If you’re going to be part of the Great Resignation - a phenomenon reported on by media, neighbors, and even the Bureau of Labor Statistics - then you need a great resignation letter. Between the direct and indirect impacts of COVID-19, lockdowns, and inflation, the US labor market is seeing monthly quit rates exceeding any recorded in the modern era. You, like millions of other Americans, have the courage it takes to step toward a career or a job you love. The excitement is no doubt building as you look toward the future. There’s just one problem--you have to tell your boss. And for many people, this is the worst part of resigning from their jobs.
Beat the Two-Weeks Notice Nerves
Many people are understandably nervous about sending in their resignation letter. Some of the most common worries include:
- Guilt over placing more work on coworkers
- Guilt over leaving in the middle of the busiest time of year
- Guilt about being seen as a non-team player
- Fear over the boss being upset
- Uncertainty over what to say or how to approach it--or the timing for doing so
However you parse it, guilt and fear tend to play a major role in how people think about their resignation. A well-written letter will help you and your employer face the next steps with confidence.
Keep in mind that your employment was voluntary on your and your employer’s side, and just as the company owner needs to do what’s right for their business, you need to do what’s right for you. If a company needs to downsize they will--even if that means cutting you. It may not be personal--it’s just business. And you’ve got to be able to see it the same way.
That said, giving proper notice can alleviate the pain and the burden by ensuring that you have time to train a replacement or another team member to carry on your duties in the interim as the company searches for someone to fill your role.
Why Do You Need a Two-Weeks Notice Letter?
It’s sadly not uncommon for people to just quit by never returning to work, or sending a text that they quit, or quitting without sufficient notice to their employer. This is problematic for a number of reasons, not the least of which it’s just inconsiderate.
Your employer has entrusted you and invested in you, expecting that you’d keep up your end of the deal--that is, when the time comes for you to move on, that you’d treat the company with respect and consideration rather than leaving them in the lurch with nobody to fill your vacated spot.
Make sure you leave a final good impression by being considerate and giving a proper notice of resignation. Your boss will appreciate it, and hopefully sing your praises, or at the very least not slam you for your inconsiderateness to a potential new employer (nothing can get you started on the wrong foot faster than an old boss telling a prospective employer about your resignation style - or lack thereof.)
Verbal or Written Resignation?
But do you really need to write a letter? Isn’t that kind of old-fashioned, or maybe a bit cowardly to hide behind a piece of paper or an email? It might seem more professional to just resign verbally, in person.
Resigning by letter or email is actually a more professional and formal way to resign. While giving your employer time to think through what your resignation means for the company, it also provides a paper trail of evidence that shows that you followed the standard practice for resignation.
Is Two Weeks the Magic Number for Resignation Letters?
The typically-accepted time frame for a resignation to be effective is two weeks (hence the two-weeks notice). However, the required timeframe for announcing your resignation and date effective may be based on a number of factors, including your company, your position, your seniority, or any other terms that might be specified in your employment contract. When in doubt as to whether a two-weeks notice letter is sufficient, always refer back to your employment contract or employment handbook to see what the required notice time is.
5 Components of The Two-Weeks Notice Resignation Letter
A resignation letter is a fairly straightforward process. The most challenging part is probably going to be getting over the fear of writing and sending it. But a well-written resignation letter full of sincerity and heartfelt gratitude can go a long way in reducing any post-announcement fallout. Keep your letter to no more than 1 page. Note that any additional paragraph after the first one stating your resignation is completely optional and up to your discretion--but additional details can add a nice and cordial touch to the letter.
Greeting and Salutation: Address your boss by his/her formal title (Dear Mr./Mrs./Dr./Professor, etc)
First Paragraph: Let them know succinctly that you will be resigning. Make sure to include the date that your resignation will be effective i.e. your last day of employment. This should be a minimum of two weeks from the date you send your letter/header date.
Second paragraph: If you’d like to fill in your letter with details of why you’re leaving you can do so here. Stay positive. Don’t rant or vent your feelings. Some good things to mention can be going back to school, taking time off to explore other talents, starting a new job, etc).
