Chapter 7a: The only Resignation Letter Template You’ll Ever Need

“Do you mind if I send your resignation letter to the entire company?”

This is what the CEO of Deloitte Consulting asked me after receiving my resignation letter.

2 days later he sent my resignation letter to over 10,000 employees. [The full email is at the bottom of this post].

Before I dive into how to write your resignation letter, I’m assuming one thing:

I am assuming you already told your company that you quit, in person, or over the phone, and that you provided them with the standard two week’s notice, or four week (one month’s notice), depending on your contract stipulations.

If the first time your company hears that you’re resigning is over email, you’re doing it wrong. I don’t care how badly they treated you, do not resign over email.

If you haven’t quit yet, please refer to my ultimate guide to quitting your job article first.

OK, Let’s dive into it.

This is the exact process of writing a resignation letter.

You need to send two, yes, two resignation letters. (P.S. when I say “letters”, I really mean emails. You don’t need to write a physical letter)

  1. Formal Resignation Letter to HR and your boss
  2. The Simple Goodbye email to all your colleagues

Let’s start with the formal resignation letter.

The Formal Resignation Letter Template:

The purpose of this is to let HR know your intention of leaving the company and when your last day is.

That’s it!

Nothing more, nothing less.

It looks like this:

TO: <human resources contact>
CC: <your boss>

Subject: Robbie Abed’s Resignation

Body:

Jennifer,

As discussed with Michelle, I am submitting my formal resignation from <company name>. My last day will be <last day>.

Please let me know if there are any documents to fill out or any processes that I need to follow before my last day. I really enjoyed my time here and I wish nothing but the best for my co-workers and <company name>.

I will send a separate thank you letter on my last day.

Thank You!

Robbie

DO NOT LIST WHY YOU’RE LEAVING OR WHERE YOU’RE GOING TO NEXT.

As a matter of fact, just copy and paste exactly what I wrote above. Don’t add another sentence to it.

If you want to tell them why you’re leaving, tell your boss in person or over the phone and again during the exit interview, if you have one. Once again, I have to reiterate how important it is there is not a record or paper trail of that conversation.

I highly recommend never putting the reason you are leaving in writing. It won’t help you and it can, and most likely will, come back to haunt you. To re-iterate, I have no issue with you telling your employer why you’re leaving, just don’t put it in writing.

What you say over email could be different than what you said in person, and a few forwards of that email can end in the wrong hands and all of a sudden you cause unnecessary drama. It is also difficult to process tone over email, and you don’t want others making up reasons why you left.

So, in regards to a formal resignation letter that is it. It’s really that simple.

THE SIMPLE GOODBYE EMAIL (Sent on your last day within the company):

The main purpose of the goodbye email is to say to your final farewell and inform anyone that hasn’t heard already, that you are leaving the company.

It’s a simple email, but it’s often messed up by many people.

Before I give you the details on what to include in your goodbye email, it’s important to note these few things:

Your simple goodbye email is either an extremely thankful, or it’s a quick thank you & goodbye email. Nothing in between. Do not offer constructive criticism in your email, or offer suggestions on how to improve the company after you leave. You had your chance to improve it, so now is not the time. You’re on your way to bigger and better things, what you say now needs to be graceful and appreciative and appropriate. The reason the CEO sent my email to the entire company was because I called out co-workers that I enjoyed working with and how they helped me advance my career. I really enjoyed working at this company, and my resignation letter showed it. Most of all, it was positive and inspiring during a time of my leaving the company, which I could have made negative if I approached it from another perspective. When I left other firms, the email was 2-3 sentences at the most, but always still positive and respectful.

I want to repeat this again with annoying periods between each word: Do.not.offer.constructive.criticism.

  • Don’t offer it in the goodbye email.
  • Don’t offer it in the resignation letter.
  • Don’t even offer it in a private email to your boss or superiors.
  • Don’t even do it in person.
  • Keep it to yourself.

If you couldn’t move the needle while you worked there, what makes you think you’re going to help by giving advice after you told them you were leaving the company?

There are two goodbye email templates:

  1. Short and Sweet – Does the job in a professional way.
  2. Long, Personalized & Thankful- This is the goodbye email that gets you bonus points. An email that none of your co-workers will ever forget.

Let’s start with the first template.

Short and Sweet:

All,
If you haven’t heard already, tomorrow is my last day at Acme Corporation. I’ve had a wonderful time here and I’m happy to be part of a great organization.

Just because I’m leaving, doesn’t mean you can’t keep in touch.

<personal email> is my personal email address. Feel free to send me a message at any time and we can connect over coffee. You can also add me on LinkedIn <link to linkedin profile>

This is a bittersweet email for me, and I really want to say thank you again for everything. I have the pleasure of working with some great people here, and I wish everyone the best of luck

Thank you again!

Robbie

Personal email: <personal email>

I recommend sending this email if you had an average experience with the company.

Long, Personalized & Thankful – The absolute best way to leave:

If you want to quit your job on the best note possible, then is is the resignation goodbye email that you send. This is the format I used that the CEO of Deloitte Consulting loved so much, he sent it to the entire company.

Not only will you leave on a great note, you will be more loved on your way out then while working at your company. This email is that good.

Here we go.

Resignation Letter Template (Goodbye Email):

The biggest problem I have with resignation letters is they all say “Thanks for nothing, see you never.” Nobody ever says Thank You and means it.

So, that’s what you’re going to do differently.

Instead of saying “It’s been fun,” you’re going to say: “Here are the individuals that made an impact on my career.” See the difference?

Then, you’re going to list everyone that made an impact on your career. List their full name, and tell them how they made a difference in your time at the company.

That’s it!

Who do I send this to?

This actually has a two step process:

Step 1: Send to the people you’ve worked with as you normally would. Always use BCC. You should CC your personal email address, so that when someone replies they can reply directly to your personal email.
Step 2: Forward the email to a few executives and / or CEO and say the following:

“Don – I’m leaving the company this Friday and below is my resignation email. I thought it would be great for you to see who I recognized on my way out. Thank you so much for this opportunity. I’m grateful to be part of an amazing organization.”

This is a great way to send a personal thank you to them even if you haven’t worked with them before. I always do this to keep my relationships healthy, remember that your goal here is to not burn any bridges. In fact, your goal here is to reinforce bridges and make them stronger on your leaving than they ever were on your staying there. Odd, I know, but it works.

Also use BCC.

PRO-TIPS

  1. The more personal you are, the better.
  2. Only Thank You’s. No advice or constructive criticism. Did I mention this one already? It sounds really familiar.
  3. At least 5 people should be mentioned. I’ve seen someone list up to 40 in one email. He was an absolute legend leaving the company.
  4. Be funny, if you know how!
  5. You don’t need to tell them what you’re doing next. If they want to know, they will email you.
  6. If you do tell them, make sure 100% you are not leaving for a competitor or even another company remotely close to being a competitor.
    1. The reason for this is because it will make you look bad in front of your bosses who don’t want their employees to start getting ideas.
    2. It could come off as “look at how successful I am, and you’re stuck here at this crappy place, ha ha ha!”
  7. Don’t offer any advice even if it is constructive, positive advice. I can’t emphasize this enough.
    1. Don’t be a hero on the way out. If you wanted to fix things, you should have done it before you quit. Shut your mouth. Follow this rubric, and you too will be a legend upon leaving your company.
    2. Remember, you are going on to bigger and better things. You’re going after the opportunities that this class taught you to create for yourself, and that is something that the bosses and colleagues you’re leaving will be inherently jealous of. You’re getting out of that job you hate, you’re accomplishing the act of quitting gracefully and going on to work on your own terms as you never have before. There’s a lot for you to be exhilarated about that you shouldn’t need to rub how right you are in people’s face as you leave. #Realtalk.

APPENDIX: THE FAMOUS RESIGNATION LETTER.

(From CEO <name redacted>)

Colleagues,

I recently received a message from Robbie Abed, a practitioner in the Technology practice who is leaving to pursue an opportunity in industry. I was struck by how he captured in his own words our core belief about taking care of our people – especially our focus on mentorship and colleagues for life.

With his permission, I am forwarding this wonderful illustration of how we actively mentor. Robbie has our best and my thanks go to the colleagues below (and the multitude of others) who brought mentorship and apprenticeship to life. So in Robbie’s own words the reason why this company is special.

Best,

P.S. I made a few small deletions for wider distribution.

From: Abed, Robbie (US – Chicago)
Sent: Thursday, October 14, 2010 5:06 PM
To:<redacted>
Cc: <redacted>
Subject: I won the lottery, bought a million dollar condo in Miami, and I am retiring at the very early age of 28. This is why I decided to leave the firm.

Well, not exactly. It is true that I am leaving. Tomorrow (Friday) being my last day.

I hate good bye messages. Well, let me rephrase. I hate the majority of other people’s good bye messages. How could you summarize a great experience with a great company with amazing people in 2-3 sentences? I couldn’t do that. I think we all deserve more than a “hey, it’s been fun – see you never!”

Through my time here, I have come across some amazing people, many who have directly affected the work I do, who I work for, where I work & when I work. Here are a few people that I can’t thank enough (in no particular order):

<name redacted> – Thank You. You helped staff someone you barely knew, on an amazing project even when I threw a staffing curveball at you last second. You listened and I appreciate that.

<name redacted> – You were my first career counselor, and along with <name redacted> you directly affected where I was staffed, and it was always for my benefit. Even when you knew you were going to lose me as a counselee you still went out of your way to help me. Thank you.

<name redacted> – Career Counselor #2. You tell it how it is, and that’s an amazing thing. You guided me through many difficult situations, spoke the truth and let me make the best decision for myself and <company name> (I’m starting to think I was a difficult counselee!). Thank You.

<multiple names redacted> – I had a great time there, and you guys were the reason I dealt with the delayed flights every week. <name redacted>, sorry I had to beat you so many times in billiards. Some things I just don’t lose in, no matter who I’m playing.

<name redacted> – Thank you for everything. I never knew how bad my writing skills were, until you pointed them out to me! Sorry for recommending the worst restaurants possible in Chicago. I am slowly improving in my recommendation skills. Thank You!

<name redacted> – OK, forget what I said. I’m a horrible restaurant recommender and <name redacted> is always the first to point that out. Thanks for the laughs & putting up with me. I also apologize for you walking across Chicago to find the restaurant I made reservations at. Next time, read directions better I’ll provide clearer directions. Thank You!

<name redacted>– Thank You for everything. I will miss seeing you front & center in the telesuite calls. Regardless of what everyone else says, you’re the best looking one in the telesuite. Thank You!

<name redacted> – Thank you for everything. You were always able to guide our team in the right direction, and laugh when the project got stressful. It helps a lot. <name redacted> prepared me for all the writing I was going to do, so hopefully I wasn’t too bad!

<name redacted> –Thank You for everything, and I’m sure you will guide the <project name redacted> in the right direction. As with many, you were flexible in my role and let me shine with what I’m good at. I tried to get the new system named <system redacted>, but I guess that doesn’t fit in <company name> naming standards. Thank You!

<name redacted>– Career Counselor #3. You’re the man. Thanks for being honest with me, and thanks for all of the career advice. Thank You!

I have a local opportunity to do business development, sales for a much smaller company – and I have a feeling that this is what I will be really good at.

I might be back, you never know. I will take full advantage of the alumni program.

  • hurryslow

    I love your resignation letter. Too bad I was retrenched after I had to report the MD for committing fraud….. sorry for throwing you this curve ball but I would love to hear how you would handle that.