How To Resign

When it comes to leaving your job, how you resign is arguably more important than why you’re resigning. Here’s some tips on how to do it with grace and gratitude:

DO put your resignation in writing.

A brief letter should be addressed to your boss with a cc: to HR. The letter should clearly state the role you are resigning from and your last day in that role. It’s a good idea to close the letter with gratitude for the opportunity. Whether or not you include the reason for your resignation and your next role or opportunity is up to you. And that’s it. Your resignation letter is a professional formality. It is brief and to the point.

DO resign in person.

With your resignation letter in hand (or ready to be sent electronically) find time to meet with your boss and deliver the news in person. This is the time to fill in the details of your resignation that are not included in your letter. If a face-to-face meeting is out of the question then try phone, Skype, Google Hangout, or Facetime. Email should be a last resort.

DO ask for future recommendations/referrals.

If you are leaving on good terms ask your boss and others who are familiar with your work if they would be willing to put in a good word for you in the future should you need it for another opportunity. Most people will gladly say yes. But always ask. Do not assume that someone you worked for or worked with is going to be willing to speak highly of you once you leave.

DON’T behave badly.

Things can get tough at work and we all have our limit. I get it. But do not resort to unprofessional gimmicks and try to be a “show off” when you resign. It’s not worth the damage to your reputation and in the long run, the joke is going to be on you, not your company or boss. As hard as it may be, stay professional at all times.

DON’T slack off.

Remember senioritis? The relaxed, carefree attitude during your last days in high school and college? Well, it’s easy for that same attitude to creep up once you’ve resigned and you’re wrapping up your last bit of work. Resist the urge to give in to this attitude. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by finishing as a strong team player.

DON’T get caught off guard.

Once you hand in your letter of resignation, be prepared for any of the following: a counteroffer to stay, negotiating your last day and your last pay, a shift in attitude toward you from your boss or co-workers, and/or immediate dismissal despite giving timely notice. All of these are fair game once you resign. Do not resign until you are ready to deal with each of these scenarios.

Remember, if the job interview is your first impression, then your resignation is your last impression. Make it a lasting one!


Danielle Robinson Bell has been providing business & brand intelligence to Fortune 500 brand teams, small business leaders, and entrepreneurs for 15 years. Her passion is helping others build, engage, inspire, and connect. Based in NYC, Danielle is also a freelance business writer currently covering career & workplace management for JET. Her work has also been featured in EBONY,, and The Atlantic. You can follow her on Twitter at @ByDRob.