Third paragraph: If you have the time, it’s always a good idea to offer to help in any way possible during the remaining weeks, training people, creating manuals, etc, to ensure the company is in a good place when you leave.
Fourth paragraph: Add a heartfelt expression of gratitude for the opportunity you’ve been given through your role with the company, and for the many things you’ve learned, etc.
Fifth paragraph: You can ask for a reference letter at the end of your resignation letter, or reach out at a later date for a letter if you’d prefer.
Closing: Close the letter with formal cordiality, using a sign-off like Cordially Yours, Sincerely Yours, Sincerely, Cordially--and your name and contact information.
Dangers of Not Giving Proper Notice Prior to Resigning
If you’re trying to build a career for yourself, it pays to be professional in all your dealings. If you quit in a rush, or just opt out of showing up to work, note this: failing to be professional will follow you long after you abruptly leave a company. You’ll lose out on potential references who can vouch for your employability and character, or worse, garner some not-so-nice commentary when your former employer gets a call from the employer at your dream job.
In either case, it’s a pretty bad idea to ditch your employer without the grace and professionalism of a formal resignation letter or email. We prefer an email because the time stamp provides a record of your send.
4 Worst Times to Quit Your Job
Before you quit, consider this: Not all timing is the right timing. Before you resign, you may want to consider these 4 worst times to resign, and make sure that you’re really ready to do so. Don’t just send in your resignation letter in a moment of frustration.
Don’t quit during an office conflict. These resignations are done in a fit of passion, and will most likely leave you regretting it. Though an explosive rant to a disagreeable supervisor might feel good and go viral, your 15 seconds of fame won’t be worth it when your potential new employers see it.
Don’t quit during (or if there’s talk of) layoffs. If you are laid off, you’ll receive some sort of severance package that will be helpful as you look for a new job.
Don’t quit if you don’t have another job offer, unless of course you are independently wealthy or have plans in place to survive in what may be a long interim between jobs. The latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates a median unemployment period of 8.5 weeks, with nearly 20% of unemployed persons reporting 27+ weeks of unemployment! (source: https://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.t12.htm)
Don’t quit your job during a major life change. You’ll be prone to making poor decisions during periods of massive change and stress in your personal life. Avoid quitting until things have settled down and you can think clearly.
Best Practices for Resigning (and Your Two-Weeks Notice Letter)
Stay on good terms
Don’t start slacking or being careless because you’re on your way out. As you prepare to resign, continue to give your company your 100%, just as you always have. You’ll ensure that you make the best last impression possible, and reduce the risk of leaving a very frustrated supervisor once you make your exit.
Avoid talking badly about your boss, coworkers or company
As the word gets out that you’re leaving, coworkers might inquire why. Remember to stay professional and don’t start to talk about your boss or coworkers behind their back. You’ll come off looking spiteful, and potentially leave a bad taste in the mouth of your coworker--and potentially lead to another resignation.
Plan to make the most of your last few weeks
Your boss will be happy to see you applying yourself to making sure the company is in as good a place as possible in your absence. Don’t stand around chatting. Make the time count by creating quick guides and cheat sheets for your replacement and assembling all the information that will be helpful to them to hit the ground running in your role.
Send a copy of the email to yourself
Saving a time-stamped copy can be beneficial in the event that a disgruntled supervisor tries to claim to a potential employer that you left abruptly. You’ll be able to pull up the time-stamped email during your interview to prove that you did things the right and noble way.
Avoid using the resignation letter as a way to vent your feelings
You are entitled to your feelings. That said, you should never put your grievances or feelings toward the company or your boss in writing. No matter what you’re feeling, keep your resignation letter direct and cordial. If there are problems to discuss, you should seek out someone in HR to speak with verbally rather than venting at your boss in writing as you resign. Words on paper never die and you never know when you might see them crop up again. Always be polite and professional.
If you don’t have a job lined up yet, check out the careerbliss.com job board before you put in your letter of resignation. Get your dream job lined up now.