Resignation Letter Etiquette: What To Include or Leave Out

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated May 25, 2022

Published February 25, 2020

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Resignation letters are an ethical way to exit a company. They can help you and your employer split amicably if you write the letter according to proper resignation letter etiquette. In this article, we discuss what a resignation letter is, what to and what not to include in a resignation letter and helpful resignation letter etiquette tips to assist you with writing your own letter.

What is resignation letter etiquette?

A resignation letter is a professional and appropriate way to terminate your employment with a job. Resignation letter etiquette refers to the tactics you use to compose a resignation letter, the content you include in the letter and the way you deliver it to your employer. Using proper resignation etiquette helps you to leave your position on the best terms possible.

What to include in a resignation letter

There are certain items that you should be sure to include in a resignation letter that indicates proper etiquette. The items you should include are:

A clear statement that expresses your intention to resign

It is important to state early on in your letter that you are officially resigning from your current position. This expresses your intention and purpose for writing the letter.

Provide the proper amount of notice

Before you write your letter, review your company's policy about resigning. They may have a two-week notice requirement or 30-day notice requirement. It is proper etiquette to give your job the exact amount of notice or more notice than they typically require. You should also state the last date of your employment with the company.

Offer a transition plan

It can be difficult for employers to find someone to cover your work, especially if there isn't anyone with your expertise. Offer to help your manager by training other employees to complete your current tasks. You may consider writing notes about how to complete the work and leave it organized and in the proper place so it is easier to find and sort through after you depart.

A short explanation about why you are leaving

You should make it known to your employer why you are leaving. You can state things such as you found a new job opportunity elsewhere, you are moving, you're going back to school, etc.

A polite expression of gratitude

Expressing gratitude is proper resignation letter etiquette because it shows your appreciation for the skills you have learned and the opportunity you were given. Each job offers you something you can be grateful for. Including a short thankful expression shows your employer that you are a thoughtful individual even upon your departure from the company.

What not to include in a resignation letter

There are certain items that you should not include in a resignation letter. The items you should leave out are:

Negative comments about your managers

You won't get along with every manager you have and even if you are leaving because of something they did, it is important to remain professional and leave out any negative comments about your manager. Most often the message is not well-received and there may be consequences such as being given a bad reference that can prevent you from getting another job.

An overly positive tone

If it is known that you were not satisfied with your position and you use overly positive language about the company and how great it was, it can be seen as sarcastic and even offensive. It is best to keep your tone neutral but optimistic and professional.

A statement about your immediate departure from the company

Unless you must leave under emergency circumstances, it is best to give proper notice. You likely won't be considered for rehiring or be given a good reference if you provide a resignation letter that states you are leaving right away. The best practice is to check your company's policy on resignations.

Criticism of your co-workers

Leave out criticism of your co-workers and any opinions you have about them. Negativity or criticism should be avoided in resignation letters. You may be asked to submit a review of your experience at a company later to HR and it is best to leave your criticism for the review after you leave.

Inappropriate language

Resignation letters should remain professional and you should refrain from using any inappropriate language regardless of how you feel about why you are leaving. Avoid getting overly emotional and write your letter when you are in a good state of mind to ensure your letter won't offend the receiver.

Resignation letter etiquette tips

Review these resignation letter etiquette tips and consider how you can apply them to your resignation letter to ensure you can maintain a good relationship with your soon-to-be former employer. Some resignation letter tips are:

  1. Talk to your manager first.

  2. Keep it short.

  3. Use a business letter format.

  4. Include your contact information.

  5. Use formal language.

  6. Stay on topic.

  7. Make sure your dates are correct.

  8. Proofread your letter.

1. Talk to your manager first

If you are able, talk to your manager in-person or over the phone about your decision to resign from your position before you submit your letter. This is a professional courtesy to your manager so they will be the first to know and won't be caught off guard by your resignation letter or email. This is also a good time to ask your manager if they would be willing to give you a reference if needed.

2. Keep it short

Your resignation letter should be no longer than one page. Include all of the necessary information without offering unnecessary details about your departure, who you intend to thank, information about your new job opportunity or why you can't stay with the company. Managers and HR professionals are busy and likely do not have time to read a lengthy resignation letter.

3. Use a business letter format

To remain professional and keep proper resignation letter etiquette, you should use a business letter format template. These templates help to organize your message in a cohesive way that is easy to understand. Make sure to keep the same format if you are sending the letter via email.

4. Include your contact information

Include your recent contact information such as your current mobile number, address and non-work email. Your employer may have to send you specific information regarding benefits or other things that have to do with your resignation. They may also need you to sign a few documents before your last day with the company. Including your contact information displays your willingness to be open to communication to make the transition smooth and amicable.

5. Use formal language

This letter should be written as a formal business letter. Use formal language to remain professional and to make sure your letter is well-received. Using formal language is necessary if you choose to submit your letter via email or on a printed paper in-person.

6. Stay on topic

There may be many things you are interested in saying to your employer about your departure, but the resignation letter is not the proper time to express your feelings about topics unrelated to your resignation date. Your employer may conduct an exit interview with you and you may express yourself verbally at that time while remaining professional.

7. Make sure your dates are correct

Once your letter is submitted, it may be difficult to change your departure date since other's schedules may be affected by your resignation. Make sure the date you are leaving is correct and that it does not conflict with your new job, move date, etc. It could damage your relationship with the employer if your dates are incorrect and you need to leave earlier or later than what you wrote in your letter.

8. Proofread your letter

It is proper resignation letter etiquette to proofread your letter to make sure your spelling, tone, grammar and format are correct before you submit the letter for review. If necessary, have a friend or family member review your letter for you to find errors you may have missed.

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