How to hand in your letter of resignation without any awkwardness.

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Depending on the circumstances surrounding your decision to quit, handing that resignation letter in to your boss can be nerve-racking, satisfying, sad, or all three at once.

But no matter how you feel about clocking off and moving on, it’s important you write and deliver it properly in order to ensure you will exit the organisation on the best possible terms.

To make that happen, keep in mind that:

A resignation letter should… consider your notice period.

All full and part-time employment contracts, awards and enterprise agreements in Australia outline a notice period. As the Fair Work Ombudsman outlines, if you don’t provide the minimum prior to leaving, your employer may be entitled to withhold the equivalent wages, accrued leave and other entitlements.

Consult your contract carefully, and be prepared that when you resign your employer may either require you to work out the full duration while they search for your replacement, or opt to pay out this period so you can leave immediately.

Listen: Before you move on to your next role, take note. Post continues below… 

A resignation letter should… be short and contain only the essentials.

Save the sentimentalities for the last-day company-wide email, because your letter of resignation should be strictly professional, clear and concise – four sentences should do it.

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According to online legal service Lawpath, you should cover your intent to resign, details of your contract (that is, mention of your notice period) and reasons for your resignation.

There are a number of letter of resignation templates available online, most of which are variations on the following: “Dear [manager/HR officer], I am writing to inform you that I’m resigning as [position] at [organisation], effective [date of notice]. I am resigning [reason/s]. As per the [x-week/day] notice period stipulated in my contract, my last day of work will be on [date]. Regards [name and signature].”

A resignation letter should… be polite.

No matter the circumstances of your departure (let’s face it, not everyone goes skipping out the door), your resignation letter should always be formal, carefully worded and courteous.

Avoid temptation to stick it to your manager or colleagues when outlining reasons for your resignation, because leaving on a (literal) bad note could come back to haunt you later in your career. Bosses and HR staff move around too, after all, and a rude or ‘colourful’ resignation letter won’t be easily forgotten.

Don't quit like Bridget Jones, no matter how tempting it might be.

A resignation letter should… be delivered personally.

Wherever possible, you should resign in person - not via email, not over the phone, and most definitely not via SMS. Arrange a face-to-face meeting with your relevant superiors so you can formally give notice.

The protocol for this meeting should be much like your letter itself: short, to-the-point, courteous. Hand over your letter, clearly explain your reasons for leaving, and be sure to emphasise the positive aspects of your time at the organisation. Discuss how the transition period will proceed and how you can help make it as smooth as possible.

Do all that and your resignation should... go smoothly.

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