How to write a Respectful Resignation Letter

As any prosperous professional knows, one of the greatest secrets to success is knowing when to move on. Your resignation letter becomes part of your employee record, making it important to leave on good terms with your previous employer. This can be easily achieved by using these key tips for writing a respectful letter of resignation:


  1. Address someone – Whether it’s your manager or the HR director, include the name of the person you are addressing your letter to. This will help you direct your thoughts while writing and keep you on a professional track.
  2. Give appropriate, clear notice – Be clear on two things: the effective date of your resignation and when your last working day will be. The minimum time varies according to your working situation or seniority so check your contract and the labour law in the country you work in beforehand.
  3. Be positive (& say Thank You) – It doesn’t matter what influences your decision to leave; don’t use this resignation letter to vent any unsolved frustrations. You’re moving on and moving up, so thank them for the opportunities, time and energy they invested in you, and how the job positively influenced your career.
  4. Cushion the blow – “Sandwich” your resignation by opening the letter with something positive, stating your resignation, and then closing it off with another positive paragraph. This technique ensures that the reader is not left with a negative or uncomfortable feeling – something which could rule out any good reference in the future!
  5. Stay professional – Above all, be polite, use correct grammar and keep it professional. Steer clear of any emotional or controversial language and leave the jokes for the office fare-well party.
  6. Explain your reason for resigning – Depending on the company culture, choose these words very carefully. You may want to steer clear of giving any specific reasons – just continue to use positive language. For example, “I’m ready for a new career challenge”.


There is much discussion regarding the point 6; some believe it belongs in the resignation letter, while others feel it should be left until the exit interview or in personal emails to preferred colleagues or superiors. Either way, you will probably be asked about it at some stage.

When writing your resignation letter, keep in mind the future ramifications of references and background checks. Crossing those bridges without burning them to the ground shows character, professionalism, and most of all respect.

Leave a Reply