How to Resign From Your Job the Right Way

Leaving a job can be difficult — it’s often fraught with emotion and anxiety for both you and your manager. But there are a few simple strategies to make the process easier for everyone so that you can leave on a positive note.

Start with a Conversation

It’s always best to have a discussion with your manager before you send a letter of resignation. Having that face-to-face conversation is a common courtesy, but it also gives your manager a bit of time to process before wheels are set in motion to manage the distribution of your workload and responsibilities.

During this conversation, your manager may ask you where you’re going next. If you’re leaving your current role to join a competitor, there’s always a chance you’ll be walked out the door within minutes or hours of giving your notice. It generally has nothing to do with you personally, but rather is a way for companies to protect their assets (for example: information, research, trade secrets).

Write a Meaningful Resignation Letter

A resignation letter is, at its basic level, a formal notice that you will be leaving a role and company on a specific date. It doesn’t have to be long — a few paragraphs is reasonable — but is an opportunity to formally leave your role on a positive note.

Start by thanking your manager and employer for the opportunity they’ve given you to grow your career. This simple acknowledgement sets a positive tone for the letter and your resignation as a whole. Follow with a brief sentence that you’re resigning, indicating your last date in the office (usually two weeks from the letter date, unless your employment contract stipulates a longer notice period or you’ve agreed to a longer notice period with your manager).

Next, indicate why you’ll be leaving: for a different role so you can grow in your career, or because you’re changing direction in your career. If you’re shifting to a new direction in your career, it’s a good idea to briefly explain why this change is necessary for you. If you’re staying in your industry, frame it as a new opportunity and the right time to move on, providing a bit of context while keeping things positive. Keep in mind that many employers are working to improve employee retention, so it’s a good idea to explain that your decision to leave isn’t necessarily due to a lack of opportunity or benefits offered by your current employer.

Finally, take the opportunity to highlight some of the wonderful opportunities and experiences you had in the role. This might be a special project you worked on, something you learned, or an experience that will stick with you throughout your career. Not only is this a nice touch for a resignation letter, it will help your manager shape the role as they’re hiring your replacement.

Regardless of the challenges you may have experienced in your role, a resignation letter is not the place to air grievances (if you must, the exit interview is your opportunity to tactfully explain challenges or make recommendations). Keep in mind this is a formal letter that will remain in your employee file long after you leave, so a positive tone will serve you well in the future.