How to Write a Professional Resignation Letter

Here’s how you can tender your resignation in a professional manner. We’ll also show you best practices using samples you can learn from.

Career Guides
Gordon Chen

Writing a resignation letter is a necessary step to formalise the departure from your company. For those who are tendering their resignation for the first time, this practice may seem foreign and uncomfortable. Fret not, we’ll guide you through this every step of the way.

Behold, the resignation tsunami

Quitting your job seems reckless these days (especially in this pandemic-ridden economy!), but that’s exactly what we see in Singapore in 2021. According to a CNA commentary, a Michael Page Talent Trends report found that over 56 percent of employed residents are expected to hunt for a new job in 2021. This figure is almost double the findings of the previous year at 31 percent.

Across Asia, Singapore’s staff turnover rate was found to be the highest. Top reasons cited across a mix of respondents spanning different age demographics included a lack of career prospects and dissatisfaction with either the work they do or the salary they were receiving.  

COVID-19 seems to play a major role in this phenomenon. Workers are packing their bags because of pandemic-induced realisations to prioritise mental well-being and purpose in their careers.

Whatever the reasons may be, leaving your job is not as simple as a declaration and walking out of the office doors for the last time. Drafting a resignation letter sets the wheels in motion before you start embarking on your new adventure.

What’s a Resignation Letter?

It’s a document notifying your employer you’re leaving the company. This is unlike a termination letter, where an employer informs the employee to leave.

Following the Employment Act by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), you’re required to write a resignation letter if you intend to exit your current role. A physical one isn’t compulsory, as you can submit the document through email. However, it’s still good practice to hand a hard copy to your direct superior.

Lady providing her resignation letter to employer
What's the purpose of this letter?

Why write a resignation letter?

Before you cement the decision to pack your bags, you should first raise the idea to your employer. You may also want to explain why if you’re comfortable with sharing, though you’re not required to do so.

Why then, is there still a need for a well-written, formal resignation letter?

Facilitating the Process

You should produce a professional resignation letter to catalyse the process of departing from a job position. This will rope in relevant employees who are involved in the handover process too.

  • An official document provides your company something to refer to. This helps the Human Resources (HR) department ensure you receive your deserved salary and benefits as an employee during your remaining tenure. A formal resignation letter also helps them estimate the timeframe to start searching for potential replacements.
  • Tendering your resignation with an official letter sets details in black and white. With everything formalised, you can justify you served adequate notice. Your last day of employment is also put in writing, preventing you from staying longer than agreed upon.

Exercising Professionalism

Penning a good resignation letter conveys responsibility and class. It not only informs your employer in an amicable way, it gives you an opportunity to end the chapter in your own terms.

  • A formal notice demonstrates you have good character. It gives you an opportunity to show your desire to maintain a relationship left on good terms, establishing an implicit understanding of mutual respect.
  • It’s best to leave the company on good terms, rather than souring relations with them. As the saying goes: “Don’t burn bridges you might have to cross later.”
Table of contents for a resignation letter
Getting started on your resignation letter

How do I begin writing a resignation letter?

Crafting a simple resignation letter will do the job. This is how it can flow:

1. Date and subject title

A straightforward subject line with your name and the word ‘resignation’.

2. Addressing the recipient

This depends on how well you know your employer. Remember to include a salutation.

3. Your intentions

Be brief and mention you’re officially resigning from your position.

4. Your last day

Inform your employer of your last day of employment, and the notice you’re serving. The general consensus is two weeks. If your employee contract has no official notice period, it varies based on how long you’ve been with the company.

5. Expression of gratitude

Thank your employer for the opportunity to work here. You can also share how you’ve learnt and grown, and that you’ve enjoyed your time here.

6. An offer to help

Offer your support to assist with the manpower reduction. While serving your notice, it’s crucial to continue doing your part as an employee.

7. Returning items

Clarify when you’ll return company-owned assets and rights before you exit. These include equipment, account ownership and tasks you’re passing to others.

