Have you decided it’s time to move on from your current job? A professional resignation email will set the right tone for your departure.
It’s always best to resign from your job by telling your boss or manager in person, but in some cases, that’s not possible. For example, if you or your bоss work remotely, you might not be able to.
Sending a professional resignation email will make your last few weeks at your current job much more pleasant. Getting it wrong (or worse, not sending one!) could burn bridges, keep you from getting a good reference, and even hurt your future career prospects.
In this article, you’ll learn:
- What a resignation email is
- Why you’d want to send one
- Pro tips for the best possible resignation email
- What to use as a great subject line
- Plus, we’ve included a template and 5 examples for you to use in different situations!
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What is a resignation email?
At its most basic, it's a piece of professional correspondence that formally presents your intent to terminate your employment. While this is always a good idea for keeping a record of things, in many places and cases it’s required anyway.
There are two critical pieces of information a resignation email has to include:
- your intention to leave; and
- the date you plan to go.
Ideally, you’ll leave with at least a two-week notice period. So, the sooner you get your resignation letter in, the sooner you can move on.
Why you’d want to send a resignation email
We’ll say again it’s best to speak to your boss first, whether you usually do this in person or virtually - and that's a great start. Still, the exit process often requires a formal, signed and dated resignation letter or email.
Beyond that, it’s professional and respectful to resign in writing. It gives your employer time to process the news and can help maintain a positive relationship with them.
No matter what you think of your manager or the company personally, it’s best to keep in good standing with them. Most importantly because you may need to ask them for a reference in the future.
It’s also a time to thank your employer for the work opportunity, which shows a level of respect and appreciation for them. When you run into them in the future, or again if you need a reference, you’ll be glad you took the high road on this.
Sending a resignation email also gives your employer a chance to respond. Who knows, maybe they’ll come back with a great offer to keep you on board.
It’s also a necessary step before you send a resignation email to any of your team members letting them know of your plans and thanking them for their help. This is always a good move because you’ll likely see them again, especially if you’re in the same social circles.
Finally, it’s a record of your resignation. Both you and your employer can refer back to the same document if needed or if there are any disputes or misunderstandings later on.
Resignation email tips
Once you’ve resigned in person with your boss, you’ll have to follow up with your resignation email. You’ll want it to be as professional and polished as possible to leave a good impression.
Here are some tips for how to do it effectively:
Use a clear email subject line
A simple and direct email subject line, such as “Resignation – Your Name” is the way to go. This way, the person you’re sending it to will know what your message is about: you want them to open and read the email ASAP.
Give two weeks' notice
It’s expected, and you should do your best to give your employer the standard two weeks' notice when you resign. In most cases, the job you’re going to next should be flexible and give you that time as they’d want the same thing in return.
If you can’t give your employer two weeks’ notice, give them as much notice as possible to maintain the best relationship you can with them.
Specify your last day
Include the exact date you plan to leave the company in the email. Being specific will remove any confusion about your timeline.
Be positive and grateful
Again, this is your last chance to make a good impression and leave on a positive note. Don’t say anything negative about the company or people you work with; thank your manager for your experience with them.
Even if you were unhappy with the company, don’t complain or say anything critical in your email. You want to leave knowing they think well of you in the future.
Offer to lend a hand
If you can, offer to help during the hiring and transition period. For example, you might offer to train your replacement in the time you have left or open up the possibility your employer could contact you if they have any questions once you’re gone.
If you really want to lend a hand, it’s a good idea to reinforce the idea by including your contact info in the email too. This little step shows you’re serious about the offer.
You don’t need, and no one expects you to give details on why you are leaving or your plans. If you want to give a short explanation when you’re talking to your boss, go ahead, but leave it out of the email.
If you haven’t spoken to your boss in advance, though, it’s best to briefly explain in the email why you intend to leave. They’ll probably ask when they follow up with you about your resignation anyhow, and it’s courteous to give them a little insight.
Proofread the email
It’s always best practice to proofread your emails before you hit send. Make sure your formatting is spot on, that you’ve used a neutral or friendly tone, and especially that you haven’t written anything that could be taken poorly.
Because tensions could be high and this is a delicate matter, it’s a good idea to ask a friend or family member to read it too, if only to double-check your tone.
Add a subject line
Choosing the right resignation email subject line can be confusing, and you may start overthinking it. We recommend keeping it clear and to the point.
Why? Well, if your boss is busy, they might delay opening their emails, but you want to be sure they get the message ASAP.
How do you do that? Use a simple 2-4 word phrase that clearly indicates it’s a resignation letter and includes your name and/or the date.
Resignation email template and examples
Now that we’ve covered all the steps you want to take to write a professional resignation letter, let's pull it together. Here are a few examples of resignation emails that include each of the considerations above that you can use as inspiration or adjust to suit your situation.
Resignation letter template: the basic letter
This letter would be fine in 99% of job exits; it’s to the point, appreciative, and lets them know they can count on you in your last few days there. Just fill in the details from your job, and you’re ready to go!
Resignation email example #1
Here’s a great letter for somebody who is leaving with the standard two weeks’ notice and can help with the transition. Sending this letter should leave you in good standing with your boss.
Resignation email example #2
This letter is great because it’s brief and to the point. It gives just a tiny bit of info on your next steps in case you couldn’t get in touch with your boss in person to talk about things before you send it, and it doesn’t promise the moon in terms of extra help on your way out.
Resignation email example #3
This is a letter to use if you can’t give a full two weeks and have limited capacity to help during the transition. Not a great situation, but this makes the best of it by opening up the door for questions even once you’ve left and including contact info to do that.
Resignation email example #4
This email is perfect for when you have a good rapport with your boss and have the flexibility and time to pick up some responsibilities during the transition. This letter shows that you appreciated working for them and you’re there to help with your replacement.
Resignation email example #5
On the flip side, here’s a great resignation email that keeps things very formal. It’s succinct and to the point, but ticks all the boxes you need in terms of a tactful, professional exit.
- Writing a resignation email is a professional courtesy and a good idea for documentation purposes, and in many cases, it’s required.
- It’s always best to start the exit process by talking to your boss in person.
- A resignation email should clearly state your intention to leave and your departure date.
- Short and to the point is the best choice. You don’t need to add any details about your plans.
- Stay positive, express appreciation, and use a neutral or friendly tone for the best results.
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