Time to Resign: How to write a “Dear Boss” letter

Landing your dream job is a time for popping champagne, celebratory high-fives and a victory dance or two. Few things beat the excitement and anticipation of signing an employment contract which earmarks your entry into a new career chapter.

Unfortunately, the beginning of a new career stage also comes with a nasty little side sting: breaking up with your current boss (and as we all know from the classic Neil Sedaka song, “breaking up is hard to do”).

Sign before you resign?

Yes, most definitely. Your “paw print” on the employment contract signifies a commitment to the new organization but more importantly seeing your signature will help to psychologically finalize the decision in your mind to mute the devils of doubt and disillusion ready to jump onto your shoulders.

Use the Template, but write your Own Script

If you google ‘’resignation letter examples’’ millions of results are rendered in an instant from how-to guides, to every kind of template imaginable. Off course, these templates are helpful, but writing that letter of resignation should be sincere and authentic, using your own wording.

Remember the Basics

There are many types of resignation scenarios, and therefore, no single script guideline will apply as a one-size-fits-all document. Resignation letters could be formal or informal, depending on whom they are addressed to, the relationship you have with that individual or even just your personality type.

Furthermore, the type of letter you write may also depend on the profession you are in, your tenure with the organization and whether you are leaving out of necessity like relocation or plainly for a better opportunity.

Bear in mind these basic points when crafting a resignation letter:

  • Address

Address the receiver appropriately: “Dear John” is fine if you are resigning to your direct manager, but “Dear Mr. Smith” may be the better option if your letter is addressed to the CEO

  • Notify

Clearly state your intention to leave with the official date of your resignation period effective from x date up until your last day.

  • Give Appreciation

Extend thanks to your manager for his/her mentorship and guidance during your employment and highlight a couple of valuable takeaways from your time spent under his/her supervision.

  • Handing Over

Enquire about the logistics involved during the handover process and provide assurance of your full cooperation to the parties affected.

  • Best Wishes

Conclude the letter by wishing the company (or manager) all success in their future endeavors.

  • In Closing:

Don’t forget to date your letter and sign it.

Setting the Tone

Your tone of voice should be professional, but still genuine. Avoid waffling on regarding the exact details of your departure with rants and raves about the long hours you had to work, catty colleagues or a boss that could never be satisfied. In a similar fashion, paint sparingly with the honey brush of praise and plaudit to try and lessen the blow from the fact that you are departing. Keep it polite and professional.

Resignation Letters for Unique Exit Occasions

The situations surrounding resignations, differ extensively and thus would require additional verbiage in the resignation letter, apart from the basic format discussed above:

  • Shortened Resignation Periods

The stock standard resignation period is two weeks, but certain cases may entail immediate, 24hour or shortened resignation periods.

When you unexpectedly decide to jump ship and do so with immediate or within 24 hours you have to consider the predicament your premature departure is creating and be willing to go the extra mile to assist the person that’s going to fill in for you until a suitable replacement is found.

A sentence like: “Due to circumstances beyond my control I cannot work my two weeks-notice period, and X date will be my last day. Herewith my contact details for Replacement Riley to get hold of me after hours if needed”.

  • Medical Advised Resignations

Our health should naturally take precedence over our wealth and anything else, but merit regarding resignation circumstances does unfortunately not fill the void you are creating.

You are not obliged to offer any detail but at least provide a valid reason such as: “I have decided to terminate my employment at X company upon advice from my physician about my future well-being. It is with utmost regret that I need to inform you of my last day being X date”.

  • Family Influenced Resignations

Whether it I a spouse relocating or an elderly parent requiring full-time care, sometimes we do not have a say in the choices of life. Your exit will surely create a gap and additional slack for a colleague, but offering handover assistance will lessen the burden to some extent at least.

“My father has fallen into ill-health, and I have to, unfortunately, tender my resignation to you effective from today with my last day being on x date. Be assured of my commitment to facilitate a smooth transition during my final days here” is an appropriate way to handle family induced resignations.

  • 180 Degree Career Change

The proverbial fork in the road, where you decide to pursue an entirely different career path or even take a sabbatical to find out what you really want to do with your life.

No need for elaborate explanations. Consider a sentence such as: “I have decided to pursue my passion for X and thus are steering my career in a different direction. My last day will be X date. I will be available for another two weeks after my final day here, to assist with handover related matters”.

Don’t burn previous Employment Bridges

Be reminded, the person whom you are resigning from now, will most likely be the reference you need when applying for your next opportunity, so keep the bridge of amicability in-tact.

Even if your resignation is an involuntary one, for whichever reason, you are only as reputable as the opinion of your last reference.

“Leave your job in such a manner that you have the option to return one day.”