How to Write a Formal & Professional Resignation Letter

How to Quit a Job & Resign at Work

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How to Quit a Job & Resign at Work

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How to Write a Formal & Professional Resignation Letter

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How I Quit My Job

An employee goes from engaged to disengaged like lightening, and a passive candidate to active possibly even at a faster pace.  An employee reaches the decision in a split second.  They have reached their breaking point and had enough.  They quit their job or worse they continued being unproductive stealing from your organization either with time or in other ways.  I distinctly remember when the breaking point came for me at my Regional HR Manager job when my boss forgot I was leaving for vacation.  Having tried to sync up with him for a quick meeting all day, I finally approached him directly after lunch reminding him that I was leaving for my 10 day vacation to Mexico.  He was upset.  There was fire in his eyes.  He had forgotten about my vacation even after I put in a formal request, and I was to blame.  He finally took my meeting informing me that he needed me back a day earlier than my request.  I made the call to change our flight plans and pay the ticket differences.  It was at that moment I made the decision to actively look for another job and became an angry, bitter, and disengaged employee.

I wanted nothing more than to resign immediately and show him.  Except I had responsibilities like a house payment, and my company offered good insurance.  Damn, how being an adult gets in the way of doing what you really, truly want.  And what I wanted was revenge.

After nearly missing my flight, my husband and I ran to the terminal.  I remember crying as our plane took off.  Two days later I was phone interviewing while on the beaches of Mexico, and three months later I was out the door.  Resigning from my job was a treat.  I daydreamed about it, and planned for the moment when I could take back my life.   The resignation was standard.  I quit my job and submitted my two weeks notice with the scenario not playing out like I had dreamt.  There was no groveling, crying, or apologies from my boss.  I worked out my two weeks quietly, and we went about our lives.

I was reminded of this story a couple weeks ago as employees who are disengaged are increasingly taking to social media to issue very public resignations and dissatisfactions with their job.  They are writing blog posts as resignation letters. This coupled with a friend of mine who is working with a shitty boss, I was reminded how much restraint it took for me to work out my two weeks.

How to Write a Formal & Professional Resignation Letter

The snipit above is from the very public resignation via a personal blog does not hold back.  I’ve highlighted the words “concerted activity” for you in the paragraph above.  This employee who resigned in late October from Price Edwards lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and posted her resignation letter on her blog even mentioning the National Labor Relations Board.  The letter remains visible for all to see, and it is my understanding that this former employee has yet to be approached by Price Edwards.  No word if she contacted the NLRB as she mentioned in her resignation letter. Imagine how horrible her perceived working environment must have been for her to publicly publish how she resigned from work.  I think our employees deserve a work environment better than that.  Certainly, publicly posted resignation letters damage our company’s recruiting and engagement efforts including our employer brand.

When writing your own formal and professional resignation letter, I recommend that you do the following:

  • Formal Is Best.  This means using a format that includes the your company address and the formal name of the person you are writing the letter to.  Double space and include your own address.  Double space again and include the date followed by a quadruple space before beginning the resignation letter with, “Dear Mr. So and So,”  For a formal template and guide, you can download the job seeker toolkit for instructions.
  • Be Direct.  State that this letter serves as your two week notice, and your last work day is effective with the date included.  If you enjoyed working there, say so.  If you did not, don’t air your dirty laundry here.  You can meet with HR or a manager within the organization to formally discuss your dissatisfaction.  Remember, this document is forever attached to your employee file, and all electronic conversations are included in any future litigation or investigations you may or may not be involved in.
  • Keep It Simple. When writing a formal and professional resignation letter, I like to keep things simple and save the person reading time and effort by copying and pasting the resignation letter directly into the body of the email.  Include the formal document attached which includes your formal signature.  Typically, as an HR professional, I add this formal letter into your employee file.  Your resignation letter should be no more than 2-3 paragraphs.
  • Include Your Contact Information.  Include any instructions as to where to mail your final paycheck, W-2, or where to contact you for questions.  This includes your mailing address, email, and/or phone number as you feel comfortable providing.
  • Rise Above.  Resist the temptation to be an ass.  Add the words “Sincerely,” sign your resignation letter, and let it go.
  • Talk to Someone About Your Dissatisfaction.  As a HR professional, I advise you, the employee to alk to someone, a manager, human resources, or the CEO.  Remember, as HR I’m a representative of a company, and the guy that pays my bills is my first priority.  You can also talk with attorneys or government bodies like the EEOC, NLRB, or Department of Labor to name a few.  Remember, that all conversations, documents, and electronic messages are subject to being dug up, disclosed, and discussed.  Depending on your channel, your dirty laundry may be available for view by the public so be prepared.

Workplace Revenge

Years later I see my workplace revenge and resignation from this job differently.  I was angry.  The boss treated me horribly, but it was a moment in time.  I learned from that moment, made a decision of what type of manager I didn’t want to be, and moved on.  It’s called perspective.  It’s also called growing up.  I’m glad I didn’t burn that bridge.  Otherwise, I wouldn’t be writing about it today.

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  1. I had a very difficult conversion with my line manager who had given very negative feedback, this I had replied it was best foe me to hand in my notice. My line manager become concerned and had ask what they had said to make me want to decided to leave, I has ask them to arrange to visit me. Day of visit they had brought along the HR manager which I was not aware they were to also attend, I had on 3 occasions giving my line manager the opportunity to explain why the HR manager was here which they dismissed my question. I had been taken out of my work place and a discussion around the days event had taken place with my line manager and HR manager. My line manager had prepared all events that had taken place but I was not given this opportunity. I’m as lead to believe that you must inform any employee if they are to have any informal meeting where a HR manager is present before so they can also prepare their case, am I correct? Thank you

  2. It doesn’t always work that way, Cristina and there might be other things at play that you are not aware of. Maybe a number of manager’s were being audited for their behavior or they way they were interacting with employees. I find it strange that you were present but were not able to offer input.

    I would recommend requesting a meeting with the HR team so that you can share with them your experiences and point of view.

    Good luck!


  3. I don’t know if you can answer, but last week 09/30/2015 I was considered a cn/ns because my job has a 2 hour after your shift to call in before being considered nc/ns. I couldn’t contact anyone , I have no phone, plus I work at 4am my son has been sick, and I live in a not so great area, and it’s hard to find a payphone. Plus I can receive text via WiFi n a couple people from work, told me I was fired, because of the policy. How did they know I didn’t call in yet? Isn’t there any confidentiality laws? I also emailed my hr that same day and told her what I heard and why I couldn’t make it. And addressed that I wasn’t coming in anymore. I just received a response to call her today a week and a day later. I live in CA. I haven’t received my final check. What can I do?

  4. You may choose to include a reason for leaving, but that is not necessary. If you are moving to another city or state, or are going back to school, you may list those reasons. However, that is never a must in resignation letters.

  5. Whether you have landed the new job of your dreams, or you have chosen to step out into the great career unknown, it is natural to feel eager to move on and turn your back on your current job. But before you start rolling in at 10 am and taking 70 minute lunch breaks, stop and take stock, as your last few weeks in your current role can sometimes be as important as your first few weeks there.

    Once you have secured your new position it is important to remember that life still goes on in your current company, therefore it is essential that you handle your departure as professionally and considerately as possible. Don’t breathe a word of your imminent resignation to anyone in the company until you have chance to resign formally, your current boss won’t take kindly to being the last to know.

  6. I have been bullied and harassed out of my job in a care home by the manager, I resigned and at present working my one month resignation, after applying for endless jobs and receiving emails back saying I was unsuccessful, I asked a friend with her own business to request a reference for me to see what was being said, it was a terrible reference stating conflict with other employees ( which is not true) and stating illness (that was genuine and had a doctors note for) and my employer stated I’m working my notice and he appreciates that. I am now unable to move forward and gain further employment, I don’t know what to do ? I am a single parent with bills to pay and mouths to feed and cant believe a employer could do this 🙁

  7. Thanks for the article. I’m resigning from my job very soon and I have lot of grievances against my boss and co-worker who systematically brought me to this point. I want to make a formal complaint to HR after my resignation, explaining in detail what happened and my side of the story. I was wondering if there are any legal implications of this, meaning if my boss could sue me back on my accusations? My grievances are all related to professional-lack of direction, scapegoating, and listening to my coworker all the time etc rather than any sexual harassment or racial bias etc.
    Thanks a lot in advance!

