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What Is a Resignation Email, and How Do You Write One?

Caroline BantonUpdated Oct 13, 20217 min

What Is a Resignation Email, and How Do You Write One?

Updated Oct 13, 20217 min
What Is a Resignation Email, and How Do You Write One?

What Is a Resignation Email, and How Do You Write One?

Caroline BantonUpdated Oct 13, 20217 min

What Is a Resignation Email, and How Do You Write One?

Updated Oct 13, 20217 min
What Is a Resignation Email, and How Do You Write One?

The way that you resign can have lasting implications. If you burn bridges with your current employer, it can affect your future job search and potential job offers. So, do all that you can to cushion the blow and leave on a positive note. 

Resigning requires writing a formal resignation letter and, ideally, delivering it in person. The letter can also be sent as an attachment to an email.

This article explains what a resignation email is and what it is not. We explain how to write the email and the formal letter of resignation so that the likelihood of your news being well-received is high. We provide a resignation letter example and a resignation email template and discuss the next steps.

What Is a Resignation Email?

A resignation email typically contains a formal letter of resignation as an attachment. The formal letter of resignation informs your employer that you are leaving and when your last day of work will be. In some cases, the resignation letter can be included in the body of the email, but strictly speaking, resignation should be in the form of a formal, signed letter so that human resources can close out your employment.

Why Is a Formal Resignation Letter So Important?

The resignation letter is an official document with legal implications. A resignation email is not. If your contract requires you to serve two weeks’ notice, the formal letter will serve as proof that you have done so and will protect your employee benefits in the case of a dispute. Basically, writing and submitting a formal letter of resignation is best practice.

You should be professional up to the last working day. That will allow you to leave your former employer on the best possible terms and is the best way to secure their goodwill. You will need that goodwill if a future potential employer calls them as part of a background check for a new job or if you intend to request a letter of recommendation.

A resignation letter, or the chaperone email for that matter, is not an opportunity to vent or to express negative thoughts about your job. It should be a short, informative note, and it should thank your employer for the opportunity to work at the company, even if the experience was bad.

So, whatever the circumstances, here’s how to exit gracefully by submitting the perfect resignation letter and email.

How to Cushion the Blow

The goal when you resign should be to do so cleanly. Ideally, you want your employer to support your decision, wish you well, and even offer you a letter of recommendation. That’s the theory, at least.

The ideal way to inform your supervisor that you are resigning is to do so in person. This approach shows respect and gives your supervisor a chance to talk to you about your decision.

But what if you want to avoid potential confrontation? Sending your resignation via email without a conversation can be considered rude, so do it only as a last resort.

If you suspect your employer may be upset by your decision to leave, it’s important to take the right steps when resigning. Here's how.

Step 1: Prepare a letter of resignation

The HR department will require a formal letter of resignation from your current job to terminate your employment contract. Your letter should include the date of your last day of work, and it should express gratitude to your employer for the opportunity to have worked at the company.

Step 2: Inform your supervisor

Tell your boss that you are resigning in person if you can. That will give you the opportunity to express your appreciation and to answer any questions your boss may have. You are under no obligation to answer the questions your boss may ask you, but prepare diplomatic answers to questions they might ask. For more details on how to resign read, “How to Give Two Weeks’ Notice.”

You can deliver the letter of resignation at the same time that you meet with your supervisor, or you can send it as an attachment to an email afterward. A copy should go to human resources.

Step 3: Meet with human resources

If you haven’t done so already, ask to meet with human resources to find out what you are entitled to in terms of your last salary check and any paid time off or vacation time that you are owed. You should also find out your options in terms of any retirement fund that you have paid into and whether you can sign up for COBRA health coverage once you have left.

How to Write the Resignation Letter

Your resignation letter should contain two pieces of information: the date of your last day of work and your gratitude. It should not contain anything negative. The more positive things you say in your letter, the better the news will be received. Now is the time to tell a white lie or two and express sadness at having come to this difficult decision.

Remember that you are under no obligation to tell your employer your personal reasons for leaving. You can write a positive and complimentary letter without including that information. 

You should sign the letter and attach it as a PDF.

Here’s a resignation letter example template that shouldn’t ruffle too many feathers.

[Your name]

[Your address]

[date]

 

[Your manager's name]

[Your manager's title]

[The company's name and address]

Dear [Manager’s name],

After much consideration, I have decided to leave [Company XYZ]. This has been a difficult decision for me and one based purely on my desire for professional advancement. I understand that [Company Name] is limited in terms of my professional growth at this stage, so I am seeking a placement in a larger organization.

I thank you for the opportunity to have worked at [Company XYZ] and for all that I have learned. It has been a truly invaluable and enjoyable experience.

Please consider this my official two weeks’ notice with [date] being my last day of work. However, I am willing to stay on to find and train a replacement if need be. I will also outline a transition plan for review at your convenience. Please let me know if there is anything else I can do that would be helpful to ensure a smooth transition.

Sincerely,

[Your name]

Remember to proofread anything you write before sending it, especially check the date of your last day!

How to Write the Email

If you don’t deliver your formal letter of resignation in person to your supervisor, you can send it as a PDF file attached to an email. Copy human resources on the resignation email message. It’s a good idea to include the date of your last day of work in the subject line so that human resources knows that your notice period will be over soon.

Here is a resignation email example.

Email subject line: Notice of Resignation Effective [add date of last day of work]

Dear [Manager’s name],

Subsequent to our meeting this morning, I am attaching my formal letter of resignation. As agreed, my last day of employment will be [______], and over the next two weeks I will work to make the transition a smooth one.

Once again, I would like to express my gratitude for the opportunity to have worked with you and the team at [Company XYZ].

Sincerely,

[Your name]

How to Write an Email to Colleagues Announcing Your Departure

You will likely need to write an email to your work colleagues to announce your departure and to tell them who is assuming your duties and job title. 

Here is an example email to send to the team.

Subject line: A sincere thank you

Dear Team,

Today is my last day with [Company name]. I have enjoyed working with all of you , and it has been a difficult decision to leave such a supportive and dynamic group of people. I will cherish the work we have done together and the relationships we have built. 

Jennifer Monroe will be taking over for me, so please contact her with your marketing questions and issues. Also, please don't hesitate to reach out to me. My contact information,  personal email,  and phone number are at the bottom of this email.

I do hope we can keep in touch, and I would be happy to speak or set a time to help with any projects you might be working on.

Sincerely,

[Your name]

[Your contact information]

What Not to Do When You Resign

There are a few common mistakes that could make your final days less bearable. It can be tempting to finally tell people what’s been on your mind, engage in office politics, and say things you shouldn’t after delivering your formal notice.

Remember, what you say, can follow you. Here’s what not to do.

  • Don’t tell your colleagues you are leaving before you tell your boss—it is disrespectful.

  • Don’t slack off in the last few days—maintain your professionalism.

  • Don’t act too happy in the last few days of your time at a company—remember your regret at having to leave.

  • Be careful if colleagues ask for career advice. It can be easy to get embroiled in office politics, and what you say could come back to haunt you. 

Follow these guidelines, and you should exit your job gracefully, on good terms, and with no conflicts or problems concerning your last paycheck and benefits. You could even have a job recommendation in hand to take to your next job interview. Now, go celebrate!

Caroline Banton
Expert on career acceleration and business topics with vast experience writing for globally-recognized publications
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