. Add a Quick Thank You
It isn’t a bad idea to add one more line as a separate paragraph where you thank your manager or the company for everything they’ve done for you. A short and sweet sentiment ends the email on a high note, so it’s a wise addition.
9. Sign Off with Class
When you close your email, go with a classic sign off like “Sincerely” or “Best Regards.” Those are both polite and professional, so you really can’t go wrong with either.
Then, add your signature, and you’re done.
Resignation Email Examples
Reviewing a resignation email sample or two is always a good idea. In many cases, they can serve as inspiration, guides, or even templates, ensuring you can write yours with ease.
Here are a few resignation email examples based on why you might be leaving the job.
1. Landed a New Job
Dear Mrs. Doe:
Please accept this letter as an official notice of my resignation from the Administrative Assistant position in the Finance Department at ABC Company, effective March 1, 2021.
My time with ABC Company has been invaluable, as the role gave me the opportunity to learn and grow professionally, as well as connect with my amazing colleagues. Please let me know if there’s anything I can do to make the transition easier.
Thank you again for all of the support and kindness during these past years.
2. Moving to a New City
Dear Dr. Doe:
I am writing to inform you that I am resigning from my Software Developer position in the IT Department at XYZ Inc. My last day will be on March 1, 2021.
I appreciate all of the opportunities that this position has afforded me, as well as the wonderful people I’ve had the privilege of working with over the years. The experience will be invaluable as I seek out new positions in the city that I will soon be calling my new home. Until my last day, please let me know if there’s anything I can do to simplify the transition.
Thank you for such a wonderful experience, and I wish XYZ Inc. only the best.
3. Leaving for Your Health/Well-Being
Dear Mr. Doe:
Please accept this letter as my formal resignation from ABC Co. Due to changes in my health, March 1, 2021, will be my last day.
I am unendingly grateful for everything this opportunity has provided me over the years. If there is anything I can do to ease the transition, please let me know.
Thank you again for the support and guidance.
Putting It All Together
Ultimately, writing a resignation email doesn’t have to be a challenge. Use the tips above, and you’ll be in a great position to nail it.
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Co-Founder and CEO of TheInterviewGuys.com. Mike is a job interview and career expert and the head writer at TheInterviewGuys.com.
His advice and insights have been shared and featured by publications such as Forbes, Entrepreneur, CNBC and more as well as educational institutions such as the University of Michigan, Penn State, Northeastern and others.
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