  8. I have been hired by one of the biggest company in south africa i hv been with them for two months bt i feel like resigning because of the treatment we receive there its like we are working at hell n i have realised dat most of our staff complain about the same thing but they dont do anything about it,and i really need this job please help

  9. A close friend of mine just had to quit her job because she was in fear for her physical safety. She reported the bullying to her supervisor and the supervisor spoke to the coworker, The coworker immediately began bullying her, right in front of the supervisor, who obviously had no control over the situation. Although the coworker did not touch my friend, he was acting very aggressively, including mocking and taunting my friend. The supervisor just stood by acting helpless. Should my friend write a letter to HR about her experiences? Would they give it any consideration at all since she is no longer employed?

    She said she quit because she felt if she stayed the coworker she reported would continue his aggressive, mocking, taunting and bullying behavior, possibly escalating in the parking lot (they worked at 4am to 12pm shift). She waited until management and HR came on duty and tried to talk to them. They refused to speak with her.

  10. Ya, It happens alot specially after the job resign notice productivity of most employees goes down. I have notice mostly employees does not even bother if they have some important task to finish before the leave. Which I think is wrong.

  11. It really depends on what level you are at in a company. The higher up you are the more it pays to play nice . I have do not have a college degree and get zero respect but, I am a skilled computer operator. In my world as I look back at all the jobs I have had and all the pos bosses I have had it really makes no difference if I leave on good terms or not. Some people are just evil. Period. They do not deserve your respect. Whatever you do it because it is a Benefit to you in real time not some bs office custom that will never matter years later. Oh and out on the street if your Ah boss is discovered under his cars hood out in desert lonely road in hot sun and you roll by……be sure to stop, roll down window, take a long cold sip of a chilled can of coke and wave good bye to him and drive off. It’s karma baby.

  12. I just wrote I will resign from so and so as of 2 weeks from the date of the letter. Thank you, my name. Period. They dismissed me with the 2 weeks pay. Thanks again. Bye bye. Period.

  13. Hi there, hope you are doing great.

    I have been working continuously from past 70 days and i haven’t got leave i have been asking the manager . But i need some help to write a letter to boss addressing situation and demanding for a leave

  14. I once ascribed to the honorable way of quitting jobs, but no more. I believe the morally bankrupt younger millennial generation has one thing correct, and that’s ghosting employers and leaving. I’ve been in a toxic job for 5 years, and I’m looking for a new job, be it selectively now at age 60. I’ll walk out the door at the end of my day on a Friday, and start my new job on a Monday. No fuss, no notice, no exit interview. My reputation?? Yeah, right!! They’ll forget I ever existed by the end of the day!! Years ago, as a younger man, I anguished about quitting a less than stellar job I had. An old millwright asked me about sticking my fist in a bucket of water, then removing it. He asked me if it would leave an intention in the water. I told him no. He then told me that’s how much of an impression I would leave with my then employer. I believe in being ethical and in giving a good faith effort, but that’s it with employers.

  15. I am about to quit my job because of nepotism. I told my boss about it today, but I’m kinda scared … what if I can’t find a better job (although I do have varied skills and qualifications and I always give 120%, but the economy is not doing well right now)? But I really had to speak up. I really had to protest against the nepotism. I had to do this. I had to stop letting them treat me like I do not deserve any recognition. I know this, but still … this workplace and people around me and those unqualified colleagues who have got the job with no qualification just because they’re related to the top manager, made me feel like all those skills and college degree and enthutiasm mean absolutely nothing. They made me feel worthless just because they don’t want me to feel accomplished and ask for a raise. I had to stop this.

  16. I work in a municipality and my senior colleague has made my life hell so now I found another job and I m giving my resignation on Monday. I would like to know if it’s ok to say in my resignation letter that I m leaving due to toxic environment in my team or not

  17. If your manager asks you, “How long have you been job-hunting?” you can say, “Oh, I only looked at occasional opportunities that came along and this one was perfect for me.” You can see why managers get freaked out when they think about the last few weeks or months working alongside you, never knowing that you were also interviewing with other firms. That realization can throw your manager off balance. Don’t make it worse by saying, “I’ve been job-hunting for the past six months.”

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