The secret to writing a resignation letter

The secret to writing a resignation letterI write many resignation letters for clients but there are always questions on what to say.

A client asked a question recently and I chose the option, “Phone a friend” and called Dawn Bugni.

His question:

I read online that you shouldn’t mention your new job.

My phone-a-friend call to Dawn revealed that she heard that if your employer was upset you were leaving, they could try to sabotage your new position with the next employer. This makes sense.

There is definitely a right way and wrong way to write a resignation letter and you need to think about it before you draft it.

What not to say in a resignation letter?

  1. Don’t rant about your manager, company, or coworkers. This falls under the “Don’t burn a bridge” advice I give to all job seekers. Your rants and ravings will only make things worse and should you ever need to turn to them for help, you will have burnt the bridge.
  2. Don’t talk about how excited you are about the new company. Your boss won’t be happy and it won’t earn you any points.
  3. Don’t close the door to future interaction with coworkers or even your boss. Networking is a critical component of our lives today. Keep the door open.

What should you say in a letter of resignation?

  1. Thank your manager or boss for the opportunity to work there and mention the benefits you gained. New knowledge, growth in the industry, or just for the job itself.
  2. Let them know when you plan to leave. Minimally give two weeks notice but if the company requests 30 days, plan to stay the full 30.
  3. Offer to help with the transition, training your replacement or at least someone else in the office on critical issues.
  4. Ask for a reference. Policies differ with each company but if you can get someone to give you a LinkedIn recommendation, it is positive reflection of your work.

Photo Credit: Sebastien Wiertz | Seth Doyle


  1. Melissa Cooley on October 31, 2013 at 12:24 pm

    Good advice (and something that has been on my mind since I wrote up a letter of resignation for someone earlier this week!)

    While I agree that it could be a good idea to not mention the new job in the letter, an employee may need to reveal where they are going if they signed a non-compete agreement when they started with their soon-to-be ex-employer. The company will want to make sure that the person is honoring that agreement, so it is perfectly reasonable for them to ask about the new place of employment.

    • Julie Walraven on October 31, 2013 at 1:06 pm

      Yes, I thought about that too but that could be done verbally and not in writing. It can also be done discretely without hoopla so it doesn’t look like they are trashing the current company. Good point though!

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