Time to leave? Exit in style!

Resigning from a job can be nerve-racking. First, there's the meeting with your manager to break the news, then there's the staff announcement that goes around, not to mention the endless run of questions from your colleagues asking why you're leaving and where you're heading to next. 

Navigating the path to your next venture with professionalism and grace is key to ensuring a smooth transition. And it all begins with a notice of leave, also known as a resignation letter. In this post, we'll explain the benefits of writing a resignation letter, advise on what to include, and provide some top tips. There's even a resignation letter sample for you to tailor to your own requirements!

What is a resignation letter?

An essential part of leaving a job, a resignation letter formally expresses your intention to end your employment with your current employer. Employee resignation letters may feel too formal, but they help to clearly start (and document) the process of your leaving in an official capacity.

Why do you need a resignation letter?

Whilst it's not a legal requirement in the UK to provide a resignation letter, your employment contract may require you to provide written notice of leave. It will also benefit you to have your resignation in writing in case there are ever any discrepancies in the future.

You may think that giving your notice verbally is enough – and it may be for some employers – but it's better to cover all your bases and put it in writing as well.

How do you write a good resignation letter?

The best advice for writing a resignation letter is to keep it simple, courteous, and professional. You're not required to mention your reason for leaving – especially if it reflects negatively on the company. Instead, focus on thanking your manager for the knowledge and skills you've developed during your employment. 

It's also advisable to avoid mentioning your new employer in your resignation letter. For example, bragging about the salary increase you will receive at your new job isn't something your existing employer wants to see. 

What a resignation letter must include

You may be leaving your job, but you must still be thorough and professional in your resignation letter. Be sure to include the following essential elements to guarantee an easy transition:

The date of your notice

The heading of your resignation letter should include the date on which you are submitting it. This will help you, your manager, and the HR department to keep track of your employment and leaving plan.

Your leaving date

Your manager needs to prepare for your departure, so they must know exactly when that will take place. Be clear and decisive with your resignation letter notice period; a statement like “whenever is a good time for you” will do more harm than good.

Your leaving date may also not be up to you. You'll often find the expected notice period listed in your contract and, whether that's one week, two weeks, or something else, you'll have to follow it.

A thank you

Whether or not you've enjoyed your time at this job, it's important to end on good terms and acknowledge the opportunities it's provided to you. Thank your manager and wish the company well in your resignation letter, telling them you appreciate everything you've learnt in your position.

This is not only gracious but also strategic, as you may need to leverage this role in the future and maintain connections.

Optional: a reason

You don't have to give reasons for leaving your job. However, if you have a close and positive relationship with your manager or team members, you may opt to. If you choose this path, keep it to the point. There's no need to include extravagant details about your new position and life plan. A simple mention of a new opportunity or a decision to spend more time with family is enough.

An exit plan

Show that you aren't abandoning your manager by helping to prepare for your departure. You can offer to outline your duties, document your processes, or even train someone during your notice period so that they can take over your tasks. If you're currently in the middle of a project, it's especially favourable for you to ensure its completion by putting steps in place so it will succeed without you.

A sign-off

To end the resignation letter nicely, finish by wishing the manager, team, or company well and using a professional sign-off such as “Sincerely” or “Regards.”

Tips for writing the best resignation letter

Address the resignation letter to your direct line manager. If you typically call them by their given name, you can use that – there's no need to be unnaturally formal. 

Keep it short. A letter of resignation should be no longer than one typed page. Remember, it's not necessary to go into excessive detail.

Use a positive, professional tone. Despite taking on a new role, you may need to contact your former employer in the future for references. Adopt a positive, professional tone in your letter and avoid any negative language towards the company, your managers, or colleagues.

What should a resignation letter not include?

We've discussed the necessary elements of your resignation letter, but what should you definitely omit? These things have no place in the letter: 

  • Complaints and grudges against the company. You'll just end up burning bridges and coming across as resentful rather than professional. Remember you'll need a reference letter and may come across the same people later in your career!

  • Reasons for leaving. This is unnecessary detail at this stage. You may have an exit interview, where you can discuss them, but your reasons for leaving are often better kept private. If you feel the need to explain yourself, you can simply say you're leaving to “pursue a new opportunity.”

  • Rambling. You're not writing your annual letter to your Auntie Doris. Your resignation letter is a professional communication that should be kept short and to the point. If you have an open and friendly relationship with your line manager, anything further that you wish to add can be discussed informally.  

How do you deliver a resignation letter? 

You have two options for delivering your letter. First, you can give your manager a printed copy of your letter when you have a face-to-face conversation to break the news.

Alternatively, you can write a resignation letter email to your manager on the same day that you give your verbal notice. If you take this approach, copy both a representative from the HR department and your personal email address on the message, so you have a record of it being sent.

Simple resignation letter template

If you still find yourself asking “How do I write a resignation letter?,” here's a handy resignation letter template:


Dear [manager's name],

Please accept this letter as my formal notification of resignation from my position as [job title]. As per my employment contract, I will be giving [contracted notice period e.g. two weeks] notice, which means my last day of work will be [date].

I am thankful for the opportunities and support I have been given during my employment with [company name] and am happy to document my current processes or provide training to help with the transition to my successor. 

I wish you and the company success in the future; it would be a pleasure to stay in touch.

Warm regards,[your name]

Ready to quit?

If you're ready to move on, give yourself the best chance of landing a new role by starting your job hunt with a knock-out CV. The experts at Top CV will provide a free CV review to help you on the way!

This article was originally written by Rikki Wimmer and was updated by Lauren Settembrino in 2020 and Jen David in 2024.

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