What is a Letter of Resignation?

Matthew F.

A letter of resignation is a letter expressing the intent of an employee to resign from a company. It is delivered by an employee to a supervisor or boss, and can be sent through postal mail, e-mail, interoffice memo, or can be hand delivered. The letter generally expresses the details of the resignation, and includes reasons for leaving and the date of resignation. It is often called a resignation letter or a notice of employment termination.

An employee may submit a letter of resignation to her employee when she has found a new job.
An employee may submit a letter of resignation to her employee when she has found a new job.

Written like a typical business letter, the letter of resignation includes a name, mailing address, city, state, zip code, phone number, and e-mail address. These are usually followed by a date, and then the information of the person receiving the letter, including the name, job title, company, and address of the company. The letter is then addressed as a typical business letter, usually with a Dear Mr. or Dear Ms. It may then begin with a statement of purpose, such as: “I regret to inform you that I hereby submit my resignation.”

The body of the letter of resignation should include the effective date of resignation. Usually the letter is delivered at least two weeks prior, to allow the employer time to fill the newly vacant position, although some companies have different policies and may release an employee immediately. The letter then illustrates in detail the reasons for leaving. These reasons may range from new opportunities with different employers; a different direction for the employee in their career; limited opportunities; limited salary increases; or personal reasons for resigning, such as a pregnancy or a family emergency.

The letter also should include the positive aspects of the job that is being left. Negative statements should be avoided at all costs, as many companies will keep a letter of resignation on file. It may be used in a personnel file and can be given to future employers contacting a previous workplace, or for reevaluation for rehiring. The letter should serve simply as a professional statement of the reasons for leaving a company, and should not include personal attacks. If the work experience was negative, this could be outlined, but in a polite and professional manner.

Typically concluding as a normal business letter with a sign-off, signature, and printed name, the letter of resignation may include a “good luck” or a statement indicating a positive experience at the company. You may leave the door open for future employment in your letter of resignation, or can offer to help the company in interviewing or hiring for your vacated position.

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