How to write a formal resignation letter and not burn any bridges.

So, you’ve made the decision to quit your job, but you haven’t yet told your boss, because you’re not entirely sure how.

Yes, you may be a little over them, but you also don’t want to burn any bridges. And also, you’ll probably need a letter of reference from them at some stage. So, you know what you really need to do is write a kickarse resignation letter.

Easier said than done… or written? Don’t worry, we’re here to help. Mamamia‘s People and Culture Manager, Nicolle Stuart and Talent Acquisition Specialist, Deborah Francis know all too well the importance of a ‘good’ resignation.

How to quit: before your formal resignation letter.

“Resigning is not easy; the stress and anxiety effects people, more than it should,” says Nicolle.

“I always recommend checking the period you’re obliged to give notice, and then, with the right timing, verbally resigning to your manager first. Talk them through your reasons and thank them.

“Managers (even the not-so-great ones) will always have taught you valuable lessons, and good managers will have spent a great deal of time training you, helping you problem solve and focusing on your development.”

Nicolle recommends once that conversation happens, you should follow it up in writing.

What to avoid when resigning.

While it can be hard to tell your manager you are resigning, Deborah says you should avoid being emotional. 

“Avoid swearing, yelling, crying, calling your boss and teammates names, and please avoid gossiping during your notice period and spreading the negativity.” 

How to write your resignation letter. 

Deborah says your resignation should be short and to the point. 

“It needs to include your official resignation date and your final working day according to your contract. Including a thank you is also appropriate.” 

“You don’t need to go into detail as to why you are resigning, those conversations usually happen when you initially chat with your manager and with HR in the exit interview process,” says Deborah.

How to address your resignation letter. 

“The structure of the letter is quite simple. Address it to your manager, let them know the date you will be finishing up and again.  This can be addressed to your direct manager and/or the organisation.”

How to end your resignation letter. 

Nicole says you should end a resignation letter by saying thank you, which is a vital thing people often miss. 

“The line could be: ‘I would like to thank the organisation/company for my time here, I have learnt a great deal and am very appreciative of the opportunities I had while employed’.”

Nicolle also suggests including at the end of your resignation letter an offer of assistance as a goodwill gesture, such as “Please let me know if there is anything I can do to assist in the transition.”

A resignation letter template.

Here’s a sample resignation letter.

resignation letter template
A resignation letter template we created. Image: Mamamia.

What to do after you’ve resigned. 

Nicolle warns that even if you do write an exemplary resignation letter (which of course you will), it's important to consider how you conduct yourself until you actually leave.

"The real damage can be done after the resignation," says Nicolle. 

"I have seen so many people switch off the minute their letter is handed in, all of a sudden they are exhausting all their sick leave, not finishing projects, coasting through their final weeks.

"The way in which you behave in those final four weeks, can undo all of your hard work during the time you were employed."

Nicolle's final advice about the resignation process is, "People forget it can be a small world. How you go out is how you will be remembered, so be that person that works right up until 5pm on your last day, it means you will leave with your reputation intact."

How to manage your exit interview. 

Deborah says the most important thing to remember in your exit interview is to be professional. 

“Usually these interviews are conducted by HR and dumping on them all your issues with people and the business won't be helpful.”

“Be constructive with your criticism and mention any solutions that could have changed the outcome. Remember to talk about positives from your time in the business,” says Deborah. 

Now go and write the best formal resignation letter you can, and follow your dreams

Looking to change jobs? Find more expert advice in our ultimate guide to getting the job of your dreams: