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How to write an effective resignation letter (without burning bridges)

Hopefully, you’re reading this blog as you are resigning due to finding a new job that is right for you. In which case, congratulations! This is an exciting time but the fly in the ointment might be the anxiety about having to write a resignation letter and hand in your notice.

Resigning well is a useful skill to have. The adage that ‘you don’t know who you will meet on the way up’ is one to bear in mind. You may come across former colleagues or managers in new roles and organisations. Leaving them with a good lasting impression is wise as you don’t know when you might need to call on them in the future.

Our advice below is suitable for the majority of roles across all different levels. However, you might need a more formal exit agreement if you’re part of the senior leadership team or a board member. Or if you’re resigning for other reasons, such as being unhappy in your current role, then the advice below is still useful but we’d recommend you talk it through with someone you trust first.

Step one: talk to your line manager

You’ve hopefully formed a positive relationship with your line manager during your current role. Talking to them should be your first step in the resignation process. It might be difficult but book a time to sit down with them and if needed write yourself a short list of prompts beforehand. It might be good to mention that you appreciate them, that you know this will be a hard conversation to have but that you’ve found a new job. Follow this up with a short ‘why’ on your reasons and how your current role has helped. You don’t need to go into extensive details but adding positivity about your current role will help you keep good relations.

It might also be worth preparing for your line manager, or even their manager, to come back at some point with a counteroffer. Now, our advice here is if you’re happy with the current package from your new employer do not get engaged in a game of counter-offers. If you’re getting the value you deserve from a new role then this back and forth is likely to not get the best from either relationship. However, it can also be a good way to see if you truly want to move or whether the right financial benefit could persuade you to stay.

Create a formal letter (or email) of resignation

When it comes to the formal letter of resignation our best advice is to keep it simple. You’ve already had a conversation with your line manager where you might have gone into a bit more detail. But in a formal letter, keep it factual and to the point. This is a time to leave with your head held high and in the knowledge that you’ve done things professionally. You know then that no bridges will have been burnt and be confident that a positive reference now or in the future can be gained.

If you’re not sure what to include, we’d recommend:

  • The date
  • The position you are resigning from
  • The company
  • A sentence on your expected final day according to your contract
  • A sentence on any thanks to the company

A great template to follow is available via ACAS:

Thank your colleagues

Leaving a workplace without burning bridges can extend to more than just your managers. You might have formed lasting friendships at work or useful future contacts. Either way, we’d recommend thanking your colleagues for their support. That doesn’t need to be in a formal way, it can be a simple Teams message saying thank you and that can go a long way.

A ‘good egg’ reputation

In our experience, we’ve found that reputation can spread. Maintaining good professional relationships can ensure that it is only positive conversations that take place. Keeping people thinking that you are a ‘good egg’ can help your future career development and is always something we’d recommend. If you’re not quite at the resignation stage, why not have a look at our current vacancies or get in touch with or

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