Author a resignation letter that allows you to start your new chapter with grace

A management-level staffer at an independent West Coast advertising agency walked into her supervisor’s office and informed him that she accepted a position at another company. That was no surprise, as it is common to pursue other opportunities. What did shock the supervisor, however,  is the lack of proper notice of when she planned on leaving; she would depart the next day.

According to an article in an advertising trade magazine, the agency had seen three additional team members leave with a notice significantly shorter than the standard two weeks. Other firms in the region had experienced the same trend. Generally, ad agency executives said, the shortened notices were from junior employees with three to six years of experience who possess in-demand skills like digital media and content development.

Understandably, the executives quoted in the story admitted the abrupt departures left a sour taste in their mouths.

Regardless of how much experience you have – and no matter how exciting a new opportunity feels – it is not ideal to announce you are leaving your current job and then immediately exit. Ascending the corporate ladder and pursuing a new job with more responsibility and better compensation is part of any profession. It is important to exit your current position with grace and end your employment on a positive note that helps preserve connections that could be valuable in the future.

Reflecting the viewpoints of the aforementioned ad agency executives, multiple surveys illustrate that the manner in which a person resigns has a monumental impact on their future career opportunities. A favorable impression is just as important when you depart a company as it is when you start your new job.

Writing a formal resignation letter is a key step in announcing your intention to leave your current job. Resignation letters allow you to establish a pleasant tone and reinforce your appreciation for the company and your co-workers. These letters are a professional courtesy as well as an important piece for HR departments to keep in their records.

3 Things to Keep in Mind When Drafting Your Resignation Letter

Once you have a signed offer in hand at your new company, it is time to draft your resignation letter. Before writing the document, keep these points in mind:

Check Your Company Policy

Your employee handbook usually describes the company policies about the termination of employment. Your company might have guidelines on paying accrued benefits to departing team members. An established notice might also be required to receive unused vacation and/or sick time.

Tasks in Progress

Your resignation letter should include the specific last day. If you have daily and weekly tasks that need to be wrapped up, and long-term projects in progress, leaving without a proper length of notice creates pressure and strain on your colleagues. Obviously, this can hurt relationships and burn bridges. In some cases, it is appropriate to give more than two weeks’ notice, especially if you are heading or are a key figure in a prominent project.

Remain Positive and Professional

To part on good terms and maintain a healthy professional network, remain positive and professional. Do not use your resignation letter as a forum to vent frustration and air grievances. Though you will soon begin a new chapter in your career, you will need to effectively work with your colleagues for the remainder of your tenure. Expressing negative comments in your resignation letter can lead to unnecessary tension.

What a Resignation Letter Should Include

When drafting a resignation letter, be sure to include:

The time and date: This should be placed at the top of the page.

An address line: Address the recipient by name. For example, “Dear Mr. Smith.”

A statement of resignation: Clearly state that you are writing to submit your formal resignation from the company.

Your last day of work: It is standard to provide at least two weeks’ notice; however, your company might have specific guidelines for leaving. Also, in some industries, it is common courtesy to give a longer notice out of respect to your colleagues, the project workload and the time it will take to find a new team member. Remember, a graceful exit helps preserve favorable relationships that could be beneficial for your long-term future.

A statement of gratitude: Write a paragraph about what you learned during your time there, and express your appreciation for your supervisors and your colleagues. That will help cultivate a smooth transition.

Next steps and other important information: It is important to list key information that your supervisor should know regarding your final days. This includes both completed projects and projects that are in various stages. Assure your boss that you are glad to do whatever is necessary to create an easy transition.

Your signature: Finish the letter by printing (or typing) and signing your name  after a closing statement of perhaps “Sincerely,” “Thank you,” “Best regards.”

The resignation letter can serve as a guide and a script for what you will say when you talk to your manager in person. It is ideal to be direct with the news instead of a lengthy lead-in. “Thank you for taking the time to meet. I accepted a position with another company, and I am giving my two weeks’ notice” is an acceptable start. Be sure to emphasize that you are available to make the transition to the new team member as smooth as possible and that you appreciate the time you have spent at the company.

Keep in mind that your supervisor will likely have questions. Maybe he or she will want to know why you are leaving. An example of an appropriate answer is that you feel it is time to be in a job with greater responsibility that offers new challenges. Be prepared so you can respond in a way that keeps the meeting positive and preserves your relationship with your manager. If you stick to your talking points detailed in your resignation letter, chances are the conversation will remain positive.

Considering that the job market is competitive, companies are determined to retain quality team members. Be prepared if your employer prepares a counter-offer. In many cases, people accept new positions at other companies for reasons beyond compensation. Responsibility, morale and a firm’s overall culture are important, too. If you choose to reverse your decision to leave for a new company, that can damage your reputation with that organization (in addition to the damage that may have already been done with your current employer), which is why it is important to be certain of your decision before submitting your resignation letter.

Close the conversation of announcing your decision and submitting your resignation letter by assuring your manager that you will remain fully dedicated during your remaining time. Offer availability to answer questions from your replacement, even after you leave. Reiterate your gratitude.

Accepting a new opportunity – especially one that allows you to fulfill your dreams and goals – can be exhilarating. Moving forward with the departure process can be daunting, even for senior-level executives. Demonstrating class, respect and consideration from the moment you craft your resignation letter and the time you meet your supervisor to your final weeks with the company and the moment you walk out the door will likely result in lasting career benefits.

This article written by Jeff Louderback was originally published at