8. Your contact information

Providing personal details in your resignation letter is a great way to show you’d like to keep in touch. Your coworkers and employer might contact you in future for opportunities you’d be a good fit for.

9. Closing statement

Conclude with a brief thank you and well wishes. Thereafter, sign off in a professional manner.

This is how you can write a formal resignation letter. Note that you don’t have to restate your reason for leaving. You’re also not obligated to mention any new job(s).

Tips and Suggestions

1. Focus on the good

Emphasise the positive elements of your experience, even if you’ve faced significant hardship.

2. Be honest, but brief

While it’s alright to share, avoid going into detail. The more you share, the more you have to explain — this turns into an endless loop.

3. Be genuine

This shows you’re not saying everything for formality’s sake.

4. Request for a recommendation letter

If you’re leaving on good terms, having a reference letter gives you a huge advantage over other applicants for subsequent job applications. It attests to your good conduct and performance during your time with the company.

Asking for a reference in a resignation can be tough when you may not have a close personal relationship outside of work. In this case, it’s best to politely ask for the favour in person first.

Learn from Resignation Letter Samples

Negative demonstration of a resignation letter
Sam's letter is a bit harsh. Don't write like Sam.

What’s good about it (in purple):

1. Date and Subject Title — Straightforward and brief.

2. Purpose of letter — Resigning from stated position in said company.

3. Last day of employment

  • How you might make it better: Specify the date rather than say it’s “two weeks later”.
  • What’s missing: There’s no mention of the employee serving his notice, and it’s unclear whether two weeks is the agreed duration. Do not assume two weeks’ notice applies to each company and job you’re in.

4. Offer to help

  • How to improve it: Identify tangible things you’ll help with. Do not sound as if you’re being picky; remember you should give it your best as you’re still an employee.

5. Contact information

  • What to change: Include your personal contact information instead as this company email will be invalid once you resign. If you’re comfortable, you want to remain in touch after leaving your job too.

What’s unsatisfactory (Put in bold):

1. Expressing negativity

  • You shouldn’t criticise coworkers and gripe about issues that you’ve faced. Even if you decide to raise them, this should be done in person with your superior, instead of in your resignation letter.

2. Conveying your dissatisfaction

  • You want to submit a concise resignation letter. This document will be viewed by your HR department too, so it’s unwise to utilise it as an avenue to air your grievances.

3. Comparing companies

  • Refrain from this as you’ll sound unprofessional and insensitive by making such remarks.
Positive example of what's in a resignation letter
Here's a good resignation letter you can follow by Claire!

What you can learn from this sample:

1. Clear resignation details

  • Go straight to the point; there’s no need to share why you’re resigning. There’s a specific end date (15th June) and the employee mentioned she’ll be serving her notice period.

2. Highlights of working here

  • She shares her positive experiences in the company. She’s grateful for the full time position and the skills she’s acquired.

3. Offer to contribute

  • The employee extends help with the transition, and exhibits genuine willingness to onboard her prospective replacement too. This demonstrates her sincerity and that she’s doing all she can.

4. Returning employee assets

  • An official date is stated, showing she’s accountable.

5. Personal contact details

  • She shares her mobile number and personal email address, signifying she’s happy to stay in touch.

6. Reference letter request

  • The request is brief and posed in a polite manner.

7. Cordial closing statement

  • The employee shares her well wishes for the company’s staff, and concludes on a pleasant note.

The second letter is written in a genuine and authentic fashion. The employee has visible gratitude and appreciation for the company. Although longer than the first letter, it’s succinct and it encompasses all the points we’ve touched on earlier. There’s nothing irrelevant to a professional resignation letter.

We want to make these pointers easier to apply for you. As such, we’ve created a resignation letter template you can refer to. Download our resignation letter template here!

If you’re certain about tendering your resignation, we hope this article helps you to do so in a polite and professional way. This is how you can resign and stay on good terms with your employer.