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How to Write a Letter of Resignation

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Some days, you may be tempted to up and quit your job without saying a single word. No matter how miserable or how wonderful your job is, though, it's proper to submit a letter of resignation at least two weeks before you anticipate leaving the position.

In fact, it's not always optional. In some contracts, employers stipulate that workers submit a letter of resignation to prove that she's voluntarily leaving. That letter might be kept in your HR file just as part of company protocol.

However, it's not always easy to know what to write in your letter of resignation. Luckily, whether you're a teacher, in nursing or any other type of job, resignation letters generally all follow the same format.

Resignation Letter Formatting

Once you've sat down at the computer and are ready to type, use business letter format. That means including a header with your employer's name and address first, followed by the date, and then your name and address.

Include a salutation—for example, “To Mrs. Your Boss's Name”—and then dive into the first paragraph, which states that you're leaving your current employer. Give your final day of work. For example, the first paragraph might say, “Please accept my resignation as head of quality control for XYX company, with a final employment date of Friday, September 17, 2046.”

If you think it's necessary, the second paragraph can give the reason that you're leaving—but be careful. This isn't the time to blast your boss or company policies; it might affect a future reference that you'll need. If you're leaving because of career advancement or change, your family is relocating, or you've decided to go to grad school, you can include that information.

Finish up the formal letter by thanking both your boss and the company as a whole for the opportunities they've given you. Add your typed name, and leave room for a signature.

What's Necessary, What's Not

There's no rule that says you have to include reasons for leaving, particularly if you're not walking out on a happy note. If you are hoping to stay on good terms, you might add a quick sentence about a transition plan, such as if you are willing to help train your replacement.

However, it's generally considered necessary to hand in this resignation letter at least two weeks in advance. Keep in mind, though, that company policies differ, and you might be escorted out as soon as that letter hits your boss's desk. Don't be insulted—it's nothing personal.

Paper or Email?

If possible, type your letter of resignation, print it, and sign it in blue or black ink. However, if you're in a remote location or otherwise unable to hand in your resignation in person, email will have to do. Human Resources might request that you mail a paper copy for record-keeping, so be ready with a stamp and envelope, just in case.